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.

Infographic: The Benefits of Carpooling

You’re probably already aware of the many, many ways in which run commuting is good for your physical and mental well-being, the environment, and others around you, but sometimes, you can’t run to work.  On those days, think ahead and try to carpool with coworkers.  What are the benefits of carpooling?  Take a look at this handy infographic from CarInsurance.org:

By | November 30th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

Is Run Commuting a Movement?

Did anyone see this question in the latest edition of Runner’s World?

“Ask Miles.” Runner’s World, October 2012:18.

We were asked whether we thought run commuting was a movement earlier this year during the WalkJogRun interview (though it was later edited out).  I said that I didn’t think so.  But since then, it really does seem like it has been taking off.

We’ve heard from some readers who have been running to work for years, some who just started last week, and others who have started running to work with their friends/coworkers.  Many of you are current or former bike commuters.  Some are run commuting to train for marathons and ultramarathons.  All of you are runners…

I want run commuting to be a movement.  I want it to gain momentum and, drawing from Runner’s World poll question, become a “realistic option” for getting to and from work.  Where do we start?

(more…)

Surgical Swagger: I Can Run – Part 2 SA, TX Run Commuter

One of the things I do now is work with children having cognitive skills deficiencies such as Autism and Asperger syndrome.  The center where I help out is perfectly placed at a manageable 7 miles one way.

I only mention I work with children because for me it has significance to my story.  Doing the type of work I did in the past; I only did it for the money – period.  There’s no kicking it around and I won’t kid myself or you by attempting to make it something it was not.  I had a longtime fear of never having enough money so I did everything I could to make sure I was never without it.  That ‘mindset’ cost me dearly in all aspects of my life especially where health was concerned.

I would never have run commute to any one of my past employments.  There were many times I didn’t even want to get out of bed much less contemplate the thought of getting up earlier and challenging myself physically to get there.  Even though I was very good at what I did, I did not enjoy it and the work relationship(s) were definitely one-sided.  Therefore, transitioning to do things which provided me real satisfaction, joy, excitement and which were in-line with a newly defined purpose of health and happiness drastically changed my outlook.  I began to contemplate taking on a run commute endeavor.

Firstly, it’s hot here – real hot.  The children I dedicate time to all come in the midafternoon and early evening so running in 100 degree temperatures was/is something I just have to deal with.  I wasn’t crazy about running in those temperatures and I wasn’t willing to destroy my body for the run commute.  I went ahead and bought a bus pass so if I felt like I was going to drop out I could at least haul my limping carcass onto an air conditioned transport for some of the way.

I have taken mass transit systems in the U.S., Japan, Korea, etc., but I honestly had never taken the bus in San Antonio.  I was excited to learn though.  I hopped on a bus just to see how to navigate my way through stops and pickups.  I was happy and rode with a smile.  I will comment that it seemed like I was pretty much the only one enthusiastic about riding the bus.  Even though I was beaming with excitement, none of my smiles were returned to me.  As a matter of fact, one guy’s look made me almost want to pin my lips over my teeth all together.

I didn’t even know how to exit the bus.  This fact was graciously, but aggressively, pointed out to me from a large burly fellow who yelled, “Push the door open!”  I told myself, “No sir, you’re not going to steal my sunshine” as I skipped off the bus steps.  Obviously, I am kidding there.  But, it really didn’t shift my mood all that much.  What I was doing was for me.  It was something I wanted to do so my want of doing so squashed any bad feelings which would have risen up and gotten out of control.  Besides, after being to a variety of places around the nation where people tend to interact with you more antagonistically, this guy with his sparkling attitude seemed rather charming.

I am a first time run commuter.  I mean sure I had been on long hikes, camping trips which required me to haul a lot of gear, ran with a hydration pack, – I won’t go into the entire minutia of activities.  But, I had never run to environment where I had to look presentable and then instead of relaxing, refueling and cleaning up, transition straight into performing a task.

So naturally my first time run commuting I over-packed and over-prepared.  I packed all the things I thought I might need: extra food, toothbrush, tooth paste, night lamp, extra socks, sunblock, water bottle, reading material, bus route maps, air tight food bags, dry clothes bags, wet clothes bags, and on and on.  I had an insane amount of stuff on top of the things I would actually need like my dress clothes, shoes, belt, lunch, snacks and drinks.  It was like I was going on a three day excursion! Needless to say, I stuffed all my items into an old dilapidated North Face backpack which I had modified (i.e. disassembled for makeshift parts).

Utah Gecko

The elastic side-mesh pockets were all stretched out and did not function anymore to hold items.  There is only one center holding area with its failing zipper system.  The center synch bungee on the back didn’t really do anything but roll the bottom of the backpack up away from my body.  There is no waist belt because I cut it away years ago to be used on something else which I cannot remember.  It does however, have a sweet Utah gecko patch from an old Moab trip, so that pretty much alone spits coolness and makes the bag a keeper.  Okay, maybe not, but it is what I have so I use it and I am grateful for it.

