Because my working hours can be somewhat extreme (more on that here)— and also because London public transport sucks — I have perfected the art of the run commute. Here are some tips on how to make that work.
1. Be over-prepared
On Monday mornings, I try to get to the office a bit before 9. Not because I’m always uber- keen to start the week, but primarily to avoid being seen shuffling to my desk like an over-loaded camel, with my giant triathlon backpack excessively loaded with spare clothes, spare coat, spare shoes, spare shampoo, spare Tupperware lunches, spare breakfast porridge sachets… Then when I run to work later in the week, it’s just grab (phone / keys / wallet) and go.
2. Get a running backpack
But because we can’t always go through life being 1000% over-prepared, you’ll also need a comfy running backpack for last-minute essentials. By far topping my Christmas present price- per-utilisation chart is my trusty running backpack. Health warning: not recommended for laptops (your knees won’t thank you if you try…)
3. Choose a route with a view…
What gets you out the door in the morning when it’s dark, wet and oppressively grey outside? (i.e., 99% of the year in London?) For me, it’s winter sunrises over Tower Bridge. The streakiness of the multi-coloured clouds reflected in the water, the brief warmth of the sun on your all-black absorbent running gear, the rare peacefulness as most of the city wearily presses snooze on their alarm clock… Find the moments along your route that remind you why you run and make you happy to be alive.
4. …and a back-up plan
Running just isn’t an extreme enough discipline for us to be able to maintain credibility while hobbling into a 9am meeting at 9:25, sporting a battle-scarred ankle blown up to the size of a tree trunk. Perhaps your route to work could include a friendly tube stop or two, just in case your knees / legs / digestive system give up halfway through.
5. Control your road rage
Maybe you’ve been that runner, weaving dangerously between bad-tempered London taxis as you strive desperately to cross the road without having to pause your precious Strava. Don’t plan a super-quality session for your commute where a 30-second wait would just ruin the entire effort. Instead, take a breath, sneak in a quick stretch, shoot a smile to the mean motorists (it’ll throw them off guard for the whole day) — and get acquainted with the pause button on your watch.
Go on, you deserve that gigantic bowl of banana porridge, unlike your colleague over there in the corner of the kitchen, who sheepishly observes your wet hair and post-exercise glow whilst surreptitiously trying to remove evidence of the Pret croissant stuffed into his mouth, wondering where his life went wrong. Make sure you restock within the first 30 minutes after your run with good quality carbs and protein. You don’t want to have to duck out of a morning meeting and shamefully creep back in with a glass of squash and a bunch of grapes because you under-fuelled and got a sugar low when you’re supposed to be confidently presenting two weeks of work to the Partners. Hypothetically speaking.
7. Prioritise recovery
A few confessions: I keep a foam roller in my locker. I sometimes wear compression socks underneath my work trousers. And I have been known to sneak in a bit of yoga in the basement during lunch time. Find what works for you, but try at least to take 5 minutes to stretch after your run, and alternate hot / cold water on your legs in the shower so your muscles can start to recover. It’s not cool to have to stand up during a CTM because your legs are seizing up….