T his month on The New Run Commuters, we hear from Becky from Portland, Oregon, and Anna, hailing form Washington D.C. Both work in professional office environments and make run commuting a part of their day – even while living a considerable distance from the office! Becky combines driving and run commuting; Anna, running and pubic transit. 

Read up on how run commuting has helped these runners train for long-distance and ultra races, watch for a great tip on transporting food, and if you are interested in women-specific running gear, you won’t want to miss Becky’s gear list!

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Becky Leung
    run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Becky Leung, Portland runner

    New Run Commuter Becky Leung

  • Age: 30
  • City/State: Portland, Oregon
  • Profession/Employer: Public Relations at The New Group
  • Number of years running: 7
  • # of races you participate in a year: In the last couple years, I’ve been running 12-15 races a year!
  • Do you prefer road or trail (and a little about why)? I really enjoy both, but I fell in love with trail running after consistently training on Forest Park trails last summer. For years, I was strictly road running and tried to beat my PR in every road race distance. I loved getting faster on the pavement but wanted a change of scenery.

Outside of my obsession with running, I started getting into hiking and even experimented with some entry level mountain biking, but realized I could run those same trails! One day, I decided “that’s it, I WANT to be a trail runner.” I started running in Forest Park a few days a week and now I’m currently training for my first ultramarathon, the Gorge Waterfalls 50k!

Run Commuting Gear

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I live in the suburbs outside of Portland which unfortunately happens to be pretty far away from my work. As I was beginning to ramp up on my 50k training in late January (of this year), I realized I didn’t have the energy to: get all my scheduled runs in, drive to work and sit in traffic for nearly 2 hours a day, work a full day, and cook and clean…among all the other important things I have to do each day.

As I drove to work one day, sitting in traffic for over an hour, I saw that there were plenty of safe, runnable sidewalks all along the way to work. I mapped out my route via Google Maps and found that if I drove 11 miles close to work and park 3.5 miles away, I could run 7 miles round-trip on each run commute day. Because the route I usually go to has traffic due to ongoing construction, I drive another longer route to avoid congestion which is an additional 14 miles each day. After doing some math, I realized if I run commute 5 days a week, I could save 100 miles each week on gas! And on top of that, I could get my runs in for my ultra and marathon distance training.

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Becky Leung, Portland runner

Wearing the Osprey Sirrus 24

I would love to run 5 days a week, but sticking to 2-3 days a week as I nail down a consistent routine and schedule.

How far is your commute?

Each run commute is 6.6-7 miles round-trip, depending on where I park my car. I love being able to pick my distance by parking closer or further away from work.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I have been sticking to a solid routine in which I bring my lunch every day to work. I usually drive in on Monday and bring in all my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks to work. That way, I know I won’t have to worry about packing food in my backpack and accidentally spilling them all over my clothes. By Friday, all my food will have been consumed and I can pack up all my containers in my car to bring them back home.

What do you like most about run commuting?

What I love the most about run commuting is how great I feel when I come into work and when I’m coming back home. I NEVER regret a run even if I felt crappy during the run.

I also feel happy knowing I’m creating a better environment by reducing my car commutes with running. Other reasons why I love run commuting are because I can fit in a run for my ultra marathon training, stay fit, and compete with my Fitbit friends (another great motivator :)).

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

I heard that Portland is one of the top bike commuter cities in the nation, but I only know of a few run commuters personally. I definitely see a lot of runners around the city, but not sure if they’re running to work. I want to help change that and hopefully motivate other Portlanders run to work!

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Becky Leung, Portland runner

A scene from Becky’s run commute

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

Driving my car the entire way to work since I live far away in the suburbs.

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

Don’t overthink it, just try it out. That includes not overthinking the logistics and not thinking about what co-workers might think of you (if you’re worried about how you look after a run). Just map out your route, throw some clothes in a backpack, and run. Then through trial and error, figure out a run commute routine that works best for you! Theruncommuter.com is a GREAT resource for any questions you may have.

Anything more about yourself that would like to include?

I have been running for the Oiselle team for the last two years.. We have several ladies on the team from all over the country who run commute including another TRC contributor, Stephanie Devlin! They’re my inspiration and have been cheering for me in this run commute journey. I also plan to start a website around run commuting in Portland, Oregon specifically so I can inspire locals to run commute in real time!

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Anna Coffey
    run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Anna Coffey, DC runner, Washington DC runner

    New Run Commuter Anna Coffey

  • Age: 28
  • City/State: Washington, DC
  • Profession/Employer: Georgetown University Lombardi Cancer Center– Histopathology and Tissue Shared Resource Lab
  • Number of years running: 4
  • # of races you participate in a year: 3-4
  • Do you prefer road or trail? I prefer trail, but mostly end up on road because it’s the most prevalent thing around these parts.