Am I getting a new pack?  Yes, eventually.  My outlook was/is I want to learn from the run commuter experience(s) so I get exactly what I really need.  I think this is important because only I know everything I really need on a daily basis.  There are the basics items you want to have with you of course.  I won’t go through the items I take/use right now but definitely check out the posts Josh’s Gear, Kyle’s Gear, and Sophie’s Gear for some great gear information and also the ‘How To Get Started’ section under the contributor’s block starting here.

“You don’t have to have everything all figured out.  Just get moving…”

By | August 31st, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

The Run Commuter in Urban China Magazine

We’re going global!

The latest edition of Urban China magazine featured a very cool article on “Community-based Micro-sports”, devoting a two-page spread to run commuting (and a pic of TRC’s Josh and Kyle).  They even included a bit about the Atlanta BeltLine and Historic Fourth Ward Park.

The section on run commuting features general tips on gear selection and packing, choosing a route, and cleaning up once you arrive.  Other pages cover running at work during lunch hours, after work and on weekends with friends, and fitting in workouts when you only have a short amount of time available.

Editor Tao Shiqi writes, (and this is translated very loosely using Google Translate):

Although we in China are successful in competitive sports, our public awareness of fitness is still in its infancy.  A 2010 survey in Jiangsu Province revealed that more than 80.3% of the respondents do not have any fixed fitness habits.  Micro-movement is a more social and effective way for city people to regain the habit of doing exercise. From the use of fragmented time, micro fitness is an intermediate state with aspects of commuting, socializing, and working, to the movement regarding habits of life and enjoying the fun of it all.

Here is a bit about Issue #53 from their website: http://www.urbanchina.com.cn/?issue=%E5%85%8B%E6%8B%89%E7%8E%9B%E4%BE%9D.

For the non-run commuters out there – how do you exercise when you are short on time?

By | August 16th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , |3 Comments

First Timers

It seems like a lot of people have been trying run commuting lately.  There are many possible reasons for that, including nicer weather, training for upcoming races, or maybe,  just maybe, it’s starting to catch on…  Whatever it may be, here are a few recent stories or posts from or about people new to run commuting.   Check out the rest of their sites, too, and show a few fellow bloggers some love!

Kristin’s Fitness Nook: The adventures of running to work a.k.a. – dodge car

It’s a yellow light, I can make it! CRAP, go faster, go faster.

Please see me car. Oh good, you did.

Seriously…it’s f-in hot at 7am!

What are you looking at d-bag in your jacked-up gas guzzler.

McDonald’s drivethru packed…no comment.

I cannot wait to sleep in on Saturday.

Yeah, someone else running to work…no, they’re just teenagers trudging along for summer training.

<read on>

Run Commuter Buddy – Eli

Eli contacted me a few weeks ago and wanted to set up a run commute.  He lives close by, so it worked out very well.  We lit out at 7:00 in the morning last week, arriving 45 minutes later at his place of work 5.5 miles away, with plenty of time left over to talk some more before he had to head in and hit the shower.   He ran with a Nathan HPL Race Vest.

Check with some of your local running clubs or ask a running friend to try running to work sometime with you.  It’s a great way to change up your old routine – or start a  new one!

Start Slow, Then Taper:  Run to Work Day

Monday – I ran to work. My car battery died Sunday afternoon before I was to go for a run. After taking my wife’s car out to go run at Lake Conestee, it was too late to take the battery to get checked – priorities you know!

I only live 4-5 miles from work, depending on the route, so it was very manageable. What made it a little more interesting was the fact that I had to carry my laptop and my clothes/shoes for work. My camelbak was full!

<read on>

Barefoot Runners Society: First Try at Run Commuting

RunningPirate’s Part One

Today, I made my first try at run commuting. I’ve been toying with this for about a month or so – that’s when I heard about the concept of running to work. Up to this point, I’ve been bicycle commuting and either running on my days off, or doing a short run at lunch. When I heard of run commuting, it opened up some new possibilities.

My commute is broken up into different sections, so I run BFR the first 2.4 mi to the local train station, take the train south for a bit, and then run shod the remaining 3.8 mi in to work. Over time, the plan is to gradually increase my BFR mileage (using the 10%/week rule) so that the entire run is barefoot. As of yet, I am not running home, but that can become a possibility in the near future. Ultimately, the thought is to run the entire 11 miles in to work.

<read on>

RunningPirate’s Part Two

I took my second swing at run commuting, today. Did the same route and run/mass transit distribution as last time. I did, however, learn that my route is 0.3 miles shorter than I originally thought – a discrepancy between manual mapping and real-time mapping with MapMyRun. I understand this is quite silly to fret over, but I’m still a little bit of a data junkie.

Anyway….

I tried a couple of different things, this week. Last week, I was having problems with the shoulder straps loosening while I was running, which led to the pack wagging left and right while I was running. Also, when I got to work, my lunch salad was…well, let’s just say that all the jostling made it less than crisp.

<read on>

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