Commuting History

A few years ago, I had the not-so-original idea that I could save some time if I combined running and commuting. My commute is 3.5 miles. I had been driving it at the time, often after a run from and back to home. There were some logistics to work through, but it was a pretty easy transition since I was already in running shape. I still remember one of my early run commutes home – it was a beautiful early evening, a little brisk. I was running alone down a trail, mostly alone, within a mile of people waiting multiple traffic light cycles to get going. I was hooked.

Pretty soon I was doing about half of my commutes on foot. A somewhat typical week would start with a run in and bus home on Monday. Then I would drive in and run home on one day, and the next day I would run in and drive back home. For those two day cycles I would bring clothes and lunches by car; on Monday the supplies would go by backpack. The runs to work were generally longer than the direct route to hit the training that I wanted for that day. I dabbled with using the bus instead of the car. Although that takes out the driving itself, it is still subject to traffic variations, and occasionally waiting 30 minutes to catch a bus for such a short ride is pretty frustrating. By then I was doing enough running that I was able to handle a day of running both directions, the shortest route at first and eventually with a few extra miles added in the morning. The plan was to do most of my commutes on foot. In reality the most I ever did in a week was seven.

Our twins brought a reset to the commute. Luckily I was able to be off from work when I was too tired to run (and especially to drive) and wouldn’t have been much use at work anyway. When I went back to work, I was roughly on the run/bus plan, though certainly some runs were replaced by the bus or car. After a while, we decided that the bus inefficiencies, especially the unexpected ones, were too much. We’d been toying with the idea of selling a car, but since we still had it, the run/car combination made sense. After a while, the annoyances with driving piled up, and I gave the bicycle a try.

Biking has been ok. I can leave when I want like in a car. I don’t have to deal with parking spots and multiple light cycles like in a car. But there’s a decent hill to climb in either direction, and part of the point of not running is to not need a shower and a change of clothes. So there’s a careful balance of going slowly and gear, and I’m still working on it. The worst part by far, though, is the traffic. Dealing with cars while running is always something that I did, but I never gave much thought to it. Those interactions “only” occurred at intersections and driveways. On a bike, unless you have a dedicated path or ride on a sidewalk (which is legal but be nice to pedestrians), there are constant interactions with cars, and they are mostly terrifying, but there will be plenty more on that some other time.

So these days my typical commute week is 5 runs, 4 bikes, and 1 bus. Sometimes a run or two gets swapped out for a bike or bus trip. I’m moving out of a building at work and never saw its garage 🙂


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