A fter a fantastic response to January’s The New Run Commuters post, we’re back with one of two TNRC features this month. In our first, we introduce you to Chris and Tarun, two runners from different parts of the world, united not only by run commuting, but by teaching as well.

Chris, an ultramarathoner, uses running for more than just run commuting – he runs errands and picks up his daughter after school in a jogging stroller; while Tarun, takes  a more laid-back approach to running and wisely suggests easing your way into running to work to give yourself time to figure out the logistics of it all.

As always, if you are interested in being featured in an upcoming TNRC post, please submit the form at the end of this post. Thanks to everyone who has contacted us so far! It’s great hearing all of your stories and your approach to run commuting and life!

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Chris Van Dykethe run commuter, run commuting, running to work, new run commuter, running to get places, osprey stratos 24, chris van dyke
  • Age: 35
  • City/State: Brooklyn, NY
  • Profession/Employer: High School English Teacher, New York City Department of Education
  • Number of years running: 7 ½
  • # of races you participate in a year: I used to race all the time – the first year I qualified for the NYC Marathon in 2008, I ran thirteen races.  Since having kids, not many.  I always try to do the Bed-Stuy 10K, since it’s the only road race held in my neighborhood, and I like that it’s small and local and in a neighborhood most people don’t think of when they think of running.  The few races I do tend to be really long – this year it was a 24-hour ultra, last year a 50K trail run and a marathon.
  • Do you prefer road or trail (and a little about why)?  Despite the current “correct” answer being trails, I have to say I love both.  Being in Brooklyn, I really wish I could get out and run more trails, but I honestly love running in the city.  I love discovering new neighborhoods or new routes to the same locations, and try to approach any of the “disadvantages” of road-running as opportunities in disguise: hurtling a pile of garbage blocking the side-walk adds a bit of flair to one’s run.

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: Osprey Stratus 24.  Super light-weight but massive capacity.  Lots of straps to keep things locked down, very roomy waist-pack pockets, and comes with a rain-cover.
  • Shoes: Mostly ultra-minimal, always zero-drop.  When the weather is warm, I wear Unshoe’s Pah Tempe sandals.  When shoes are required, I rotate between Merrell Roadgloves and Altra’s The One.  For trails or bad weather, Altra Lone Peaks
  • Clothing:  Until its freezing, shorts (Target brand) and either singlets or technical T’s, mostly just one’s I’ve gotten at races.  Basically I try to wear as little as possible whatever the weather, and push what most people think is reasonable to an extreme.  I’m used to people yelling, “Aren’t you cold?” as I pass.
  • Outerwear: When it drops into the 30’s or lower, I have a pair of CW-X tights and a Craft jacket I dropped some real cash on over five years ago and they’ve held up great.  I also have a crushable Sierra rain fly that I can toss in my pack if it looks like rain, and a pair of North Face water-proof pants.  For extreme winter weather, I’ve got a balaclava and facemask, a few pairs of layering gloves, and Yak Tracks for my shoes.  It’s all about layers; one of the advantages of running with a pack is you have somewhere to stash clothes if you get too hot, or keep a raincoat just in case.
  • Headgear: Normally just a visor.  Running hat in the autumn; skully when its freezing. 
  • Lights:  The streets of Brooklyn are pretty well-lit any time of day, so I don’t really use lights.  I do have a Black-Diamond head-lamp and a few clip-on flashing lights in my bag just in case.
  • Hydration:  Typically nothing, as my commute isn’t that long.  If I’m going longer, I’m a fan of hand-helds.  I have a 20oz Amphipod and an Ultimate Direction Quickdraw.  Mostly that’s for long weekend runs, not commuting.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I’ve been running for years, and it’s my favorite way to get around New York.   Once my kids were born it got harder and harder to find time to fit in runs, and at the same time I started teaching at a new school that was less than 3 miles from my apartment.  My school is in East Flatbush, which is nowhere near a subway line, so my only public transportation option is bus, which I hate: buses are crowded, slow, and you can waste so much time just waiting for them.   At first I biked to work and would run once in a while, but after my bike was stolen, I took it as an opportunity to step up my run commute.

How often do you run commute?

Five days a week, to and from work.  I’ve run both ways every day since the school year started, with only two exceptions.  I took off the Friday before a 24-hour ultra, and I got a ride after work to the staff Holiday party.  Other than that, I’ve run every day.

