After several years of regular sport activity in the school or early career years it is a really shocking experience to realize that finding time for training besides work, family and friends can be a very challenging task. Although skipping a few occasions might seem an acceptable sacrifice on the altar of the higher priorities, the irregular training is a very fragile thing and the lack of your habitual physical activity soon becomes a torture. And while stealing time for the training from work or sleep time has rarely a happy ending, there is a certain amount of time that we spend every day just by sitting: TRAVEL. Although running to work is not an ideal way of training, it can preserve some of that fitness you often remember to with a little drop in your eye. It is cheap, time efficient, independent from the weather and can be combined with other means of transport. And it is a socially quite accepted sport to be done on streets compared to for example javelin or judo. So in the followings I will go through the suggested pace and length, clothing and logistics of running to work.
Pace and length
Average running speed of 10-15 km/h (6-9 mi/h) is about twice the walking speed of 5-7 km/h (3-5 mi/h) and half the cycling speed of 20-30 km/h (12-18 mi/h) that generally equals the travelling speed of cars and public transportation in cities. So there will be a certain increase in your travel time, but it is a relative short and very valuable time considering that a 20-50 min long running is a proper training, especially if it is done twice a day, while the same amount of time would be just the warm-up for a cycling training. So let’s assume that you live in the 4-10 km (3-6 mi) vicinity of your workplace or you can get that close with another means of transport, normally it would take about 10-25 minutes to make that distance, while by running it would take 10-25 minutes more. That is the time you have to pinch off from your morning or evening, which is significantly less than a normal 1-2 hour long training (general length of a training in club including related activities), while changing clothes is comparable with the time of parking the car or bike or walking in from bus stop. And since people expect that you will spend a certain time with travelling it is mostly quite easy to smuggle your training into this time without raising much attention. However, you have to remember that running to work has some limitation compared to a training that you have to live with: The route is more or less fixed as you want to get from A to B, however if you have some alternatives it is always better to avoid busy roads and intersections and prefer parks and small residential roads. Your pace is also a bit constrained: a constant moderate pace is suggested as that will get you to your destination the quickest , while you can avoid over-exhausting yourself. Something that you would choose for a half-marathon or marathon if you do those distances. However some faster intervals connected with easy jogging can be fitted into the program occasionally.
It won’t be a big surprise: you’ll need running clothes, a completely separate set, because even if it is just a short distance and you don’t sweat much, none of your clothes you’ve been using for running will be compatible with most workplaces. It is strongly advised to use quickly drying, light ‘technical’ pieces and forget cotton T-shirts and jeans for good. Clothing for different weather conditions are actually simpler than you would think. For summer-like weather I use athlete and short, for spring-like weather the T-shirt and long trousers and as it gets colder I bring my arm warmers and scarf that are easy to put on and off as I feel, in deep winter I occasionally take on another T-shirt and a cap to keep my chest and head warm, but that’s all. For some who are more sensitive to cold such as my girlfriend, there are very good running hoodies that even come with a small glove at the end of the sleeves. All these clothes are less than a kg and fit into a liter, which will come handy at the logistics part.
The main idea of the running to work logistics is to be able to transport certain vital things with you without impacting the running itself. You have to forget about taking things like laptop, book, dossier with you. Some clothes might have to be transported too in case you cannot store them at your workplace. There are many different situations and many ways to solve them, here are a few examples and advises:
- An ideal situation is when you have a shower and lockers at your workplace. This case you can fill up your locker with your everyday clothes, so you don’t have to carry it with you every day and you can take it home for washing once a week.
- In case you have no locker at your workplace it might still help to have a pack of shoes or also trousers in, because those are the most spacious part of the clothing, the rest can fit into a bag an can be carried during running in.
- Running only in one direction and combining running with other means of transports can mix things up, but ultimately you just have to keep in mind where your stuff is and always have a spare of clothes in your office in case you would forget something.
There are specially designed running backpacks that ensure that they don’t bounce all the way, so they don’t disturb you in running. These are generally small bags with a few liters of capacity. Do not confuse them with string bags, cycling bags and hiking bags, they will move while you run and push you out of balance. The same applies for anything in your hands while running, even small objects can disturb your arm movement which will again result an uncomfortable, unbalanced running. I tried running in many backpacks but I couldn’t fix any of them on my back like a running bag. In case you are carrying only small items like phone and purse, those might fit into an arm pouch or a waist-bag. You will soon find out that every gram counts, so try to minimize your load.
Running to work can give you the regular training that would otherwise not fit into your day. It can be very motivating, because if you do it every day you wouldn’t skip it for laziness that is the biggest enemy of irregular training. Normally there should be nothing stopping you to do it every day, no weather, no too much work, no tiredness, unless you are injured or sick. It is also a very cheap and simple way of keeping yourself fit and in most places it is totally accepted or even respected if someone runs to work. Most importantly the fact that you can preserve most of your fitness with it means that you can switch to a higher intensity training anytime you have more free-time without the coming-back struggle that would be a major obstacle otherwise.
Take care and keep running.