The New Run Commuters – July 2016

Run commuting is catching on all around the world. Just ask Claudia Cruz, this month’s featured New Run Commuter. Over the past several years, Claudia and her sister, Silvia (founders of Corridaamiga), have been working on developing run commuting as a more popular form of active transportation in Brazil. In addition to that, the group also works on local advocacy and public safety issues, such as sidewalk repair/replacement. Claudia is currently abroad helping to expand Corridaamiga in Sydney, Australia.

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Claudia Stuchi Cruz

  • Age: 31

  • City/State: Sydney/NSW

  • Profession/Employer: Compliance Analyst

  • Number of years running: 7

  • Number of races you participate in a year: 3

  • Do you prefer road or trail? I prefer to run on the trail because it is easier.

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: For my backpack, I don’t care about brands. I just use one that is comfortable.

  • Shoes: Mizuno

  • Clothing: Comfortable clothes

  • Headgear: Just a visor when it is really sunny 

  • Lights: I usually work out during the morning and don’t carry lights with me

  • Hydration: I don’t usually drink water if I’m running up to 10K. Above 10K, I will carry a bottle of water in my hands.

Claudia Stuchi Cruz

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I have always been active and enjoyed exercise. In 2013, my twin sister studied in France, and she started run commuting there – to save money, to see the city, and to stay active. From there, she got inspired to spread this idea, and created an initiative in Brazil called Corridaamiga (“Running friends”), which inspires and supports people to run commute.

I was influenced by her to get started, and I assisted her in developing this movement of Corridaamiga in Brazil. Now I’m introducing the idea of Corridaamiga in Sydney, and I’m finding that a lot of people here are interested.

How often do you run commute?

Twice a week.

How far is your commute?

7km each way.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I pack my lunch. I’m vegetarian – during the day I take foods that fit with my diet and a healthy lifestyle: fruits, nuts, rice cakes, etc.

What do you like most about run commuting?

It makes me feel better about my health. I’m living a healthy lifestyle and at the same time inspiring others to do the same by my example. And at the same time, I know I’m contributing in a positive way to the environment.

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

I see a lot of people in the streets in Sydney running to work. But it’s still growing! A lot of people get surprised at work when they realize that I have run or cycled to work, and they ask a lot of questions. People get really interested to know more, and it has inspired some people to get started.

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

A lot of the time I cycle to work, to get there a little quicker. My last resort is to travel by bus.

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

If we really want something, we can do it. Excuses are just that – excuses. If you want to run commute, you just have to decide to do it, don’t think too much. You can do it and I am certain that you will feel all the benefits from it.

Anything else that you would like to include?

Encourage others to run commute, tell people what you are doing. If you want a concrete way in which to spread the idea, you can help other by volunteering with an organization like Corridaamiga, where you can support other people to run commute, just by sharing your experiences.

Are you interested in being featured on The New Run Commuters? If so, fill out the form below and we’ll send you more details.

The New Run Commuters Submission Form

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Tell us a little about your run commute! (required)

The New Run Commuters – February 2016

Efficiency is the watchword for Julien Delange, our first run commuter profile for 2016. Running to and from his workplace in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Julien favours maximalist shoes, and structures his run commuting — in both principles and pragmatics — for greatest efficiency. In his profile, Julien also highlights the positive environmental, financial and training benefits of running to work. With his routine sorted, Julien run commutes high-mileage weeks as training for the trail races he enters. His commitment to leaving the car at home (“the car is simply not an option during the week“) is an inspiration to all run commuters. As if all this wasn’t enough, Julien maintains an active blog, complete with his own posts on run commuting – check it out after you read his profile! 

As always, if you are interested in being featured in The New Run Commuters, contact us using the form at the end of this post. The only criteria we have is that you started run commuting sometime in the last year or so. 

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Runner Basics

  • Name: Julien Delange

  • Age: 32

  • City/State: Pittsburgh, PA

  • Profession/Employer: Researcher in Computer Science

  • Number of years running: 7

  • Number of races you participate in a year: stopped counting (list on my blog, here

  • Do you prefer road or trail? Definitely trails. With a weekly mileage between 50 and 120 miles, long runs on flat and paved roads increase the likelihood to get an injury, so I prefer to stay on trails.

New Run Commuter Julien Delange

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: I mostly use two backpacks: the Ultraspire Ultraviz Spry when I do not have to bring anything or REI Stoke 9 when I take clothes or food. 

  • Shoes: Hoka Huaka were the best! Unfortunately, Hoka One One discontinued them and my attempt to convince them to keep these shoes in their catalog was a miserable failure. So, I just use any Hoka One One shoe (special kudos to the Stinson Lite) 

  • Lights: A Black Diamond Revolt headlamp that I can charge on a mini-USB port. Very useful during winter, when days are short and it is dark when you leave home and come back at night: you can charge it at work when you arrive in the morning at work, so that you are sure you have enough batteries for both trips.

  • Hydration: I used to take a bottle, but over the last year my body has become used to commuting without drinking. Otherwise, when running more than 20 miles, I use a Nathan backpack with a bladder.

  • Clothing: Nothing special or fancy: a pair of shorts, a tech t-shirt, some tech socks (Smartwool or Injini) and that’s about it. I also have a protective shell (for when it rains), headband (to protect my ears from freezing during winter). It is useless to overdress: after 10 minutes, my body is warm enough to run under the snow. And even having Raynaud syndrome that reduces blood flow in my extremities, I keep clothing as minimal as possible. The most difficult part is remembering to keep going for the first 10 minutes when it’s freezing cold outside! 

  • Outerwear: Salomon Agile ½ Zip and Salomon Trail Runner Warm LS Zip Tee. Only when it is really cold!

  • Headgear: A hat when it is really hot, but otherwise, nothing. I also always wear protective goggles or sunglasses when going on trails – to protect my eyes from potential obstacles.

On Run Commuting

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

Efficiency, sustainability, and financial reasons. Two years ago, I was taking my car to go to work (one hour per day), running one hour a day, and going to the gym. All these activities took two to three hours every day.

It was not time-efficient. I decided to run to work (45 min. each way) so that I could have more time to do other things I enjoy (reading, programming, playing, meeting friends!) and save money (no gas or parking). In addition, I would not be increasing the pollution (fumes and noise) in my community. I realized there were only benefits and suddenly became a run commuter the morning after.

