Sure, running to work sounds great in theory. You could accomplish your morning commute and work out at the same time. (Efficient!) Plus, you'd get an invigorating dose of fresh air and sunlight to start the day. (Productive!)
But there's one big hurdle: Once you get to work, how do you transform yourself from a postrun mess to a polished-and-pressed professional? Do you keep several days' worth of office-friendly outfits crammed in your filing cabinet? How do you deal with sweaty laundry? Must you switch to wearing only wrinkle-free fabrics? How do you schlep all your fashion accessories and footwear?
Joshua Woiderski, editor-in-chief of the website The Run Commuter, has answers to these questions. Woiderski is a paralegal for the U.S. attorney's office in Atlanta and runs eight kilometres to work three to five days a week.
He recommends using garment carriers, such as the kind people use for travel, to pack your business clothes. He currently uses one called IamRunBox, which is a hard-shelled, flat-zippered case slightly bigger than a laptop. You iron your shirt at home and fold it around an insert that keeps it from crumpling. Then, you iron and fold the rest of your outfit and lay it on top, zip up the case and tuck the whole thing into your backpack.
Woiderski doesn't have a shower at work, so once he arrives at his office he closes the door, turns on a fan, grabs a drink of water and cools down. Once he stops sweating, he goes to the washroom and rinses off as much of his body as he can in the sink, like his arms, neck and face.
Then, he goes back to the privacy of his office and uses shower wipes, which are disposable wet wipes designed for travellers and athletes, to clean his entire body before getting dressed. (If you don't have your own office, you could simply cool off outside, and hide away in a bathroom stall to wipe yourself down and change. Keep a makeup kit in your desk if you wear the stuff).
Woiderski keeps a collection of brown and black belts and shoes at work, as well as his suit jackets, which he brings home when they need dry cleaning. His shirt, suit pants and tie go home with him every day.
Rather than carry an extra set of workout clothes to run home in, he quickly washes his running gear in the bathroom sink and hangs it up in his office near his fan during the day. It's dry and ready to wear by the time he leaves.
Of course, his routine won't work for everyone. Consider different tactics, such as driving or taking public transit a couple days a week to bring in fresh clothes and carry home laundry. Or, you could just run one-way home in the evenings, leaving your work shoes under your desk and wearing your running shoes in the next morning. (If you can help it, keep your laptop at work, Woiderski says). The point is, it can be done.
"Really think through what your options are before discounting the idea of run commuting in the first place," Woiderski advises.
It may take some creative thinking to figure out a strategy that works for you, but once you do, you'll be looking as jaunty as you feel.