Running to Work: All You Need to Know

Train trouble and traffic jams can leave you fuming before you get to your desk. Trade your commuter hell for the odd run to work and reap the benefits

running to work

Simply finding the time to run is often the biggest challenge we face as runners. As our lives get busier and more demanding, spare time and running are often the first things to suffer.

But what if you could use running to get you somewhere in the most literal sense? Rather than sitting in a traffic jam watching the hour you had set aside for a run slip away, why not ditch the car and run home? Or, instead of cursing as you stand on a freezing platform waiting for a delayed train that’s made you late for the third day in a row, why not get your miles in before the working day has even begun?

People are mad about riding to work, but running can easily be used in a similar way. Run-commuting is the perfect way to take on extra mileage, save money on fuel and fares, and be true to the sport. There is no better way to start and end the working day than with a run.

Chris Wardrope, a run-commuter from Broxburn, Scotland, says: “Passing commuters sat in traffic is an amazing, liberating feeling. I feel so satisfied to be doing it under my own steam.”

Here are the top 10 tips to get you running for office:

1. Start with a Plan

By car, a 10K journey can take between five to 30 minutes. Running the same distance will take 35 to 70 minutes, depending on pace. This means planning is a must. The further you live from work, the more planning is involved.

Wardrope lives 19K from work and started running home in the summer of 2009. One day he was stuck in traffic on a bus to one of the Park and Ride facilities he uses. “I said to myself, ‘I bet I could run there quicker than this.’ The thought stuck in my head and, after another long wait in traffic, my decision was made.” The next day, he drove the car to the Park and Ride and, armed with a rucksack full of work clothes, ran the remaining distance to the office.

If you drive to work, one system that could work for you is driving in the morning and running home that night. The next morning, run back to work and drive home that night.

2. Get the Gear

Run-commuting might save you some money in petrol or fares, but you may need to invest this in some new gear. A running backpack is essential (check out the best options here), while a decent headtorch and reflective gear are a must for early-morning and late-night commutes, particularly if you go through poorly-lit areas.

run commute backpack

3. Dress for Success

During the summer months, the obvious shorts, socks and shirt will do for most run-commutes. When it comes to the winter commute, however, things can get a lot colder and trickier.

The drop in temperature need not stop you running to work during the winter, though, provided you wear enough layers. Here’s our guide to the best winter running gear.

4. The Importance of Fuelling

The distance of the commute will play a large role in the fuelling process. A bagel and cream cheese should be enough to get you on your way, and a sports bottle with a scoop of protein can be filled with water once at work. You can always store energy bars in your desk drawers as well.

5. Commute Safe

Run-commuting will at one point likely involve running in the dark, making reflective gear and a headlamp indispensable for safety. Choose your route sensibly to avoid traffic and dodgy areas.

O’Regan says: “Be aware of your surroundings and avoid areas of heavy traffic if possible. The shortest route isn’t always the best route. I avoid listening to music and instead use my heart-rate monitor for company. It’s your responsibility to stay safe, so make sure your clothing is reflective. Dress to live the part, not to look the part.”

6. Decide your Distance

Some run-commuters don’t kid around when it comes to distance. O’Regan has a 19K commute, but will actually add miles to get in a midweek long run. Other commuters have as little as 1K to travel, so will run past work or take the long way home, adding distance to the commute.

If your commute is too long to run, you can always drive or catch the train part of the way and run the remaining distance.

7. Running Around Town

Run-commuting can encompass more than just running to and from work. How about that quick jaunt to the corner shop, or meeting friends for a coffee? Get creative and skip turning the ignition key; instead, ignite your lungs.

8. Involving Family and Friends

Having the support of family and friends will make the commute easier. Can you talk your spouse into dropping you at work in the morning so you can run home? Perhaps try to inaugurate a run to work week or day at the workplace. Who knows, you might even end up with some new workmates to run with.

running to work

9. Make it a Challenge

Write your run-commute goal in permanent marker on your calendar or training diary. Challenge yourself to a streak, like a week of running to work, or seven days in a month.

Wardrope says: “Initially I wanted to just run home once a week, then it was twice a week, then I challenged myself, ‘Can I do it five times in one week?’”

If you are part of a club, challenge the members to a commuting duel: Who can commute the most miles in a month? Suddenly, getting to work is fun…kind of.

10. Enjoy the Benefits

No one regrets getting the miles in before the work day begins. “If it wasn’t for the commute, I just wouldn’t have the time to fit in all I need to do”, says O’Regan. Run-commuting teaches a person to run in all types of weather and brave the elements. It saves cash and time. If a 10K run typically takes 45 minutes and the typical 10K drive is 10 minutes, that means a 45-minute run is only actually taking 35 minutes out of your day.

Jack London wrote: “I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

Runners often wish for more hours in the day, and this is one reason run commuting comes out a winner.

Men's Running

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