How often do you run commute?

Every day! And I still do my long runs during the weekend :-)

I am very lucky that we have a shower at work: I bring soap, clean clothes and towels every two weeks to work, so that I do not have to carry them in my backpack.

How far is your commute?

The commute is between 4.5 (shortest route) to 10 miles (scenic view along a river). I have many routes I can take, so that I can adapt my commute according to my training needs (elevation, distance, mileage, etc.) I usually run between 10 to 13 miles a day with some days at more than 20 (when training for very long distances). It really is a fantastic way to train!

The sun rising over the river during Julien’s run to work

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I already have all my lunches prepared at work. Every two or three weeks, I drop a lot of clothes and packaged food. I eat the same thing almost every day: NuGo bars for snack and Tasty Bite Madras Lentils packages for lunches. Tasty Bites are easy to prepare (one minute in a microwave), are acceptable from a nutrition point of view (has some carbs, protein, etc.). It is very efficient from both time and financial perspectives. And, sometimes, I still go out for lunch with some colleagues.

What do you like most about run commuting?

This is a very efficient way to train: you can adapt your route according to what you really need to do (hill repeats, fartleks, etc.) and give yourself extra time for other activities. This is actually the best way I have found to train for long distances without impacting my social life too much. Also, you cannot miss a run!

Another underrated aspect is the predictability. Drive-commute times depend on many variables (traffic, issues with your car, etc.) and you do not have control over them. By running and choosing your route, you know exactly how long it is going to take to go to work.

But overall, I just do not like driving! To me, running is more natural than driving and the idea of sitting in traffic for hours is just not appealing. I prefer to be outside enjoying nature.

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

Actually, there are some people that recently started commuting in Pittsburgh (special kudos to Alyssa and Sarah!). Pittsburgh is becoming more biker and runner friendly. We now have bike lanes, some dedicated fitness events for bikers and runners, and plenty of local running groups. The biggest running group in the city (Steel City Road Runner) started 3 or 4 years ago and today has more than 2000 members. Only a few of us run to work, but more people are getting involved and being active, this is what matters!

Beyond the decision to run to work, what matters to me is how we, as a society, use our resources (time, land, money, etc). Today, more than 76% of the US population go to work alone in their cars. In 2012, less than 3% of the population walked to work. Transportation impacts so many aspects of our community: schedule (time to commute and stay in traffic), health (pollution, noise, risks related to inactivity), even architecture (organization of the city with more roads). Choosing the least efficient solutions has a huge impact: does it make sense to take our car to work for a couple of miles when we can just bike/walk/run there? Especially considering the impact of the lack of activity in our developed societies.

Run commuting is just a means to change the way we usually commute, and there are other alternatives if you would prefer not to run (bike, public transportation, carpool, etc.), It is a good thing to see that some cities (such as Pittsburgh) are developing and promoting other ways of commuting.

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

I only stop running to work when I am injured. In that case, I commute either by bike or (last resort) bus. The car is simply not an option during the week.

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

Start easy and do it progressively. It takes a while to build the endurance to commute every day, but it is very convenient. Have fun, enjoy it. Stop half way to the pub, meet some friends, grab a beer. (re)Discover your city, its trails, and just have fun!

Anything else that you would like to include?

I maintain a blog about running and had several articles on run commuting. Readers might be interested by the introduction to run commuting! http://julien.gunnm.org/2015/02/05/running-as-a-transportation-alternative-the-introductory-guide/

Interested in being featured on The New Run Commuters? Submit your info in the form below and we’ll send you more details.

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The New Run Commuters Submission Form

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Run Commuting Challenges – Parenting

Choosing to become a run commuter can be a life-altering decision. As we outline in our Become a Run Commuter series, one must first tell themselves that they will do it, and then begin the planning and logistics necessary to ensure success. If you already have a challenging life as it is, then throwing a run commute into the mix can be difficult – You may have to wear suits every day; your route may lack adequate public transportation; your office may lack shower facilities; you may live 20+ miles from the office, and so on. In this series, we will address some of these issues individually. First up, parenting.

Note: We realize that everyone has unique circumstances that may not fit the solutions provided in this article. We offer these only as examples of how to overcome some more common challenges.

Scenario

Our family consists of two adults and three children, ages 1, 6, and 13 (that’s daycare, elementary, and middle school – three places to be, possibly at different times). We are a one-car family and public transportation is available. The adults work in, or near, downtown. All kids can be dropped off at the same time, and (mostly) picked up at the same time. Both my wife and I want to use active transportation to get to and from work.

Before school started in late-July, we sat down and planned out our days to see what would work in our given situation. I would do drop-offs and she would do pick-ups. My wife has meetings a night or two a week after work, so she wouldn’t be able to get them every day. I work criminal trials occasionally, and have to go in early and stay late on court days, so those days we would need to adjust accordingly (and possibly ask for outside help). But for the most part, we have a fairly predictable day. In order to help us create a schedule, we first mapped out all the places we might need to be during a typical day.

Planning

Once we had that in front of us, not only did we realize that everything was within a reasonable running and biking distance, but we were able to create a schedule and plan that works for everyone. Here is what a typical, active commuting day looks like for our family:

  • 5:30 am – Dad wakes up, showers, makes lunches, packs bags
  • 6:30​ ​am​ ​– Wake the kids up. Start feeding them, getting them dressed
  • 6:40 am ​– Mom comes downstairs with baby
  • 6:40 ​am ​– 7:15 ​am ​- Chaos​, which sometimes includes breakfast, hopefully involves brushed teeth, and possibly involves clothes worn the day before​
  • 7:15 ​am ​– 13-year-old bikes to school; Dad loads little ones in car, heads to their school/daycare​ (these are both within the same block)​
  • 7:25 ​am ​– Dad arrives​ at school​, parks car for the day at school​ (note: car has bike rack on back)​
  • 7:30 ​am ​– Both little ones are in place; Dad’s run to work begins; Mom bikes to work
  • 8:00 am – School starts​; Mom arrives at work and cools down
  • 8:10 am – Dad arrives at work, cools down, then cleans up; Mom begins work
  • 8:30 am – Dad starts working
  • 8:30 am – 3:45 pm – Parents working; kids in school
  • 3:45 pm – School ends/afterschool program begins
  • 4:30 pm – Teenager bikes home
  • 5:00/5:30​ pm​ – ​Work ends, ​Mom bikes to school, puts bike on car, picks little ones up. Dad leaves work, takes the train, and runs home from nearest station.
  • 5:40 ​pm ​- Everyone is home. Begin to prepare dinner.

