Running To Work: How To Run Commute + Other Running Benefits

Although it’s usually more common to see people who adopt the active commuting lifestyle either ride their bike to work or walk, running to work, or run commuting, can also be a fantastic option.

Running to work rather than driving or taking public transportation ticks both the environmentally-friendly and healthy boxes. Running can also give you a longer life, better sleep, improved immunity, mood and more—it’s even good for your knees and lower back.

Benefits Of Running To Work

Run commuting might not be all that popular in many parts of the world, at least compared to walking or biking to work, however, there are quite a few benefits of running to work. For example, studies have found that people who do active commuting have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

1. Saving Time

Many people struggle to find time to exercise, but running commutes saves time because you swap at least part of your commuting time for your workout, so the overlap reduces the sum of time for each individual.

2. Saving Money

With high gas prices or public transportation fees, running to work has become even more attractive; it’s a free or very low-cost alternative, and who doesn’t want to save money?

3. Improving Productivity 

Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve focus, working memory, and executive function. Running to work can help you have a super productive morning at the office.

There’s nothing like running to reduce stress, and blowing off steam from the work day by running home lets you feel at peace for the evening hours after a hard day.

4. Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Running to work takes one more car off the road, which is great for the environment.

5. Boosting Your Training

Running to work can help you get more mileage by running twice a day or pushing you to take a longer route than you might otherwise have taken because you can’t stop before the destination.

5 Tips For Running To Work 

1. Get the Right Gear

As with any time you are running, it’s essential to have the right running gear for commuting. In addition to all the typical essentials like a good pair of running shoes, weather-appropriate running clothing, and running socks, there are a few additional pieces of running gear that you will likely need for a run commute.

The main thing you’ll need is a running backpack. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a particularly large pack, but it has to be large enough to hold everything you have to bring with you to and from the office or place of employment.

How you plan to get your clean clothes and food to work or batch all your work clothes together once a week by driving them there ahead of time will dictate how much space you’ll need. 

2. Be Flexible When Considering Logistics

Some runners immediately assume they can’t run to work because it’s just too far, but you can get creative. You don’t have to run the whole way. Consider driving or taking public transportation part of the way and then running the rest of the way. 

On the way home, you can do the reverse, or just take public transportation or get a ride from a coworker the whole way if your training volume isn’t up to handling double workouts.

3. Plan Your Route Well

To optimize your safety as well as enjoyment of your run commute, you should strategically plan your route. Trying to run alongside busy roads with narrow shoulders and no pavements will not only be unpleasant but also dangerous.

Similarly, it’s best to avoid running on roads that have frequent road crossings and major intersections because this will not only necessitate lots of frustrating stops but can also increase the risk of getting hit by drivers who disobey traffic laws.

It’s also important to consider things like the lighting and traffic patterns at the time you’ll be running. Even though these byways can be more enjoyable and safe from a vehicular traffic perspective, you might need to avoid them if you’re doing your run commute in the early morning or late evening.

However, if you’re commuting during school arrivals or departures, you might get tied up with lots of buses and cars and the sidewalks can be packed with kiddos waiting to board the bus or head to school.

4. Think About the Cleanup 

Aside from needing to have a safe and viable running route for your run commute, the other biggest potential hurdle is figuring out how you’ll freshen up after your run.

Some office buildings and medical practices have shower facilities, which is obviously ideal if you’ll be commuting. However, this is a relatively uncommon perk, which leaves the conundrum of how to wash up.

If you get really sweaty and feel like you just can’t get away with running to work without being able to take a shower, one option is to look to see if there’s a gym right around where you work.

It could be worth it to buy a membership, or they may allow you to use the showers for free. You might even be able to rent a locker for overnight use so that you can keep all your shower stuff and some clothes there instead of needing to carry them.

5. Don’t Forget Your Work Clothes

In terms of having fresh clothes for work, as well as your lunch, snacks, and anything else you’ll need for the work day, you can either carry them in your running pack or drive your clean clothes for the week to work one day a week so they are already there for you and then run there the other days.

At the end of the week, you can bring home the worn clothes to launder them. Don’t forget clean socks for work and dry socks for your run home.

Other Health Benefits of Running

When you become a runner, it changes your life. But you may not know how much it improves every aspect. Here’s the evidence of the amazing benefits running can give you:

1. Running adds years to your life and life to your years.

Numerous studies have shown that running increases lifespan. This has led to the oft-repeated observation: “If exercise were a pill, it would be the most popular pill in the world.” Worth noting: It would also be the least expensive, with little to no cost.

A 2018 meta-analysis of research on running and longevity found that runners have about a 25 to 30 per cent lower rate of all-cause mortality on follow-up than non-runners. It concluded: “Any amount of running, even once a week, is better than no running.” 

