5 Tips to Start Run Commuting

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It can be tough to find time to fit everything into your schedule. We know how it goes—trying to juggle work, family, and your running routine every day. If you work nearby, though, we could have a time-saving solution—start run commuting.

Yes, it’s a thing. Instead of taking your car, the bus, or the subway to work, simply run there.

If you’re interested in streamlining your daily routine, being more eco-friendly in everyday life, and giving yourself a health and fitness boost, check out these tips to start run commuting.

running in city with backpack

What Is Run Commuting?

Run commuting is exactly as it sounds—running to work. It has a ton of benefits over more common forms of transportation, and it’s a great way to get your miles in while doing something that would otherwise be “dead time.”

The Benefits of Run Commuting

Interested? Here are some benefits you’ll get if you start run commuting—even just for one or two days a week.

Gets Your Miles In

Say goodbye to those frantic runs after work to try and hit your mileage target for the week. Run commuting means you’re getting some of your miles in by overlapping your daily routine with your training program.

Keep in mind that if you’re running to or from work every day, it can be easy to accidentally overtrain. On the days that you would normally do an easy run or a recovery run, you can substitute your run commute instead.

On the days you’re planning to do speedwork or tempo runs, you may want to skip the run commute to avoid overdoing it. It’s up to you, though, but make sure you’re getting enough recovery in between runs!

Improves Your Running Performance

Along with hitting those goals, you’ll have more opportunities to improve your running performance if you run a few extra times a week.

You can build these runs into your regular training schedule if you want to—it’s an extra chance to build your cardiovascular system, strengthen those muscles, and get better at running, whatever your goals are.

Streamlines Your Routine

Combining your daily run and your commute can streamline your routine quite significantly! Instead of having to find time for a run outside of work and family time, you can now utilize the time that would otherwise be dead time.

That means less rushing in the mornings and more chill time in the afternoons and evenings. In today’s busy lifestyle, this can be invaluable.

More Eco-Friendly

Not driving for a day or two per week reduces your carbon footprint. Considering the average vehicle gives off around 400 grams of carbon dioxide per mile, you can work out a rough number based on how far away your workplace is from home and how often you go in.

For example, if your workplace is 5 miles away and you’re commuting three days a week for one trip, that’s almost 5 kilograms of CO2 NOT getting out into the air on a monthly basis! While everyone else might still be polluting the air, for the few days that you commute, you’re contributing to a more eco-friendly planet.

Saves You Money

Not only do your two non-gas-burning days reduce your carbon footprint, but they can also save you money in the long run. If you’re run commuting two days per week, that’s eight days of the month you won’t be driving.

That equals 16 trips—there and back—you save yourself every month. That adds up, so one gas tank should last longer, depending on how far your workplace is from your home.

May Save Time

How often have you been late for work thanks to a traffic jam or an accident on the road? No more, with run commuting—skirt the crowds and slip through traffic to get to work on time every time, as long as you leave home at the right time.

Gets the Blood Pumping

By the time you arrive at work, your body and brain are already primed for the day ahead. The boost in circulation means you’re getting blood to the brain and warming it up to be productive and think sharply throughout the day.

Plus, you’ve most likely also been hydrating on your run, so you’ll arrive at the office much more ready for the day than if you drag yourself out of bed, slug down a coffee, and slouch your way to work in the driver’s seat.

On your return commute, if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day, it’s a great way to get the blood pumping through your body again.

Starts Your Day Off Right

Running releases endorphins that do a great job of lowering stress and making you feel great. Starting your day with a good of those is the best way to begin!

Before You Start Run Commuting

Before starting, sit down and take some time to consider these factors.

Assess Feasibility and Distance

How far is your workplace from your home? Ultimately, the distance and the time it’ll take for you to run it needs to be achievable without leaving the house at a ridiculous hour.

If work is close or within a comfortable running distance, all that remains is to figure out how long it should take you to complete the run. Remember, you need to factor in time for cleaning yourself up afterward, too.

If your workplace is a little far, you can consider taking a bus or train part of the way and running the rest. Alternatively, if you stay pretty far from work and want to drive yourself, you can park a few miles away from the office and do a short run from your vehicle to the office.

Also, keep in mind that whatever you decide to do, you’ll need to get back home from work as well. To avoid overtraining, you might want to take one commuting run and do your other trip another way. Take public transportation, ask your spouse to fetch you (or drop you off), or sort out a carpooling arrangement.

Plan Your Route

Once you’ve decided exactly how it will work, decide on your route. It’s a good idea to stick to the same route every time because you’ll soon get a good idea of how long it takes you to run it, as well as what potential hazards to look out for.

Avoid dangerous areas, or carry some kind of self-defense tool if you have to run through a dodgy part of town.

Determine How Often You’ll Run Commute

While adding extra runs into your schedule can be beneficial, if you’re run commuting every day on top of your normal running routine, you’re going to make it far easier to overtrain.

It’s best to decide on how many days you want to run commute and switch out your regular runs on those days with your commute. You can do one run commute as an easy run, one as a tempo run, and so on.

Don’t forget that you’ll be doing two runs most of the time if you’re commuting—one there, and one back. Work this into your schedule, or figure out if you’ll grab an Uber back home.

Time Management

Time management is key for successful run commuting. Plan ahead and make sure you leave on time so you can get this right!