Results

Following our schedule, here is what our daily mileage looks like:

Dad (dropoff)

Morning

  • 1 mile of driving
  • 5 miles of run commuting

Afternoon

  • 0 – 5 miles of train (depends on available time)
  • 1 – 5.3 miles of running

Daily Total: 6 – 10.3 miles run commuting, 0 – 5 miles on the train, and 1 mile driving.

Mom (pickup)

Morning

  • 3.5 miles bike commuting
  • 0 miles of driving

Afternoon

  • 3.5 miles bike commuting
  • 1 mile of driving

Daily Total: 7 miles of bike commuting, 1 mile of driving.

It is important to note that this is what works for us right now. This is a “while-the-kids-are-in-school” schedule, and once summer arrives and camps begin, everything will change, and we’ll go through the above planning once again.

“Yes, but…”

While this active transportation scheme works for us, we often have to modify it, and sometimes that happens a couple of times a week. Why? For many reasons, including unscheduled meetings, late work nights, etc. For the more common ones, here are some answers to questions I know readers (especially parents) will want to know:

What if your kid gets sick and your only car is at school? How do you pick them up?

This actually just happened this week. Our daycare called and said our little guy was sick and needed to be picked up as soon as possible. I put in for leave at work, set an out-of-office reply, changed back into my (still wet) running gear, and headed to the train station. Then, once the train arrived at my home station, I ran 2 miles to daycare to pick up my son and the car before driving back home.

My other option would have been Uber, a taxi, or a bus that gets me fairly close to school (but is slower than taking the train).

What do you do if your kids don’t finish school/afterschool at the same time each day?

If, for example, one child needs to be picked up at 5:00, and the other at 6:00, the parents could split pickup duties between themselves that day. Or, the main pickup person does both, while the other stays home and prepares dinner.

I don’t have time to do all this, and make dinner, and get the kids to bed on time. How can I make it work?

Using a slow cooker has saved us a lot of time and frustration. Get a good slow cooker with a built-in timer and a crock pot cookbook that has recipes your family would enjoy. Take a little time on the weekend to look through the cookbook, plan five to seven recipes for the week, and go out and buy the ingredients. Some cookbooks split meal prep into the night before, and the morning of, to make things easier.

Aside from the slow cooker, another option would be to cook two large meals on the weekend, then store them for serving throughout the week. For instance, make a pan of lasagna and a broccoli-cheese casserole. Serve on alternate days, and on Friday, take a night off and eat out.


 

I know, I know – this all sounds way too complicated…

However daunting it may initially seem, after you’ve done it for a few days, the routine becomes as normal as any other in your life. You have to get your kids to school and make dinner anyway, no matter how you decide to get to and from work, so why not try to throw run commuting into the mix, as well? You’ll be glad you did!

2014 International Survey of Run Commuters

We’re pleased to release the findings of our first International Survey of Run Commuters!

The survey results can be viewed here, and the raw data is available for public use here. Please acknowledge The Run Commuter if using for a publication/blog/paper/etc.

If you would like to provide any feedback or have any questions, please email us at info@theruncommuter.com.

Here are some of the highlights of the survey:

We received a total of 145 responses from 22 different countries.

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Responses
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Run commuters are more likely to be:

Nearly half of the respondents (49%) have been run commuting less than a year.

57% of run commuters run both ways in the same day.

When not commuting by running, the preferred method of transportation is the bicycle, with 55% choosing cycling over other forms of travel.

On average, respondents live 7.47 miles (12 km) away from their workplace.

The average run commute is between 3 – 7 miles (4.8 – 11.2 km).

93% of run commuters have run with a backpack at some time in the past, while 77% continue to do so regularly.

11 respondents run with laptops.

A majority of respondents keep hygiene items (72%), and an extra set of work clothes, including shoes, at the office (~65%).

More than two-thirds of run commuters have access to a shower at their office, but nearly the same amount say that they would still run if none were available.

Aside from running to work, nearly one-fifth of respondents use running to pick up groceries and run errands. 14% occasionally run to meet friends.

An equal number of respondents have run to the pub as have run to the library.

Corridaamiga Founder Silvia Cruz on Brazil’s “Friendly Running” Initiative

We’re very excited to introduce you to Sylvia Cruz, an inspiring run commuter and passionate active transportation advocate from São Paulo, Brazil. The 29-year-old environmental manager only began running three years ago, but it had a major impact on how she sees the cityand interacts with others around her. Further, it inspired her to educate and encourage others to join the ranks of those who not only run, but run as a form of urban mobility.

She started Corridaamiga, or “running friends,” as a way to connect experienced run commuters with those interested in using running to get around the city, with the overall goal of promoting active transportation throughout the country. We asked her about Corridaamiga, about running in France, Brazil, and South America, and how she got started. We hope what she is doing in Brazil can be replicated by run commuters in other cities around the world!  

About Sylvia Cruz

How long have you been run commuting?

I’ve been running since 2011, and started run commuting in 2012.

After your first run commute, how did you feel?

Free, strong, and even smarter!

Corridaamiga founder Sylvia Cruz.
(Sign reads “Respect: One Less Car”)

What other forms of transportation do you use to get around São Paulo?

If I am not running, I ride a bike.  Sometimes, I need to take a bus or the subway, and less frequently, I take a cab.

In your video, you mention using running as a form of transportation while living in France – were there certain things that made running for transportation easier or harder in France compared to São Paulo?   

In France, they have good quality pavements, the public places are cleaner, and the air is less polluted than São Paulo. This is obvious if we compare the urban statistics between Lille (France) and São Paulo (an unfair comparison). In São Paulo, and in Brazil in general, people are afraid to walk or run for several reasons.

First, we have a “syndrome” of insecurity. I know that we have high level of violence, etc., but I think that part of this “panic” arises from our television/newspaper that reinforces this issue too much. And, I am sorry, but according to the statistics, if you are in a car, you are not safer than me!

