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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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