Running to work: how to replace the subway with workouts


How to find time to run? Try to give up something that is not enjoyable and unproductive, for example, from traveling in public transport. Natalia Porotikova, editor of WB Guru, 24-hour running MSMK, winner of the Russian Cup in 24-hour running, shares her experience.

How it all started

In the first years of running, the issue of “finding time to run” was solved simply: the office overlooked Danilovskaya Embankment, and at the end of the working day, I simply changed into sportswear and went for a run. Then I returned to the office, changed into normal clothes and drove home. The races of the first years of running were from 5 to 15 km, not counting the long ones on weekends, and I did everything perfectly.

After the first, rather crazy, independent marathon, I began to train in a running club, then with a trainer, then with another trainer, then by myself; added speed training in the arena, at the stadium, laid a dozen running routes around the city; changed jobs. The new office was located on the Leningrad highway, far from the beloved and convenient embankment. In the summer, I opened the maps app and tried to run to and from work on my day off. The path seemed uncomfortable to me: too many detours through the yards, traffic lights, stops and people.

Running through the streets is possible at a comfortable pace; in my case it is not faster than 5.30 min/km. It is impossible to accelerate because of the people who are walking along the same streets. Since I’m moving faster than them, avoiding a collision is my responsibility.


Once, on a long run with friends, I talked about my difficulty: I need to increase running volumes, but it’s not clear where to get the time. Almost three hours a day are spent just on the road. There is no time or energy left for running. I complained that I tried to run before work, I didn’t like it, and besides, there may not be enough willpower for morning runs. My friend Dima said: and you try to run not to work, but _from_work!

In Zen parables, one experiences enlightenment in such cases. Something similar happened to me: I realized that Dima’s advice is not just good, but easy to do.

How running from work works

The next day I got ready for the first time to run from work. It was cloudy in the morning, the temperature was a little minus. Guidelines for choosing equipment were as follows:

— I should be warm even when I am not running (but walking or taking public transport);

— all good things should fit in a backpack that I can carry on the run.

I got lucky with my backpack. I had a Thule backpack that I bought for the city and short trips; he was not even positioned by the brand as sporty. It is relatively small (well, how small — 18 liters) and compact, with the help of adjustable straps it can be tightly fitted to the body, and the laptop compartment in it, if necessary, works as a pocket for a hydration pack. I took advantage of all of these.

In the morning, a sports change of clothes went into the backpack: thermal underwear, sweatpants and a sports jacket. I almost never took water (in a hydrator or in a bottle) on the way to work, only closer to summer on hot days. But this is my individual feature — I can go quite a long time without water.

On myself: light down jacket, office clothes (with thick trousers to keep out cold), a hat that you can run in, gloves, trail running shoes.

In the backpack: thermal underwear, sweatpants, winter running jacket.

After a working day, I changed into sportswear, and the clothes that I was wearing at the office and a light down jacket folded into a bag went into my backpack. I turned on the GPS mode in my sports watch and ran.

How running to work works

A few days later, I started running from work three times a week. A week later, I added morning runs to my evening runs.

Getting up at six for a run was easier than I thought. In addition to the usual running experiences, there were added very special ones, which I now sometimes miss. I ran through the sleepy Krylatsky Hills, the amusement park, completely empty at this time of day, the arch of the Picturesque Bridge and the village of Sokol with its unexpected country houses almost in the center of the city. All these places are beautiful in their own right, and I was lucky to see them at dawn.

Traffic lights, bridges, garden yards and places where there are a lot of people — I eventually learned to perceive all this correctly. In places where there are a lot of people, it’s better not to go for a run; the rest is just to be dealt with.

The equipment for the morning run or for the “morning + evening” option turned out to be the same as for the evening shift, with important additions. There is no shower in my office, and there is a whole working day ahead. Just changing into dry clothes is not an option. On morning race days, I started carrying a small microfiber towel and deodorant with me. A towel can be half wet to wipe the body, and dry with a dry half.

For the “morning + evening” races, I took with me an additional change of sports and thermal underwear (or a second fleece).

On myself: thermal underwear, sweatpants, winter running jacket, hat, gloves, sports watch, trail running shoes, backpack with office supplies.

In the backpack: light down jacket, office clothes (with tight trousers so as not to freeze on the way back), towel, deodorant.


