A few years ago, I was having trouble finding the time to work out—I was a full-time student, working as an RA in my dorm, interning at a magazine three full days a week, and picking up freelance jobs in my downtime. Then, it occurred to me: Why don’t I just run home from work? Literally run home?
I later found out many runners do this, but at the time, I felt like a genuis. Running home meant I’d have a chance to exercise before facing my evening responsibilities, and use the time I’d normally spend commuting exercising instead.
Ever since this idea first popped into my head, I’ve run-commuted many distances and terrains. In fact, a few weeks ago, with the weather finally on my side, I decided to make the 5-mile trek from Health‘s office in lower Manhattan to my Brooklyn abode for the first time. Bonus: the route included crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. It doesn’t get much better than that!
I realize that not everyone is lucky enough to live running-distance from work—but research shows that nearly half of all car trips in U.S. metropolitan areas are 3 miles or less, a distance that can easily be covered by foot. So if you want to try swapping your car, bus, or metro transport for a satisfying run, here are a few tips that might help you transform your commute.
As any morning runner knows, if you don’t prep your gear (and brain, for that matter) in advance, there’s a slim chance you’ll actually get out of bed and pound the pavement. Same rules apply for run-commuting. Whether you decide to go for a one-way or round-trip trek, be sure to figure out your game plan the night before.
On days you run home from work, bring only the essentials: workout clothes, wallet, phone, keys, and headphones. That’s it. Carry them, store them in your pockets, or pick up a running belt.
If you’re looking to run to work, you may want to find a shower and place to change near your office (your co-workers will appreciate it). Is there a gym in your building? Maybe a local public shower? Or, if your bathing options are limited, there’s always the dry shampooand body wipes strategy.
Your desk drawer will become your new BFF. Store dress shoes in a drawer so that on days you’re running home, you can wear sneaks on the way to work, and then switch into work-appropriate footwear at the office. Then, before heading out on your run, change into your workout gear and leave the clothes you wore all day in a drawer to take home another night.
If you’re not comfortable leaving personal items in your office, consider buying a running backpack. I like the Nike Vapor Lite ($70; nike.com). It’s lightweight, has ample storage space, and includes reflective details.
Speaking of reflective details, it’s definitely a bright idea to pick up some clothing to keep you safe on days you run before sunrise or after sunset. Whether it’s your shoes, a vest, your tights, or a top, be sure to wear at least one piece of neon or reflective gear.