I recently started running to work and this is a post on my experience and some recommendations which might be useful for others as well.

Motivation

There are a couple of motivating factors why I thought of start running to work.

  • Getting a morning run done before work

    It was becoming increasingly difficult to do a morning run before going to work and lately I have been falling behind on my weekly running goals. Even on days I managed to get a morning run done, my sleep is a little bit compromised by having to get up early and consequently I wouldn’t feel all that productive at work.

    By combining the morning run with commute I could get two things done in

  • Avoiding public transport

    A lot of time in traffic can be wasted due to traffic situations with public transport. My commute, for example, can take anywhere from 25 minutes to 40 minutes in the morning. When there’s construction work or some protests are going on public transport might not be the most fun way to get work.

    Avoiding crowded buses in these pandemic times is something I’d like to do as well.

  • Ramp up weekly mileage

    With a busy schedule it is quite difficult to maintain a good weekly mileage and the commute runs can be an easy way to add up miles over the week days.

Gear

  • Good backpack is a must

    I think I have found a good backpack for running with the laptop, but it is too early to write a solid recommendation1.

    It is important to consider whether you need to carry a laptop in your backpack when run commuting because most of the backpacks geared towards trail running, and there are plenty of great options to chose for trail runs, would not really secure a laptop when you are run commuting in urban roads. I think it is important to try out or do some research before getting a backpack especially if you have to run with a laptop. A backpack which can potentially reduce the bounce of the laptop while you are running is probably best for the laptop as well2.

    There are other considerations such as how stable the bag is going to be when you are running. Having and unstable backpack which swings from side to side is not something you’d be happy to run.

  • Packable running jacket

    Given unpredictable weather it is advisable to pack a lightweight running jacket to protect against wind and rain when weather gets tough.

Challenges

  • Double runs are hard on legs

    Even within the short time I have tried run, commuting my legs have taken a harder beating than I anticipated. One way commute distance for me is shorter by 2km than my usual morning runs, but the toll on legs have been much harder.

    This might be due to the adaptation period of running with the backpack and other factors such as me adapting to stop and start way due to crossings, etc. I can especially feel the toll on legs on days when I have to carry the laptop.

  • Running with a backpack requires and adaptation period

    I’m someone who likes to run with as much freedom as possible to the point that I do not even like to carry a water even on longer runs! Thus for me, running with a backpack required some adaptation to get used.

    I think it is still important to keep to solid running principles3

  • Road crossings

    Getting used to stop the run when I reach a crossing point is something I’m still adapting to. I generally do not like anything which disrupt the rhythm of running, but on a commute runs this is something inevitable. On the other hand, these pauses can provide much needed respite, especially given that running with a backpack is harder than normal runs.

General advice

  • Try to reduce the weight of the backpack as much as possible

    Running with a heavy backpack is not fun and probably not good for health as well given you are more likely to get injured. Finding ways to reduce the things you have to carry to work is always advisable.

    If it is possible try to leave things at work, such as laptop chargers, etc.

  • Listen to your legs

    Sometimes your legs are too tired and in those days it is better to take a rest day than trying to push through because you can risk injuring yourself. This is something I’m also trying to find a good balance for myself.


  1. I might write a follow up post on gear recommendations later on 

  2. Laptop bounce is not much of a concern with SSD drives these days as compared to magnetic disks 

  3. Highly recommended video - Principles of Natural Running with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella 

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