Wake up early in the morning and rushing to our workplace is the reality that most of us face every day. The first step usually consists in fighting against the alarm to get up from bed: if you try to close your eyes after the last alarm ring, you could severely risk losing your battle against your sleep and remaining in the land of dreams for a bit more time, and your boss might not be happy about this. However, after you should succeed in defeating the feared alarm, you might face an even more intense challenge outside on the road: traffic. No matter you go to work by car or by bus, morning is the rush hour and you will be stuck in traffic. If you chose to go by bus, you will first have to wait for the bus that will arrive late because it is stuck in the traffic, and then you will be stuck yourself on the bus in the traffic too (probably standing because seats are already all occupied). If your city has, another good alternative is the subway: it is relatively fast, economic, and avoids traffic. You might think the subway is the heaven for morning commuters, but soon you will realize that not all that glitters is gold: the nearest station could be several kilometers away from your home or from your office, you may have to change line many times, and, most annoying, the subway is very crowded during rush hours too.
The only means of transport that can save us is a very simple one: bike. Whether you cycle an electric bike, or a shared bike, without any doubt it can be one of the best commuting ways for short-medium distances. Still, it presents some drawbacks we can’t ignore: having a personal bike can be expensive and there is the risk to have it stolen depending on the area you work (using a locker can decrease this risk, but can’t completely eliminate it). Using a shared bike is a valid alternative, but it could not be immediately available, and it might be slower or, even worse, malfunctioning. In the end, you will have already understood: a pair of shoes is all you need.
Being a work-runner: some tips you need to know
Although I don’t do it every day, I’m also one of those occasional “work-runners”. Sometimes I run from 6 to 10 kilometers from my home to my office and I feel pretty satisfied every time I do it. It literally boosts my morning. Thus, I would like to share here some tips that could make your work-running life easier. First of all, you don’t need to get up earlier than you do normally, you will realize that your commuting time is the same or even less than any other means. Moreover, don’t underestimate the comforts that a simple trail running backpack can bring: it is light, stable, and let you carry water and other essential things you need during your work as well as extra pair of clothes. Always try to eat and drink something light 20 to 30 minutes before your run and remember to dress adequately. To sum up, the tips I would provide are the following:
- If in the morning it is still chilly you can wear a light jacket when start running and then tie around your waist when you feel you are starting sweating.
- If you have to carry things that are too big to put in your pocket or in your running belt, you can consider using a confortable trail running backpack.
- If you need to change your clothes aftern running, you can store on your desk the clothes you want to wear on the day before or carry them with a running backpack.
- If you chose to run before breakfast, you can still eat a protein bar, a banana, or a sport gel so not to feel too hungry during your run, and then enjoy your well-deserved breakfast once you arrive.
Ten advantages of running from home to work
1. Save time
In the bigger metropolis, during the rush hours, commuting by car won’t let you move faster than around 10km/h. This means that it will take about 30 minutes to cover 5km. If you also have to consume extra time to find a place to park your car (which may not necessarily be close to your working place), you will realize that soon your total commuting time will easily surpass the average time taken by any person to cover the same distance jogging. Moreover, moving by car is usually faster than by subway or by bus, thus these two transportation ways are already out of the game. It still remains bike, which I have to admit that regarding time-saving it is a worthy option as well.
2. Boost productivity
Several pieces of research point out that exercising in the morning before work elevates many aspects of an employee’s quality of work. Impacted aspects include energy, focus, productivity, problem-solving, and creativity: all are essential skills that can improve the overall working quality. Scientists claim that the reason for this boost is the following: physical exercise stimulates the development of new mitochondria within our cells, meaning that our body will be able to produce more ATP over time. In short, ATP is a molecule that delivers energy to places within the cell where energy-consuming activities are taking place. This not only provides us more energy to exert ourselves physically, but it also means more energy for our brain, boosting our mental output.
3. Relieve stress
When you exercise, your body releases several different chemicals in your brain, collectively known as neurotransmitters, which also include endorphins. These neurotransmitters seem to reduce the discomfort of exercise and create the temporary sensation often referred to as “runner’s high.” Besides providing a stress relief sensation, this can also lead to positive effects in our body by enhancing our cardiovascular, digestive, and immune systems to protect our body from harmful effects of stress. Clearly, getting stuck in the traffic listening to the melody of the drivers honking everywhere can’t have the same stress relief that running has. On the contrary, it produces more stress.