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: REI Flash 18 Pack
  • Shoes: Brooks PureFlow 3
  • Clothing: Tights, base layer long-sleeved tee and sweatshirt, beanie, gloves
  • Outerwear: Lightweight jacket (when it’s < 20)
  • Headgear: None
  • Lights: None
  • Hydration: None for this winter, but I may add a Camelbak bladder to my pack for the sweltering DC summer.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

After I finished training for the Marine Corps Marathon in October, I wanted to find a way to get back to a regular running routine. At the same time, I was frustrated with the nearly 3 hours a day I spent commuting on the Metro and Georgetown shuttle bus system. When I considered how much time the run commute would save, it was a no-brainer.

How often do you run commute?

Right now I run commute about 3 days a week, but I’m hoping to ramp up to all 5 days soon.

How far is your commute?

It’s a little over 3 miles each way, 6 miles total. I enjoy the option of being able to easily lengthen the runs if the weather is particularly nice or I just feel like swinging by the White House, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial some mornings. One great thing about DC is that things really are not too far apart. It’s easy to get off at one Metro stop and run pretty much anywhere you want to go.

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Anna Coffey, DC runner, Washington DC runner

Early morning view of the Washington Monument

I usually pack my breakfast and lunch. The easiest things to carry are sandwiches or wraps with carrot sticks or another veggie for lunch and oatmeal with possibly a boiled egg or 2 for breakfast. I’ve had a bad experience with a container of soup leaking all over my clothes, so now if I take soup, I make sure to freeze it before throwing it in my pack. It’s definitely heavier, but some soup is just worth it. Salad also makes for an easy lunch.

What do you like most about run commuting?

I absolutely love that it saves me at least an hour a day. Who doesn’t want more time every day? Even though my commute is still about the same amount of time, it combines my commute and running time, killing 2 birds with one stone. My old commute involved driving to the Metro station, taking 1 Metro line, transferring to another line, and then getting on a shuttle bus to get to Georgetown and then I would go to the gym. It was awful – crowded trains, hectic transfers, and lots of standing around and waiting for one form of transportation or another. The new commute allows me to avoid the crowds, transfers, and standing around.

Another thing that I’ve always enjoyed about morning runs in DC is that you get to experience the city when it’s still waking up. It’s quiet, traffic hasn’t gotten too bad at this point, tourists aren’t yet crowding the sidewalks, and you’ve got the best views basically all to yourself. We moved from DC to Maryland about a year ago and I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy these morning runs in the city anymore, until I started run commuting.

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

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Anna Coffey, DC runner, Washington DC runner

Anna’s clothes drying system

I don’t know anyone else that runs to work, though I’m trying to convince all the runners I know to give it a try.

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

When I’m not run commuting, I’ll normally take just one Metro line and walk to the shuttle bus stop. My run commute has even helped me find better routes to walk when I’m not running! Once the weather gets warmer, and there’s more light early in the morning, I’m planning to bike to the Metro station instead of driving and then continue with my regular run commute from there. This will save me about $4.00 a day in parking fees, which I’m definitely looking forward to.

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

The thing that has really made my run commute more enjoyable was finding a great pack that can easily fit everything I need and straps down securely to keep it from wiggling too much. The first few runs I tried with a pack that had way too much side-to-side movement. I felt some pain and tightness in my knee and had to back off for a few days, which was a bit frustrating. I think the key thing is that you want a pack that allows you to carry everything you need, but doesn’t change your form too much so that you can run as normally as possible.

run commuter, run commuting, running to work, alternative commute, Anna Coffey, DC runner, Washington DC runner

The Lincoln Memorial from afar

One thing I’ve noticed recently is that my pace for my weekend fun runs is actually improving. I think the twice a day running and the additional few pounds in my pack is helping me improve my time, and what runner wouldn’t want to do that? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you are a new or semi-new run commuter and want the running world to hear your story, let us know!
We are now accepting submissions for May and June. If you are interested, submit the form below and we’ll contact you.
 
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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.

3 Responses to “The New Run Commuters – March 2014” Subscribe

  1. leeapeea March 17, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    I can’t believe I NEVER considered driving part way, parking, then run-commuting the last couple of miles! I live 35 miles away from work and loved commuting vicariously through this blog for the last few years. Thanks to Becky and Anna for pointing out the obvious solution of partial run-commute, I’ll be starting next week. :-)

    • Becky Leung March 18, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

      Hi Leeapeea, happy to answer any questions you have about “hybrid commuting” – feel free to email me becky1023@gmail.com! I also live far from work (up to 20 miles) so the driving and then running works for me! :)

  2. Catherine March 17, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    I love Becky’s idea of bringing all her lunches and snacks on one day so she doesn’t have to bring one each day. I don’t run commute but love the idea, both for personal fitness, well being and the benefits to the environment!

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