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Balancing Ultra Training and Run Commuting

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Now that I am a full time run commuter there is never an issue with getting out the door for a run.  When you have to go to work and your only mode is your two feet, guess what?  You run.  There are positives and negatives regarding running doubles everyday to work in regards to training for an ultra marathon.  Now that I am approaching two months out on my 100k at Spruce Woods Ultra I’ve decided to share how run commuting has so far effected my training.


  • Base mileage-With my run being approx 7km and a portion being through Assiniboine Park I usually can add a couple km’s each day.  This brings my five day totals in the 80km or 50 mile range by Friday.  Plenty of miles heading into the weekend.
  • Carrying a Pack-For those who have run ultra’s you know that a good percentage require you to carry a minimum load.  By carrying my clothes, lunch, and sometimes boots on my runs, I spend a great deal of time carrying a heavy load.
  • Running on Tired Legs-This is a given by the end of a week of run commuting.  As I always tell the wife I hate Thursday’s.  I don’t really hate them but mentally and physically it is my tough day.  Come on who would hate a TGIF run?
  • Mental Toughness-A big reason why many runners drop in ultra running, trail or road, is mental.  We can hit some real lows.  By run commuting I know that I am going to be running the same basic route every single day.  It is teaching me to accept that I don’t have a choice but to push through.
  • Weather Conditions-Again I run know matter what.  So far I have battled weather ranging from -40 degrees to skating rink ice.  My favorite run so far was the one I dreaded the most, running in frigid rain.  Jumping in puddles is still fun even at 39.


  • The Long Run-It isn’t that I haven’t been getting the long run in but I find that waking up early on a Saturday knowing that I have to get anywhere from 2-5 hours of running in can be challenging mentally. Now that I finally found a hill to run here in Winnipeg I’m hoping that will pick me up.
  • Terrain-Lots of pounding the asphalt.  I am not and never have been much of a road runner.  Now I’m putting in 50 plus kilometers on hard surfaces.  Fortunately I do have some single track along the Assiniboine River that I hit up in both directions.
  • Elevation-Most trail running ultra marathons elevation gain and loss.  Because my running route is already decided I can only add so much vert.  Also being in the prairies this is challenge in of its on.  Normally I would use the treadmill as an easy way to gain elevation.  This has made my discovery of Garbage Hill aka Westview Park even more essential.  Weekend hill repeats it is.  Man I love hills, seriously for real.
  • Shoes-I have to have a lot of shoes available.  Always need a dry pair for the morning, ones for different weather condition, and also to allow the foam to recover.  Trust me on the last one.  Six runs in three days, your old Hoka’s or probably most other brands too, they need a break.
  • Pace-When you know you have to run home that night you can’t push too hard.  I can’t get injured or how will I get to work.  Yes my back up plan is to walk or worse case scenario is to get a ride, but the whole point of run commuting is to do just that run commute.  So speed work is minimal compared to ideal.  I do find on Monday runs home I will push myself a bit and also on a few other runs add strides.  As a whole though I keep am runs very easy and pm runs ranging from 5:20-5:50km’s.  I know that this is much slower than I could go but I need to avoid all overuse injuries.

As you can see there is a fine balancing act between training for racing and my running to and from work.  Realistic it does effect my training for my upcoming races but at the same time I do believe that the life style benefits and cost savings far outweigh any negatives.  I also believe that running doubles everyday will also have a positive impact.  As a run commuter I’m pretty much always running on tired legs.

Of course this morning after I had started writing this article I hopefully didn’t make a training mistake.  I was feeling so good that I pushed harder than I should have and an old stress injury has been tweaked.  Surprisingly the run home actually went well:)