Thomas Wimmer, a Salomon Explorer from Cologne, Germany, runs to work regularly. Most every day, in fact. As an alternative, he rides his bike. He explains what he loves about run commuting, how he makes it work and what it takes to keep getting to the office using only his legs.
Today, the distance I ran to work from door to door was about 12 km. For me, the run commute is as much about time management as it is about the pleasure of running, but more on that later. My run goes directly thru Cologne from the south to the north, and back. We have two so-called “green park” areas and one of these areas is 50 percent of the route I run. The rest is urban landscape, which can also be motivating. After all, I get to do my favorite hobby next to traffic jams and stressed commuters.
The reason I run to work and home from work is very clear: time pressure. When I come home after work, I have had about two and a half hours of running, so I can be relaxed and devoted to other things in my everyday life. I spend my time running instead of sitting in a car or train. So I win time…time to run.
For sure the shower that my employer originally set up for bikers and motorcyclists helps a lot in allowing me to run to work. A missing shower for employees is one of the main barriers to run commuting. There are certainly ways around this, like only running home from work, not to work, so you can shower when you arrive home. That requires a bit more logistics. A number of run commuters use the shower of an adjacent fitness studio. Others do extensive “cat washing”, though maybe that’s not so good for your coworkers! Another valid barrier to run commuting is the distance to work. That’s why some people run only part of their commute, then take the bus/train. Very cool. I understand that there are jobs with many more obstacles to run commuting. I’m lucky.
This may be obvious, but I do not run as fast as I can every time. However, I still have a variety in my pace. In the morning (yes, I have to get up a little earlier) I start quite stiff and tired, so I’m normally slightly faster in the afternoon. Additionally, the “regeneration runs” are added and I often add in a few interim sprints in order to reach a traffic light or to not be overtaken by another runner. (Yes, I am competitive!)
Otherwise, I feel like every commuter. You often meet the same faces and greet each other. Saying hello is somehow easier than it is on the train. You breathe twice and you’re gone. No uncomfortable talks, only nice gestures. Recently, an elderly couple on bicycles has been greeting me with regularity, which seems funny. It won’t be long before they stop me and ask what I´m doing.
People who do a lot of sports, eat a lot. I eat a lot. For food and cost reasons, I also carry something to eat in my backpack, in addition to my change clothes. My Salomon Skin Pro 15 (liters) running backpack fills up quickly, but it works for my system. For tidiness, fit and moisture protection, most of the things in the bag are rolled up in smaller bags and then stowed away in the backpack. For food, I have now discovered environmentally friendly returnable bags. Alternatively, there is also a kitchen towel. Cans are not as suitable for several reasons. The distribution in the backpack is always the same—very optimized. Soft clothes fill the back part, above all other items. Heavy items go on the bottom. Smaller bags with nuts or similar go in the side pockets, so that not all the weight hangs on the back. For the way back home, the size of the backpack can be adjusted and without the food, there is not so much in the bag. To avoid unnecessary wobbling, make sure to pack your bag as tight as possible.
Most of my colleagues are not surprised about my running anymore. Obviously, this is a curious habit for the ones who don’t normally take part in sports activities. So I quickly became a running nerd because “healthy” and “sporty” do not seem to be very hip. Unhealthy lifestyles, with a few jokes, still seem to be the measure of things. Perhaps I can motivate one or two of them to take part in more physical activity. Of course, there is one drawback to commuting by foot: I cannot tell my colleagues in the office the usual excuses like: “I´m stuck in traffic” or “The train has been delayed.” By the way, my colleagues do not have to suffer from smelling my smelly clothes. We have, thank God, a changing room. If your office doe s not, there are alternatives. One of them is to hang your clothes out the window. If the temperatures hover around the freezing point, this might not be the best option. But be nice to your colleagues.
As a Salomon guy, I make the urban route with the Sonic RA series on my feet—the RA Pro and the RA. The latter, if I have tired legs. And if I want/have to work with trick lacing or adjusting the tongue, with fresh legs I prefer to take the agile Sonic Pro and the S/LAB Sonic for competitions.
I urge you to try run commuting for yourself. You will arrive physically and mentally fresher at work. And back home, the good conscience is really unbeatable. Your family will thank you for your time.
You can follow Thomas on Instagram @run.3ky and check the hashtag #runcommuter and #turnschuhpendler for other run commuting posts.