Another runner-specific paper showed that runners gain about three years of extra life. Why? Some of the biological pathways include greater cardiovascular fitness, better body composition (less fat), lower cholesterol, excellent glucose and insulin control, stronger bones, better hormone regulation, and positive neurological functioning.

Few of us, however, simply want to live longer. Rather, we hope for a long, productive, healthy, and active life. That’s where running and high-fitness shine. Since “seniors” consume a high percentage of the public-health budget with their late-life illnesses, much research is targeted at what can be done to keep them healthy. Exercise nearly always wins this race.

For example, recent research found that a group of 75-year-old lifetime runners and bicyclists (who had been exercising for 50 years) had biological profiles closer to 25-year-old graduate students than to their non-exercising 75-year-old peers. 

Another famous study compared local runners in their mid-50s with non-exercising Stanford community members who had the same top-notch medical care. Twenty-one years later, the death rate was more than 50 per cent lower among the runners. More unexpectedly, the runners were reaching certain “disability scores” 11 to 16 years later than the non-runners. In other words, they were staying younger for longer. And the older the subjects became, the greater the advantages seen among runners.

2. Running helps you sleep better

Solid evidence shows that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality.” The exercise-sleep connection goes both ways. The more you exercise, the more you need quality sleep. Also, the worse your sleep habits, the less likely you are to exercise regularly.

Runners were once warned that an evening workout would disrupt that night’s sleep. However, a 2018 meta-analysis of 23 studies on the topic produced an opposite finding. Except for a hard interval workout undertaken within an hour of bedtime (don’t do it!), another evening exercise actually improved the ease of falling asleep and the quality of sleep.

3. Running can improve your knees and back

This is one running benefit that many find difficult to believe. They reason that running is an impact sport, which must be bad for the joints. What’s more, everyone knows a few runners who developed knee pain and had to switch to bicycling. True enough, but it’s also true that sedentary, out-of-shape adults have worse knee and back problems, on average than most runners.

Looking for proof? Okay, fair enough. In our cohort, the arthritis rate of active marathoners was below that of the general U.S. population.”Even ultramarathoners seem to fare just fine. 

When researchers looked at the knees of runners who had just completed a multiday, 2700-mile run across Europe, they found that the extreme running burden seems not to have a relevant negative influence on the femoropatellar joint [knee joint] tissues.

The knees of novice runners achieved sustained improvement, for at least 6 months post-marathon, in the condition of their bone marrow and articular cartilage. The same goes for the lower back. Middle-aged long-term endurance runners exhibit a less age-related decline in their lumbar IVDs. And the more years subjects had been running, the better their disc-spacing looked. Likewise for weekly mileage. More running was better.

4. Running helps you lose weight, and keep it off

Because it involves continuously moving your entire body weight, running burns more calories than most other activities. And you don’t have to run fast to achieve max burn. You get almost as much from running slow (but it takes twice as long). 

It has been said that you “can’t outrun a bad diet,” but that’s a half-truth at best. It is incontrovertible that exercise can and does result in weight loss.  Moreover, it leads to a “multitude of other positive effects on health.” 

If you want to keep track, running burns roughly 100 calories per mile. (For more accuracy, multiply .75 x your body weight in pounds to get your personal calorie burn per mile.)

Losing weight isn’t difficult; it’s keeping the weight off that’s incredibly hard. Study after study has shown that individuals can lose significant amounts of weight for about six months. After that, unfortunately, the weight creeps back. Usually, it has all returned, and sometimes even more, after another six to 18 months. Everyone has heard of “yo-yo dieting; this is it.

Only one group is known to beat the odds, and that is individuals who commit to a consistent, long-term exercise regimen. One program—the National Weight Control Registry—has kept track of these successful weight losers. 

The NWCR is following a large group of people who have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept the weight off for 5.5 years. Ninety per cent of them exercise an average of an hour a day. Ninety-eight per cent have modified their diet in some way.

Individuals exercising 200 to 300 minutes per week achieve better weight maintenance than those doing less than 150 minutes a week. It takes work and consistency, but the effort is worthwhile, as lower body weight appears to “profoundly enhance” health-related quality of life.

5. Running improves your immunity

 Modest exercise improves immunity, ultra-endurance efforts can decrease immunity (at least until you have fully recovered), and dark red/blue/black berries help your body stay strong and healthy.

The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defence system. Among advice on intensity levels and diet, they report evidence that running can improve the body’s surveillance against disease, lower inflammation, enhance gut microbiota composition, reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections and influenza, and improve antibody response.


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