Commuting. It’s a word very few people get excited about. It conjures up long lines at the bus stop, long traffic jams at toll booths, and long, often sweaty stretches of standing on crowded metro lines or trains.
Yet add the word “bike” or “run” in front of your commute, and notice how possibilities open up. Here’s how to un-tether yourself from traditional means of getting to work and explore self-propelled transit instead, racking up Fitbit steps in the progress.
I’ve been biking and running to work ever since I graduated from college, and along the way I’ve experienced everything these alternate means of transport have to offer.
In my home town of San Francisco I’ve never seen so many people run-commuting as I have in the past few years. Maybe it’s part of a overall spike in running, or maybe it’s a sign of increasing numbers of busy professionals trying to squeeze in their half-marathon and marathon training any way they can into their compressed schedules. Or maybe it’s simply more people seeing more people doing it.
Whatever the reason, run commuting is a great and simple way to log an extra 3, 5, or 10 miles into your day — all the while avoiding waiting, boredom, frustration, and general discomfort of cars, trains and busses. Not to mention helping the environment, and providing yourself with a little headspace to figure out your day en route to the office, or decompress as you head home.
How to start
1. Do a test run
If you have never run to your office before, it’s a good idea to do a trial run before starting out. Google Maps and MapMyRun are just a few of the many great tools to find the best routes, calculate distances, and estimate times.
2. Pack your stuff
You’ll probably need to carry a few more things with you than you do on your recreational runs. If you can keep your carry-on items to keys, phone, and wallet then a fanny pack will probably do the trick.
If you have to carry an extra set of clothes, laptop, toiletries, or other items you’ll need a backpack. Here are some of our favorites. Look for packs made with ultralight material and have straps that wrap around at the chest or waist so your pack doesn’t bounce up and down when you run.
3. Pack light
Also, try not to carry more than a few pounds, as it will most likely start to weigh you down after a few blocks.
4. Pack ahead
Pack your run backpack in advance, because there’s nothing worse than forgetting something essential at home or the office. Consider having a separate set of house keys and toiletries dedicated to your run commute pack so you don’t have to constantly transfer your essentials from bag to bag.
You’ll reach run commuting nirvana faster when you have a pack that’s ready to “grab and go.”
5. Plan ahead, safety first
The great thing about run-commuting is you can do it in all sorts of weather, provided you take a few precautions. If you’re carrying electronics you’ll want to keep them in a Ziploc bag and/or OtterBox/case, and double protect everything in a waterproof pack. Also, add reflective tape or get a reflective pack if you plan to run at night or in the wee hours. Always remember to look both ways and be extra cautious when crossing roads, as you’ll be sharing the streets during high traffic hours.
Jenn Pattee is a competitive ultrarunner, outdoor fitness maven and relentless pursuer of playtime. She founded San Francisco’s Basic Training in 2008. Every morning and evening, she and her team of instructors take groups of dedicated amateur athletes through scenic trail runs and innovative cross-training routines designed to increase endurance, flexibility, core strength and speed. She recently wrote about 5 beneficial reasons to run.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.