7 Tips for Run-Commuting to Work

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A quick guide to tackling your daily commute on foot, chalking up the miles without “exercising,” and getting dirty before your work day starts

What we wish our commute to work looked like! Photo by BigStockPhoto.

It’s often difficult to find a balance between work, family and trail running. Squeezing in miles at the crack of dawn, in between bites of your lunch, or before the sun sets on the trail can be a regular challenge for the office-dwelling trail runner. Instead of fighting to find time to hit the trails, skip the car, train or bus commute and consider covering part or all of that distance by foot.

Run commuting isn’t a new idea. Ultra legend Ann Trason is known to have commuted a total of 18 miles on foot to and from her research lab each day. It’s also not as complicated as it sounds and, once you have the right gear and mindset, requires little thought. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be on your way to becoming a daily run commuter.

1. Look for trails. Hopping on a trail early in the morning can provide incredible peace before getting to the office. Not everyone works in a place that is near a trail, but there are almost always options for finding a park or a roundabout route that takes you from road to trail on the way to your destination.

2. Plan ahead. Take a few minutes to get clothes in order the night before. To avoid carrying an outfit each day, bring several days worth of clothes on a Monday, and leave them in a locker or at your desk. And, always leave a spare jacket and pair of work shoes at your destination to cut down on the amount of stuff that you need to haul back and forth.

3. Schedule creatively. If you’re not keen on running twice a day, consider options for one-way run commuting. Is there a bus, train or carpool you can take on the way home? Or, alternate your commutes–drive or bike in and run home one day; the following day, run in and then drive or bike home.

4. Don’t forget your underwear. It’s all too easy to forget to pack spare underwear and socks. Keep a few spares at the office just in case.

5. Bring a headlamp. Don’t get caught stumbling over roots in the dark. Having a headlamp or flashlight will keep you upright and moving through the dark.

6. Plan your “refresh” strategy. If your office doesn’t have a shower, there are other ways to clean up: Find a nearby gym, office or public pool with a locker room. Or just buy baby wipes and leave them at your desk.

7. Invest in a good pack or two. Consider buying a few different options to carry your stuff. Having a variety of running pack types and sizes will make you feel comfortable that you have the right gear for the right job. In the past five years, the market for running packs has exploded, so have fun and shop for what fits your body and your needs.

Jonathan Loewus-Deitch has been hitting the trails in and around Washington, DC, since moving there four years ago from the Pacific Northwest. He run-commutes daily to his office by the White House, often taking the long way through the Rock Creek Park trails, and spends weekends outside the city running trails and ultras in the mountains.

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