July 15, 2014

Run Commuting

My friend Rob sent me this article from Outside Magazine last week: The Rise of Run Commuters.

I've run more miles than I've put on my jeep over the past four years, and the majority of those miles have been back and forth to work. I'd consider myself somewhat of an expert on run commuting.

Here are the things you need to pull this off successfully...
    Even generic brand plastic bags work great
  • Plastic bag. This keeps your work ID, and maybe a credit card or a few dollars, from getting sweaty. Sandwich/snack sized is fine, and each one should last you about 6 months. I don't bother carrying my cell phone with me on a daily basis.
  • Shorts / pants with a zipper pocket in the back. I recommend the Saucony Inferno split shorts, which have a perfect sized rear pocket.
  • Saucony running shoes. I suppose you could run in other shoes, but I'm not sure why you would want to even bother.
  • Access to a shower. I'm not exactly a Mr. Fancy-pants, but I think you should shower after running.
I've been run commuting ever since moving to Utah. My office is located about 5 miles from home via the most direct route, but I usually take a route with less traffic that is about 6 miles long. That is perfect for most afternoon runs. Since I usually run longer in the mornings, I'll add grass/dirt loops around two of the parks that I pass though along my way. On a typical ten mile run to work in the morning, half will be on soft surfaces. Not bad. 

Luckily there is a small employee fitness center located on the floor below my office, with two showers. That is the most crucial component to this entire process.

My office is in the building on the far right, and there is a Costco immediately behind it.
Is there a more scenic location for a Costco in the world?

When I'm doing simple base training, during a typical week I'll run commute four out of five days. Same holds true for marathon training, where I typically do just one workout during the week. On a "driving" day I'll bring a gym bag with several days' worth of clothes along with a bunch of food. I keep soap and a toothbrush in the bag. The following week I'll drive again and swap out a fresh gym bag with more clothes. It's pretty simple. I keep some extra non-perishable food in my desk (canned vegetables) along with some Powerbars (in case I run out of stuff I brought), and Costco is just across the street in an emergency situations where I need a gallon of peanut butter, a seventy two pound jar of sun dried tomatoes, or something like that.

During training periods where I find myself doing morning workouts at the track or on my tempo loop, I'll sometimes drive to work twice a week in those situations (on workout days) and run back and forth on recovery days.

Since driving to work takes around 15 minutes each way, I free up at least 30 minutes a day... but realistically it's a lot more than that - since I get right out the door and run in the afternoons (that's the ticket home, after all). If I went home first, I'd almost always find ways to waste time before getting in my second run... or potentially skip it! Run commuting makes finding the motivation to run doubles very, very easy... even when it's snowing or 105 degrees outside. You just get it done and don't think twice about it.

I know what you're thinking - nobody wants to run with a shirt in the summer, but you can't go in/out of an office building shirtless, no matter how much much of a bronzed god you are - what do you do about that? I've thought about stashing a shirt in the bushes outside of my building to put on when I arrive in the morning, then wear it out and stash it back outside for the following day. But I always worry it would disappear, and that isn't worth the risk. So during the hot summer months, I wrap a very light singlet around my waist when on my way to work and put it on at the end of the run before I go inside. Same deal, but opposite, in the afternoons.

The primary upside of the run commuting is that the White Wolf gets saved for weekends and trips to places where it really belongs, and hopefully it will last forever...

So, to summarize everything above: 1. Wear Saucony shoes, 2. Take a shower, 3. Treadmills aren't real running.


  1. Sometimes I hate going to your blog because it makes me want to move to SLC.

    1. Yeah but they you'd have to manage multiple wives, etc. Although it might be worth it, to get out of the summer humidity.

  2. good tips. this is what happens when you don't put your work ID in a plastic bag (for seven years): http://goo.gl/qkzR68