In our first edition of The New Run Commuters for 2015, we meet Kate Livett from Sydney, Australia. Kate is a recent and die-hard convert to run commuting and though her job contracts and office locations often change, she’s determined to make the run to or from work no matter the circumstances. Rock on, Kate!
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- Name: Kate Livett
- Age: 36
- Hometown: Sydney, Australia
- Profession/Employer: Academic (English Literature), various universities around Sydney (currently UNSW)
- Number of years running: 7 years
- Number of races per year: None. I went in a couple of road races and was not a huge fan of the crowds, but I’m planning to do some trail ultras in 2015.
- Do you prefer road or trail? Trails are my passion (Whenever I can I run on trails.) I’m very lucky to live 40 minutes’ drive from a massive national park of native forest with very technical, rocky and rootsy singletrack, loads of mini-waterfalls, giant goannas, echidnas, kangaroos, poisonous snakes (!), unspoiled coastline and generally all-round amazing natural beauty. I try to run in the national park at least once a week. Running in the city, I enjoy looking at people’s gardens and meeting cats and dogs or watching birds in trees, etc., but I hate the aggressive drivers in Sydney, and constantly having to be ‘on my guard’ against crazy cars.
- Backpack: I have several…*ahem*. Depending on weather and load, I switch between the Deuter SpeedLite 10, Osprey Stratos 24, Salomon Advanced Skin Set 12 (2013 version) on the road, and Ultimate Direction Wasp and Nathan Intensity for trails. For me, backpacks are as important to get right as shoes.
- Shoes: Altra Torin for road, Altra Superior and Lone Peak 1.5 for trails, Inov-8 Trailroc 235 for super-technical trails and hills (though,they are too narrow and give me blisters), and flip-flops with shoelaces around the heels for homemade huaraches when it’s hot (see photo). I love zero-drop and wide toeboxes.
- Clothing: I try to buy from brands that respect at least one of the following ethical criteria: vegan/environmentally sustainable/workers’ rights. This is very limiting; for example, I won’t buy Salomon or Nathan from now on. I know, I know, I have packs by both those brands. They’re awesome packs, too. But, I made the decision to try to “buy ethically” just after I got the Advanced Skin Set and starting sometime is better than never, right? I am hoping they will get some specific policies on ethical issues soon, so I can buy their stuff again! I just bought a long-sleeved Patagonia capilene tee with UPF50+ sun protection. It’s made of 60% recycled plastic bottles. I’ve worn it twice in 90 minute runs in 30-degrees Celsius, and it’s totally awesome — cool and light and protective. Moving Comfort bras. Basic running shorts.
- Outerwear: Puma PE windbreaker jacket for trail and when I’m not commuting. For run commuting in winter a huge yellow neon cycling windbreaker, which i wear with my pack underneath. It makes me look pretty silly, but ‘safety first’…
- Headgear: I always wear a cap and Polaroid sunglasses.
- Lighting: Two bicycle froglights on my pack and reflective clothing.
- Hydration: None in winter. In summer, I will drink up to a litre of water on the exact same run. I recently bought two Ultimate Direction soft-flasks (see them in the front pockets of my pack in the photo). They’re pricey, but i cannot recommend them highly enough — best investment ever, for trail and road. You don’t have to run with half-empty or empty bottles all the time. They are much better suited to the female anatomy as well.
Why did you decide to start run commuting?
I have been obsessed with running since I took it up in my late 20s. Since that time I’ve been employed all over the place at different things, often working from home. I didn’t know there was such a thing as ‘run commuting’, and always did my running before/after work. Looking back, even if I had heard about it, I’m pretty sure I would have thought it was impossible for me to run commute, as I lacked general ‘running knowledge’ and wouldn’t have felt confident running with a backpack, timing my meals etc.
Last year, though, (having accumulated 6 years’ running experience) I got a contract to work regular 9-5 hours in the Sydney CBD, and about a month before I started, I stumbled on The Run Commuter website. The universe aligned, and I decided I wasn’t going to let my running be sacrificed to employment! I read every post on this site and successfully run commuted for that whole 6 months. I’m about to start another contract with regular hours. My New Year’s Resolution is to embrace the changing GPS coordinates of my employment, and to adapt to run commuting wherever the location of my latest workplace. I’m lucky that my partner is very supportive of my run commuting and doesn’t mind if dinner time is delayed a bit because I’m run commuting home.
How often do you run commute?
Usually four days a week either to or from (mostly to). I would love to do both ways every day, but it would kill me!
How far is your run commute?
Last year’s 6-month stint was 12-14 km one way, depending on the route. The job I’m just about to start is almost the identical distance.
Do you pack or buy a lunch?
I try to pack a sandwich and apple. I admire the runners profiled on this site who run with frozen soup, strawberries, etc.! I’m not sure I’d be successful with that…
What do you like most about run commuting?
Chris Van Dyke, one of the first run commuters profiled on this site, says it best when he says: “How often can you straight up trade something you hate for something you love?” Similarly to Chris, I have loved swapping the peak hour public transport experience (cranky sardines in a slow-moving can…) for exercise and personal room to breathe, and I feel physically and mentally invigorated all day after running to work. When I’m run commuting i’m actually excited to go to work. Like most things in life, once you’ve done it the better way it’s hard to go back. Now I get cranky with myself if I don’t get to run commute because I’ve slept in.
Do you know of anyone else in your area that runs to work?
Runners, no. Quite a few of my colleagues bicycle commute.
When not run commuting, how do you get to work?
Train and then bus (unfortunately). Sometimes drive, but parking is impossible and the aggression of other drivers stresses me out.
If you could give one piece of advice to people considering run commuting, what would it be?
If you’re lucky enough to have showers at work, before you start run commuting try to ascertain what the unofficial “shower schedule” is — if you’re going to be rocking up at the same time each morning you don’t want to find that the shower is “pre-booked” every 15 minutes until lunchtime.
Specifically for the ladies — backpacks are generally made for men’s bodies. It can be discouraging trying to find one that doesn’t bounce, look stupid or feel wrong. Spend extra time researching this key piece of gear, and possibly spend extra cash on it, too. I’ve found it’s worth spending more at the beginning for a superior product– you will save money in the long run by not giving up run commuting due to an uncomfortable pack. (Happily, this logic also justifies my backpack fetish…) At least you’re not shelling out as much as you would for a sport like cycling/golf/triathlon. Also, don’t forget clean socks.
Anything else that you would like to include?
I know some people are put off trying a run commute by the thought that other commuters driving or walking past are ‘judging’ them or staring. But, if you feel self-conscious, just remind yourself: “They are probably very jealous that I am enjoying my commute and they are not.” The other confidence booster I like is the haughty self-question-and-answer: “Are THEY running 12 km to work? No, they aren’t!”