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running to work

Running to Work: Tips, Benefits and Risks

Running to work is a rewarding and convenient way to exercise. However, without proper preparation it can be tricky to fit into a busy working week. 

Not everyone is lucky enough to have shower facilities and lockers at work, making it even more difficult for those 9-5 workers, and resulting in running to work seeming like more of a hassle than it’s worth. 

However, we are here to tell you why there are many benefits of switching your regular commute for a run. In this article, we will provide you with the tips and precautions you need for running to work, more specifically we will cover:

Just before we begin, have you thought about a career in the fitness sector? If you’re mad about fitness, be sure to check out our diploma in personal training to get industry ready. Alternatively, you can browse through our plethora of fitness courses in our downloadable course prospectus here. 

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Benefits Of Running To Work

Before we get into the tips, let’s start with the running to work benefits! There are many reasons why people run to work, it’s great for advanced and beginner runners to train, build up fitness, and get those miles in each week. So, we have listed our top 3 benefits that could be the motivating factor between you and hitting the pavement.

#1 Improve Overall Health

One of the most important benefits of running to work is improving physical and psychological health. Regular running can reduce your risk of long-term illnesses, boost your mood and self-confidence, and keep your weight under control. 

It’s believed that running can improve your focus while making you feel more energised and ready for the day. After running to work, you may notice these changes, resulting in better productivity and performance.

Alternatively, running after work can help to release tension and relieve stress before you get home, it can certainly be something to look forward to after a long day of working at a desk. For an extra push, track your progress with help from the best running watches on our list here.

#2 Cheaper and Easier Commute

Whether you drive to work or use public transport, commuting can be a stressful start to the day. Running to work means you’ll avoid the hectic morning traffic and any busy public transport links. With roads only getting busier, it may be a useful tactic to run to work, all the while saving fuel and fare.

Spending less time in the car or on public transport is also great news for the environment. Not only will a run commute reduce your carbon footprint, but it will also save you money on transport. 

One of the best running to work benefits is how financially friendly it is. We can be sure that if you usually take a train or a bus, or even drive, your wallet will feel a little lighter even if you only run to work once a week! 

#3 More Free Time For You 

One of the main obstacles of exercising is time, as with so many other responsibilities, it can be difficult to fit in exercise during the week. This is particularly true if you have other pursuits or plans that are taking up the free time in your schedule.

Running to work means your daily exercise is done first thing in the morning before you’ve even got to the office, or whilst making your way home. This time would otherwise be sat behind a wheel, or as a passenger in traffic - so, why not put this time to good use?

If you can complete your weekly workout during your running commute, imagine how much free time that means for you! If after your rest day you’re struggling for some motivation, read our article packed with 31 motivational quotes here.

Tips For Running to Work

It’s clear that there are a lot of running to work benefits, but in order for it to be worth it, it takes some preparation. 

Follow these general running to work tips and you should have minimal discomfort and a successful run during your commute.

#1 Scope Out Your Workplace

Before you run to work, the first step is to think about your workplace. The sort of facilities and space you have will affect just how much preparation and packing you need to do. 

Some things to consider are: 

  • Does your workplace have shower facilities?
  • Are there lockers or places where you can store clothes, shoes and other items? 
  • Is there anywhere you can hang wet clothing? 
  • Are there places to store food? 

It’ll be a much better experience for you and your colleagues if you don’t have to hang sweaty or damp running gear off the back of your chair. It will be even better if you have somewhere to freshen up.

You may also have colleagues who run or cycle to work that can give you some running to work tips about their routine, especially if you plan on running to work every day - you could even find yourself a new exercise partner!

Running to work is a lot easier if you can keep as much as possible in the office and travel light. However, if this isn’t the case, you don’t have to miss out on a running commute. As we’ve chosen tips to suit people in a variety of working environments. 

#2 Prepare In Advance 

The hardest part of your run to work day is almost always finding the motivation. Ultimately you’ll be less likely to go ahead with it if you haven’t prepared in advance! 

