Run Commuting – Park your cars and start your engines!

June 2, 2015

On the Run By Clint Cherepa

Run commuting is the perfect way to tack on extra miles, save money on gas and be true to the sport.

Daniel Keller, an aspiring ultra-runner from Renton, Washington, has found that run commuting saves him a tremendous amount of time.

“I used to (drive) commute home and then head out in the evenings to get miles in,” says Keller. “That was hard on both me and my family. With run commuting, I can use the hour that I used to spend commuting to run.”

Here’s how to get out of the car and on your feet.

Start with a Plan

By car, a six-mile drive can take between five and 30 minutes. Running the same distance will involve 30 – 60 minutes, depending on pace.

Megan Kogut, a runner from Shoreline, Washington, has run between 2 –10 miles for her commutes.

“I ride my bike in and then run home, then the next day run in and ride home,” says Kogut. “That means two work outfits, one run outfit, and two days of food. The only ongoing challenge is the patience and presence of mind needed for packing and unpacking everything on both ends.”

Get the Gear

A good running backpack is highly useful. Uli Steidl, a Seattle resident and winner of 10 Seattle Marathons and the Boston Marathon Masters winner in 2012 has been run commuting for eight years. Steidl says his pack of choice is the Nathan HPL #020 running vest.

Dress for Success

The winter weather won’t stop the commute if a person remembers to wear a base, thermal and shell layer, which works with the cold, instead of against it. A pair of trail running or studded footwear accessory will help deal with the inevitable slip-n-slide conditions.

Commute Safe

A high power headlight and reflective gear is a must for early-morning and late-night commutes. Choose low- traffic routes and parts of town that are not dangerous.

Decide Distance

Consider your choices when commuting to work. Many people combine running with mass transit. For example, Keller runs 14 miles from Redmond, Washington to Renton and he takes the bus into work in the morning and runs home. Another solution would be to drive half-way and park at a friend’s house or a parking lot and run the remaining miles. Other runners who have shorter commutes but want to add miles will run past work or take the long way home.

Running Around Town

Run commuting encompasses more than just hoofing it to work. Why not actually run when running errands? Seth Wolpin is a Seattle run commuter who ran solo across the United States in 2012, covering 3,384 miles in 107 days.

“I try to run everywhere,” says Wolpin. “If I am meeting someone downtown for dinner I will pack nice shoes and pants and run there after work and change in a Starbucks bathroom.”

Enjoy the Benefits

Who regrets putting in miles before the work-day even begins?

Kogut suggests giving it a shot for a day or two to see if you get hooked.

“So many times I’ve thought I was too tired from my day to have a good time on the way home, but 15 minutes into my run, I am on top of the world again.”

Take it from these run commuters: get creative and skip turning the ignition key. Instead, ignite the lungs and discover the joys of running, save time and keep our earth sustainable.

Clint Cherepa is the Running Columnist for OutdoorsNW. He is currently in Nicaragua, where he has been busy training for ultra-marathons and working on a new venture: