Whether you’ve only just started running or are a seasoned sub four marathoner, anyone who’s laced up their trainers for a run will have – at some point – lamented the difficulties of trying to find time in a schedule to run.
Step forward the ‘run commute’.
As simple as it sounds, run commutes are running to or from work instead of using your usual mode of transport. And they’re growing in popularity. In fact, the Strava insights report for 2017, showed that there were 45,316 running commutes, uploaded onto the app, per week last year which showed a 51% growth from the year before.
Now, you can even join Red Bull's Million Mile Commute (which is attempting to collectively achieve 1 million human powered miles over the month of July) - and considering it’s estimated there are around 16.9 million running commuters in the UK using their legs to get to or from the office.
If you’ve fancied it but don’t know where to start, Lucy Waterlow, co-author of Run Mummy Run says proper planning is key: "If you can, leave your work clothes and shoes at your workplace so then you'll only need to carry the essentials - mobile, keys, money - in a running belt," she says. "If you're running to work and showering when you get there, leave your towel and wash stuff there the day before to save running with it. If your office doesn’t have a shower then just run home rather than into work."
An average run commuter pace is around 8 minutes 20 seconds per mile, but even if you’re not that fast, travelling at a ten minute mile means you’ll cover almost four miles in 40 minutes, half the average time it takes London commuters to travel to their work place every day.
Dawn Morse founder of Core Elements Training says as well as making you healthier, run commuting is wallet friendly too. "Running to work can be a fantastic way to maximise your training time and to reduce costs of your daily commute over time. However, it’s important to build up to a full run commute over time. Ideally start off by transitioning over a 5 – 6 week period."
If your commute is a longer distance than you’d comfortably run, you can still run part of it. "Drive the first few miles or get off the train a few stops early," adds Dawn.
The overall number of run commutes in 2017 grew by 51 per cent with UK run commuters covering a total distance of 16.7 million km – offsetting a potential 1.1 billion litres of CO2, and the equivalent of keeping more than 1300 cars off the road.
While it’s ecologically friendly, Lucy says motivation is key in maintaining the discipline required to be a successful run commuter. "Stay motivated by trying to vary the route you do to work if possible - in the summer when the mornings and evenings are lighter, is there an off-road route you could take to make it more interesting? You can also vary the intensity you run at by doing a fartlek - varying the speed you run at along the way for certain time or distances; for example between lampposts. Keeping a record of your run-commute could also help you keep motivated as you can see if you can achieve a personal best time for that route. By uploading it to an app like Strava, you can then share the course with other runners in the area and compete with them over who can run it the fastest."
While motivation and scheduling are vital, so is kit. "Make sure you get a running specific backpack to carry what you need," adds Lucy. "They're lightweight with supportive straps and have been designed to reduce bounce on your back. Pack as lightly as possible to save getting sore shoulders."
If you find your run commute going well, Dawn says, why not enter a race? "Aim to build your running commutes into a long term goal, such as half marathon or marathon training."
For Lucy, run commuting also utilises the best part of the day. "I'm a big fan," admits Lucy. "It gives you a great start to the day if you run to work, and an opportunity to clear your head and release any stress if you run home. It also helps fit training in, especially if you have a family, as you're running in 'dead time' when you'd otherwise be sat on a bus, train or stuck in traffic."
Why don't you join the run commute community with Red Bull's million mile commute?