Friday, July 2, 2010

Q&A & Running to work

Out of all my training, it seems that the running to work is the one that elicits the most questions and surprise. I would have thought the gruelling 35km in the snow would have been more noteworthy but then, these happen outside of "regular" life so people don't really think about these. I'll take the opportunity here to answer some questions that I've been asked by fellow runners, colleagues, friends and family about my running to work. Feel free to add questions in the comments (about running to work or anything else) and I will address them in later posts.

Most people worry about my schedule. They figure that 24km is a long distance and that to run that far would take forever. In my case it takes about two hours. The bus commute is about an hour on average so really the run is only "costing" me an extra hour plus the prep time. Not so bad. So I usually end up adjusting my start time a bit so I only have to wake up one hour early.

The route is also an object of curiosity. Everyone has their own idea about what route I should take. I often get suggestions to use the pathway by the river. While it is a very scenic and somewhat quiet route, it would add over 2km to my commute. Waking up at 4:30am already, every minute I can save counts. I use the shortest route going straight on Hazeldean, Robertson, Richmond and switching at Scott street until I reach downtown:
It has the advantage of being mostly flat, having sidewalks for about 80% of the way and wide shoulders for the remainder. Being always on a bus route should something disastrous happen is also a plus. I also like that the route is lined with cornerstores, gas stations and malls where I could stop if I needed a break or if I run out of sportsdrink.

Nutrition always seems to fascinate non-runners. What does one need to eat to fuel up for a 2 hour run? I usually try to carbload the night before with a big serving of pasta, rice, potatoes or another source of easy to break down carbs. Morning of, I have my usual bowl of cereal and add a toast or waffle with a thick layer of peanut butter & honey or Nutella. During the run, I hydrate with a heavily mix sportsdrink (I usually add 30 to 50% more crystals than instructed). I do not use gels, salt tabs or other supplements but that is something I am looking into experimenting with this year. Once I get to the office, I shower and head for the coffee shop where I grab a 500ml of cocolate milk. That usually ties me over until lunch where I have a regular size lunch...

Stretching is also very important for me. Ever since I started a rigorous stretching regiment, both before and after training, I have been virtually injury free. I stretch my calves, my achilles heels, my glutes and do some squats to relieve my knees.

I've heard lots of comments from non-runners that if they had to run for 2 hours, their day would be over after the run. They don't seem to think that it would be possible for me to have a productive workday after this type of workout. For me, it's quite the opposite. I do not have hard stats to prove it, but I feel much more efficient when I run into the office. The rush of running sets the tone for a day of hitting and pounding that usually end up damaging my task list more than on a regular day. Plus the 2 hours I spend on the road prior to work has me thinking about all the issues currently facing me and has me devising strategies and plans to address the harder to solve problems. I feel that by the time I get to work, I got most of my day figured out already and the remainder is just following through.

The sweat generated by 2 hours of cardio exercise is also a focus of many inquiries. I am fortunate that my office offers showers, lockers and even an iron and ironing board for those of us that cycle or run into work. I bring my clothes to the office at least a day ahead and changed into the fresh set after showering. I stow my sweaty clothes away and bring them back with me at night to throw them in the washer, sight unseen (and un-smelled!).

Now that I will be moving downtown, everyone is telling me that I won't be able to run 25km before work anymore. I don't quite get it, I can still run for 2 hours, shower at home and walk the 10 minutes to work if I wanted to. And being downtown will give me the flexibility to do the other distances as well in the morning to take advantage of the cooler temperatures.

This reminds me that I've been forgetful about the cans for comments last month. Let's make this post a triple hitter, for every comment, I'll donate 3 cans to the local food bank. I have to move in September anyways so those cupboard won't be emptying themselves!


  1. I've only done this once, but I know how much goes into it! Thanks for sharing what works for you, and keep it up!

  2. I am really jealous you have the option to run to work. My dream would be to live maybe 4 miles from work with a shower and run to and from work every day :)

    While I HATE getting up early to run before work, I do admit I arrive at work feeling much more alert and refreshed. Yay for C4C!