Factor in Extra Time for Freshening Up and Changing

Aim to get to work a little early so you can freshen up. Nobody wants to jump straight into work while sweaty and out of breath, so plan your time well to allow for some clean-up time before you settle in to do your work.

Plan For Post-Run Meals

You can pack a pre-prepared meal or prepare something when you get there. Either way, ensure you have a decent carb-rich, protein-rich meal to fuel you after your run.

Tips for Starting Run Commuting

Ready to start run commuting? Here are the best tips for doing it right and making it part of your daily routine.

Invest in a Good Quality Running Backpack

A great backpack will increase your comfort and convenience. A bad one will be painful and change your running form! The good news is, while you might need to spend a little on a good running backpack, you’ll save so much on gas that you’ll still come out on top!

Make sure it’s got enough space for everything you need. Padded straps are a bonus, and a waist strap is also a welcome addition for extra stability.

Pack Only What You Need

Be ruthless with this. No extras—only the things you truly need on your commute and for work.

Create a Checklist of Essential Items

You should already know what items you need for work. Perhaps it’s a laptop or some files, or some stationery. But listing them all out, plus your running essentials, can be valuable so you never forget anything.

Get Travel-Sized Toiletries

You don’t need to cart your regular-sized toiletries around with you. Buy some travel-sized toiletries that you can slip easily into your backpack and save space.

Use Wrinkle-Resistant Clothing

Regular clothing wrinkles when folded in a backpack. If you can’t find wrinkle-resistant clothing, invest in a lightweight garment sleeve. It’ll make your clothes much less likely to wrinkle, even when folded in a bag.

Weather Preparedness

It’s a good idea to check the weather the night before. Layering is your best friend when it comes to weather protection.

Wear Comfortable Running Gear

Comfort is key. If you end up chafing, you’ll have to sit all day at work dealing with the consequences… So go for comfortable running gear above anything else.

Use Reflective Gear and Bright Clothing

Whether you’re planning on running through traffic or not, opt for reflective gear or at least bright clothing. It’s an extra safety layer that could save your life at some point!

Invest in a Good Waterproof and Windproof Jacket

Every runner needs one of these in their gear stash! It should be lightweight and easy to layer other garments underneath, but weatherproof—especially windproof and water-resistant—is important for ultimate protection.

Consider Using Arm Warmers or Sleeves

If a jacket feels too cumbersome for you, you might want to opt for arm sleeves or arm warmers instead. These will keep your arms warm but act as a base layer, so they’re much less bulky than even a lightweight jacket.

Warm Up First

Don’t forget to warm up. Do a few minutes of light cardio, jumping rope, jumping jacks, and some dynamic stretching. This will get the blood flowing so your muscles will warm up before you start.

Staying Hydrated

Depending on how long your run is, you might want to opt for a small handheld water bottle, a water belt, or a hydration pack. Remember, warm weather will require more water, but don’t forget to hydrate when it’s cold and dark as well.

Freshening Up for Work

Once your run is done, you must clean up and be presentable for the office. Here’s how best to do that.

If Possible, Shower at Work or the Gym

Many offices have showers and locker rooms for their employees, so you should freshen up properly when you arrive at work.

If not, see if there’s a gym close by. It might be worth paying the membership fee just to use the showers. Some gyms will let you in for free, and others might charge a reduced fee, but double-check this beforehand.

A good shower will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day, especially if you’re meeting clients or sitting near colleagues.

Refreshing Body Wipes or Bath Sponge

Another alternative, if you don’t have access to showers, is to stash some refreshing body wipes in your backpack. You can easily find them online, like the DRMTLGY Body and Face Shower Wipes or Scrubzz Disposable No Rinse Bathing Wipes.

They give you a pretty good clean without needing to take a full shower, although we do recommend splashing yourself with some water in the office bathroom if possible.

Use Wet/Dry Bags for Your Sweaty Clothes

You don’t want just to leave your sweaty clothing in your backpack. Not only can sweat seep into the fabric, but it might start to smell, which you don’t want in the office.

Invest in a bag like the ALVABABY. They’re designed to keep wet clothing separate from other stuff in your bag, and they’re generally compact enough to fit easily into your backpack and everything else.

Staying Safe on the Run

Ready to hit the sidewalk? Here’s how to stay safe on your run commute to enjoy every moment and experience all the benefits.

Plan Your Route Carefully

Choose routes that aren’t too challenging. You don’t want to risk an injury on your way to work, and you also shouldn’t be using your run commutes as serious training runs. Go for a straightforward route.

Make Sure Your Phone Is Charged

You never want to think of something happening, but if it does, you need to be able to contact someone. Make sure your phone is charged before you leave the house or the office in the afternoon.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Stay alert. Even if you’re running in peak-hour traffic or in a busy part of town, you can never be too careful. Stay aware and make sure you’re being cautious.

Use Sidewalks and Paths

There’s no need to run on the road. Opt for sidewalks, paths, or through parks instead. It’s safer and easier—remember, some people are running on little sleep and strong coffee!

Tell Someone Your Plans

Tell one of your colleagues when you’re commuting and what time you expect to be there. That way, if something happens (touch wood it doesn’t), someone will be aware of it pretty soon and can go looking for you.

Use a Tracking App

A tracking app can be super handy. Instead of letting someone know you’re on your way and telling them which route you’re taking, send them your live location.

This way, they’ll always know where you are, so if they do need to come and fetch you, they know exactly where to go. Safety first!

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.