How far is your commute?

2.5 miles each way, so 5 miles total.  Sometimes longer if I have errands to run – if I have to stop by the post-office, grocery store, or pick up my daughter at school, it can add up to 2 miles to the trip home.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

Pack.  I actually make myself a massive salad every day for lunch.  I have a mini-fridge at work, and I run in supplies a few times a week.  Fridays I run my salad bowl, knife, utensils, and cutting board home to run them through the dishwasher, then run them in with lots of veggies on Monday.  Any day of the week my pack might have home-made baked tofu, garbanzo beans, a couple of avocados, spinach, carrots, or bags of brewer’s yeast.   I amuse my students by pulling just about anything out of by bag.

the run commuter, run commuting, running to work, new run commuter, running to get places, osprey stratos 24, chris van dyke, running with groceries

Chris runs his lunch supplies in to work every week.

What do you like most about run commuting?

What’s not to like?  I get to fit in a run every day and avoid a bus or car commute – it’s like finding free time in your day!  How often can you straight up trade something you hate for something you love?  I love starting the day with exercise, and ending work with some stress-relief.  And once I’m at work, it forces me to get in the run home and gets past excuses and lazy days.  Every so often I don’t want to run home but don’t have any choice, then end up loving my run. 

My absolute favorite part, however, is the small group of “friends” I’ve made over the last year along my route, strangers I see every few days who wave and say hi, since I’m the only person running in East Flatbush in the morning.  There’s a woman at one of the housing projects who calls me “sexy legs” whenever she sees me, and that always shaves a few minutes off my time.  Last week some guy stopped me to say I’d inspired him to start running again.  Then there’s a mom who walks her two sons to school in the morning, and I pass them almost every day.  We always say hi, and this year we exchanged Christmas cards.  It reminds me that Brooklyn isn’t so much one big city as a whole lot of small towns just crammed together.

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work?  

No.  I’ve got a number of co-workers who bike, but I’m the only one who runs.  I’m pretty much the only person I see running in this part of Brooklyn ever. 

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?  

My school is a mile from the subway, so it would have to be the bus, as I don’t own a car.  The bus I’d take, the B47, takes me, on average, 45 minutes.  I can run my commute in 25 minutes if I’m lazy, sub-20 if I’m pushing myself.  If I wasn’t running I’d bike, but frankly I prefer running.  Much more relaxing, and a lot less maintenance. Basically, I don’t think of there as being options – I run, period.  I run in the snow, in the rain, in the dark.  I ran during the polar vortex in negative 15.  If there’s going to be severe weather or I have to take in books or clothes, I don’t think “How am I going to get to work?” I think “How am I going to do this while running?”  With the right gear and a bit of stubbornness, anything is runnable.

If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be? 

Just do it – the logistics really are a lot less daunting that you think.  Once you have a few work outfits at the office (and a can of body spray!) you’re set on that end.  A good pack is really the only essential “specialty” gear, and since you’ll spend a lot of time with it, try it on and spend enough to get something comfortable that suits your needs.  But you’d be surprised that, with a little planning a head, how little you actually need to get you to work.  I’m lucky, in that I’ve got an easy distance to do round-trip, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  Run to the commuter train or bus stop; get a ride and run the last 5 miles.  Break the route into a runnable chunk and then do it.  I’m also a huge fan of pod-casts when I run.  At some point, your run does just become a commute, some distance you have to cover to get to work or to get home.  I try to find enjoyment in every run, but sometimes, when its dark and cold, I just need to tune out with some NPR Pop-Culture Happy Hour and commute.

Anything else that you would like to include?

Work doesn’t have to be the only “practical” destination for a run – the post office, drug-store, even small grocery trips can be a place you can fit in a run.  I’m fortunate that New York City is so compact, so much of what I need is within runnable distance.  After you factor in how long you have to wait for a train or a bus, or to look for parking, running is one of the most efficient ways to move around the city.  Once I realized that, I started running most of my errands.  That’s when a good pack is essential.  I can fit most daily grocery needs in my pack.  At an extreme, I’ve run two miles home with 20 pounds of dog-food on my back and a USPS package under one arm.  I’ve got a massive BOB double-jogging stroller, so I can run my kids to the park, with me to store, to gym class.  If you decide to run home 4 miles after a staff happy-hour, I do suggest you stop after the third beer.

