I’m not a dumb person. No, really, I swear. Yet, for some crazy reason, it took me over a year to actually decide to get organised and run home from work. It’s not that genius of an idea now, is it? I mean, running with a purpose, from point A to point B – that’s pretty straightforward. And really, it’s actually quite logical to think of running as a means of getting somewhere, more than just running for the sake of running. However, the thought had only crossed my mind for a few seconds a couple of times before quickly being discarded because the logistics of it all just sounded too complicated. Spoiler alert: they actually aren’t.
On Wednesday, I bought the hydration backpack that I’m going to wear during the run of doom on OMG TWENTY ONE DAYS. It’s a 9L backpack (that includes the 2L hydration bladder) so it’s got room for a few things without being too bulky. I wanted to try it out but had no real reason to, with my running buddy going away for the weekend and us being a few days away from hitting the trails for a proper long training run again. That’s when the little lightbulb lit up above my head. I could use the backpack to commute home from work. Freaking genius, I thought.
I realise it’s not something everyone can do but I live less than 10km from work so, really, any excuse I can come up with should be overruled by the fact that I’m just a big fat wuss. There are actually two routes that I can choose from (short and hilly-ish or long (well, 12km) and flat). On Friday morning, I wore clothes that I could easily fold into my backpack (plus a long coat that I had to leave at work) and got on the bus to work with my backpack. At home, I left my usually heavy-as-bricks shoulder bag with most of the stuff I usually carry (clearly unnecessarily). The backpack had some food, my debit card, ID, keys, iPod, phone and phone charger, as well as running clothes. I got changed into these after work and headed out the door before it started getting dark.
I chose short & hilly and ran 8.5km home. These days, it gets dark pretty early in Auckland so it was almost pitch black by the time I got home but the short route is also busy with lots of cars so I never felt unsafe. It was cold, though, and that was the main reason I headed for the short route rather than the long one when I left the office.
After the cold (must remember to pack an extra layer), the second most annoying thing about this commute were the traffic lights. Of course I got them all red. I could see the sky getting darker and darker as I waited for the lights to turn green for pedestrians while I looked at the driving commuters all nice and warm in their air conditioned cars. I got home about 45 minutes after leaving the office. It seemed longer than that because, once it started getting dark, there wasn’t much for me to look at anyway so it got a bit boring. But then I realised that, on some days (most days, actually), that is pretty much the duration of my commute home anyway. Except this time I managed to save money, squeeze in an outdoors workout (and skipping the late night gym workout) and lower my carbon footprint. Because I didn’t feel like I had to workout that evening, I also got extra time to do whatever else I wanted to do (read: lie on the couch eating pop tarts and re-watching HIMYM episodes. Don’t judge!).
It was only 8.5km but it made all the difference in my training week overall and, for that reason too, it is something I am going to make an effort to incorporate into my routine at least a couple of times a week. I don’t like the idea of running to work in the morning (having to shower at work would mean I’d have to get up earlier and be more organised, two things that are never going to happen). But an evening commute sounds easy enough and means I can no longer use the short winter days or work as an excuse not to run. This way, work actually almost becomes a reason to run.