We all know that feeling of not having enough hours in the day to squeeze in a run. However much juggling we do, some days even a quick blast round the block just isn’t going to happen. But for many of us, there’s actually a sizeable chunk of each day that, used cannily, can be turned into running time. It’s those hours at the start and end of the working day when we head to and from wherever we go to earn our crust. And according to a recent study, more people than ever are now running to work.
Research carried out at London’s Royal Holloway University says the number of people who now run to work, rather than use other modes of transport, has tripled in the past two years. “We think of running as a sport or hobby but I wanted to look at is as a practical type of transport to get to work,” explains Simon Cook, who led the study. “With more people doing longer events including marathons and ultras, I found runners needed to do more miles. The run to work was the obvious choice.”
Running coach and personal trainer Edwina Sutton (edwinasutton.com) is a huge advocate of run-commuting. She lists six of the benefits for time-poor runners:
- Tot up your weekly mileage
Running to work is a great way to fit in the extra miles, particularly if training for a long-distance event. It’s also a good way to experiment with a double run day, without having to find more time in your busy day.
- Do your part for the environment
We all know that cars and buses contribute to air pollution, but even trains are very energy hungry. Switching your commute to foot power will keep your carbon foot print in check, and the planet that little bit greener.
- Practice your pacing
A good tactic is to use the ‘run in’ to simply wake up your body with a steady plod and, on the run back, do a pacier session or mix up the speeds. Or if you work better after a harder run first thing in the morning, use the run home as a recovery one on tired legs. Landmarks on your run can be used as markers for you to run to as either a fast or slow section.
- Feel happier!
As well as improving your physical fitness, the run commute can boost your mental wellbeing, too. “Even if you’re not a natural ‘morning person’, a run to work can kickstart positive moods and a feeling of greater energy which has obvious benefits in starting the working day,” says Dr Tracey Devonport, a sport and exercise psychologist at the University of Wolverhampton (and a keen runner).
“Running’s often cited as a valuable way to combat stress,” says Tracey. “I personally describe running as my own defrag time, where just like a computer, it gives me the space to organise my thoughts, which is great at the start and end of the working day.”
- Save money
Saving money on public transport fares, parking charges, petrol and car maintenance is a fantastic benefit. “It makes you feel good about doing it too,” says Tracey. “If you factor in your commute run maybe after dropping the kids at nursery or school, you know it will happen. It will soon become a habit and another part of your daily routine.”
- Raise your Vitamin D levels
On top of all that, it’s a great way to suck in more fresh air, raise your Vitamin D levels with some sun on your skin in summer and enjoy a bit more daylight during the winter months!