Firstly, your motivation: A) You’ll quickly get very fit (duh). B) You’ll save not-amazing but not-inconsiderable amounts of money. C) You’ll nullify work stress – studies show running to be as mood-lifting as the antidepressant Zoloft. D) Most importantly, running is infinitely less terrible than commuting by any other method. Did you know that the average Londoner spends 75 minutes a day commuting? That’s six-and-a-half hours a week spent on the verge of bitter, what-is-my-life tears.
“But it’s too far!” I hear you mew, in the high, tremulous voice of an enfeebled scaredy cat. Yes, it’s quite far, but swear to God, not as far as you think. The crawl of rush-hour travel has clouded your judgement of the distance between your home and the office. You’re like one of those tourists getting the Tube from Leicester Square to Covent Garden. Remember, you’ll be running more-or-less as-the-crow-flies, unimpeded by one-way systems or circuitous public transport routes.
You’ll need to work out An Ingenious System: if you’re running into work, you’ll need clean clothes and work shoes when you arrive; if you’re running home, you’ll need to get your work clothes back to your house at some point. Throw in wallets, keys, phones and laptops and it can become like that riddle with the boat, fox, chicken and corn. Devise a plan for transporting your gear on the day(s) you’re not running; keep a spare set of socks/undercrackers at work (because you WILL forget them at least once a month); and use a FlipBelt when you need to run with keys, cards and phone. Alternatively, you could run with a backpack, thereby sucking all the sprightly joy out of running. (Don’t run with a backpack.)
Warming up is boooring and a waste of time. Genius novelist and ultra-runner Haruki Murakami doesn’t bother with it, so you needn’t either. Post-run stretching, however, is mandatory, unless you want to look like you’re walking around to the Steptoe & Son theme the next day.
Food is crucial. You’ll need to eat a large, carbs-y snack around one-to-two hours before running (but no sooner). That lunchtime tuna melt is not going to get you home, and running while hungry is mind-clawing in the extreme. If you’re running in the morning and need to set off early then this’ll involve your Just Right being soundtracked by the dawn chorus – just one of the reasons running-from beats running-to work (see also: not having to shudder at colleagues’ pubes in the office showers).
Which brings us, biologically, to poop. Make sure you know of a couple of a useable lavs – in pubs, shopping centres etc – along your route. You’ll very rarely need one, but when you do you’ll want to hug it in relieved gratitude afterwards.
A few last mini-tips: Always buy running shoes half-a-size too big, to prevent toe-bang. Running socks are a must; blisters are a bitch. Take the first minute or so at a jogging-biddy pace (ta-daa – there’s your warm-up). Don’t try running the same route faster every time – that way madness lies. If you’ve got moobs, stick plasters on to prevent gory jogger’s nips. Signing up for a race will keep your motivation up when it starts to flag. And finally, don’t get too seriousface about it. It’s supposed to be fun – you’re running around, like little kids do. It’s essentially a stoopid activity. You’re never going to be Mo Farah.
Words by Joe Madden
An international festival of light
Dinner in a decommissioned 1967 underground carriage
Half-price brunch and a HUGE fried chicken burger