Andrea Hill dressed for a run commute.

How to make run commuting part of your next marathon build

Training for a marathon is a significant time commitment and it can be a challenge to squeeze required training runs into days busy with family, work and life. When I trained for my last four marathons, one of the most efficient ways to get my mileage in was to turn some of my commutes to work into run commutes.

When planned out properly, run commutes give me an opportunity to mentally prepare for the day ahead and unpack what happened during the workday — all while getting two runs in before dinner.

These days I work from home, but still enjoy mimicking run commuting to bookend my workdays. With less than 16 weeks until the Saskatchewan Marathon, here are some tips for those who want to shake up their run commuting routine or give run commuting a try.

Find the right route

If you’re used to driving or taking public transit to work, know that your run commute may take a different route. Check out Google Maps for walking and cycling directions between your home and workplace and look for multi-use pathways. The best route may not be the shortest.

When I lived near Market Mall and commuted downtown, I used to run down Preston Avenue and along College Drive. I found running along busy roads stressful and eventually switched routes to run down Ruth Street to Diefenbaker Park and onto the Meewasin Valley Trail. It added an extra mile to my commute, but allowed me to spend much of my time running my favourite trails.

Practice your route

No one wants to be late for work. Try running your route on the weekend as part of your long run so you know how long your commute will take.

Only travel with what you need

The lighter you can travel, the more enjoyable your run will be.

I typically ran to and from work every second day. On the days I drove or cycled, I packed an extra set of clothes, shoes and an extra lunch to keep at my work space — and took home dirty tupperwares and clothes left behind from running days. That meant all I needed to carry when I ran to and from work was my cellphone and swipe card. I carried these in a running vest, but there are many “carry essential” options for runners. Check out Brainsport’s collection of running belts, vests and backpacks for some inspiration.

Air out your running clothes

Changing into damp running clothes is profoundly uncomfortable. Find a place at work to hang up your sweaty clothes so they are dry by the time you need to run home.

Don’t forget snacks

Run commuting is hungry work and if you’re not fueling right the run home can be a slog. Make sure you have snacks for when you arrive at work and for before you head home.

Have a clean-up plan

I was lucky to have a shower and locker room in my workplace, but this isn’t necessary to make a run commute possible. If you don’t have access to a shower, consider leaving wet wipes and deodorant in your workplace along with fresh clothes and any other required grooming products.

Have a backup plan

Sometimes injury, fatigue, weather or other unforeseen circumstances mean it won’t be smart or feasible to run all the way to work or home. Have a bus pass and/or cab money if you need to find another means home.

Consider one-way commutes

Depending on where you are with your training and how far from your workplace you live, you may only want to commute one way. To make this possible, consider taking public transit one way or carpooling with a colleague.