Running to and from work

Fig. 1: Sprint sessions for the bus (Photo: The Bucky)

Fig. 1: Sprint sessions for the bus (Photo: The Bucky)

Most mornings, while I wait for my public transport, I see a man who looks like he’s running to work. This evening I saw two more, running home.

I’m assuming they’re running to and from work because they each have a bag on their backs and are running at the morning or evening rush hour.

Whether or not these particular runners are actually commuting or not, running to and from work is a thing. You can even visit websites like The RunCommute or Running To Work for advice, gear and features for those who take the rush hour on foot.

You could see some benefits. It’s a direct and inexpensive way to get to work, without the stress of traffic jams or unreliability of public transport. You make the most of your time, especially if you run twice a day.

But running to work is still rare – and with good reason.

First of all, I wouldn’t fancy running with a backpack. For one thing, it must be uncomfortable and bad for your running posture, no matter how bespoke or well-fitting the bag is. Ultra-marathon runners may need to adapt to running with a camel-pack for their water, but any other runners don’t need them. (Water stations or a water bottle are sufficient for anyone doing a city marathon.)

Also, the logistics are a pain. Do you leave your work clothes in the office the day before, or do you bundle them into your backpack? And what if there isn’t a shower in your workplace?

Then there’s the quality of work. Are you really going to be in the form for an important presentation or boring meeting first thing in the morning, right after a run?

But for me the most compelling argument against the run commute is that it reduces running to something functional. I run for enjoyment, not because I have to get from point A to point B without being late. And I certainly don’t want my run to be part of my working day – it’s valuable time for me to unwind, switch off, clear out the mental detritus.

So, even while I’m squashed against my fellow commuters I have my run to look forward to. The work-run balance is sacred.

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15 Responses to Running to and from work

  1. Cian McDermott says:

    Hi – Great tips on the Running to Work website!
    I run to work most days in Australia. 3.5km each way twice daily. It’s not long in clocking up the miles. I put my phone, lunch wallet and hospital scrubs in my Salomon S-lab pack ( and off I go.
    Granted the weather is better but I will do it also when back in Ireland. Makes me stronger for my enjoyable run on the weekend
    All good!

    • Run and Jump says:

      Am I right in saying you’re an ultra runner? If so, then running with a backpack is normal for you. And perhaps working in hospital scrubs rather than formal businesswear makes the logistics easier. Anyway, keep on enjoying it!

      • Cian McDermott says:

        Ur right – I have started doing ultra trail runs and love the feel of a backpack. Probably a bit easier having hospital scrubs rather than a freshly pressed suit on my back every day. Thanks for sharing the websites, food for thought and keep up the good work with your posts. Thx Cian

  2. I bet running to work would make for some real good tempo runs, I’m always late! But yeah, I wouldn’t do it, not only because it’s far but it just too much trouble, clothes, sweat, backpack, forget it.
    I know someone who runs to work occasionally and he told me he would shower at work after his running/commute there. So that’s one less problem (I still wouldn’t do it though).

  3. dynomum says:

    Although I don’t run to work I do run during my lunch hour, now I have a shower available in the office so I’m lucky, but I do find that on the days I miss my lunchtime run, my productivity in the afternoon is way down. Running, for me anyway, gives me a real mental boost, a great way to start / continue you working day!

  4. Aidan says:

    I work on a few different sites during the week but my college’s city centre campus is a handy 4 miles roughly from my house. I run it at least once a week, sometimes two depending on when my son has his child minders. It’s roughly the same time wise as driving or catching the train. There’s no shower in work so I’m reluctant to run in with just a toilet to change. So I get the train in, run home. Highly recommend it the commute though not a chore at all. You work the logistics out, my bag weighs no more than a couple of Kgs and doesn’t make for an awkward gait although you do feel the weight a little.
    I would say the route makes a huge difference. I’m lucky to be able to run all but the first and last Km or so through parks or along the river trails. When I lived in Dublin the 5 mile run along the n11 from Belfield was uninspiring, a run from the city centre even worse!

    • Run and Jump says:

      Running home sounds more appealing to me, but besides any weight I think I’d be annoyed by just having any bag on my back, even if it were empty. If I ever ran home, I’d just leave all my clothes and stuff at work, and pick them up the next day.

      Yes, the Stillorgan dual carriageway isn’t the most appealing run at any time, though part of it is on my current long-run route. The ideal would be living in Chapelizod or Castleknock and running home through the Phoenix Park!

  5. Ray says:

    Cycle or bus into work on Monday, with a bag of running gear and clean clothes for Tuesday
    Run home Monday, no bag
    Run in Tuesday, no bag
    Cycle/bus home Tuesday, with a bag of dirty clothes

    • Run and Jump says:

      I still prefer: Come home from work every day, have a run, no bag 🙂

      • Ray says:

        I could cycle home from work today. 30 minutes commuting, and an hour for a run later.
        Or I could run home from work, and my run time and commute time are the same time.
        That’s 30 minutes saved, 2 hours a week. And doesn’t involve running with a bag.

      • Run and Jump says:

        Fortunately I have sufficient time in my day right now that I don’t feel the need to run during my commute – I can sit back, listen to running podcasts and look forward to my evening run!

  6. I’ve often debated the running to and from work, but I’m now firmly leaning towards doing it. The return journey at least. After a stressful day, what better than a wind-down run (like you said). Then there’s saving money on travel, the chance to avoid cycling on the crazy city roads and the time it frees up once you’re home and out of the shower. I’m a supporter of the running commute, but I appreciate your point about a run being something to look forward to when you’re home. Good post.

    • Run and Jump says:

      Maybe in the future if I’m in a workplace with shower facilities and if I need to save more time, I might consider a run-commute. Right now, though, work is work, running is running and the commute is the cordon sanitaire between the two!

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