A few years ago, I was having trouble finding the time to work out—I was a full-time student, working as an RA in my dorm, interning at a magazine three full days a week, and picking up freelance jobs in my downtime. Then, it occurred to me: Why don’t I just run home from work? Literally run home?
I later found out many runners do this, but at the time, I felt like a genuis. Running home meant I’d have a chance to exercise before facing my evening responsibilities, and use the time I’d normally spend commuting exercising instead.
Ever since this idea first popped into my head, I’ve run-commuted many distances and terrains. In fact, a few weeks ago, with the weather finally on my side, I decided to make the 5-mile trek from Health‘s office in lower Manhattan to my Brooklyn abode for the first time. Bonus: the route included crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. It doesn’t get much better than that!
I realize that not everyone is lucky enough to live running-distance from work—but research shows that nearly half of all car trips in U.S. metropolitan areas are 3 miles or less, a distance that can easily be covered by foot. So if you want to try swapping your car, bus, or metro transport for a satisfying run, here are a few tips that might help you transform your commute.
As any morning runner knows, if you don’t prep your gear (and brain, for that matter) in advance, there’s a slim chance you’ll actually get out of bed and pound the pavement. Same rules apply for run-commuting. Whether you decide to go for a one-way or round-trip trek, be sure to figure out your game plan the night before.
Stick to the bare necessities
On days you run home from work, bring only the essentials: workout clothes, wallet, phone, keys, and headphones. That’s it. Carry them, store them in your pockets, or pick up a running belt.
Scope out a shower
If you’re looking to run to work, you may want to find a shower and place to change near your office (your co-workers will appreciate it). Is there a gym in your building? Maybe a local public shower? Or, if your bathing options are limited, there’s always the dry shampooand body wipes strategy.
Stash stuff at your desk
Your desk drawer will become your new BFF. Store dress shoes in a drawer so that on days you’re running home, you can wear sneaks on the way to work, and then switch into work-appropriate footwear at the office. Then, before heading out on your run, change into your workout gear and leave the clothes you wore all day in a drawer to take home another night.
Invest in a running backpack
If you’re not comfortable leaving personal items in your office, consider buying a running backpack. I like the Nike Vapor Lite ($70; nike.com). It’s lightweight, has ample storage space, and includes reflective details.
Spark some attention
Speaking of reflective details, it’s definitely a bright idea to pick up some clothing to keep you safe on days you run before sunrise or after sunset. Whether it’s your shoes, a vest, your tights, or a top, be sure to wear at least one piece of neon or reflective gear.