Most people just "go out for a run," for exercise or training or just to clear their heads. You finish where you started, usually, with no purpose other than running. I suppose it is a side effect of our culture, where exercising and transportation are not typically one and the same.
But when you look at the cultures that dominate long distance running, those guys are running as transportation. They run to school. They run to work. They run wherever it is they need to go ... because for them it is the fastest way to get there.
Other than some minor inconveniences, though, there's no reason why more of us can't combine our running with some sort of errands. I know a few people who do. My friend and New Balance rep Pete said he runs to the post office and bank regularly, and ran to buy batteries for a new baby swing over the weekend.
After not having a car for a year, I definitely see running as a method of transportation more than I did when I had a car. Some days I would bus or bike to work, then run home in the evenings. Then I could do one of the same things to get to work the next day — which were my transportation options anyway. It is assuredly advantageous to have a workplace shower.
Running Times had an article about this years ago, where author Jim Gerweck talks about running to the pharmacy, the grocery, to drop off forgotten homework to his kids. He would run while his kids were at Tae Kwon Do practice instead of driving home, then back to pick them up again. He even ran while waiting for his number to be called at the DMV.
Today I was presented with an opportunity to combine multiple to-dos in one fell swoop. My list for the day included a 4 mile recovery run and a trip to the library ... which is 2 miles away.
Eurkeka! I thought — I'll run to the library. I hurried up and finished my book, all the while trying to decide how exactly I'd get a book there and back. I know I hate handheld water bottles, so carrying it didn't seem entirely feasible.
I changed into running clothes and tried stuffing the book — fortunately a smallish paperback — into various clothing elastic bands and ran back and forth through the condo. Side of shorts? No. Back of shorts? Definitely not, even though I've seen men carry various things tucked into waistbands. Sports bra back, like how I carry my shirt when I take it off mid-run? Also no.
Drats. I was perplexed. What I needed was a backpack or something with a big pocket. I didn't have a backpack, although some lightweight running ones exist, but I did have a lightweight vest with — a-ha! — a perfectly-sized back pocket. With the temperature only 53 degrees, I was a little warm on the run but not terribly so.
I jogged my easy 2 miles to the library, dropped the book on the counter, wiped my face with my shirt, checked out another book, stuffed it into the vest, and ran back.
Then patted myself on the back — I got my run in, got a new book and saved both gas and time. Leaving me with some free time to write this post.
TracePace is back in action after a relatively long hiatus. With six weeks of base-building before my next training season, I plan to post on Mondays and Thursdays of each week. Stay tuned for posts about my training, other people's training, news from the running (and running retail) world... And some Facebook-favorite food photos and recipes.