If you run to work, prepare the night before by laying your running gear out and packing your bag ready to go. That way you can get up, throw everything on, and get out the door before you change your mind. 

If you run home from work, the same applies. Have a bag of your running stuff ready to grab and take to work, so you can quickly get changed at the end of the day without hassle. 

After scoping out your workplace, one of the most important running to work tips is figuring out what you can leave in the office.

Some useful items you leave at work might be: 

  • Work clothes, spare underwear and shoes
  • Deodorant, baby wipes and any other toiletries
  • A towel 
  • Meals and snacks 
  • Laptop 

You could bring spare clothes into work every Monday and take all worn clothes and towels home on Fridays. This way you can pack less and travel light, whilst some things can be ready for you at work. If you’re looking for the right running kit, start with our list of the best long sleeved running tops.

#3 Plan Your Route

Before running to and from work, make sure you have a well planned route and an idea of how long it will take you. This can count as one of the running to work benefits too, as your organisation skills are about to become expert level! 

Running apps such as Strava and MapMyRun are great for planning your run to work day in advance. You can also find any parks or quieter routes to get away from very busy roads. 

You could test out your run commute at the weekend and see how long it will take you. Along your route, ensure you know the nearest station or bus stops, just in case of unexpected things like heavy downpours or storms. 

However, it’s important to factor in extra timing, as running during rush hours may take you longer than it would on a Sunday morning. You’ll also have a backpack with you and be carrying extra weight. 

If you run to work, you may need to factor in time to cooldown, freshen up and have breakfast. You don’t want to get to work after having had a stressful morning, in fact it should be quite the opposite.

#4 Invest in a Good Backpack 

Making sure you are comfortable is going to make running to and from work much easier. The last thing you need when trying to get motivated at 6, 7 or 8am is your bag bouncing around or chafing your shoulders whilst you run. 

One of the best tips for running to work is investing in a backpack designed for runners, these fit firmly on your back and hold everything securely in place. 

When it comes to choosing a backpack, look for one with shoulder, chest and waist straps that can all be adjusted. The shoulder straps should be wide and padded, as this will distribute the weight of your pack evenly across your back, luckily we have a list of the best running backpacks here.

They also typically only have enough capacity for the essentials. For sizing, if you have minimal storage space at work, look for a backpack with around 15-20 litres, if you need less storage, 8-12 litres should do the trick. 

For those lucky enough to have shower facilities and storage space at work, you can also use zipped waist belts or armbands if you only need to run with your valuables. 

#5 Pack as Light as Possible 

This brings us to the next packing tips for running to work as once you’ve got the right backpack, you’ll want to make sure you pack it light! 

The key is to minimise bulk and carry as little as possible. If you take a towel, microfiber towels are lightweight and quick drying. You may decide to leave toiletries at work and keep topping them up, along with spare work shoes and clean clothes. 

Especially when running to work every day, it’s best to stash what you can in work lockers or in your work desk, such as your laptop or clothes, and any other essentials that you don’t need to carry between work and home. 

If you don’t have anywhere to leave work clothes or a towel, try rolling them into cylinders to keep them crinkle free and take up less room in your backpack. Buttoning up shirts or blouses before folding them will also help to keep them neat. 

You’ll then only need the essentials, such as a bank card, work pass, phone and keys. Plastic bags are great to separate dirty clothes, protect clothes from the rain, and elastic bands can stop keys from jingling whilst you run. Another great accessory is a phone holder, and we have the best running armbands for you to choose from!

#6 Plan Your Meals

To make your backpack as light as possible and to save time, plan your meals for running to work and think about what you can leave in the office food wise.

Collapsible bowls and softer lunch bags are ideal for packing any food in your backpack without creating bulk. You could also leave pre-prepared meals in the office for you to grab when you get there. 

Your breakfast will depend on how far you have to run in the morning and how much time you give yourself. If you want to eat something, get up early to have digested it before you run to avoid any stomach trouble.

You could also start with a light breakfast, such as a banana or oats to fuel your morning run without filling you up too much, then have a more substantial breakfast when you get to work - you can always save breakfast for after your run.

