I’m really busy at the moment. I’ve taken on some extra work (great for the CV, great for the soul, not so great for my nerves I fear) and am struggling to fit in my mandatory life tasks, let alone my recreational running! But I’ve signed up for that pesky half marathon so somehow I have to combine running and regular life in ways never attempted before… I’m commuter running.
If you live in a big city you will have probably spotted a commuter runner. Come rain or shine they jog along the A roads in their hi-viz windstoppers carrying their ergonomic rucksacks. Their facial expression, frozen by the wind, is of grim determination as they dodge between pedestrians. They are a very special kind of runner and last night, my friends, I was one of them.
It wasn’t my first commuter run. I tried my first in February, just 3 miles from Oval to Peckham for a meeting, but that was a recovery run and was therefore pretty short and slow. Last night though was my first commuter run. 6 miles from Victoria station to Streatham (yes, I live in the shit hole that Jo Brand is so fond of) at 9-9:15min/mile with a (definately not made for running) rucksack. It was nearly 9pm by the time I set off as I had been working late. I was so tired I could easily have just got the tube home, but my girlfriend wanted an extra training run and met me from my office. Wimping out was not an option.
It was still semi-light as we started out and the air was just delicious – warm and thick with spring, but with enough of a breeze to still be pleasant. The run itself started off quite badly as I struggled with calf tightness again and some residual knee pain, but after a quick stretch on Vauxhall Bridge we fell into a good pace crossing the river. Juliet is also running the Down Tow Up Flow half marathon this summer and it will be her first, but while my difficulty is maintaining pace hers is reigning it in! She is naturally a much faster runner than I am and so for the first half of the run she was almost constantly a few strides ahead of me eagerly trying to speed up. But after those first couple of uncomfortable miles we fell into conversation and began to enjoy it.
Today I was asked if I minded running along busy roads, which is interesting, because while I would normally say no (they’re boring, noisy and smelly) I actually really enjoyed running along those roads last night. I think that because I was trying to get home, rather than just ‘going for a run’, being next to main roads made the route seem faster and more direct, which in turn made running at 9.30pm after 11 hours in the office a little bit easier.
Running with a rucksack is nowhere near as difficult as I imagined it would be over that distance. Mine is not made for running – it’s just a regular Eastpak one – and so it bounces around a lot, but I was careful to keep it light and tied the excess strap around my front to minimise movement. It definitely made me look like an amateur (photographic evidence on the left), but I think I won back kudos with my orange hi-viz Berlin half marathon t-shirt.
If I’m honest, I thought that commuter running would be ok – not fun, not great, but not terrible either. I thought that it would be a last resort kind of running. But I actually quite enjoyed it. It was refreshing after a long day, it was a perfect distance for a steady mid-week run, and while it might not be everyon’s idea of a romantic evening we had a blast. Until my schedule calms down I think I’m going to be doing more of these.