How to Have a Successful Run or Bike Commute

During the summer, I work in the office every day of the week, as compared to the school year when I am working at client sites through CPS.  I HATE the commute into the office- the L is too crowded and the bus stops WAY too much.  Every morning and afternoon I march on out to the bus stop, sit in traffic, and stare forlornly out the window at the bikers, runners, or even WALKERS who all go faster than me.


office psace


So after about two weeks of being annoyed I changed up my routine.  Now, Monday-Thursday I bike commute to work.  There is a Divvy stand a block from my house and one right outside my office’s front doors.  It’s too convenient not to bike!  In addition, I am SO much happier and feel so much better knowing that I rode into work instead of sitting on a bus or train.  The bike commute saves money and my sanity.


On Fridays, I run commute.  Fridays, I work out with November Project in the morning from 6-7 at the Bean.  The Bean is around the corner from my office.  It didn’t make sense to go to the work out, head home, only to have to head back to the same place I just was!  Plus, lots of people go out to breakfast after the workout and I wanted to join.  I also needed to get a short run in that day anyway.   So, what I now do is run to the workout, treat myself to breakfast and hang out with friends, and then head up to the office after.


Are you annoyed with the bus or the L?  Do you want to find more ways to add exercise into your day?  Do you want to save money on transportation?  Try out a run commute or bike commute!  Regardless of what activity you choose, there are certain things to do first in order to have a successful run commute or bike commute to work.


How to Have a Successful Run or Bike Commute


1. Pick your day ahead of time

A successful run commute isn’t something you can just up and do without pre-planning.   For your very first time doing an active commute, I would suggest to not do it on a Monday.  I’ll explain more in-depth in the next section, but Mondays don’t give you enough time to bring what you need to the office.  And no one wants to run with a backpack.  I choose Fridays as the day that I run commute because it gives me all week to plan.

If you are biking, you can do it the day of, as long as you have a bag to carry what you need.  If you are Divvying (like I do), you’ll also need to know where the stations are in relation to your house and if you’ll need to stop along the way.


2. Bring supplies to the office ahead of time
To have a successful run commute, you need to leave some things at the office because you won’t be able to carry supplies with you.  Like I said earlier, bike commute is easier because you can carry a bag or put one in the bike’s basket.  That means you don’t have to leave supplies at the office.  However, the size of the bag is limiting, make sure it can fit on the bike or is easy to carry.


It fits! We're good to go!
It fits! We’re good to go!

If you do leave supplies at the office, remember that those supplies won’t be there if you are meeting at an off-site location one day.  I know that sounds stupidly simple, but if you are used to the routine of packing your backpack the night before, you might forget something essential.  Last week, I did bike commute to an off site location, forgetting that I didn’t have shoes there waiting for me.  I packed my clothes, food, deodorant and makeup, and computer into my bag, set it on my divvy bike, and went of… only to have to wear a dress and hot pink running shoes throughout my presentation.


Here is my list of essential things to leave at the office before embarking on an active commute:


MUST HAVE Supplies for a RUN/BIKE Commute
– Work clothes and shoes
– Face towel
– Face wipes or baby wipes
– Deodorant and/or body mist
– Comb

– Computer (I am lucky that I have a desktop at work, but if you have to bring a laptop to/from work everyday this could be a challenge)


– Toothbrush and toothpaste (if you are running late and eat breakfast at the office)
– Make-up (for some people this is a must have, but I could go either way)
– Dry Shampoo (it’ll make your greasy hair look better, but it’s not necessary)


Things I've left at the office
Things I’ve left at the office: comb, deodorant, toothbrush, some tea, a baggie of protein powder, extra charger and headphones.
Other things: towel, shoes, makeup, set of clothes and a sweater for when the cooling system suddenly decides to make our office the new North Pole.


Like I said before, if you have a large enough bag, you can pack all those things and bring the day of if you are a bike commuter.  However, I still leave my shoes, a comb and deodorant at the office.  For me, those are essential and I don’t want to accidentally forget them.  I can go without makeup, I can use the bathroom’s hand soap and paper towels to wash off, and can braid my hair so the dry shampoo isn’t necessary.  I know that I will remember to pack my work clothes, I’m not that forgetful 🙂


Ready to rock the commute!
Ready to rock the commute!

Once you arrive to the office, head to the bathroom to towel off, freshen up and change.  I make sure to get to work at least 10 minutes early to change.  Luckily on a Divvy bike I don’t really work up a sweat so I don’t need a full-blown shower.  


Dwyer shower


4. Food
One of my main motivators for doing a bike or a run commute is to save money.  Therefore, I don’t want to get to work, only to have to spend money on a breakfast or lunch.  This is where step one- “Pick Your Day Ahead of Time”- really comes in to play.  Since I know I will be running to work on Fridays, I make sure to pack two lunches for Thursday so I can leave one at the office.


When I bike to work, my bag is large enough to fit a lunch.  If I know that I will be cutting it close time-wise in the morning, I will also bring a breakfast.  Something easy and small like a smoothie, overnight oats, or a breakfast muffin; that way I can fit both meals in my backpack.  Once getting to work, I’ll eat breakfast. Luckily, my coworkers and boss all eat breakfast during our morning meeting too, so it’s not weird.


5. Pack you bag the night before

This is a lesson I have dear old Dad to thank for.  He drilled into me the idea of preparing everything the night before so I could just grab the bag and go.  It took me 20 plus years to actually listen to the advice, but better late than never right?  This tip was also fueled by my hot pink shoes + dress combo. Packing your bag the night before is also an opportunity to check the weather for the next day!  You don’t want to be surprised by a 5pm thunderstorm if you are about to bike home.


The picture below was my bag for when I was going to my off-site location.  I had my laptop, work clothes, comb, deodorant, a few things of makeup, wallet and lunch.  I also made sure to have a change of shoes 🙂


Run commute packing
Packing the night before is key to not forgetting anything!



So there you go.  My tips on how to have a successful run commute or bike commute to the office.  Your body and mind will thank you and your office mates will too.  As long as you don’t forget your deodorant. 🙂

Do any of you run or bike commute?  Did I miss any of your favorite tips and tricks?  Share ideas below!


Happy commuting,


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