My First: Run Commute (An Introduction)

I’m somewhat of a newbie runner. I’ve run on and off for around 5 years, but it wasn’t until this year that I started taking my hobby much more seriously. I’m often intimidated by runners on the blogosphere that seem miles ahead of me, both figuratively and literally. I sometimes feel like my achievements are small in comparison to theirs.

However I decided, screw this self doubt. I’m making huge strides in my running, and I’m proud. But more to the point, I should celebrate this inexperience, and use it as an opportunity to share what I’ve learnt with anyone who’s interested. The bonus of my newbie status is that I’m constantly trying new things.

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So this post is the beginning of the My First series. Each week I’ll be sharing something new I’ve done in recent memory, (running and occasionally non-running). So here goes!

My First: Run Commute

Let’s set the scene. It was a beautiful week at the start of July, with perfect weather for running down London’s South Bank. I would stare out longingly at all the happy run-commuters from my office window as I prepared to head to the gym for a session spent, among other things, on the Dreadmill. I’d be in a grouch by the time I got to the gym, begrudging those runners their freedom and fresh air. So I decided it was time to try Run Commuting. Capital R. Capital C.

How I imagined the run commuters
How I imagined the run commuters

I bought a backpack from Chain Reaction Cycles and had it express delivered to the office. It arrived the next day, sooner than expected, and I thought sod it, I’m running home today. I live around 7 miles from my office, so decided to ease into it by running the 3 miles to the City, where I would get a direct train home. I plotted my route with due diligence, and tried (but failed) to lower my expectations. It was summer! It was hot! I could run! I was a little over-excited.

As I set out, I kept a very gentle (Heart Rate Zone 2) Pace. Nonetheless, the bag was bouncing. It was starting to piss me off already. Even after I removed heavier items like my water bottle; bounce, bounce bounce. Ugh.

It turns out it wasn’t perfect weather for running as I had expected. It was actually one of those very muggy London summer evenings. We needed a storm, but there was no sign any such thing. I was very hot and very sweaty.

The biggest problem however was a combination of the two listed above; heat + backpack. I’d worn my favourite loose running vest in anticipation of the heat, and my backpack chafed on the right side of my neck and corresponding collar bone. It was really something. It hurt with every stride. As I got closer to the City, I became so miserable that I decided to abandon the slow pace altogether. I just wanted to get it over with. So I pounded those pavements in exactly the way I know I shouldn’t.

Pounding those pavements
Get me to the City already

On arriving in the City, I got lost. The city is a small but bewildering juxtaposition of winding streets and gleaming glass skyscrapers. A confusing combination when you desperately just want to get to the station. I was too embarrassed to ask anyone for directions so I just trotted around for an extra mile until I found it myself.

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Who cares though! My first run commute was over! I can only consider it a success in that it was #characterbuilding and I learnt a lot from it. I actually did the commute in reverse the next day. 

One more thing: remember the chafing on my shoulder and neck? I didn’t think anything of it; I had two slight red marks. But only at the end of the following work day did I realise they’d developed into two large friction burns that looked very much like hickeys. And I’d been wandering around the office defiantly displaying them. No wonder my colleagues kept giving me odd looks.

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What I wish I’d known beforehand:

  • Wear a proper t-shirt, not a vest! This will help stop any potential chafing by keeping a layer between you and the straps of your pack.
  • Check the weather forecast and plan appropriately.
  • Take it slow even if you’re miserable. I was super achey the next day and even had a touch of knee pain.
  • Run without headphones. I’m not the best with this on my morning runs, but you have to be alert. Especially when running somewhere like Central London.
  • Carry as little as possible in your pack. I now try to leave my work shoes at the office, along with shower gel etc. for morning commutes. Less really is more!

What advice would you give to a newbie run-commuter? Anything you wish someone had told you before you tried it?

Lots of love

Pippa x

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18 thoughts on “My First: Run Commute (An Introduction)

  1. Congrats on your first run commute! It definitely is a different type of running – transport rather than just exercise – so you’re right in thinking that you need to approach it in a different way. Sounds like you nailed it though!
    When I’m running home I pretty much only take my keys, cards and phone…. I never feel the need to ship clothes, shoes etc home with me when I can just take them back the next day. The running backpack comes out of hiding for my morning commutes: in it I pack light dresses that don’t crease, undies, moisturiser, deodorant and my breakfast/snacks. My work shoes live under my desk and never leave! Once you get the routine nailed, it’ll be a doddle every time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankfully I seem to have the routine down now, and my desk drawers contain a plethora of running and work kit. Running to the office in the morning is definitely a weird mentality, because even though I know I’ve planned enough time, the fact that I’m running to a specific place always makes my pace speed up a little!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was just thinking today about how I’ve been running for ages but I still feel like a newbie! Five years is awesome girl! Love that you’re owning the newbie-hood though. And I am a HUGE fan of run-commuting! It is sooo time efficient 🙂 I typically run to/from work/class a few times a week and I love how it kills two birds with one stone! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I sooo wish I could do the run commute thing! Can’t though live in suburban USA where the car is king. Plus I have to stop every morning at one of my vendors to pick up HEAVY supplies (cases of paper). I guess on the positive side, I am ‘weight lifting’ every single morning when I load and unload that heavy paper! Keep up the good work on your commute run.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Pippa, really enjoyed your post – on the annoyance that is bouncy rucksacks; I found putting the weight to the bottom and as close to your back as possible stops some of the bouncing. And if your pack has some chest or stomach fastening, that helps. Inov8 do some really lightweight, comfortable ones… All the best with it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See the weight thing was my instinct, maybe I just didn’t put enough in! I found that having the backpack full (with lighter items such as clothing) stops the bounce from being so obvious. Another problem I have is that I’m quite small so the chest and stomach fastenings aren’t really tight enough for me! Oops!

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  5. I wish I could run commute! I live so far from where I work/ where my nursing school is located. BUT I am trying to get into running outdoors more as prep for my first half marathon (oh gosh!)

    So I was wondering if you all could give me some insight on brands of running packs that you find comfortable and useful, how you carry your water, and what your pack essentials are? I am a total newbie! So any advice will help a lot!

    Love your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woo for the half marathon! I’m also prepping for one in October, it’s very exciting! My running pack is the Salomon Trail 20L. 20L is a good size for me as it also doubles as a gym bag, but some people go smaller. I usually carry a change of clothes (but not shoes, I keep those at the office), a snack, phone, purse and keys! And my trusty notebook. Not an essential for everyone but I’d be lost without it!

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  6. Great job on your first run commute!

    The planning and logistics seems challenging at first, but once you get the routine down, it will be a piece of cake.

    Finding a running backpack that fits you properly is key to a successful, regular run commute. It sounds like the one you have either doesn’t fit you properly, or else it’s missing a few key features that will ensure you don’t run into any future issues. Here’s what a good running backpack should have:

    Waist strap (reduces side-to-side movement)
    Chest strap (1 or 2; for further reduction of bounce/chafe)
    External compression straps (to keep everything from bouncing up and down within the pack)

    Here are a few of packs that might work well for you:

    1) Osprey Tempest 20 (Women-specific + hydration) http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/product/hiking/tempest_20
    2) Nike Vapor Light http://store.nike.com/us/en_us/pd/vapor-lite-running-backpack/pid-10199482/pgid-10071112
    3) Osprey Mira http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/group/hydration_packs/mira_series
    4) Deuter Speed Light 20 http://www.deuter.com/US/us/hiking/speed-lite-20-33121-119.html

    In any case, glad you started and hope you continue!

    Liked by 1 person

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