A run commute also means you’ll get hungrier during your working day, so ensure you stock up on food to keep at work so there’s always something for you to eat. If you’re time constraint on the way back from work due to your exercising, we have a list of the best recipe boxes here for some help.

#7 Freshen Up

Our next tip is planning how and where you can shower and freshen up after your run. For some people, this is when a run to work gets difficult or impossible, but don’t worry! Our running to work tips have got you covered.

Ideally, you’ll have a shower in the office, but that isn’t always the case. Another option is to sign up to a local gym or fitness centre and make use of their facilities before you head to the office. 

However, there are also products that enable you to freshen up without needing water. This includes baby wipes, deodorant, dry shampoos, and shower-free products such as Muc-Off Dry Shower or Shower in a Can

Shower-free products can be applied to the skin and dissolve oils and dirt into water. The water also evaporates so you don’t even need a towel! 

If you don’t have access to a shower facility, you don’t have to miss out on the running to work benefits. Running home from work instead is a great option for those who feel uneasy without a proper post-workout shower. 

#8 Check the Weather

Depending on the season when you run to work, the weather will either make it easier or harder. It’s a good idea to check the weather for the upcoming week and plan accordingly.

When you’re aware of the forecasted weather, you can plan the right running gear, alter your route, or leave your running commute for another day when the weather is brighter. If you have to carry your laptop or other electronics, torrential rain might make you think twice about running to work. 

However, any kind of commute is made worse by the cold or rain. It might be better to run wearing weather-proof clothes and a backpack, rather than trying to tackle the weather in your office wear.

During the summer months, it’s better and safer to run early in the morning before the sun heats the ground and the temperature rises. This won’t only lower your risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, but your body can perform better in comfortable temperatures. 

You’ll also have fresh clothes, toiletries and a towel ready for you afterwards. Whatever the weather, running to work means you can start fresh in the office wearing clean, dry clothes. 

If you do catch yourself in the rain, check out our article - running in the rain: tips and precautions here.

#9 Wear the Right Gear

One of the most important tips for running to work is wearing the right clothes. This will make your run comfortable, easy and prepared for the forecasted weather. 

When choosing your run to work gear, look for sweat-wicking and breathable fabrics such as polyester, polypropylene or nylon. These materials will help your body stay dry, cool and help sweat to evaporate. 

Merino wool is another great fabric that is moisture-wicking, provides insulation and has anti-static properties. It also doesn’t retain odours or crease easily. It’s best to avoid 100% cotton as it tends to retain moisture, this means that it will become heavy and uncomfortable during your run and lose most of its breathability. 

If you’re wearing a backpack, tops that are a little longer will stop them from riding up with the pack. A lightweight, waterproof or water resistant jacket made of breathable materials that you can fold up and carry with ease is another must-have for running to work. 

Alongside clothing, running shoes can make or break your commute. It’s important to invest in decent running shoes to avoid injury and discomfort, for running to work we recommend road running shoes - these are a good choice for extra support and cushioning!  

To wear the right running gear, you might want the help of our articles below:

#10 Stay Safe and Seen

Although one of the benefits of running to work every day is avoiding crowds and traffic, going for a run during darker or quieter parts of the day, or during rush hour, puts you at greater risk.

Planning your route will help you stay safe by choosing well-lit areas and only running on roads that have pavement. Run on quieter roads where possible and against the traffic, so you can see the headlights of oncoming cars and drivers can see you from afar. 

When choosing your run to work clothes, opt for brightly coloured and reflective clothing that will help with visibility. You can also buy light accessories such as headlamps or lights to attach to your backpack. 

Million Mile Light is a great option for battery-free safety lights that are powered by motion and will further your efforts to help the environment.

It’s also a good idea to let people know when you are heading out for a run. You could even encourage colleagues to join your run to work day, as there’s always safety in numbers. 

#11 Warm up and Cool down

When planning the route for your running commute, factor in time for your warm up and cool down. This is important for preparing your body to run and aiding recovery with slow, static stretches to release muscle tension. 