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Tarun Rajanthe run commuter, run commuting, running to work, new run commuter, running to get places, tarun rajan
  • Age: 31
  • City/State: Sydney/NSW/Australia
  • Profession/Employer: Biology Teacher at Macquarie University
  • Number of years running: 4
  • # of races you participate in a year: Did four last year, with hopes of doing more this year.
  • Do you prefer road or trail (and a little about why)? I like running trails, but for the sheer ease of getting out and doing it, road running works for me.

 Run Commuting Gear

  •  Backpack: I currently use a High Sierra 14L backpack that I picked up from Costco for not much. I removed the bladder from it to make room for things to carry to work.
  • Shoes: I have big dreams of running bare feet, but for now I pound the road in Brooks Ravenna 4.
  • Clothing: I use the running singlets that get given out at races and just about any shorts I have sitting in the cupboard.
  • Outerwear: It doesn’t get that cold in Sydney during winter. I don’t own a jacket or a base layer. Generally just run with a singlet or t-shirt on.
  • Headgear: Don’t wear one.
  • Lights: I run on dedicated cycleways which are well illuminated. Haven’t bothered purchasing one.
  • Hydration: I use a Caribee 1.5 hydration pack for my longer runs (15+km). I just drink plenty of water when I’m home or once I reach work.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

It’s good from a time management and financial perspective (don’t have to worry about parking tickets, petrol). I’ve only been doing this for 3 months though, so am fairly new.

How often do you run commute?

I run commute thrice a week (to and fro.)

How far is your commute?

Distance ranges from 6.5 to 10km depending on which route I take. If I’m in a hurry, I take the shortest route, but some days I run the longer distance just to mix it up.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I bring lunch from home everyday. I’ve got some decent Tupperware boxes which I cover in a plastic bag and put in my backpack.

What do you like most about run commuting?

It’s cheap, convenient and faster to get around during peak hours and I’ve heard some say it’s not too bad for your health either! Other commuters (bike, run) acknowledge you and it provides some motivation.

Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work?

Glen, my mate, is a God at running. He clocks some amazing mileage. He’s a real inspiration. I’ve taken to run commuting after him. He’s just so good at it. At this point in time, I only know of us two commuting to work on foot.

When not run commuting, how do you get to work?

I ride the bike to work twice a week (on Mondays and Fridays). I get my clothes for the week in a bigger backpack and store in the locker. Work is great, in that we have showers and lockers.

If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who was considering run commuting, what would it be?

Logistics are definitely a big issue. It takes a few goes to see what works for you. Take only what is essential, try and get it to work on days when you aren’t running.  Try and ease into commuting.  

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If you are a new run commuter and want the running world to hear your story, let us know!
We are now accepting submissions for April and May. If you are interested, submit the form below and we’ll contact you.
[contact-form subject='TRC - New Run Commuter Feedback!'][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Location (City%26#x002c; State%26#x002c; Country)' type='text' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Tell us a little about yourself and your run commute!' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]

 

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Editor-in-Chief of The Run Commuter by night, paralegal by day. Father of two (soon to be three) boys. Husband to the world's greatest bicycle advocate. Avid runner. Lover of beer and urban gardening. Can be found running with a backpack around the streets of Atlanta, Georgia.

2 Responses to “The New Run Commuters – February 2014, Part 1” Subscribe

  1. Nate March 18, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    After this long nasty Philly winter I will be starting soon my bike commute anywhere from 9-16 miles depending on the route. Also when training for races up to the marathon distance I use a Friday run commute home as a long run. But after visiting your site and getting some needed post winter inspiration I think I might do a Weds 9 mile on my way in. In fact why procrastinate I’m going do it tomorrow. ( write it down and you will do it!!) I can park at the train station ( 9 miles away) and take the train back home. I start at 8 am so a 6 am start would give me plenty of time. I have gear already here at work from my bike commutes. So its grab a flashlight, get out my shorts with zipper pockets for cell, gel and wallet ,coffee in the water bottle and I’m good to go. At 60 I think got a few more miles in me. I try and take a picture at sunrise . thanks for the site

    • Kyle March 18, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

      Go get ‘em, tiger, and let us know how it goes!

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