It’s a well-publicized piece of running lore: Former marathon world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie honed his ability (and idiosyncratic form) at an early age by running ten kilometers to and from school each day. This tale, with rural Ethiopia as its backdrop, is easy to dramatize as perseverance triumphing over adversity.
In spite of the world records that have been yielded and the popularity of bike commuting these days, running for transportation hasn’t seemed to catch on the same with the working masses. The reason for this is probably as simple convenience. Running isn’t as quick or accessible as bicycling. You get sweaty and you can’t carry as much with you. Making allowance for the limitations, I have opted for the ‘Gebrselassie method’ as my preferred means of getting to-and-from this winter and it has yielded, thus far, good fitness results.
Running to work has its distinct perks—Its pretty much indisputably the cheapest way for you to travel. Cheaper even than bicycling which can cost you in tubes, lubes and sundry other maintenance expenses, the cost of running means only changing out your shoes ever 200-500 miles and otherwise keeping up good nutrition and hydration to keep your engine running clean and efficiently. And putting purpose into your daily runs is a sure way to keep motivated when the going gets tough. After Old Man Winter has cast his last polar vortex and finally relinquished its grip for the season, you can pat yourself on the back that you, jeeringly, human-powered your way through the cold.
For those interested in adding some variety to their daily commute, here are some considerations:
Comfort and safety
My usual commute, for readers who are familiar with Lexington, starts near Winchester Road and traverses a fairly direct course along bike paths and neighborhoods to Palomar Center. The distance is 8.3 miles and I do this several days a week.
Heavy stop-and-go traffic and hard sidewalks promise to rob you of your enthusiasm and rhythm during a run. Opt for back roads and bike lanes* instead. My route was designed with the help of the good and knowlege folk at CrankWorks on Southland Dr and was especially designed to take wider, more amply shouldered and sparsely trafficked roads without adding too much unnecessary distance.
*Remember to run against traffic and take care to yield to cyclists’ right-of-way!
Dress warm, but don’t overdo it!
Most winter days when the temperature is between the 25-40°F I am more than comfortable to run in tights, a light tech shirt, warm socks and gloves. Everyone has different preferences—do some experimentation and figure out what works for you. Don’t overdress just because it feels really cold when you first step outside. You’ll always be surprised how much you warm up once you’re putting in some effort.
My cold-weather running wear:
Pearl Izumi® Fly Thermal Tight ($70)
With a 29″ inseam, this tight comfortably fit my short stature. There is a convenient back pocket that can comfortably accommodate nutrition and keys.
Alternatively, try Sugoi’s thermal wear, especially if you need extra warmth and are okay with spending slightly more on ultra high-performance garments.
Pearl Izumi® Thermal Conductive Gloves ($25)
These gloves are lightweight, warm, and feature conductive fingertips that allow you to use a touchscreen electronic device without exposing yourself to the cold. While they don’t have the wind resistance to be adequate for sub-40°F riding, they are thin and keep me warm during long runs in temperatures around freezing.
Nite Ize® Action ArmBand™ ($30)
I use this handy arm strap to carry my phone, I.D., and a debit card. I find it to be much more comfortable than trying to carry my phone in a pocket where it tends to bounce around.
Feetures® Merino Blend Socks ($16)
These are my favorite socks available. They’re form fitting, moisture wicking and odor resistant.
Show some respect to your coworkers; be sure to keep basic hygiene products like deodorant and fresh socks stowed away at your work. You might also consider keeping an extra pair of shoes around so that you arent’ walking around in your dedicated running shoes all day.
Those working more white-collar jobs shouldn’t feel that run commuting isn’t an option. Bluff Works® makes great looking, great fittingwrinkle-free pants ($80)that are made of thin polyester. While Bluffs are in their element dressed up, their strength is in their versatility—they can be rolled up for a hike or a creek expedition. There is a discrete zipper for the back pocket to deter pickpocketing, as well as a hidden zip pocket in the front. These pants, along with a shirt and a suit or two will fit neatly in the Henty Wingman Backpack.
For more resources on run commuting, check out the following link for a great blog: The Run Commuter