Warming up your muscles is especially important if you run to work first thing in the morning, as our body needs time to wake up and get ready for high impact exercise.

A dynamic warm-up is the best option because this promotes blood flow, prevents injury and muscle soreness. It includes stretching the joints, all the while preparing muscles for intense exercise. 

Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions compared the benefits of dynamic warm-up for runners vs static stretches. A dynamic warm-up proved the better option for increasing body and tissue temperature, increasing circulation and improving your body awareness. 

A dynamic warm-up could be a slow jog or walk for three to five minutes before you start running, or jogging on the spot, knee hugs, down dogs and squats. Learn about the benefits of dynamic stretching here.

#12 Build Up to Your Commute

This is an important tip, because it can take time to get accustomed to running to work. Especially if you are new to running or your commute is longer than your usual distance.

Not only can it take time to build up fitness and get used to a new route, the organisational and preparation factors may take some trial and error. Yet once this is a part of your lifestyle,  your running to work routine will become second nature. 

Before jumping in and running to work every day, you can work your way up to your commute. You can do this by taking public transport part of the way there, and running the rest until you feel more confident in completing the whole distance.

You can gradually increase your miles and get off public transport earlier as you work up your fitness. This is also a good option to choose if you live very far from work and running all the way isn’t an option. 

You could also choose one run to work day and slowly build up from there. This could be alternating between running one day, then taking a break the next, or running once a week or once a month! Remember this is totally subjective to your fitness level and ability. 

#13 Stay Motivated

To finish off our running to work tips, you may be wondering if you’ll stick to your new running to work habit. Once you’ve cracked the organisation and established a good routine, it will become second-nature. However, there are always tools to keep your motivation levels high, no matter your advancement level.

Listening to a playlist can make your run to work even better. SAGE journals published a report on the effects of listening to music when running. The results showed that instrumental music lowers the heart rate and reduces feelings of tiredness, whilst vocal music improves runner’s mood. 

Another tip is to listen to a podcast or audio book whilst you run. This makes your run commute two times more productive as you’ll be learning or enjoying the latest episode on the go and if you need help choosing, we have a list of 37 best fitness podcasts here!

Alongside safety in numbers, asking your colleagues or friends who work nearby to join your run to work day will turn it into a fun, social activity where you can help and encourage each other. 

Signing up to a charity run or race can also give you extra incentive for running to work, it becomes your time to train for the big day instead of  a chore. However, there will be days when you feel tired and can’t do it, and that’s ok! Giving yourself a rest day is important too. 

Risks of Running to Work

If you follow our running to work tips, you should avoid any possible risks that can come with it. Nevertheless, there are a few things to look out for and to keep in mind before heading out the door. 

#1 Commuter Traffic 

Running to and from work means you’ll be running at a busy time of day when a lot of people are on the move. This means the roads and pavements may be busier than usual, especially if you are used to running on the weekends. 

We encourage you to pay extra attention to road safety and be aware of your surroundings while wearing bright, reflective gear. Also, you should run against the traffic, so you can see the cars and they can see you. For this purpose exactly, we have the best hi-vis and reflective running vests for you to choose from here.

Finally a key tip, is if you run with headphones, avoid having the volume too high, we know how easy it can be to get lost in the music and get in the zone, however you should always remember that your ears are needed as well as your eyes. So, you should ensure that you can still hear what’s going on around you, particularly bikes and cars and when in the dark.

#2 Poorly Lit Areas

Running to work early in the morning or during the winter means darker nights and low light. So, remember how important it is for not only you to be able to see your surroundings, but to be seen by others.

Stick to well-lit routes to reduce your risk of trips or falls that can cause injuries. Not only is this safer, but it’s likely that you’ll also be able to run more confidently and perform better if you can see your path. 

However, we understand that if you prefer to take quieter paths, or if you live in a rural area where low lit directions are all you have access to, sticking to well lit routes may not be an option. So, be sure to wear a head torch or running lights in these instances. 

Finally, the same goes for headphone volume in poorly lit areas! Don’t have the volume too high, because you may get distracted by your music and lose sight of what’s going on around you. 