Second, our pavements are not of good quality, which makes it difficult – if not impossible – to safely run commute. Our public places are underutilized and badly-designed, not favoring conviviality and social interactions. We need to improve our city planning; after all, we all want to live in a better city.

Run Commuting in Brazil

What is the state of run commuting in Brazil?

In Brazil, most of the initiatives that involve running are not related to urban mobility, but rather with running as a sport. For instance, most of big companies are used to providing running instructors as an employee benefit. Still it does not work exactly like run commuting. As far as we know, Corridaamiga is officially the first run commuting initiative in Brazil.

On the other hand, initiatives for other kinds of active commuting – such as Bike Anjo – are steadily increasing in all 5 regions and different states of Brazil. I believe this reflects a time of people power, i.e., a time where most of the more important solutions for megacity problems are being done by ordinary citizens, who utilize individual willpower and personal initiative to make something change, rather than waiting for the government to do something about it. An integration of all these solutions – individual and institutional – will give us a better scenario in the future.

How many run commuters do you know of in your city?  

We don’t have this number for the city of São Paulo. Since we started the network 4 months ago, we have had 48 volunteer runners (run commuters), and 54 people that requested Corridaamiga to help in their first routes, showing the best ways and sharing instructions and information about how to run in the streets.

What factors make run commuting appealing to you or others in your city? For instance, is automobile traffic terrible, or public transportation overcrowded?

Although Corridaamiga aims to have volunteers registered all over Brazil, it is based in São Paulo. São Paulo is known for its intense traffic, the incredible use of automobiles (people even use it for going to the bakery and we have bakeries in every corner of the city), and overcrowded, expensive, and inefficient public transportation. Because of this, different initiatives of different natures have come along over the last decade, aiming to be innovative solutions. Mobility is not the only focus – it is also about designing cities for people.

There are days in São Paulo where the traffic jams exceed 300 kilometers. Also, 4,000 people die annually due to problems caused by air pollution. The city already has more than 7 million vehicles circulating and Brazilians’ weight has been increasing in the last years.

50.1% of men and 48% of women are overweight. We have seen a lot of initiatives in São Paulo that are geared towards increasing quality of life, while improving the individual mobility. Among these are Corridaamiga, Bike Anjo, Cidade Ativa, Colab.Re, SampaPé, Cidadera, Mobilize, Hortelões Urbanos and all of them talk about empowering people to bring innovative solutions for creating a city designed for people.

They are definitely essential, but the overall solution will come about as a result of discussions and collaboration between civil society and the public and private sector. This is what happened during the First Brazilian Run to Work Day (inspired by the Run2work day in UK): we invited people to take pictures of sidewalks in terrible conditions, so we could deliver this information to the governmental organizations responsible for fixing them, because broken, deteriorated sidewalks are also a mobility problem.

To the best of your knowledge, which cities in Brazil have the most run commuters? In South America?

I don’t know of other initiatives, but in the “Corridaamiga” network, most of the run commuters are from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Curitiba. In South America, I really don’t know.

corridaamiga_onde estamos

Requests for Corridaamigas and volunteer submissions have been coming in from all across Brazil over the past 4 months

Do employers or government programs provide incentives for employees who use alternative transportation, such as bicycling or walking, to commute to work?

In Brazil, some employers already stimulate the use of alternative transportation. Nevertheless, companies are usually only reactive (as opposed to proactive) and afraid of incentivizing people to use alternative – and possibly unsafe – modals.

I’ll give a successful example: Riding a bike is seen as a really dangerous way of transportation in the city. However, given the context and great effort of bicycle activists, more and more people are riding their bikes to work. This is creating structural changes within companies, and sometimes the advocates even consult the employers on policies that could improve and make their life more comfortable. Some companies even try to increase the number of people who ride bikes through programs that teach cycling safety techniques. Even so, neither the government nor the private sector has made notable policies, such as tax-free incentives for alternative transportation that have been extremely successful in other countries. On the contrary, buying a car is getting even easier and cheaper in Brazil.

Corridaamiga

Why did you start Corridaamiga?

I started Corridaamiga because I wish more people would discover other transportation alternatives. I want to show them that it is possible to change their lives. We do not need to suffer stuck in the traffic, suffer for the lack of time to exercise, or lack of time to be with our friends and family.

In 2013, I did an interchange program in Lille, France. While there, I used to run as a way of moving around the city and benefited a lot from it. I got to know places and people, and saved a lot of money on subway tickets. It also helped to fight loneliness. I was thinking how I could make more people feel the same way I felt when I used running as a way of getting around.

Inspired by Bike Anjo (a volunteer group of urban cyclists that assists people who wish to learn to ride a bicycle in their city), the idea of “Corridaamiga” emerged, with the intention of helping and inspiring runners who want to use running as a means of transportation. In short, Corridaamiga is a voluntary initiative that emerged in early 2014, as a result of the idea of “Brazilian run commuters” that aims to assist and inspire individuals to use running for urban mobility.

It stimulates a low-CO2 form of transportation, as well, which is also responsible for increasing people’s quality life, therefore making people happier. While running, the person has a totally different and (we believe) more pleasurable experience in the city. It is healthier, too. It is worth saying that Brazilians are getting fatter and more sedentary. Thus, our main purpose is to act as multiplying agents; spreading the practice of running as urban mobility, and passing on the complementary benefits (time optimization, reducing costs, improving quality of life, etc.) to other citizens.

How has the running community reacted to your initiative?

So far they have been very positive and curious about the initiative. It has been only several months since we started the network and already more than 3 magazines related to the sport and other organizations related to urban mobility have contacted us to promote the initiative.

What is the general background of the expert runners that pair up with beginner runners? Are they mainly current run commuters? Professional running coaches? Weekly group run leaders?

I got it!! In one hour I did the route from work to my home! It is great for self-esteem! That’s amazing! While I was running, all cars stuck in the traffic … I felt very smart, too. Thanks Corridaamiga! – Larissa Tega

Right now, the runners are not professional running coaches. Our volunteers are common people that run and decided to help other people. In order to guarantee the best running habits possible, Corridaamiga is in contact with a nutritionist and some coaches that give weekly tips, voluntarily, for our website and Facebook page. In addition to general health tips, we also give tips about how to run to work, what to carry on our bags, which bags are appropriate for runners to use, and even the best routes for the runner.

