Thursday, 14 October 2010

Do you love your commute?

For six months last year I commuted every day from deepest darkest Kent to north London, a good hour and a half each way, twice a day, five days a week, on packed trains. It was miserable.

Now I live and work in Edinburgh, where my flat is two miles from my office. As often as I can, I run my commute, a fast two miles if I'm in a hurry, or a more random and circuitous route if I've got time to kill and need to put some miles on my trainers. Last night was one of my best commuting runs, well, ever.

I spent the afternoon drinking far too much coffee, jittery and restless. I really enjoy my job, but when I know I'm going out for a run afterwards, I sometimes just can't wait to get out and hit the roads. At 5pm on the dot I changed into my kit, and headed out into a cool Scottish evening. I listen to my body when I run, and with a couple of pints of thick black coffee in my veins my body was in a hurry.

You can see the route I took on my RunKeeper profile - the website that links into a clever (and free) iPhone app that uses GPS to track your runs. The only downsides of this app are that it's pretty unforgiving to the time you spend waiting at traffic lights, and accordingly my average pace is always recorded as being quite a lot slower than I actually ran. Oh well. My main goal is always to run a lot of miles, not necessarily to run them very quickly.

Commuting runs are brilliant - I love running with a purpose, as a mode of transport. It's like a tiny little rebellion against the drudgery of buses and trains. There are a few issues, though. I'm lucky in that I can run to work and shower when I get there, but that does mean that I need to run with a rucksack, containing the day's smart(ish) work clothes, shoes, a towel, shower gel, deodorant, lunch, wallet, phone, keys etc etc. That slows me down.  Or I can leave some of these things at the office the day before, though that requires a bit more foresight than I'm usually blessed with first thing. Much better is taking running kit to work in the morning, then changing after work and running home - though this does mean that I end up with a large pile of spare clothes under my desk, and eventually have to drive in to work to clear out my collection of dirty washing...

So why was last night so brilliant? I don't really know. I ran around Arthur's Seat, a tough and very hilly route, in failing light on a cold evening, through crowds of commuters and tourists. I ran fast and worked hard, blew out the cobwebs of a day behind a computer screen, and more or less sprinted the last half a mile. Doesn't get much better than that.

Happy running.


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