4. Burn calories
Most people usually start running for one reason: losing weight. A 55kg person burns about 11.4 calories per minute while running. So if that person runs half an hour, they’ll burn 342 calories. It roughly corresponds to the calories of a healthy breakfast. If that person weighed 80kg, the calories burnt goes up to 500 which is a little less than a full lunch or dinner. Basically, just running for only 30 minutes will let you enjoy the next meal without too many concerns about losing your form. Of course, driving a car or sitting on a bus won’t let you burn such calories with the risk of accumulating fat for each meal.
5. Bonus mileage
Whether you are a running amateur or an elite runner, you probably have a target mileage to cover each week or each month to be sure to arrive prepared at your next race or to show your friends that you are dominating the Strava leaderboards. Adding your home to work distance, or vice-versa, will give you more chances to meet your target mileage effortlessly and without spending extra time since you are basically spending your commuting time in a different way. You can take it as a safe shakeout run to prevent the risk of unnecessary injuries and avoid consuming your tempo or long-run shoes.
6. Aerobic power
Running below your threshold, which can be translated as “running at an easy pace” for beginners, will gradually improve your aerobic power. Aerobic runs are those runs where our body uses oxygen as its primary source of energy which is a very important component for distance runners. Even if your goal is not the one to prepare for a marathon but just to have a healthy lifestyle, aerobic runs help your body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates and improve your cardiovascular fitness. Another important benefit is the increase in capillaries: the more they are, the more blood you can get to your muscles when exercising or running.
7. Save money
We often complain that the price of the oil is too high and that keeps rising, but only a few realize that what we need to do is simply to reduce its usage, and just a fraction of these few really apply this concept. Cars need fuels or electricity, which, especially the first one, is quite expensive, and its price is progressively raising. Bus and subway are not free either, both need ticket, that fortunately is much cheaper than filling the fuel tank of a car. On the other hand, running only requires a pair of shoes and a bit of willpower. Shoes can be bought at your closest sport-related shop for a few dozen dollars (you probably won’t need expensive Vaporfly’s latest model for this) and can last for over 500 miles, a distance that most people could take at least a year to cover. Instead, willpower is for free and your goal is to make it last as long as possible.
8. Protect the environment
This is one of the most important points: it is our common duty to protect our environment. Cars emissions are one of the major contributors to pollution. Whoever is driving is responsible to cause the air of the bigger metropolis to be covered by a dense grey fog which reduces visibility and harms the health of everyone. Sometimes you may have heard of a popular metric known as AQI. It measures the level of air pollution: the higher it is and the greater are the health concern. For example, an AQI value of 50 or below represents good air quality, while an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality. Breathing air whose AQI level is over 150 for a prolonged amount of time could lead to serious health effects such as throat irritation, coughing, difficulty breathing, asthma, and lung cancer for long-term exposure. Drive less and run more to gift your city a beautiful blue sky and fill your lungs with cleaner air!
9. Keep healthy
Besides improving our endurance, aerobic system, boosting our productivity, and reducing stress, running has also plenty of benefits on our overall health. The physical demands of running on our whole body increase our heart rate. This means that the heart has to pump stronger and faster to keep up with the intensity of the activity. Having a stronger heart leads to less cardiac strain both when we are resting and when we are active. It also improves blood circulation and lowers the risk of high blood pressure. Running also decreases the bad cholesterol and sugars level in the blood, thus leading to reduced risk of heart disease and the risk of diabetes. Other common benefits include building stronger bones, improved sleep quality, and improved immune systems.
10. Become a PRO
Running from home to school or to work is a habitude that inspired and formed many African long-distance champions. Students in Kenya travel on average 7.5km (4.6 miles) to and from school. A few years later, after their commuting running routine becomes a passion, and their passion turns into a profession, the ones who put more effort into it start dominating international marathons, world championships, and Olympic games. To cite some names, legendary athletes that started running during their infancy to go to school include Haile Gebreselassie, Eliud Kipchoge, Kenenisa Bekele, and many more. Maybe, in a similar way, running could at first be a simple hobby for you, but you can’t know which surprises is the future reserving for you.
Running from home to work can be a good habit, but of course, you shouldn’t exaggerate and should always decide to run according to how your body feels and the weather conditions. In particular, if you are new to running, you should start gradually and never run until you feel too tired, otherwise, you might get tired even before start working. Finally, I hope that after reading this post you can enjoy a healthy lifestyle and start challenging yourself both physically and at work!