Where do you see CorridaAmiga in 5 years? What does it look like? What does your city and/or country look like?

I always wanted to learn how to run on the streets! This is totally crazy (for me) because the route work-home has 7.5 km. During the trip many thoughts came to my mind “oh my Gosh, [it] is still far away from home”, “should I have started with a shorter distance?”, “I need to breathe calmer and slower”, etc… Finally 7.5 km and 1h05m after, the challenge was completed. And I’m very proud of myself – Naomi Kawasaki

Around the world, we have seen a tendency to use running, walking, and cycling as a means of transportation, due in no small part to the large waste of time in the journey, increased personal risks, and detrimental health effects caused by the use of individual motorized transportation in big cities. Experts worldwide are beginning to discuss and recognize the role of “active transportation” as a healthy alternative to a sedentary lifestyle and its ability to improve the quality of life of the population.

Therefore, it is essential to expand the “Corridaamiga” network, so that more and more runners are willing to use running as urban mobility. In Brazil, this activity is still in the embryonic stage, so it is vital to encourage and spread the idea of run commuting, as well as recognize and minimize the barriers that still hinder running as a viable and healthy choice of transportation for all individuals.

The New Run Commuters – July 2014

In this month’s edition of The New Run Commuters, we feature Marcel Beaudoin of Gatineau, Quebec, and Dell Wilson from Madison, Alabama. Both are current or former bike commuters who began run commuting to train for longer races, and they have great bits of advice to pass on to those thinking about giving run commuting a try.  

And, interestingly, both are Buff wearers. I guess we’ll have try one of those things out…

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Runner Basics

  • New Run Commuter Marcel Beaudoin

    New Run Commuter Marcel Beaudoin

    Name: Marcel Beaudoin

  • Age: 40
  • City/State: Gatineau, Quebec….Canada
  • Profession/Employer: Patent Examiner, Government of Canada
  • Number of years running: 3. Previously, I commuted to work on a bike in the summer. However, my bike got stolen from the bike locks at my office…it is a bit harder to steal the shoes from my office.
  • # of races you participate in a year: Three – 2 ½ marathons (Ottawa Race Weekend ½ Marathon, Canada Army Run ½ Marathon), and a Spartan Sprint)
  • Do you prefer road or trail? Road. At 40, after 6 years in the military, plus another 5 years playing lunchtime soccer on a field that only Salvador Dali would consider flat, I do not want to punish my ankles much more.

Run Commuting Gear

  • Backpack: I used to run with a backpack I found at home, but it was not what I would call stable. I just (Father’s Day) got a Deuter Race X from my wife, so I look forward to running with something with chest and waist straps to help in the stability.
  • Shoes: Saucony Viziglo (fall 2013). I’ll be honest, they are comfortable, but I also admit to buying them because they are OMGWTF visible. Slowly, but surely, I am getting my wife used to them so that I can buy the most incredibly bright and gaudy pair of running shoes I can find.
  • Clothing: Socks – Whatever socks I can find in my drawer; Shorts – Nike DriFit shorts. They are comfy, and are pretty good at not riding up between my thighs; Shirt – Whatever technical t-shirt with sleeves I can find. Sleeveless shirts get a lot of chafing around my neck and my armpits. I tried, once, using a normal t-shirt…my bleeding nipples were the first sign that I had made a mistake. The pain in the shower was simply confirmation that I had made a significant error.
  • Outerwear: As I have only been run commuting for about since May 2014, I have been lucky to have avoided really cold weather. That being said, I live in Canada, which has winter a fair amount of the year, so in the fall I plan on picking up a bunch of winter running gear.
  • Headgear: When I started running, I would just go with what little hair on my head I had. 3 pairs of shorted-out earphones later, I switched to baseball caps. That lasted a month, and then my wife said that my sweaty hats were disgusting, and that I had to find something else. I then got informed about Buffs (From Buff Canada) and have been a convert ever since. And I am totally not an addict, I can stop buying new patterns whenever I feel like it.
  • Lights: Running in the summer means not having to worry about lighting. However, the latitude I am at means that in the winter it will be getting dark at around 4pm, so I will have to look into a lighting system once I see how the street lighting is.
  • Hydration: Currently I have a belt pouch with 2 small water bottles. I may look into throwing a CamelBak hydration system into my Race X, but I don`t need to yet.

On Run Commuting

Marcel - Path

A multi-use path along Marcel’s route.

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I started run commuting for a couple of main reasons. With 2 small kids, going running after work meant either abandoning my wife for an hour or so immediately after supper, or heading out at about 9:30 after they have gone to bed and their stuff for the next day is prepared. In addition, I had signed up for a ½ marathon that took place at the end of May, so I needed to get some pavement behind me. Work has a shower freely available, and a personal cubicle means I can hang up my stuff to dry during the day. I can also leave sandals and other stuff at work, which lightens the load for my commute.

How often do you run commute?

I run to work 4 times a week and, due to after-school activities, can only run back 3 times. So, call it 3.5 run commutes a week. In the summer, when after school activities are no longer going on, 4 days a week.

How far is your commute?

It is about 5.5 km one way. It is pretty flat, with a total drop of only about 60 metres from the start to the end. Some mild hills in between, but it is overall downhill from home to work. Here is a typical run, as tracked by my Garmin FR220. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/524180326

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

Typically I try to bring lunch to work. Either a bunch of sandwiches or something I can heat up at work. Occasionally, I will treat myself to a smoked meat sandwich or a fish and chips platter at work.

Marcel - Town

Downtown Gatineau

What do you like most about run commuting?

It is very peaceful. Running, for me, is fairly Zen. One foot in front of the other. No matter how bad my morning before work was, or how many coworkers I have to deal with, running always calms me down.

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

My run commuting inspiration, Nicolas Pedneault, recently joined The Run Commuter as a columnist. He runs about 11 or 12 km each way, pretty much year-round.

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

I take the bus to work, which is a nice way to catch up on podcasts or reading.

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

Don’t measure yourself against other people who are running to work. There will always be people who run farther to get to work, faster to get to work, have hillier hills or flatter flats. Just worry about yourself.

Anything else that you would like to include?

Oooo look, another new buff pattern.

