The New Run Commuters – June 2014

What is the farthest you’ve ever run commuted? Personally, I’ve done about 15-16 miles or so round-trip. Pam Walker, from South Lyon, MI runs that distance to work in the morning… and then runs it again on the way home, for a round-trip total of 31.2 miles! Find out more about her and fellow midwestern runner, Anne Ellis, (who has also surpassed my farthest run commute) in this month’s edition of The New Run Commuters.

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Runner Basics

Pam Walker running the Run Through Hell race

Pam Walker running the Run Through Hell race

  • Name: Pam Walker
  • Age: 46
  • City/State: South Lyon, MI
  • Profession/Employer: Clinical Pharmacist (Emergency Medicine)
  • Number of years running: 8 years
  • # of races you participate in a year: 8-12, but cutting back this year to focus on ultramarathons
  • Do you prefer road or trail? 50/50, I like to have the balance. Trails are nice and easy on the leg and tend to have more hills for me to work harder on. The road (or rather paved Rails-to-Trails) gives me a more flat training environment and it’s easier to focus on form changes with the bonus of a safer environment being separated from vehicular traffic.

Run Commuting Gear

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I started run-muting this past October since I needed to get in more training miles (training for my first 50 miler – JFK in November. I didn’t want to cut into time at home with my husband. He’s already been more than patient with my time out running. I found a shower facility at work so I just had to plan out the proper route to work and bring in needed clothes, food, etc., on the Mondays since I drive in on that day. I run 80% dirt roads (many rolling hills) into my job at the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor.

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Pam’s route to work

How often do you run commute?

Twice a week – both round trips.

How far is your commute?

15.6 miles one way on some really beautiful back roads.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I pack and bring everything in on Monday for the full week. It’s far easier to make sure that I have healthy foods to ensure good recovery for the next run. I am big on using Garden of Life’s Raw Meal post-am run to cover all my BCAAs, protein and some glucose needs and that is easy to just leave a tub of it at work. I will take essential amino acids before I set back out to run home. Since I feel that this type of training can increase the inflammatory process I keep up on my Omega 3’s capsules and I do have issues with iron deficiency, so I have to take iron tablets to stay on top of that. Yeah, typical pharmacists popping pills, nutritional supplements that is ;)

What do you like most about run commuting?

I enjoy seeing the sun rise and/or set on my runs. It’s beautiful running on the rolling dirt roads, listening to the birds and frogs in the early morning. It’s interesting because I am far from a morning person but this run in helps prepare me for work and those running endorphins help with my needed creativity for certain projects that I may be working on.I love this run for all the farms and horses out and about, great way to leave the work day behind.

Pam W 03

Running through the countryside

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

No, I wish I could find someone doing the same thing, especially if there was a way for our paths to cross and run a section together. But I have talked some friends into running a few miles with me after work.

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

Drive my car but I am looking for ways to “inherit” my husband’s mountain bike and add that in for another 1-2 days of commuting.

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

Use The Run Commuter page to get inspired and learn how to make it happen. I got started because I was inspired by how easy they made it all sound. Then I searched out a safe route and tested it out with my car to see how busy the road traffic might be and to make sure that I wouldn’t be too isolated. Planning, planning, and more planning. Let your friends and family know what you are doing, often times I have friends keeping their eyes open for me and it’s always nice to have them wave or shout out to me on my run-mute and its keeps me more motivated and potentially safer. In fact, I am thinking about getting a Spot Satellite Messenger to let my family and friends track where I am and use it to text when I am done or need help. Keep a foam roller in your office or cube, if possible, and see about finding a sports massage therapist if you don’t already. Have a backup plan, mine is bribery (dinner out) if I have to bail and get picked up. Really, if you put your mind to it and work up to the distance following aerobic heart rate training, it is not only easy but makes you a more content person.

Anything else that you would like to include?

Keep in mind the road conditions and your fellow cyclists and drivers. I did stop with my run-muting during this crazy winter (Jan – Mar) because of all the snow and ice on the roads. Not only do I worry about my own safety, but I do not want to create unsafe conditions for everyone else. Also, use bug spray and keep your cellphone dry (learned from a bad experience.)

