Running To Work: How To Run Commute + 8 Tips To Make It Happen

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Depending on where you work relative to where you live, your commute to work might be an endless slog, a bumper-to-bumper daily headache, or a decent ride on the city bus.

But, have you considered that it might also make a good run?

Although it’s usually more common to see people who adopt the active commuting lifestyle to either ride their bike to work or walk, running to work, or run commuting, can also be a fantastic option.

Running to work rather than driving or taking public transportation ticks both the environmentally-friendly and healthy boxes.

It does take a little bit of planning to run to work, but many people who swap the car keys or metro pass for their running shoes find that run commuting is the perfect way to fit in a workout and get in the right mind space for work.

In this guide, we will cover the ins and outs of run commuting, so whether you’re running to and from work or around town to do errands, keep reading to learn how to have the most successful run commute.

We will cover: 

  • 6 Benefits of Running to Work
  • 8 Tips For Running to Work

Let’s jump in.

A person running to work with a backpack on.

6 Benefits of Running to Work

Run commuting might not be all that popular in many parts of the world, at least compared to walking or biking to work, however, there are quite a few benefits of running to work. 

For example, studies have found that people who do active commuting have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Other benefits of running to work include:

#1: Saving Time

Many people struggle to find time to exercise, but run commuting saves time because you swap at least part of your commuting time for your workout, so the overlap reduces the sum of time for each individually.

#2: Saving Money

With high gas prices or public transportation fees, running to work has become even more attractive; it’s a free or very low-cost alternative, and who doesn’t want to save money?

A busy train station.

#3: Improving Productivity 

Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve focus, working memory, and executive function. Running to work can help you have a super productive morning at the office.

#4: Reducing Stress

There’s nothing like running to reduce stress, and blowing off steam from the work day by running home lets you feel at peace for the evening hours after a hard day.

#5: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Running to work takes one more car off the road, which is great for the environment.

#6: Boosting Your Training

Running to work can help you get in more mileage by running twice a day or pushing you to take a longer route than you might otherwise have taken, because you can’t stop before the destination.

Now that we know it’s a great idea to run to work, let’s take a look at the tips and tricks to make it happen:

Reflective clothing, sneakers and a phone case for running.

8 Tips For Running to Work

#1: Get the Right Gear

As with any time you are running, it’s essential to have the right running gear for run commuting.

In addition to all the typical essentials like a good pair of running shoes, weather-appropriate running clothing, and running socks, there are a few additional pieces of running gear that you will likely need for a run commute.

The main thing you’ll need is a running backpack.

This doesn’t necessarily need to be a particularly large pack, but it has to be large enough to hold everything you have to bring with you to and from the office or place of employment.

How you plan to get your clean clothes and food to work (either carrying it in the pack day by day) or batching all your work clothes together once a week by driving them there ahead of time will dictate how much space you’ll need.

Hydration packs work well because they tend to be aerodynamic and low-bounce.

Depending on how far your run commute is, you may not even need to use the hydration bladder; you can just remove it and enjoy extra storage space.

Make sure the straps are padded and fit well.

There should be an adjustable harness, a sternum strap, and potentially a waist strap, depending on the size and weight of your pack.

A person looking at their running route on the phone.

#2: Be Flexible When Considering Logistics

Some runners immediately assume they can’t run to work because it’s just too far, but you can get creative.

You don’t have to run the whole way.

Consider driving or taking public transportation part of the way and then running the rest of the way. 

On the way home, you can do the reverse, or just take public transportation or get a ride from a coworker the whole way if your training volume isn’t up to handling double workouts.

#3: Plan Your Route Well

In order to optimize your safety as well as enjoyment of your run commute, you should strategically plan your route.

Trying to run alongside busy roads with a narrow shoulder and no sidewalk will not only be unpleasant, but also dangerous.

Similarly, it’s best to avoid running on roads that have frequent road crossings and major intersections because this will not only necessitate lots of frustrating (and slow!) stops, but can also increase the risk of getting hit by drivers who disobey traffic laws.

A person running over a bridge in the snow.

Get out in your car or use a route planning app or website like Strava route builder to help you find the safest and most scenic route to your office.

It’s also important to consider things like the lighting and traffic patterns at the time you’ll be running. 

For example, for safety, you might want to avoid bike paths, trails, or small, unlit neighborhood roads if you’ll be running in the dark because even with a good headlamp, it can be hard to see your footing.

Even though these byways can be more enjoyable and safe from a vehicular traffic perspective, you might need to avoid them if you’re doing your run commute in the early morning or late evening.

Similarly, running through school zones can be great mid-day because the streets are wider and there are usually fantastic sidewalks.

However, if you’re run commuting during school arrivals or departures, you might get tied up with lots of buses and cars and the sidewalks can be packed with kiddos waiting to board the bus or head into school.

A travel shower kit.

#4: Think About the Cleanup 

Aside from needing to have a safe and viable running route for your run commute, the other biggest potential hurdle is figuring out how you’ll freshen up after your run.

Some office buildings and medical practices have shower facilities, which is obviously ideal if you’ll be run commuting.

However, this is a relatively uncommon perk, which leaves the conundrum of how to wash up.

If you get really sweaty and feel like you just can’t get away with running to work without being able to take a shower, one option is to look to see if there’s a gym right around where you work.

It could be worth it to buy a membership, or they may allow you to use the showers for free. 

You might even be able to rent a locker for overnight use so that you can keep all your shower stuff and some clothes there instead of needing to carry them.

You can end your run commute at the gym, and then just walk over to where you work.

The other option, which most people who run to work end up needing to resort to by default, is just cleaning up in the sink.

Leave body wash, shampoo, deodorant, and a compact, absorbable towel at your place of employment.

You can also use dry shampoo and body wipes in a pinch. 

When you get to work, run the sink, wash up, towel off, and put on fresh clothes.

A box of wet wipes.

#5: Don’t Forget Your Work Clothes

In terms of having fresh clothes for work, as well as your lunch, snacks, and anything else you’ll need for the work day, you can either carry them in your running pack or drive your clean clothes for the week to work one day a week so they are already there for you and then run there the other days.

At the end of the week, you can bring home the worn clothes to launder them.

Don’t forget clean socks for work and dry socks for your run home.

#6: Wear Reflective Gear

If you are doing a run commute in the dark, be sure to outfit yourself with reflective gear and a headlamp so you can see and be seen.

#7: Give Yourself Time

Make sure you give yourself enough time to cool down and stop sweating before you have to start work.

A variety of granola bars.

#8: Fuel Yourself 

If you are run commuting both ways, you might need to increase your caloric intake. 

Have a carbohydrate-rich snack an hour or two before the evening run home, and a quick bite before your morning run.

Run commuting can be a great way to shake up your running routine, fit in more training if your schedule is busy, and take care of the environment and your health.

Have you tried it?

Or would the lunch run better fit into your schedule? If so, check out our guide to lunch runs to make it happen!

A person on the phone is business clothes.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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