Save Money, Save Time, Save the World by Run Commuting

When we were throwing out ideas for this article, we jokingly concluded that run commuters are basically superheroes of the modern world and to be honest, it’s not far off. Run commuting will help you save:


Everyone knows that public transportation is both a blessing as much as it is a curse. Some people enjoy the time to themselves while others struggle to use all of the hours in a day to get things done.

According to a study done by Time, Chicago had the second-longest weekly commute time (5 hours, 25 minutes). Don’t believe us? You can actually type your zip code into this handy map to find estimated commute times in your area.

Let’s take a look at the average city commute. It looks to be about 30 minutes one way. Multiply that by two, now you’re at 60 minutes a day. Multiply that by the standard 5 day work week and we end up at 300 minutes a week spent commuting. About 5 hours.

30 minutes(one way)


=60 minutes(per day)

x5(days in a work week)

=300 minutes(weekly)

Using that one hour of commute time to run to work, you can get in a daily 3-5 mile run(or further if you’re fast) EACH day. Getting your run in during your normal commute time not only makes sense, but you’ll be able to get home and relax for the rest of your evening. If you live too far for a morning or evening commute, consider riding halfway (or taking a Divvy) and run commuting the rest.


The CTA costs $2.25 trip. If you are doing 2 trips per day, 5 days per week, 4 weeks per month, and 12 months per year (obviously give or take based on your schedule) that is approximately $1,200 per year in basic transit costs alone. And public transportation is the cheap option. Commuting by car is much more expensive when you consider fuel costs, car maintenance, and parking fees. The cost to run commute? Free.

$2.25(one way)




=$22.50(per week)

x4(weeks per month)

=$90(per month)

x12(months in a year)

=$1,080(per year)

The World

The environmental aspect might be the best part of run commuting. Using this greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings calculator we calculated the basic commute from the Lakeview area to the start of Chicago’s grid at State and Madison.

The tool uses the Google Maps API to route your trip using both automobile and transit. The Google Maps API response includes each step of the journey, including mode and distance. It applies the standard rates of GHG emissions per mile to the different modes used. As an added bonus, if your transit trip includes walking, it tosses in an estimate of the calories you burned too.

Take a look:



How To Do It

Sure the above sounds easier said than done, but with a little hard-work and planning you can be on your way to becoming a professional run commuter and be able to say “I ran to work today, what have you done” to all your friends.

First, you’ll need to get into the right mentality. This might take a few small sacrifices such as waking up a bit earlier. But what’s a little less sleep to an extra hour of time after work? Sometimes the hardest part is just getting out there, the running party will come naturally after that.

Second, you’ll have to plan your route. Apps and websites such as MapMyRun make this easy. You can draw your own routes, find new ones, and even send them to your phone. Naturally, you’ll want to create the shortest route from point a to point b. That doesn’t have to be the case. If you’re only a short commute to work, try adjusting your route to include some scenic views to jumpstart your day. Mix up your routes so it doesn’t become too routine. Add some hills once in a while for a more intense workout.


Next, you’ll have to get your gear to the office. In the next section, we’ll go into depth about products that are great for run commuting. Essentially, you’ll need a backpack (to get your work clothes to your office), some work appropriate clothing(THIS INCLUDES A CHANGE OF SOCKS), some running apparel that is built for the weather, and some basic natural hygiene products for a clean-up.

Now we know all offices aren't spoiled with showers for your convenience. If that's the case, look at some nearby gyms and talk to the employees to see if there is a simple shower membership or fee if you don't plan on using the rest of their equipment.

Things You'll Need

A Great Backpack

This is the most important accessory as this is where you’ll store all of your work clothes. We have some great options for runners and cyclists alike. Osprey’s Rev 12(unisex) or Talon 11(men) and Tempest 9(women) make great options for run commuting. They’re roomy enough to fit your clothes and shoes in, but offer seamless comfort from your body to the pack.

Osprey Packs Rev 12 Hydration Pack


  • 2.5 liter reservoir for on-the-go hydration
  • A stretch body wrap harness is designed to move with you during high activity endeavors
  • A reverse spacer mesh back panel provides a soft, irritation free contact surface for the ultimate in back panel comfort
  • The Rev bio-stretch body belt featuring stabilization wings is designed for stability
  • A removable drop down digi-flip media pocket provides secure storage and quick access to all manner of touch screen mobile devices

Osprey Packs Talon 11



  • Biostretch shoulder harness and hipbelt system
  • Mesh back panel
  • Includes Hydralics LT 2.5L reservoir with bite valve
  • Quickconnect hose attachment
  • Front bungee panel
  • Digiflip media pocket
  • Reflective graphics

Osprey Packs Tempest 9



  • Lower InsideOut™ compression/carry straps
  • External hydration sleeve
  • Stretch mesh harness slash pocket
  • Two zippered hipbelt pockets
  • Top panel zippered slash pocket
  • LidLock™ helmet attachment
  • Adjustable bungee front panel storage

Other options include the Timbuk2 Rapid Pack and Raider Pack. Though these are more of a bike commuting pack, they offer many great features for runners, including the folding back panel in the Raider Pack to keep your clothing wrinkle-free.