#3 Overtraining

Running to work every day might be your goal, however reaching this goal is dependent on your fitness level and running experience. So, increasing your running distance or time too quickly can put you at risk of injuries. 

A report on Running Injuries published by Sports Medicine states that about 50 to 75% of all running injuries appear to be overuse injuries due to the constant repetition of the same movement.  

Factors associated with running injuries include previous injury, lack of running experience, running to compete and excessive weekly running distance. An injury will lead to a reduction in training or being unable to run at all so as a precautionary measure it is a good idea to take every step to prevent this. 

Ensure to alternate rest with exercise to perform well and be able to keep on running to work, remember, rest and recovery time is just as important as the exercise itself! 

FAQs

How do I start running to work?

Now you’ve covered tips for running to work, it’s time to get started! As you now know, this starting point will depend on not only your fitness level, but your experience on how far you are used to running.

If you are a complete beginner, it’s best to build your fitness level gently. You could start with running to work once a month, then once a fortnight or once a week until you reach your desired running commute goal. 

Slow and steady will help you avoid injury and build up a good level of fitness! Don’t set your expectations high at the start by going from 0 action, to running to work every day. 

If you’ve been running for a while, ensure you know your route to work and how long it will take. Though you may be used to running different routes, it may feel a little more demanding with the added weight of a backpack. 

The most important thing is being prepared. If you follow our tips, you’ll ease into your run to work routine with no problems! 

Is it better to run before work or after?

This will depend on the benefits you want to gain from running to work and the time of day you feel the most motivated. It will also depend on your working day and when it’s best to fit in a run commute.

The benefits of running to work set you up for a good day at the office. It will help your energy levels throughout the day, so you’ll feel less tired and more productive, all the while burning calories throughout the day. 

It’s important to remember to hydrate well before you set out in the morning and warm up with a 5 minute walk or light jog. However, it may be more difficult in the mornings even after a warm up as your body and nervous system are still waking up and you might not be able to go as fast as usual.

Alternatively, when running after work, your body should feel more ready for a workout. Your energy levels are high from eating full meals throughout the day and the nervous system is better prepared after being awake and engaged during the day. 

It’s important to hydrate well whilst you work, so keep water at your desk to remind you to drink plenty of water. It may also give you something to look forward to after work, giving you a chance to destress before you relax at home.

However, running after work may disrupt sleep as it gives you an energy boost in the evening. You may also feel too exhausted and unmotivated after work, depending on your role and your day. 

So, we recommend trying out both and seeing what works for you.

Can I run with a laptop? 

Running to and from work with a laptop is possible, but not the best idea. Laptops and electrical equipment in general may become damaged over time if they are bounced around in a backpack on a regular basis.

It will also make your backpack heavier and your equipment will be at risk of damage so if you can, leave your laptop at home or in the office. However, if this is not possible and you need to transport your laptop to and from work, you will need to invest in the right runner's backpack.

The perfect backpack will have a laptop sleeve that can be padded or unpadded, with a fastening mechanism on the top to keep it closed and stop the laptop from slipping out. It should also have external compression straps, these can be found outside the backpack and allow you to eliminate any remaining empty space in the pack. 

Before You Go...

If you started this article with no idea how to go about running to work, hopefully we’ve given you the preparation and tips you need to make your commute easy, comfortable and stress-free.

If you’re wanting to get ahead of the race in the fitness industry, why not launch your career with our personal training diploma? Or, you can browse through all of the fitness courses that we offer in our downloadable course prospectus now!

Written by Jessica Greenall

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Jess studied English and American Literature and Drama at University of Kent, graduating with first-class honours degree. She went on to gain experience in content marketing, copywriting and journalism, and has written for a variety of organisations and websites. Her passion for health and fitness led her to OriGym. She is particularly interested in the benefits of exercise and nutrition on mental health and wellbeing. Alongside writing, Jess is an English teacher and she enjoys cycling, swimming, hiking, yoga and learning languages in her spare time. 

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