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Runner Basics

  • Dell - Profile

    New Run Commuter Dell Wilson

    Name: Dell Wilson

  • Age: 50
  • City/State: Madison, AL
  • Profession/Employer: Software Architect @ Intergraph PP&M
  • Number of years running: 1
  • # of races you participate in a year: 1
  • Do you prefer road or trail? Road, I currently have little experience with trail.

Run Commuting Gear

On Run Commuting

Dell - Ready to go

Ready to head out.

Why did you decide to start run commuting?

I’ve been a full-time, year-round bike commuter for the past 5 years and I self-identify as a cyclist primarily. Last November, the younger guys in my department challenged me to run 100 miles during the month and culminate with a half-marathon. Because we dress casually on Friday’s (don’t have to carry office clothes) and go out to eat (don’t have to carry lunch), that day became a perfect opportunity to gain additional mileage for the challenge. After the challenge was over, I continued it because I enjoy it and I learned that I can deal with harsher weather running than cycling, which helps to keep my fitness up during the winter.

How often do you run commute?

I bike commute Mon through Thu and run commute on Fri.

How far is your commute?

4.25 miles to work and 3.75 miles home.

Do you pack or buy a lunch?

I carry my lunch on the days I bike commute and buy lunch on the day I run commute.

Dell - Neighborhood Road

A shot from Dell’s route.

What do you like most about run commuting?

I feel a freedom because I can get around on my own power. That’s one of the things I’ve always liked about cycling and, with running, you’re even free of the mechanics of the bicycle.

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

I’ve not met any other run commuters in my city. However, I live in a small city so that is not surprising.

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

Bicycle!

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

I give the exact same advice to those considering bike commuting. I see many people jump in thinking they’d start full time and then fall as soon as life intervenes to cause you to drive. Instead, start with one day per week and take the attitude that you are going to run (or ride) on that day no matter what comes along. You can plan activities that require you to drive on the other days. If you’re like me, you’ll find that you begin to look forward to that day more than any other and your hunger builds to add another day and then another. The key thing is to get in a groove and dare the world to push you out of it.

Anything else that you would like to include?

My department now has a new challenge to run the local marathon (Rocket City Marathon) in December. While I found working up to half-marathon quite easy, I expect this to be difficult. I’ll begin training in August and I’ll weave my run commute into my training plan.

By | July 18th, 2014|Categories: General, People|Tags: , , , , , |3 Comments

Review: Henty Wingman Backpack

Henty takes a simple method of storing and transporting clothing to an entirely different level with their Wingman Backpack.

This unique, smart bag transforms a heavy-duty garment carrier into a securely rolled-up backpack, making it a mobile gear transportation system for runners, cyclists, and walkers alike.

Though a bit expensive, cyclists have sworn by the messenger-style Wingman for years. Listening to customer feedback, Henty decided to add backpack straps to make the bag more appealing to cyclists who preferred that setup to carry their bags. With that simple modification, the Wingman Backpack opened up to the running market. I ran with it multiple times over several weeks under varying conditions to see how it performed. Here are the results.

Test Scenario 1: Suit coats and a laptop

I chose to test the Henty Wingman Backpack out on the run commute home, so I dressed in my normal business casual attire, packed up my lunch and gear, then headed to the train station.

Packed and ready to go

Packed and ready to go

The Wingman Backpack consists of two pieces – the garment bag, and the duffel. The garment bag seems like it is full of secret pouches, velcro attachments, straps, buckles and zippers. One pouch even contains an integrated raincover!

Garment Bag Opened

Garment Bag Opened

One of the zippers reveals this quick-access area, complete with a detachable passport-style organizer. This is a great feature if you are a run commuter who combines running and transit (easy access to bus/train pass).

Quick-access pouch with removable organizer

Quick-access pouch with removable organizer

Overall, there is a lot of space in this pack. The duffel is extremely durable yet simple, with no extra pockets or gadgets within. It held everything I needed to pack into it and had remaining space left over. The duffel bag buckles inside the empty, center space of the rolled-up unit. 

Looking down into the WIngman Backpack from above. The duffel fills the empty space within.

Looking down into the Wingman Backpack from above. The duffel fills the empty space within.

The hanger system is awesome, consisting of a single, high-grade plastic hanger that pivots to allow you to pack the curved “hanger part” away when not being used. Henty recommends one suit jacket and one shirt, or three shirts as the maximum load for the garment bag. 

The pack felt different when I donned it, but not in a bad way. I was unused to wearing a cylindrical-shaped backpack, and the feel of it against my back was unusual and tight, but out of the way of my swinging arms. It felt great while walking, though when I started to run, I could feel the effect of the change in center of gravity away from my back due to the extra weight of the suit coats and laptop. The laptop also altered the fit against my back, making the contact width wider than it would have been without a laptop. 

Padded laptop sleeve rests against your back

Padded laptop sleeve rests against your back

The laptop protective sleeve is fantastic and kept sweat out like a champ. Around mile three, the shoulder straps started chafing under my arms a bit, but not terribly bad. I tried it again a few days later under the same conditions and had the same results. It works well for shorter distances under this configuration.

Also, the suit coats looked great when I pulled them out after arriving at home. 

Ideal Distance (no laptop, no suit(s), normal clothes): 1 – 3 miles

Test Scenario 2: Regular clothes, no laptop, normal daily items

For the second test, I again took the train to work dressed in my normal business casual attire, and packed my lunch and running clothes in the duffel. At the end of the day, I hung the clothes on the hanger, packed away my things, cinched everything up, and headed out.

Without the laptop, the bag fit much better. It rested on my back in between my shoulder blades and maintained body contact down to my lower back. And, since it was a bit lighter this time without the suit coats and laptop, the pack’s center of gravity changed to a more normal location.

On the run, I had to occasionally adjust the straps to keep the pack in place. That is a fairly common thing to have to do, and why we recommend choosing a running backpack with easily adjustable straps for on-the-fly cinching.  

Unlike a regular pack, the Henty Wingman Backpack did not affect my arm swing, and it was a comfortable run for the entire 5.2 miles back to the train station. 

Henty - Test 02 Arrival.jpg

The end of a my run commute home with the Wingman Backpack

I did not use the sternum strap very frequently, however, as it is a bit too short. I have a small chest, and it was tight on me. It could probably use another 5 inches of length, but the pack fit securely enough without using it all.  