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Anne Ellis
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New Run Commuter Anne Ellis

  • Age: 42
  • City/State: Chicago, IL
  • Profession/Employer: Program Manager at a large urban church
  • Number of years running: 18
  • # of races you participate in a year: 4-6 in the past 5 years or so, didn’t really race much before then
  • Do you prefer road or trail? I love both. When I started running it was mostly on trails (rural Massachusetts) and I still run on them whenever I can. I love the varied terrain (makes my run feel like play) and being in nature. But being in the city I’ve had to embrace road running. I like running through the different neighborhoods, I like my city and I like watching people. I think it would be hard to run on roads if I lived someplace less interesting. (Even now, I run off pavement as much as possible.)
  • Run Commuting Gear

    • Backpack: Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest (1.0) It is not water- or sweat-proof, so I put my important items in a large Ziploc bag before putting them in the back compartment, and my phone in a smaller Ziploc bag in front. I bring in my clothes and food the day before, and leave behind anything I don’t absolutely need overnight.
    • Shoes: Brooks Ghost
    • Clothing: Race shirts and Road Runner Sports compression shorts or tights
    • Outerwear: My favorite lightweight piece is a Mountain Hardware windbreaker, many years old now. Otherwise, I wear a mix of layers. I have a great cold weather running hoodie that I got from a race and I ran in that all winter. I could use something really waterproof, maybe next winter I’ll splurge. Also, as I get older I’m having more trouble with my hands getting cold and I need to get more running gloves, even for summer – it gets windy along the lake. Or, maybe I’ll just remember to wear the ones I have.
    • Headgear: Turtle Fur gaiters for when it’s really cold or bandanas when it’s just windy (I don’t like my neck to be cold). I have a beanie from another race and a Mizuno beanie for colder weather, and then I wear Brooks running hats when I need shade.
    • Lights: Not needed, I don’t run in the dark.
    • Hydration: I have a UD bladder that fits my race vest for really long runs but mostly I use 8 or 10 oz. Fuelbelt flasks in the front pockets of my vest – I like the way they fit against my chest. The bigger bottles that came with the vest are too unwieldy.

    On Run Commuting

    Why did you decide to start run commuting?

    I was training for my first marathon (2010) and needed a way to get the miles in! I commuted 1-2 times a week but stopped once the marathon was over. I was using a small backpack that I had jury-rigged with safety pins and it wasn’t very comfortable. Then last year when I decided to do a marathon again I splurged on the UD race vest and that made a huge difference. I also had a second child in the meantime and didn’t want to take weekend time away from the family for the long run, so I decided to incorporate that into my run commuting. Towards the end of my marathon training last year I was running in twice a week and loving how I felt with the higher weekly mileage, so I decided to continue with run commuting through the winter. I had to take a break for two months due to injury but have been back at it for a couple of months now.

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    A view from Anne’s run commute

    How often do you run commute?

    Right now, 2-3 times a week. In the winter I’ll probably drop back to 1-2 times a week.

    How far is your commute?

    At a minimum it’s 6 miles. I like to make it 7 or 8, and I also use it as my long run, so have done up to 18. I have a semi-flexible schedule and work several evenings a month so can make my commute serve that purpose when I need to.

    Do you pack or buy a lunch?

    Usually I pack a lunch (and snacks!) in the day before along with my clothes. At the end of the each week I look ahead at the next one and figure out when I’ll need to bring in clothing and food (and towels).

    What do you like most about run commuting?

    I like having the extended quiet time to myself, while still being out and about. I also like having a purpose to my run and the idea that I am getting myself where I need to go. And having the extra time though mostly I’ve filled that up with new athletic pursuits.

    Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work? (If so, tell us a bit about them)

    No. Very occasionally I’ve seen people running (usually on the way home) that look like they might be run commuting, but haven’t managed to get up close enough to them in time to make sure.

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

    Public transportation. That’s the only thing I miss with run commuting, the train is my reading time. On the other hand, running is my only opportunity to listen to albums in their entirety.

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

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    Anne’s office setup

    Make lists of what you’re going to need to bring in (or leave behind) and use them. I’ve forgotten a few things from time to time, usually not serious, but a couple of weeks ago I forgot to bring in pants. I needed to look semi-professional that day, otherwise I would have just stayed in my running kit all day, so I ended up waiting until the Columbia store opened and getting a new skirt. Luckily there are plenty of shopping opportunities where I work. I do plan to bring in a backup outfit to leave behind for the future, which would also give me more flexibility in deciding to run in or not.

    Anything else that you would like to include?

    I leave a cleanup kit at work. When I first started I relied on baby wipes and washcloths to get clean, but now we have lockers and showers at work which is nice, especially as I can go straight down to the basement and get cleaned up before anyone sees me, other than the security guards.

     

    By | 2016-10-22T20:26:37+00:00 June 16th, 2014|Categories: General, People|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment

    About the Author:

    Josh
    Editor-in-Chief of The Run Commuter by night, paralegal by day. Father of 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. Contact Josh at info@theruncommuter.com

    One Comment

    1. Kyle June 16, 2014 at 10:51 am - Reply

      Pam Walker is kind of my hero now.

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