On the day I ran either 14 or 28 kilometers. Over time, I got four round trips a week; this gave me 112 km per week only on weekdays, not counting the long ones. During January and February of that winter, I ran a record number of kilometers for myself: about 540 km in December and 560 km in January. For winter, this is a lot, and for me it was a lot at that time. Two workouts a day became an additional test of endurance.

I didn’t manage to save on the travel card, as I secretly hoped: trips on weekends plus Monday, if bought by the piece, would come out at about the same price. In addition, as Dima noted, it can take more to depreciate sneakers than to travel. Fortunately, saving was not my main motive.

I had free time at home in the evening, which I had not had for several years in a row. On round trip days, I started showing up at home unusually early, at 8:00 pm, and not just like that, but with a sense of accomplishment. The result of the day was the full volume of cases at work plus 28 kilometers. With the previous logistics of training, I would not have succeeded.

What happened next

I kept running to and from work until late spring, until the very Russian daily running championship, in which I took part. The results of the competition showed that I have progress, but it is not as big as I would like. This was not due to running to and from work as such, but due to the lack of tempo and interval training. At the very beginning of my independent journey, they were in my plan, but without external control they gradually disappeared.

After a not particularly successful Russian championship, I came to study with a new coach, Artemy Sviridov, a student of Maxim Vorobyov, an athlete and coach of the Russian daily running team. Artemy criticized my round-trip practice: an hour and a half is too short for a full-fledged lesson, you can’t do speed work on the street, and two workouts a day four times a week are tiring, but at the same time they don’t give development. Therefore, we left the races to work only as recovery runs, no more than twice a week. The rest of the training is now taking place at the stadium (in winter — in the arena) or on proven running routes in the city.

My friend, ultramarathoner Galya Mitricheva, also sometimes runs to work, and also to recover. True, her running day starts at 5:00 am, which is very convenient in its own way, because there are practically no cars, and traffic lights do not delay, because they do not work yet.

“From my house to work, the shortest way is 14 km, that is, I run to work only if the distance in the plan is 14 km or more. Less I run around the house. On average, there are 5-8 races before work per month, but it happens in different ways.

I always come to work early. Jogging helps save time on the road, but it is anyway longer than on transport, plus you need to add time for exercises after running and showering. If I have 14-16 km in my plan, then I leave the house at 5 in the morning; if more, then accordingly earlier.

Back home from work, I rarely run, only when there are two workouts a day.

The longest way from home to work at one time so far took me 30 km; to the short route of 14 km, I had to add another circle along Sadovoye — just 16 km. There are few cars in the city in the morning, so running along the wide streets is quite comfortable.

I try to take a minimum with me: water, food for the distance, phone, keys. I try to bring a set of clothes for changing clothes and leave them at the office the day before; there is also a shower with all the necessary attributes, so it is convenient to resort and put yourself in order. But if the run is right on Monday morning, then I carry with me not only clothes, but also a working laptop. Poor technique! In fact, it is not very useful for him, I try not to do that. There are other reasons why logistics do not converge, and you need to carry different things in your backpack.

Colleagues usually do not notice exactly how I got to work in the morning, since I am the first in the office. But if I run away in the evening, they see that I have changed clothes, they smile, they wish me a pleasant run. I have seen a few runners running in the morning (even more coming by bike), but there are no regular runners among my closest acquaintances. More often you can see, especially in summer, who runs out of the office to the park to run, and then returns to the office for things and is already on his way home.”

Who should run instead of public transport

If you are an experienced amateur and want to make your schedule more convenient, open the maps app and try to get a walking route from home to work.

If you are looking for additional sources of motivation, new experiences and time savings will provide you with it.

It is very good to run to and from work if you live and work on the embankment or not far from it — this is for Moscow, where there are good running embankments without a single traffic light. By the way, please share in the comments what convenient running routes are in your city!

…And who probably won’t fit

If you go to work 5-7 minutes at a slow pace or, conversely, drive 100 km.

If you have very frosty and cold winters — take care of yourself, spend the winter in the arena.

If you live in the suburbs, and your intended path lies along the sides of the highway — in no case DO NOT RUN THERE, it is very dangerous!

How do you find time to run? Share with us in the comments!


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