Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Run Commuting is Better

I started to run commute as a way of getting in some long runs when the weekends were busy. I live a perfect distance from work (9 miles) so running in and home could replace a 20 mile effort some of the time. I am fortunate enough to be able to cover most of the distance on footpaths and bridleways, with a few options on routes. When my daughter was born last year, I decided to leave our car with my wife and commute either by foot or bike every day. In order to build up the running I would bike in, run home, then the next day run in, bike home. This worked well for 3 weeks and then my legs fell off. Seriously I got really sore calves that took months and some decent physio to go away. I hadn't actually been running any more total mileage than I had before, but by condensing all my running into 4 days, with very little rest between evening/morning runs my body was getting battered.
But I was hooked! I asked for some advice online and decided to break some of the runs up by getting the train part of the way. This alternate route was much less pretty but at a bit less than 6 miles put less strain on my legs. After a couple of cautious months I started to reintroduce weeks of the full 36 miles and everything was gravy.

As the nights drew in my evening runs were done by the light of my head torch and the morning was often accompanied by the rising sun.

 As spring rolled around, the evening runs were glorious.

 I even started to explore some alternative routes.

After my wife's maternity leave ended, we both went part-time. I started working Tues-Friday and my wife worked all day Monday and the other 4 afternoons, with our daughter then in nursery at the same time. This meant that I only had 4 days to commute in, but that I could have a lift home on those days. Since then I've been largely running two days a week and cycling two. This has been much easier than what I was doing before, and I have managed another 50 mile ultra and my mileage is settling again. I have no doubt that all the condensed commuting improved me as a runner, but it took a toll first!
My wife and I are still in negotiation over how I can fit in running up to Ridgeway in August. Ideally I will be pretty consistent, but also have a few 50-60 mile weeks. Last week I managed 38, but only by adding a 12 mile run on Sunday night, which is meant to be reserved for family. This week the plan is for two 9 milers then I've got the inaugural Hampshire Hoppit trail marathon on Sunday, so it should be about 44 miles. To get 60 though I will need to do 36+ during the week then another marathon on the weekend... I do have permission to do some longer commutes sometimes and could easily extend the run home by coming back on the Ridgeway.
Anyway the point of this post is that run commuting is amazing. I love seeing the world in different times and lights and weathers. I love travelling by foot. Making my work journey also a powerful fitness tool appeals to me on all kinds of levels. And when the weather is right it's oh so pretty!

After Ridgeway I've agreed not to do any more ultras for a bit, to allow for family time and changes. I still plan to do a few marathons and shorter ultras, but will have to see how to maintain my base as much as possible while taking as little time to run as possible! It will be a new challenge. Then hopefully, in a couple more years I can take on the NDW100 ;) It should still be waiting for me.

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