Sitting on the station platform, watching the delayed sign flash next to my London Paddington train, I thought of all the things I would rather be doing, instead of drinking a Flat White at Twyford.
47 minutes delayed, a complete joke on a Friday morning.
It was the end of two long weeks of commuting, nearly four hours roundtrip each day, sometimes not getting home until 2am after dinner with friends. And my workouts and work was suffering. I love living in Henley but I’d had enough.
I took to twitter to get some reassurance that I wasn’t the only one with a long commute, and how those with long travel times squeeze in marathon training, blogging, work, life in to their day. It fit well with my ‘No Excuses’ motto for Tokyo marathon training.
How to Maintain an Active Lifestyle with a Long Commute
- Get up earlier
When blogger, ultra runner and mum (aka superstar) Susie Chan, who lives 45 miles outside of London, was training for an ironman she would get up super early, cycle halfway to London, run 10K to work then do it all again in reverse. Neil May gets up at 4am, running then getting on the bike to the station. All of his workouts are designed to be done in an hour or less. ‘Doing it before work ensures consistency as leaving things until lunchtime risks work taking over.’
Michele from NYC Running Mama is proof that you can fit in longer running sessions before work, even with an hour plus commute. She is often up at 4am, fits in up to 10ish miles, gets her son’s ready for school, then gets the bus to her corporate job. She’s able to manage this with a 9pm bedtime – check out her blog post about her ‘normal day as a working, running mum’.
Ab got in touch with me to say she has a 1.5 hr commute each way, so she always runs before work as she feels like I have more energy and it’s nice getting it out of the way for the day. ‘Getting up at 5am (or earlier ) isn’t always appealing but I tend to feel sluggish/tired/hungry if I run in the evenings…. don’t think the commute helps! Also I feel that running first thing helps you make the most of your day, you have to be organised but that way it leaves your evenings free to spend time with family, boyfriend, friends etc and not miss out on fun things.’
Tom often works earlies, leaving the house by 5.15am, or earlier. I could easily get up with him on those days and either run on the treadmill or catch the 5.36am train to London to run/gym there.
- Organisation is key
When you’re getting up at 4am, you’re not going to want to waste any of that time in the morning with your kit etc. For Michele, everything gets laid out the night before and brought into the dining room, her work outfit, running outfit and her kids clothes and backpacks etc.
‘Planning ahead and preparing is also key. I make my lunch for work the night before, semi-prep breakfast and lay out both work and running clothes, this saves me time in the morning and gives me more time to train. If I do want to go out in the evening I’ll lay my gym clothes out on my bed so all I have to do is park the car, change and leave again’ says Kerry, a doctor who drives about an hour each way.
- Fit it in while you can
Carly Rowena, an awesome fitness blogger that regularly commutes from Norwich to London books classes near the station or meetings to squeeze a workout in before her train home or during breaks between her hectic days.
A lot of you guys recommended run commuting, and I don’t know why I hadn’t even thought of that now that we don’t live in London. Even if you can’t run the entire way to work, perhaps you could run part of the way. For me, I’ve realised I could run the 3.5 miles to Shiplake – the next station on the train line, or run the 5 miles from Paddington to Uni (or the other way around).
Matt Bodkin starts run commuting as his marathon training intensity ramps up, he gets changed at work and either runs from Uxbridge to Ealing (9 miles) or Uxbridge to Hammersmith (13 miles) before getting on the tube for the rest of the ride home. Craig Bowdery has a 2.5 hour commute each way, spends his lunch break running around Green Park and Hyde Park, or along the river as the roads where he lives don’t have pavements or street lights.
- Utilise your commute
I’m lucky to have wifi on my train, so I often try to work during my 50+ minute train journey, however it does become quite heavy lugging my laptop with me everyday (and not sure how it would work with a part run commute). It’s also a great time to read, listen to podcasts and audiobooks (look out for a fitness/running book club coming soon!)
Carly also uses her 2+ hour train to London to write blog posts, edit video and post across her social channels. She recommends to ‘Use your commute wisely, time is precious and there are so many ways to up your knowledge, learn something new or chill out.’ Susie uses the time to catch up on Social Media, work, write blogs and read. ‘It gives me a nice buffer between work and home.’
Craig on the other hand catches up on sleep, watches TV on his iPad. His advice for long-distance commuters is to not feel bad if the time on a train or bus seems unproductive: ‘relish the head space and try your best to unwind, particularly if it’s been ‘one of those days’. And don’t worry too much if an over-running meeting or delayed train robs you of a run: there’s always another day!’
- Try to get into a routine
Apparently it gets easier if you wake up and go to bed at the same time everyday (although perhaps the weekend 5am alarms won’t go down too well). Having a weekday routine should speed things up, plus reduce the daily stresses and organisation.
- Recovery is crucial
- Learn to prioritise