The Logistics of Commuter Running

posted in: Running | 0

Hello, and welcome to the weekend! By the time you read this, I will be on a train up to Manchester to see friends. In fact, if you’re a late sleeper or you live West of the UK, I might have already arrived and be enjoying a coffee or two. If you’re on Mountain Time or further West, you can assume I’m on the wine.

In my opinion, combining exercise with your commute is a no-brainer if you live within 10 miles of your work. I don’t want to take the packed train to the gym when I can cycle or run to work, killing two birds with one stone. Cycling takes the same amount of time as the train, and running only about 20 minutes longer. A trip to the gym would add an extra hour or more to my day.

Let’s not forget the cost of the gym and the train.

With cycling, you have to change at work – but you can take anything you need in that same day. Running into work however does require some forward thinking. I remember getting to work to find my colleague at his desk, dressed like he had just left the peloton of the Tour de France. [The shops didn’t open until 9.30am, and he’d forgotten to bring any trousers]. I’ve worn a hot pink sports bra under a white shirt all day; it happens.

Still, planning is the key – and they don’t call me Hannah The Planner for nothing.


Get a good backpack

It’s obvious, but it makes such a difference. I take the easy-to-plan things – like clothing, shoes, bags etc – to work in advance, but there are always things I need to carry in that day. My glasses, leftover dinner for lunch, make-up, phones (yes – plural), keys etc. I use the OMM Ultra Light 12L bag.

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It doesn’t have a hydration pack, but I don’t need that for the distances I’m doing. It has enough room for all the things I need, and doesn’t bounce or chaff at all. It’s one I see people wearing all over London, and I’m not surprised as it works well.

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Keep basic items at work

I have towels, make-up, a hairbrush, perfume, toiletries and shoes at work. These would be far too heavy to realistically carry, and there’s just no point. They never leave the office. Hmmm, I really should get a proper toiletries bag sometime soon (classy!)….

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Do you like my towel? It’s because I’m COOL. cool cool cool.


Stockpile the rest

On the days you’re not running, take in a couple of bags, a few outfits, shoes, jackets – whatever you might need – and just store them at work. You never know when you might fancy running in and this will make your life so much easier! Gradually these things work their way home as I wear them and they need to be washed, or as I go out after work and naturally the shoes, jacket and bag I’m using come home with me.

Then it’s time to re-stock!

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These two bike bags are full to the brim with clothes, jackets, bags and so forth. One of the many good things about cycling; you can carry absolutely loads of stuff!


If you can’t shower, run home!

I’m lucky that there are amazing showers in my office. When I first started working in this office, I was told they were awful so as you can imagine, I was pleasantly surprised. Also, there never seems to be a queue (perhaps because everyone thinks they’re awful. Well shhhh, don’t tell anyone they’re actually GREAT).

I know not everyone is so lucky, but this is easily solved by running home from work where I trust everyone has access to showers.


If it’s too far, just go partway

Maybe running the whole way just isn’t realistic. A colleague of mine lives 30 miles from the office, and he parks 5 miles away and runs to work from his car, then back again at the end of the day. Maybe you get the train into town and then run to your office from the station. Maybe you run to the station near your house.

On my “off” days, I will run part way, and can limit my run to as little as 3 miles without issue. It’s great to have this flexibility. Find something that works for you!


Take lunch – frozen

“Let it goooooo, let it goooo”. No not THAT kind of frozen.

I used to buy lunch on the days I ran to work. This annoys me, as it can end up with leftovers being thrown away, and I can easily spend £10 on lunch. (My Best of Itsu the other day was £7.99). I really prefer eating good ol’ home cooking, and it’s better for my waistline as I can see everything that goes into it, and it avoids me *accidentally* buying crap. Much as I may appear to glide gracefully when I run (pah!), it is a bouncy business and many meals simply wouldn’t survive. Now, I freeze my dinner overnight, and take it to work frozen. This keeps it intact during the run. For great justice!

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Create a routine and perfect it

I am still finding new ways to make my life easier. Sometimes it is annoying and I feel like I am bending over backwards to shoehorn a run into my day (on Friday I took three separate outfits, a bag, a jacket, and a pair of boots to work – all so I could run to work on Monday and Tuesday mornings), but you get used to writing lists, and thinking ahead. It always feels worth the effort when I know I have run 7.5 miles (incidentally, 7.5 miles I won’t have to run during my precious weekend) and burnt 800kcal before the day really begins.


I ran home from work on Friday, along the Thames which I haven’t done since May.

I had a late afternoon snack, to keep me going (and in the hope I could resist raiding the kitchen when I got home)…

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….and made sure I drank my regular 2litres (66oz according to my bottle) of water during the day.

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I ran an indirect route, which took the mileage to 9.27 miles (it’s 7.5 miles direct – the way I run to work in the mornings). I have time after work and want to get in the miles – plus it’s a far nicer route. I start at St. Paul’s Cathedral, run along the north side of the Thames past the London Eye (on the other side), the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, and Battersea Power Station (again, on the other side), then go through Battersea Park and Clapham Common and Tooting Common before running the rest of the way home on the roads. It only really gets busy around Big Ben. Otherwise, it’s river or parkland almost the entire way.


You get a lovely view of London. My favourite part is crossing the river (I used Chelsea Bridge) and the planes fly more or less overhead towards Heathrow. They’ll still pretty high up, but you can see the line they’re forming. The view on board must be spectacular as they basically fly along the river.

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It took 1hr 17mins with an average pace of 8.18. Here are my splits:

Mile 1 – 8.10

Mile 2  – 8.22

Mile 3 – 8.25

Mile 4 – 8.03

Mile 5 – 8.28

Mile 6 – 8.23

Mile 7 – 8.22

Mile 8 – 8.22

Mile 9 – 8.31


I was struggling by the end, and had to spend some quality time with the fan when I got home…

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But it’s Saturday now! My long runs are out the way, and it’s fun time 🙂

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