Runners Dani and Ashley Reimagine City Commutes in Seattle

All photography by Andy Cochrane.
All photography by Andy Cochrane.
All photography by Andy Cochrane.

Imagine taking your morning run and turning it into your new commute, everywhere! We sat down with Seattle-based run commuters, Dani Kruger and Ashley Davies, to discuss how running has inspired them to reimagine their daily routines.

HOKA: How did you begin run commuting?

Dani: The first step for me was finding out what I NEEDED to run with and how I’d carry it. I figured out I could bike to work on Monday morning, run home – leaving my laptop and bike at the office – run back Tuesday morning, and then bike home Tuesday night. With a 4-5 mile commute, one way commutes were effective at making sure I ran every day while not adding more daily mileage than I was ready for. I bought a hydration pack – which was great because it eliminated bounce – took out the water bladder and filled it with a change of clothes I could put on when I got to the office.

Once I started running to work, I realized that run commuting could mean running anywhere I needed to go.

Ashley: I moved to Seattle from NYC four and a half years ago where I did not have a car. I would run commute and take the subway. Getting around by foot was often quicker than getting around via car or other forms of transportation and it was also an efficient way to be able to get my miles in. When I first moved to Seattle, I was run commuting just about everywhere if I didn’t have a heavy load to travel with. It was a great way to see the city, and I often found myself in a better mood from the additional exercise.

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HOKA: Where do you currently run commute?

Dani: I run commute to my morning workout, to a friends for dinner every Sunday, to meet friends at a bar/coffee shop, and on light errands like to the drugstore to buy donuts in the morning for breakfast on a Sunday, etc.  I also run commute a TON when I travel. I find it to be the best way to see a city and get to know it really quickly, without trying to figure out public transit. We were in Vancouver this summer and they don’t have Uber or Lyft so I ran commute to get EVERYWHERE!

Ashley: I almost always run commute to teach my fitness classes. It gets me warmed up before I teach! I teach classes before and after work during the week and in the morning on the weekends.

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HOKA: What are some of the main obstacles you face as a run commuter and how do you overcome them?

Dani: Weather impacts my run commute way less than it did when I bike commuted! I have a really good raincoat that keeps my body dry and will wear clear lens “sunglasses” if it’s dark but raining to keep the water out of my eyes. If it’s cold, I add gloves, a hat, and a buff around my neck and then add on clothing layers as needed. You always need less than you expect because running warm up your body so much! If the ground is snowy or icy, I’ll run in trail shoes to help find more stable footing.  If it’s dark, I wear a headlamp and a light up vest so I can be easily seen and see where I’m going – Seattle is so dark!

Ashley: Not practical when you have a lot of stuff to travel with. You either go alone or with friends, which can be hard to find friends to run commute. Given the limited daylight in the winter, run commuting is not the safest option.

HOKA: What makes Seattle unique for run commutes?

Dani: Seattle is super dense which makes most destinations runnable in a short distance. It’s also SO hilly. Although that seems somewhat counter intuitive, it’s actually more enjoyable to run (or walk) the steepest hills than struggle up on your bike. The weather is also perfect for run commuting. The rain makes biking a lot less fun as it blows in your eyes, rusts your chain, etc. but the rain is so light that running in it is no big deal. It’s also relatively warm in winter and not as humid in summer (compared to living in Chicago) so you don’t have to worry about icy sidewalks or getting too sweaty.

Ashley: Seattle is all connected in a runner accessible way. With the quick growth in the city, there is a lot of traffic at different points in the day, so run commuting can be faster and a lot less stressful than using other forms of transportation. Seattle is such a beautiful city. I believe running through our beautiful city stimulates my happy neurons.

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HOKA: What tips do you have for someone who is interested in getting into run commuting?

Dani: Start by finding ways to make your pack light and immobile. A pack that doesn’t jiggle means you’ll barely feel it when you run. If you can figure out a way to leave things at work (company policy allows me to leave my computer in a locked drawer overnight, for example), you can lighten your load and make run commuting more feasible.

Look into shower options. Many big buildings have showers for bike commuters – ask if there’s a way to shower there without paying for a bike-spot.  In big cities, chain gyms can also be a great place to shower because they’re likely to have a location near your office. Many insurance plans like Blue Cross let you join LA Fitness and similar gyms for $25/mo through their wellness program – worth it even if you only ever use their shower, based on what you’ll save in public transit or parking/gas costs. If you really don’t have access to a shower, try showering BEFORE your run commute, and then immediately wiping your sweat dry and changing your clothes when you arrive at work. Most of the bad smell from sweat is actually dirt and grime on our bodies released when we sweat. If you’re clean when you start to sweat, it doesn’t really smell at all and no one will even notice!
Ashley: I’d suggest mapping out the route on google maps, or walking / driving through the route just to make sure you have a safe running path and won’t get lost. You wouldn’t want a 3-mile run commute to turn into a 10 mile run commute because you got lost.

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