Running to and from work is a fantastic way to keep fit, particularly for those with a hectic schedule. We share all the gear, nutrition and training advice for preparing for a commuter run
Q: I work long days three days a week, 9am–7pm. I usually go the gym before work. However from next week my shifts are changing so I’ll be working 8am-6pm, which will be too early to go to the gym before work as it doesn’t open until 6.30am. I know, that even with the best intentions in the world, I won’t go after work, so I have decided that to keep up my fitness on these long work days it will be a good idea to run home.
It takes an hour to commute, however the distance is only 3.8 miles so I’ll probably get home quicker. Having done most of my training in the gym, I’m unsure where to start with road running, and also I know I need to be super-organised with what to take to work, and also invest in a backpack and think about safety. Any advice would be appreciated! Anne Marie Wright
Working long hours is a real problem for many of us and it can be hard to find the time to train. Commute running is a brilliant idea and a great solution… but organisation and planning ahead are absolutely key.
Firstly, however, you need to get used to running on the road, rather than just the treadmill. There is more impact and it will feel harder, so take it easy to begin with and try some shorter sessions before you do the commute home. Slow down, keep the pace comfortable and try some shorter 20-30-minute runs to get your body used to the new terrain. Have some walk breaks if you need them too. It’s not a race to get home… treat it as a nice easy jog/walk home which, as you say, will get you home faster than if you take public transport or drive!
Organisation is critical for ‘commute running’ and one of the hardest things to get right is eating and drinking during the afternoon. There’s nothing worse than attempting to run home at 6pm and feeling exhausted and starving hungry. So on your ‘run home’ days, plan an afternoon snack at around 4-5pm (a banana and cereal bar for example?) to fuel you for your run home and make sure you keep your fluids up during the day, so you’re not dehydrated.
A good sized rucksack will be vital, so it’s worth investing in something which is running specific, fits well and has enough space for all the things you want to take home. My favourite for run commuting is the Rev 6 from Osprey (£70 ospreyeurope.com), or their rev 1.5 Ltr. It’s lightweight, has a great fit and 6 litres of space for all your kit. If you feel you want something bigger then try Salomon Trail 20 (£50 salomon.com), which has 16 litres of capacity and is ideal for commuters. And if you need to carry a laptop, you might find the ‘Flap Jill Pack’ from Osprey just the job (£70 ospreyeurope.com).
In addition, check you’re wearing the right running shoes… the shoes you’ve been wearing in the gym may not provide enough cushioning or be right for your running needs, so pop along to a good running shop and get some expert advice.
You’ll have to plan ahead with your clothes, lap top, work papers, phone and other items to decide what to leave at work and which you need to take home. Try to leave as much as possible at work if you can. It takes a bit of thought and planning ahead, but the benefits of running home will soon make any ‘inconvenience’ well worth it.
As we head into winter, make sure you’re safe by wearing high visibility and reflective kit and always carry your phone in case of emergencies. When you start your run, remember you’ll have been sat down all day, so start with some mobilisation exercises to warm up first – leg swings, lunges, hip rolls etc – then ease into a nice gentle pace. You might only want to start with two runs per week, then add in the third as you get used to it. The principles of increasing your mileage gradually still apply.
To begin with, ‘run commuting’ might feel very daunting, but get organised and just give it a go. You’ll reap the rewards in no time. Well done!
Coach Sarah Russel has over 20 years experience in the fitness industry as a running coach, trainer, freelance writer and athlete. She also has a Masters degree in Sport Science and is a qualified England Athletics running coach sarah-russell.co.uk
Be sure to check out our Nutrition Section for more advice.