What I learned from my 20-mile commute runs

Ever since I started as CTO of a stealth startup this past February, I’ve been trying to balance the adrenaline of working at a startup and the endorphins of my long trail runs. From my home in Mountain View, to work in Menlo Park is 10-miles, one way. I tried biking once or twice a week, but it’s just not the same. Until this summer, that is! I mapped out a route for my commute run that keeps me on side streets, takes me through Stanford campus with an aid-station (aka, water fountain) smack in the middle! On my first commute run, I woke up at 6am and headed out with delusional dreams of Haile Gebrselassie running to school or Ann Trason pulling a 20-mile commute run per-day to her work and back. It was inspiring enough to push me on. Though, I bonked hard when I got to work (needed a second and third breakfast) and then I bonked again when I got back home. Check out my Strava activity for my commute run into work.

Commute Runs

Two weeks prior to my first run, I started setting up my personal laptop at home, to sync all my work with my work laptop (that stays at work). Using a host of cloud services, I got myself into the habit of checkpointing my work so I didn’t have to carry my laptop with me. Notes in iCloud, code in GitHub, docs in Google Drive, you get the idea. And yes, two factor authentication is a must.

I Amazon Prime’d myself some Visine Eye Drops, deodorant, a pack of Action Wipes (no showers until end of this month when we move to a new place) and Body Glide. I’ve noticed that I chaff a lot more on road runs than trails. Action Wipes are truly awesome and they work like a charm. Either that or my colleagues are too kind to speak up. I have noticed that I have less meetings on my commute run days. 🙂

Working in the Silicon Valley, I’m totally spoiled with showing up to work in my Luna Sandals. So I run with my Luna Sandals and they simply become my footwear for the day. This way, the only thing I have to carry on my SJ Ultra Vest are just change clothes – shorts, t-shirt and an underwear. Keeps things super simple. I do carry my regular glasses, just in case I have contacts-malfunction.

Running Farm

Running Farm – Made me smile

Aid Station At Mile 5

Aid Station At Mile 5

I bought myself a WorkEZ Standing Desk and I pretty much stand all day at work. In some ways, this was part of my training for the Lake Sonoma 50M that I did earlier this year. Hey, gotta make the best of what you got right? However on my running days, I make it a point to sit down a lot to save my legs for the return trip.

On the way into work, it’s nice and cool in the morning. So this has effectively become my tempo run. I’ve clocked a 6:53 mile/minute pace so far as there are some downhills on the way in. This is a big deal for me as just a year ago I was running at 8:30 mile/minute pace. On the way back though, I try at a consistent 8:00 minute/mile pace and jump on every dirt patch I see. Stanford Campus is full of tanbark on the side of the roads. This really minimizes the pounding on my legs and I just take it easy on the way back.

Trail Running

Trail Running (kinda)

More Trail Running (sorta)

More Trail Running (sorta)

The thing I did notice was, my lunches on the running days are lighter and I tend to graze a lot more. With Trader Joe’s next door, I stock myself with dates, fruits and nuts and go light on the lunch. ‘Cos guess what? The big lunch shows up with a vengeance on the commute run back. On warm days (well, all summer long) I packed a Succeed S Caps in my SJ Ultra Vest and I would pop one at the aid station at mile ~5-ish to compensate for the heavier sweating. I found that I wasn’t bonking at all with this + the Clif Shot Gel at the half way point.

Here’s the real kicker. Commuting by driving my car takes me around 30 minutes, sometimes 45. Biking takes about 45 minutes. And running? 1 hour and 10 minutes on the way in and 1 hour and 20 minutes on the way out. A little bit more commute time, keep things green and getting my endorphins too. I can’t think of a better way to getting to work than a commute run!

Do you commute run to work? Do you have tips to share from your commute runs?


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