There is something really empowering about running as transportation. I love that I can just put on my shoes and get myself to work, sans subway, bike, or car, and I feel more mentally prepared for the day when I get in. I can make it to the office in about half an hour door to door, which is actually about the same as the subway would take, so it can actually be a great time-saver as well. Still, commuting on foot does take some logistics, and I’ve found that proper planning is key.
The most important component of my run commute is having a good running backpack. I like the Gregory Maya, which is a roomy but slim women’s daypack. I can fit my purse, a change of clothes (and shoes), and even my lunch in there without much trouble. Fit is really critical for comfort, particularly if you have a longer commute or plan to run both ways. I had some trouble with the straps chafing my shoulders the first few times out, so I made some fleece pads that slide over the straps and give me a softer cushion. Also, pack your keys and other pointy items away from any contact points with your body. (That may sound obvious, but a lot of packs have the smaller, protected pockets on the inside or along the back. This is not the spot for your keys.)
My biggest worry when I started running to work was that I’d forget something critical, get to work, and find that I had no bra or something. I’m a list-loving kind of person, so I’ve started keeping packing lists for long runs, races, and commutes in my phone. It’s not fool-proof, but at least I’ve always had underwear. I always try to keep the clothes I pack as simple, minimally bulky, and wrinkle-proof as possible. Make sure you have things like office keys and work ID’s, too.
Obviously, the biggest challenge to the run commute is the Superman to Clark Kent change at the office. If you’re lucky enough to work in a building with showers, good for you. I have the option of running to a gym location near my office and showering there, but I do occasionally also use the bathroom clean-up technique I developed for lunchtime runs in LA. The first key item here is to cool down as quickly as possible, and I find downing a glass of ice water upon arrival helps a lot. For the hygiene element, my weapon of choice is a supply of quality moist towelettes. I currently keep a stash from Seventh Generation in my desk drawer, though you can also make your own.
The rest of my desk kit includes a comb, deodorant and some basic makeup supplies. I have a shimmer stick that does double duty for eye shadow and blush, some face powder, and mascara. For the guys, post-run hair maintenance is a little easier, but for the ladies I recommend minimal intervention from your run ‘style.’ If you pull it back into a ponytail for the run in, just tidy it up, or go for a bun. For me at least, trying to up from up to down or vice versa always seems to yield disappointing results.
One final note: If at all possible, after changing clothes, hang up your running clothes to dry. (Socks too!) Whether you’re going to run back home or just repack your bag in the evening, you’ll appreciate not having a pile of damp, sweaty clothes sitting in your office.