From endless traffic-jams to packed public transport, some people begrudgingly accept it. Others in response to the phrase ‘same old, same old’ – a metonymy for the everyday routine of an urban worker – choose to break the monotony and favour the scooter over the tube. But what if we all decided to run to work instead?
In an age where we are constantly looking to push our boundaries and improve our performance, running has quickly evolved from just a casual pastime to a real national obsession. The practice of running the miles that separate home from workplace, dressed in colourful lycra with a rucksack and perhaps even a headband, has become known as ‘run commuting’.
“The problem with new forms of environmentally friendly transport like electric scooters, electric bikes and electric skateboards is that they are expensive. Admittedly they are much less expensive than a car, but seeing as they do not fully replace the car they becomes an added cost. I am lucky enough to live not too far from work so I can go on foot, I can even run it!” says Nathalie a 50 year-old primary school teacher who has been run commuting for a few months. “I am not a running addict. Running allows me to take daily exercise and avoid polluting the environment with my car.”
Though for the majority the primary benefit of running is physical fitness and well-being, the environmental factor is becoming of increasing importance, both in the UK and farther afield.
“I wanted to totally cut out public transport from my daily routine and use only environmental means of transport- running and cycling.”
Nicolas Spiess has been mad about cycling since the age of 15 and is the founder of the blog Running Addict (written in French). He now lives in Quebec where he alternates between cycling and running to work each day. He was inspired to do this by the most famous commuter in Quebec, Joan Roch, who wrote the book ‘Ultra ordinaire: journal of a coureur’ (‘Ultra ordinary: the diary of a runner’). “For those who love running and do it daily, running to work is primarily for environmental reasons but there are also personal benefits…it certainly wakes you up in the morning!”
Joshua R. Woiderski, chief editor of the site The Run Commuter, lives in Atlanta and has been run commuting since 2008. He has always been sporty but found it difficult to combine his passion with his new role as a young father.
“Between business and the baby I had no time to run. I was already cycling to work but I didn’t feel like this was enough. One fine morning I swapped pedals for trainers and I haven’t stopped running to work since!”
For Joshua, the benefits of run commuting are both physical and mental. “I feel on top form, I sleep better and I am less stressed. Gradually I have realised that run commuting allows me to be more in harmony with my city. When you are out in the fresh air you notice the small changes in the city much more than you would from a car. I greet the children on their way to school and I notice when new restaurants have opened. When you feel happy in a city you want to look after it and perhaps the best way to do this is preserve the air quality.”
Many keen runners interviewed for this article do not run commute, however. The two recurring reasons seem to be: too long a distance and a lack of showers at work.
“Initially my colleagues gave me funny looks when I turned up at work all sweaty and in my cycle shorts. I ignored this however and gradually other colleagues noticed the physical and mental benefits running was having on me and they followed suit.” says Joan Roch. “Obviously there are logistical issues to manage, everything from the rucksack to the change of clothes. If there are no showers at work a quick rinse in the sink and some deodorant should do the trick, even if this isn’t ideal. Initially you forget the odd item of clothing or a change of shoes but with experience and little changes everything clicks into place!” explains Nicolas Spiess.
We run commuters believe that run commuting will become popular in the same way cycling has. “There was a time when cycling was either for family jaunts on a Sunday or for competition. Nowadays, the functional role of cycling is undeniable,” says Joan Roch. “Running is still viewed as a form of exercise rather than a form of transport. But much like cycling – its time will come!”
Interested in learning more about making run commuting easier? Head over to Kickstarter to learn about the gear that will get you started.