Saturday, August 10, 2013

Are You A Runner With A Busy Schedule? Try the Run-Commute.

The Problem: Waking Up Early All The Time Is Not Fun

Here's the deal: if I don't go for a run in the morning, then I can pretty much guarantee that I will not run that day. After a long day at either work or school and the library, by the time I get home at 7-8pm, I am super hungry and tired. So, I usually run in the morning.

I wish I could say that getting up at 4:30am-5:00am during the week to head out for a run is always easy for me. It isn't easy, and sometimes I really just want to sleep.

Recently, I was able to adjust my summer work schedule a bit, and I am now able to start my runs by 5:45am-6:00am instead of 4:45am, which has been quite nice. With the Fall [academic] semester fast-approaching, however, I know that I will need to get used to those 5am runs sooner rather than later.

Oh, and on top of that, you have a 40min to 1hr20min commute into work or school. 

Hypothetical Day [aka a day in the life of Joshua during the academic year]: 
Note: I need to be on campus by 8am-9am [depending on the day]

  • 4:30-5:00am: wake up, bathroom, quick snack, pre-run warmup
  • 5:00-6:10am: out the door for a 70min easy run [very rarely do I run for less than an hour].
  • 6:10-6:25am: post-run cool-down, stretching, uploading workout to Daily Mile/checking email
  • 6:25-7:10am: brush teeth, shave/trim, shower, pack a lunch, head out the door
  • 7:10-8:00am: walk to the T [Boston equivalent of a Train], take T to school... barely make it to class on time.
If I sleep in even by 5-10min, then I can pretty much guarantee I will not run that day.

Of course, not all days are like this. Some days I have be to class or work by 9am. Regardless, my only time to study, then, is when I get home around 7pm. So, waking up at 4:30am every day really takes it toll on me after a week or so.

The Solution: Run / Bike - Commute

Given my hypothetical day mentioned above, I can save a LOT of time, and catch up on sleep, by Run/Bike commuting to work or school once or twice per week, and as many as three times per week if I have a cross-training day during the week.

Here's What the New Schedule Looks Like:
  • 5:30-6:00am: wake up, bathroom, quick snack, pre-run warmup
  • 6:00-7:10am: Run to school [or work] with backpack*
  • 7:10-7:45am: post-run cool-down/stretch, shower [and all that goes along with that]
  • 7:45-8:00am: pick up a quick snack while walking to class
*From my house to Boston University FitRec is exactly 7.75mi, and even with a 10-14lb backpack on it usually only takes me 62-65min of easy running. Also, note that I can get to school FASTER when I run compared to when I take public transportation [the MBTA].

On days that I have to be to school or work by 9am, I can wake up at 6:30am to do this! On a cross-training day, I can wake up later since it only takes 30-35min to bike to school [and a bit longer to bike to work... long story].

Conclusion: Where You Live Matters

Here's the deal: 
  • If you do not live close to work, then it is helpful to live just far enough that a run-commute and/or bike commute is doable.
  • Doable run-commutes depend on how many days/week you plan on run-commuting:
    • Around 7-8mi, for me, is OK for 2 times per week. Even though 7-8mi runs on easy days are routine for me now, the route I take is hilly and with a 10-14lb backpack... my knees can feel really beat up more than 2 days per week.
  • Also note: I only commute IN TO school / work. I take public transportation back home. 
  • When I bike, I will bike to campus, get on the stationary bike for more cycling, and then bike home in the evening -- a great cross-training day!
  • I can shower at school. Please, don't be that person that doesn't shower at work or school. 
In conclusion, where you live matters. If you have a really short commute to school or work, then stop complaining and just run in the morning as you don't have that added 40min to 1hr20min commute. If you have a longer commute to school or work, then try to add a run- and/or bike-commute to your routine 2-3 times per week, as the weather permits and as you feel safe and comfortable. 

As endurance athletes, we are resilient. A large part of our resiliences comes from both our consistency in training and our creativity when approaching difficult situations.

For more on run- and/or bike-commuting, check out the following blogs: The Run Commuter and The RunCommute.

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