Tips on Running to Work

I ran to work two days this week.  During previous marathon training cycles, I ran to work regularly.  Running to work allowed me to use the 45 minutes I spent commuting that day for my workout instead.  For example, it was a good way to get in the mid-week 14-15 mile medium runs from the Pfitzinger Advanced Marathoning plan.  Okay, okay!  I also ran to work a few times when I just wanted to get more sleep in the morning.

Recently, I’ve managed to get myself out of bed earlier in the morning so I haven’t run to work in a long time.  But since commuting was supposed to be bad on Wednesday and Thursday due to Pope Francis’ visit to Washington, D.C., I decided to run to work those two days.  Here’s how I did it.


I guessed these cyclists were commuting to work, too.

The Basics

Toiletries, Towel, and other Supplies.  I keep a stash of toiletries at work: body wash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, perfume, and hair products. I also have a bath towel and zipper bags for my post-run wet clothes. Lesson learned the hard way: Don’t forget the towel.

Change of Clothes.  I think the two options when it comes to run commuting in the morning are: 1) run with the clothes in a back-pack, or 2) bring the clothes in the day before. I like to run light so I choose to bring clothes to the office ahead of the run commute day. Lesson learned the hard way: Keep a complete wardrobe change of clothes, including a jacket, at the office.

Shower.  I’ll go into more details on shower considerations below, but having one at the office or very nearby is pretty essential to run commuting.

The Other Half of the Commute

One tricky element of run commuting is figuring out the other half of the commute. When I run to work, I usually take public transportation on my trip home. (I’m writing “usually” instead of “always” because I’m guessing I’ve run to and from work before as a two-a-day workout.) I have heard of people parking a reasonable distance from work and running the rest of the way in.

The Day Before

Office or Lockers.  I carry a bag with me to work every day.  It has essential stuff like my wallet, keys, phones, and Metro card.  But, it also has non-essential items like my makeup case, pens/pencils, business cards, hand sanitizer, tissues… I usually leave all of the non-essential stuff and my gym bag with the toiletries, clothes, and towel in my office or some other locked space the day before my run commute.  Lesson learned the hard way: Triple check that nothing essential is left behind.

Leaving the House

Pockets, Belts, Back-packs, and Hand-helds.  On my run to work, I have my work badge, office key, house key, driver’s license, debit card, personal phone, and a little emergency cash in my shorts pockets, handheld pockets, and my SPI-Belt.  I could wear a back-pack or a larger running belt if I wanted to carry more.  Lesson learned the hard way: Triple check that nothing essential is left behind.

The Workout


Stop, collaborate, and listen!

Courses and Traffic.  Plotting out a course to work can be a challenge – particularly if I want to run more or less mileage than the shortest route would actually take me.  The streets on my way to work are usually more congested than the ones I normally run on so I try to be more alert and patient than usual.


Shower.  Successful run commuting really depends on reliable shower access.  I try to have another shower option lined up just in case the showers in my building are occupied or out of order.  For example, I belong to a gym and could go there if needed. Lesson learned the hard way: Have baby wipes handy.  (It’s like Ragnar!)

Food.  I struggle with figuring out breakfast when I run to work.  It seems like the time I save commuting gets eaten up by my quest to find a satisfying breakfast. (See what I did there?) Lesson learned the hard way: Keep a sports bar in the desk.

Evening Commuting

I’ve found run commuting home a little easier than running to work.  For me, there are fewer logistics involved.  If I want to run home from work, all I really need to do is bring a set of running clothes, SPI-Belt, and my Garmin to work with me.  Sometimes, I have to grab a late afternoon snack if I’m doing anything but an easy run.

More Resources

The Run Commute,” from Runners World includes some additional tips on commuting by run.  For example, it suggests wearing reflective gear because the runs might fall at sunrise or sunset.

Tips on Running to Work in D.C.,” from RunWashington features runners who run commute.  In addition to reducing commuting time, it mentions how running to work might be a good way to boost weekly mileage.  It also mentions the benefit of reflective gear.

The Road Runners Club of America created Run@Work/School Day.  This year, it fell on September 18th.  But, another group is trying to get Run to Work Day going on October 1st.

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One Response to Tips on Running to Work

  1. Thanks for the tips! I tried run commuting for the first time a couple weeks ago, but I did it the easy way and ran home from work instead of to work. Unfortunately I don’t have access to a shower at work, so I don’t think I could ever run to work. It is definitely something that I want to get more comfortable with because it saved so much time.

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