The only other thing I could see that might affect runners with a different body shape than mine is how far it extends down beyond the lower back. It might rub if the runner has a larger backside. With a standard cargo load, the Henty Wingman works well for medium distances.

Ideal Distance (no laptop, normal clothes): 3 – 6 miles

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Overall, it is extremely well-made, durable, and works pretty well for running. It would be ideal for run commuters who bring a suit or two in on Monday, and bring it back home on Friday. I would forgo carrying a laptop, as it will change the fit a bit too much for running. It’s also perfect for those run commuters who cycle in on Monday morning with clothes for a few days, and run home and to work until they need to change out clothing or supplies.

The cool part about the Wingman Backpack for me is that it combines two things that I normally use – a clothing carrier (Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder 15) AND a backpack (Osprey Manta 20) – into one easy-to-use system.

As always please try on a running pack to ensure that it fits your body properly and comfortably before you commit to it.

Click here for Henty’s US Website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.

Q&A with UK’s #run2workday Founder Gordon Lott

If you are from London, you may have recently noticed a significant increase in media coverage related to run commuting. And, if you dig through the deluge of television stars and top athletes touting their love and support of running to work in the London Evening Standard and elsewhere, you’ll find one man behind it all.

The founder of #run2workday (June 5th, 2014) and health advocate behind a tax-free running gear petition in the UK, Gordon Lott, 40, believes people should ditch the Tube and instead turn to run commuting to help maintain their fitness and ease overcrowding on London’s transit system. And, he’s not alone. The Mayor of London has gone all-in on the idea…

We asked Gordon about his beginnings, his vision for #run2workday, and what the future holds for cities and politicians that support running to work as a regular commute option.

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Tell us a little about yourself. What is your background? Are you a runner?

I’ve always loved ball sports and I only got in to running when I decided to do a triathlon 6 years ago as a new goal for myself to get fit. I now do two or three Triathlons a year to help keep the weight off – I weigh 95kgs, so I’m not naturally built for running; I drink too much, I’ve smoked; I love chocolate and food, so running is a necessity for me to stay fit and keep the weight off, and I love the feeling of achievement having been on a run.

How did the idea for #run2workday and the tax petition originate?

I felt running needed a campaign to attract more people to it – not just those already predisposed to running.  There are lots of 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, and great events like Tough Mudder and triathlons, but too often these events speak to people who are already fit and running. What we haven’t done well is engage people who don’t naturally consider running or jogging, however far, to be active and healthy.   Many, like me don’t ‘love’ running and probably never will, but I certainly enjoy the sense of achievement when I do it, and running to work, even just two or three times a week, is an easy way of keeping fit within your daily routine and can save people a lot of travel money. 

Our mission is to help get 1 million more people running at least once a week by 2020 (currently it stands at 2 million, so its a 50% increase).

So I set up www.run2work.com as the first dedicated hub to helping people run to work in the UK.  The Route Planner shows you the quickest and shortest route to take, and you can set up run2work Groups with people at home or work who will keep you motivated. #run2workday is an idea to help people try running to work, and with our Partners including the Evening Standard, Virgin Active, and Amazon Audible, we’re giving people information and incentives to do so.  

However #run2workday isn’t a long term, sustainable solution.  To create real change, we need to provide more information, the right kit (such as ruck sacks to carry laptops), and environment (such as more showers at work), and incentivise people.  That’s why we’ve launched the petition for the cost of running to work to be tax-free which could save people over £100 a year.  The long term savings to the National Health Service and Transport system far outweigh the tiny reduction in tax income.  In the UK, Cycling to Work is already tax-free – you purchase a bike and equipment through an employer’s scheme before tax on your salary is deducted.  Over 500,000 have signed up to one of these schemes, which is 65% of all people who cycle to work, so it has clearly worked and cycling as a sport is experiencing fantastic growth. 

Why did you choose Thursday, June 5, 2014 for #run2workday?

Thursday 5 June is the first #run2workday – we’re holding them throughout the summer on the first Thursday of each month, so we help people make it a habit and not a one off. They all fall between a number of running and mass participation events, so we hope people can use Running to Work as a way to train and stay fit.

Is #run2workday mainly for the people of London and the surrounding area or is it open to runners from around the world?

The offers people get for taking part in #run2workday are just for the UK, however people all over the world are taking part in #run2workday which is great – the more the merrier!

How did the mayor of London become involved with this project?

One of the Mayor of London’s biggest priorities is to reduce overcrowding on London’s Tube Network – he wants fewer people to use it because there is only finite capacity, so for him and TfL (Transport for London), more people running to work can help them achieve this objective.

run2work logo 300 x 250Do you think participation by the mayor and star athletes will increase public buy-in?

We certainly hope so, and we also hope David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister, will also take part – he regularly runs in London’s Parks, so maybe he could run to the Houses of Commons or another meeting.

Cycling to work typically faces a social barrier: drivers vs. bikers, and who owns the roads; however, run commuting’s bane is usually that, unless one’s workplace touts showers, people see it as unhygienic. Do you think that will be a significant barrier to run2work?

I don’t see a lack of showers being any more of an issue for running to work than it is for cycling to work. Yes, there are some people who cycle only a short distance and don’t need a shower, but many who do cycle in need a shower, so the shower facilities issue is really important for everyone who wants to get fit running or cycling to work. As well as tax-free running kit, we also believe the government needs to regulate or incentivize builders to put more shower facilities in any new-build or redevelopment project.

The Route Planner is fantastic! Do you see any future applications for it beyond #run2workday?

Absolutely – we want to do much more with it, such as create printable versions, expand the map size, and show alternative routes. We also hope to create an app once we get additional funding.

What would it take for you to consider this scheme a success: several dozen who participate the one day, as something of a novelty or one-off; or conversion of some commuters to dedicated run commuters, from their other modes?

In the long term, success will be when more people than don’t say that running to work is an easy way to commute and stay fit, whether part or all the way, and however regularly they run.

Great question! In the short-term, we’re hoping 10,000 people will join in #run2workday over the summer 2014 – we have just shy of 1,000 already signed up in just three weeks since launch, so we’re on track. Making running to work tax-free, incentivizing more showers, helping people set up run2work groups and other initiatives such as these will helps us achieve this ambition.

For more about #run2workday visit their website and join the run2work Facebook Group.