Timbuk2 Raider Pack


  • Internal back panel duals as a folding board for keeping your office duds in shape
  • Internal hook for easy hanging from towel racks, doors, etc.
  • Machine washable; remove plastic folding board before washing
  • Reflective hits
  • Airmesh ventilated back panel
  • Dual internal shoe pocket to quarantine your cleats
  • Top zip pocket for securely stashing keys, mobile phone and wallet

Timbuk2 Rapid Pack


  • Adjustable magnetic sternum strap
  • Hidden vista loop, under the front bottom panel, for attaching blinky light when riding
  • Internal pocket and top hose guide accomodates most 2L hydration bladders
  • Machine washable, cold water. Line dry only
  • Reflective hits
  • Airmesh ventilated back panel
  • Dual internal shoe pocket to quarantine your cleats

A Reliable Pair of Shoes(and Sports Bra)

We don’t know about you but running in your work or dress shoes would probably be less-than-ideal on you feet. When your feet are comfortable, your run will be too. A comfortable pair of running shoes will make your transition into your work shoes a bit more comfortable throughout the day. Be sure to come in for a thorough shoe fitting by one of our FIT Experts.

We recommend new shoes every 300 miles or every 6 months, depending on your shoe type and the mileage you’re putting in. Brands such as Nike and Saucony carry weatherproof shoes with added waterproof material. And, if you’re a lady, invest in a great set of sports bras. Trust us here.

Weatherproof Apparel

Every Chicagoan knows that the weather here can change like the change of a channel. The temperature can change in 30 degree increments and rain can turn to snow. You’ll need apparel that can handle both temperature and weather change.

Enter: Weatherproof apparel. The Brooks Cascadia Shell Jacket(for men and women). We adore this pull-over style jacket for many reasons, but the main one: It fits over your backpack. When Chicago weather strikes, you’ll be ready.

Brooks Cascadia Shell Jacket




  • Vents underarm and side openings improve breathability
  • Pack-friendly back panel expands to cover a small pack
  • Front pocket holds small essentials
  • Packable front pocket doubles as a carry pouch
  • Media port zipper pull anchors unruly headphone cords in place

Another option that just came in is the New Balance Reflective Lite Packable Jacket. This jacket is lightweight while still shielding you from wind and rain with its resistant NB Dry technology. Like the above Brooks jacket, this also packs into its chest pouch for easy transportation and features NB Glow reflective material throughout the design

New Balance Reflective Lite Packable Jacket


  • Material: 87% Polyester and 13% Spandex
  • Hood tie down at back neck
  • Large scale New Balance logo and trim in NB Glow
  • Packs into front zip chest pocket
  • Reflective yarns in fabric

Most of the brands we carry offer weatherproof jackets so stop in to one of our stores and tell a sales associate what you're looking for and we'll be able to help you find one that fits your needs.

Other must-have apparel would include a great pair of athletic underwear, we recommend SAXX for men and Knixwear for women. Comfortable underwear during your run will keep eliminate any chafing and keep you comfortable throughout the day.

Often Overlooked Essentials

Some of our favorites that can be used year-round include sunglasses, reflective gear, hydration, and nutrition. Sunglasses are great year round as they not only protect our eyes from the sun, but also the wind, water in any form, and other debris.

Reflectivity is important especially in low-light conditions. More than likely, in the later months you'll be leaving for your commute while it is still dark out in the morning and coming home when the sun is setting. While most jackets and backpacks these days have added reflectivity, we recommend adding a light to your arsenal. We have dozens of reflectivity and visibility product to choose from but try out something simple like the Nathan Strobelight LED. Just attach it to an article of clothing or your backpack and you're good to go.

Nathan StrobeLight LED


  • Secure clip on back easily attaches to belt, apparel, or gear
  • High visibility blinking and steady light modes so you can be seen from a safe distance
  • IPX3 weather-resistant so you can run longer in any weather

Be sure to hydrate for your run while at work with a great desk water bottle and during your run with a great handheld – remember the water fountains are not on year-round (and there’s been lead found in many along the lakefront). Giving your body the nutrition it needs for the long haul home is important, too. Make sure to keep your desk well-stocked with pre-run fuel.

Nathan Speedshot Plus


  • 12 oz insulated handheld that feels great in your hand.
  • Lightweight
  • Grip-free
  • Reflective for added night-time visibility

Nathan Chroma Steel


  • Zero condensation or sweat on bottle
  • BPA and lead-free
  • Cup-holder friendly
  • Fits ice cubes

Running Buddies

We’re talking real or virtual here. There is nothing better than run commuting home with friends who work nearby or a close work buddy. Having someone keep you accountable is probably the best benefit to run commuting with a friend. Virtually, we’re talking Strava. Challenge yourself by trying to set PR's on segments each day. If you have a Garmin and a smartphone, you have the ability to send LiveTracking information to loved ones so they’ll know when to expect you home. Lastly, when running with someone is not an option, we recommend the WearSafe device to give you peace of mind during those meditative runs home.

Wearsafe Labs Pod



Change of Clothing and Hygiene Products

This should be common sense. Don't be that person sitting in their pool of filth all day while the odor seeps through every crack in the office. If your office has a public shower, great. Bring some shampoo and bodywash of your choice in your backpack and you'll be good to go. Step into your fresh work clothes and no one will even notice that you ran to work(but what's the point of that).

Oh, and we said this before but load up on socks. Used socks can be the number one culprit of your body odor. Stash a few clean pairs in your desk drawer.

If you workplace does not have public showers, do some research on on local gyms. Talk to management to see if they have special deals on shower-use only. If showering is absolutely not an option, Nathan has made some shower wipes that we don't exactly recommend but they work in a pinch.

Nathan PowerShower Wipes


  • Safe to use on the entire body
  • Portable, resealable travel size
  • Fresh and clean scent
  • Perfect to carry to the gym to clean equipment
  • Comes with 15 wipes