Choosing a good running route is an art as much as a science, and often the best route changes from hour to hour, week to week, month to month. Tourist areas might be brilliantly runnable at 7:30 a.m., but complete gridlock at 7 p.m. During the winter months, lighting will be important for personal safety, whereas in the summer when there’s more light you might be lucky enough to incorporate more parks and green spaces. The real secret is to try elements of a route in advance so you’re not getting lost at 8:55 a.m. on Monday morning.
Strava’s route builder is a useful tool but there are general principles to follow:
- Green space is preferable to busy roads––don’t leave the car behind only to choke on drivers’ fumes. Going slightly further to pursue a riverside trail will put you in a better frame of mind than taking the direct route alongside six lanes of traffic.
- Greenways, shared use bike paths, parks, rivers and canals: these are the places the run commuters commune.
- Road crossings suck. Take Manhattan––following the Hudson and running an extra half mile can be quicker than taking one of the Avenues and stopping to cross every 90 seconds. As runners, we value momentum––pick routes that allow you to keep moving.
- Your safety is vital––there’s no point taking routes that make you feel vulnerable.
- Where possible, coordinating with teammates and co-workers will make run commuting more enjoyable.
Good run commuting takes planning. These are some of the lessons we’ve learned over the years.
- Carry as little as possible.
- A laptop is like an ACME anvil on your back. It might be ok for 3 or 4 miles, but try to work it out so that you can leave it at work.
- Invest in a proper backpack, which is one with a waist strap. Do the straps up tight.
- It’s useful to think of run commuting as supplementary easy miles at first––you don’t need to be doing a fartlek with a loaded rucksack on your very first day.
- Leave some clothes at work––especially underwear and a warm coat.
- If your work doesn’t have showers, join up with other active commuters to lobby for one and proper changing facilities.
- Don’t eat too much in the afternoon before your run home. Seriously, those 3 p.m. birthday donuts are like kryptonite to the run commuter.