Monday, May 6, 2013

7:33 PM
As I mention in my "about me" page, one of the key things that I want to do with the MommyTasker blog is to open it up to the voices and perspectives of my friends who are remarkable people, doing remarkable things. As we all do, they have something unique to share about their experience of incorporating health, fitness, and enrichment into their personal, family and professional lives. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

One of the things I have been talking about a lot here on the MommyTasker blog is how to squeeze a workout in amid the competing demands of work, family and life. When I found out that my good friend (and prototypical hard working mother of two) had perfected her runmute as a way to fit it all in, I asked her to share her experience with us. This is what she said:

The Arm Warmers are the Best Part
of This Killer Outfit
MommyTasker and I met in college when I was following up on my mediocre high school track/cross country career with occasional leisurely runs around campus and MommyTasker was waking up at 5 am for crew practice. Post-college, I continued neighborhood jogging but dropped the practice early in my first pregnancy. I only managed to pick it up again a few months ago after kiddo #2 turned one, and I figured out how to run for a portion of my commute to work. 

In those four years since my first daughter was born and our subsequent move to the 'burbs, my standard commute (Alameda to downtown San Francisco) has been: 
  • Walk to bus stop: 10 min
  • Ride bus (zone out, fiddle with my phone, try to work on my laptop without getting car sick): 35 - 45 min (on a good traffic day)
  • Walk to work: 15 min
And same thing in reverse on the way home. So at least an hour each way. I haven't minded it too much as it's the only time I get to myself most days (we now have two daughters). But the traffic can be really bad, and when it's not, I wonder about the wisdom of rattling down the freeway at 50+ miles per hour with no seat belt.

The bus is not, however, my only option for getting into the city. I can also take a ferry or a train but the stations are too far from my house to be walkable. I realized early on that they could perhaps be runnable but only recently started putting this into practice. Here is what my much-improved commute looks like now:

Option 1: Run-Ferry Commute:
  • Run three flat, mostly dirt and rather lovely miles to the ferry terminal - 25 minutes 
  • Ride the ferry (stretch, zone out, look at my phone, work on my laptop if it's not windy) - 25 minutes 
  • Jog one mile through downtown to work - 10 minutes 
Option 2: Run- Rail Commute
  • Run a little over 2 miles on residential sidewalks to the station - 20 min
  • Ride train  (zone out, look at my phone) - 25 min 
  • Walk a block to work - 3 min
So also an hour-long commute, but I get a workout too! Although I'm very experienced in finding reasons not to exercise, the run-ferry and run-rail commutes are so much nicer than the traffic imperiled walk-bus commute that I don't find myself falling into that excuse-making mindset. So motivation isn't much of an issue and it just takes a bit of thinking about logistics....

Some Frequently Asked Questions / Logistics:

Do you wear a backpack?
Yes, after indulging in far too much Internet research,  I bought a Osprey Talon 11 for this purpose. It's the prefect size for: 
  • Keys/wallet/phone
  • A change of clothes (no shoes, work shoes stay at work)
  • Lunch
  • My small laptop (just 3.5 lbs but I try to leave it at work whenever I can)
  • Small plastic water bottle
Do you run for both the inbound and outbound commutes? 
Sometimes, just depends on how I'm feeling and what I'm doing after work.

Do you shower if you run on the inbound commute?
No, I don't have a shower at work. It's fine. It's cool in the mornings when I run so I don't sweat too much. A couple wet paper towels in the bathroom stall and I'm good to go. My hair looks about the same as it always does and I keep some basic toiletries at work. I also have oatmeal makings at work since I usually don't eat breakfast before leaving home. 

Do you run in the rain? 
Maybe, haven't tried it yet.

Do you pick up your kids? 
Mostly no. My husband has a super short commute so preschool drop-off and pick-up is his domain. Occasionally, I'll do the duty and will leave either the jogging stroller or my daughter's balance bike at the preschool so that she has wheels to traverse the mile or so between preschool and home. 

Any other gear recommendations? 
  • Light running jacket/windbreaker. I mostly don't wear it while running but it's nice to have when I'm sitting on the outer deck of the ferry. 
  • Compression tights. I have CW-X brand. Somehow they make the roll-out of bed and hit the road running scenario a lot more acceptable. 
  • Arm warmers. I made mine out of old knee socks. I can push them down to my wrists after I've warmed up. 
Do you have any dish on MommyTasker?
MommyTasker certainly excels at squeezing precious minutes out of the day but she is capable of putting aside the to-do list. On vacation a couple years ago, I caught her watching "White Men Can't Jump", at midnight, by herself. Pretty indulgent, I'd say. She also does a mean Napoleon Dynamite imitation. 

As you can see, there are some hazards in letting your friends do a guest post. The big upside though is that, having heard her story, I am inspired to do more runmutes myself, although my route sadly does not include epic views of the bay and the San Francisco skyline.  

Having read this, maybe there are ways you can rethink your commute too? If so, please share with us what you are doing so that we can perhaps emulate you in putting together the rubix cubes of our days/weeks.

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  1. You are rocking that outfit phoebe! Like some sort of mini ninja.

    Cool that you are back to running. And also so nice to hear it's perfectly reasonable to take a good four years off...