By | May 15th, 2014|Categories: General, News|Tags: , , , , , |1 Comment

Running Gear Fit to Face a Canadian Winter

We’re excited to introduce a new contributor to the The Run Commuter! Nick Pedneault joins us from Ottawa, Canada and will be writing about running in harsh winter conditions up north, as well as sharing tips, advice, and gear reviews from which all run commuters, in any climate, can benefit. Welcome to TRC, Nick!   

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The Run Commuter, Cold Weather Running, Boston Marathon, Canadian Runners, Nick Pedneault, Polar Ninja

Nick after a typical Canadian winter run

My name is Nicolas Pedneault, and I am a run commuter from the Ottawa area, Canada. I have been run commuting for 6 years now, and I am planning on doing so for as long as I can. Run commuting for me was the result of many factors: I wanted to keep doing sports like I used to before I was married and had kids, but without neglecting family life; I did not have a parking spot at work; and I wanted a solution to get to work which was valid year round. One year, I cycled to work in the winter; in May, my bike was as good as junk because of the salt they use to de-ice roads. Public transit was a solution, but there is not much sports involved in taking the bus. To make matters worse, OC Transpo – the Ottawa public transport company – went on a 2-month long strike in 2009. That was the last straw for me: I started running to get to and from work.

My total daily commute is between 16 and 24 kilometres (10-15 miles), every day of the week. Running in Ottawa year-round means facing temperatures as high as 36ºC (97ºF) and as low as -35ºC (-31ºF). Consequently, it requires a wide variety of gear to face the elements.

Running year-round in Ottawa means running through some pretty harsh weather – snowstorms, freezing rain, blistering cold, tornados, etc. However, in the present post, I will stick to the blistering cold, describing the gear I use to run at temperatures between -30 ºC and -35ºC (-22 ºF and -31ºF). I have no preferences in terms of brands; consequently, the pictures included in this post and the brands are mentioned for general information purposes only. However, the brands mentioned are the ones I use.

Feet

To prevent my feet from freezing, I combine a pair of thin liner socks (Wigwam Ultimate Liner Pro) with a pair of heavier merino wool socks (Great Canadian sox company super-wool hiker GX socks). Although I wear 2 pairs of socks, it all fits nicely in my normal running shoes. For winter, I use standard trail runners (either Saucony Peregrine or Brooks Cascadia). I know speciality shoes are now available for cold running (for example, Salomon SnoCross CS), but I have yet to venture on that road since outside winter, these are of no use.

Legs

In that order, I wear a pair of thermal tights (MEC Mercury tights), a pair of running shorts on top of the tights and a pair of very generic wind pants (MEC Flux pants). I experimented once during a winter marathon (Ottawa Winterman, February 2013, -29ºC / -20ºF) without the shorts between the 2 layers; I ended up having to stick my mitts in my pants to warm up my manhood. Suffice to say that I highly recommend wearing shorts over the tights in winter. In my backpack, I also carry an extra pair of wind pants which are a size larger than the first one; if it gets really windy or suddenly colder than expected, I can throw them on over everything else.

Outdoor Research Enchainment Jacket

Outdoor Research Enchainment Jacket

Top

As always, I make sure to use many layers. My base layer is a 150-weight merino wool long sleeve shirt. My second layer is a 150-weight merino wool t-shirt. Over time, I found this combination of merino wool garment to be the best in terms of weight and sweat absorption. My third layer is either an old long sleeve polar fleece shirt or a Polartec power dry hoody with thumb holes (MEC T3 hoodie). The principle behind this combination of layers is pretty simple: the natural fibre near my skin is less susceptible to develop bad odours than the synthetic fibres. My final layer is a soft shell jacket with a hood (Patagonia Ascensionist or Outdoor Research Enchainment.) In cold weather, I prefer soft shells to hard shells because they are much better at letting perspiration out.

Hands

Mitts. No gloves. Just mitts. Again, I use a small pair of mitt (hand knitted by my wife’s aunt) and a bigger one on top of it (MEC overlord mitts.)

Watch

One day, it was so cold, my watch display totally froze. To avoid that, I now wear it on top of my jacket at the wrist, and I throw the bottom portion of my mitt over the watch. If you are doing intervals, it is a bit annoying to have to push your mitt up to press the buttons, but it is far less annoying than a frozen watch.

Sonic Outdoor Research Balaclava

Sonic Outdoor Research Balaclava

Head

The next piece of kit is by far the most important one for me, and this time, the brand is important. My Sonic Outdoor Research Balaclava allows me to stay warm while being able to breathe properly although the air is very cold. Many years ago, I was running with a small scarf over my mouth. Over time, it would get wet and I would eventually auto-waterboard myself from time to time. This was awful, and I looked for a balaclava that would allow me to breathe while keeping me warm. The Sonic has a special screen in front of the mouth that never freezes. It is also far away enough from my mouth to create a warm up chamber just in front of it. Because of that, I end up breathing air which is a few degrees warmer than the ambient one. Since I tend to suffer from performance induced asthma in the winter, these few degrees mean the difference between coughing all day or not at all. Over it, I will normally use a Buff around my neck, and another one over my head. For good measure, I also carry a third safety Buff in my backpack, just in case.

Backpack

I currently use a Deuter Race X backpack. It is a bit small (12 litres or 730 cubic inches), but for a bag that cost me CAD$54, I think it is near perfect. I always carry a safety jacket in it (MEC Uplink jacket with hood), which I can throw on top of everything if get too cold or if I suddenly have to stop running. As mentioned above, I also carry in it an oversized pair of wind pants, an extra Buff, my lunch and some clothes. A point worth mentioning: in winter, the simple fact of having a bag on your back will keep you warmer as it offers an additional layer of insulation.

That’s it! You’re ready to run in the midst of the Canadian winter or the polar vertex. Now, I must be honest: running in these temperatures is never that great, but I have found that these somewhat miserable runs made all summer runs great no matter what afterwards.

The Run Commuter, Cold Weather Running, Boston Marathon, Canadian Runners, Nick Pedneault

Finishing the 2014 Boston Marathon

By | April 30th, 2014|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , , , |6 Comments

The New Run Commuters – March 2014

This 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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By | March 17th, 2014|Categories: General, News, People|Tags: , , , , , , |4 Comments
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