Dirtbagger Essentials: How to get conference-room ready and not look like you just ran 10 miles on trails before work.
by Michelle Forshner @therunningveg
(pictured in her favorite S'mitten Lily Trotters)
Juggling a full running schedule with career and family can feel overwhelming. For those of us training on trails for races of any distance face a particularly difficult challenge of finding time to spend hours on the trail and go immediately to the next item on our to-do lists. These shifts can feel like donning a separate persona: a version of yourself with a particular outward experience, communication style, and activities. While we are certainly unique, whole individuals, we are also multi-faceted in how we approach and present ourselves, depending upon the situation. As much as I’d love to throw on comfy shorts and a hoodie after a run and go directly to work, I know that ensemble won’t win me favors at work! How do we go from dirtbagger-trail-runner
persona to office-job-business persona? And, how do we save time in making that shift from trail to conference room?
Read on for tips from this dirty trail runner-turned busy corporate executive.
As a trail- and ultrarunner, I prefer to get several runs a week on dirt. However, my schedule doesn’t always allow for that, leaving me running during the week on road or even the treadmill in my garage. On long days in the office, it is particularly challenging to find the time to run on trails before saddling up to my computer for several hours. The good news: you can still do both!
Find a couple of trails between your home and office. Consider driving a little further for a trail beyond your office location, knowing the return trip to work will be much shorter than the initial drive to the trailhead from home. Let’s say your work is 15 miles from home: look for a trail 10 miles from home, or consider driving a little further, say, 20 miles from home but only 5 miles from work. It may seem counter-intuitive on paper, but the extra few minutes of driving time to
the trailhead will become negligible, and will still allow for a shorter commute to the office afterward.
Not sure where to run?
Reach out to your running network or consider asking folks at work. Even if you are the only trail runner at the office, there may be colleagues who love hiking or live closer and are more familiar with the trail system. If this is your first time on the trail, consider going in daylight with a friend on a weekend before committing to an early morning run before a day of work meetings. That way, you can visualize where you will park, become familiar with some of the trails, plan a route, and even identify the quickest route to the office from the trailhead.
Pack a Go-Bag
Your go-bag is your ultimate kit for transitioning from trail to office. Think of this as a fancy gym bag, with key items to get ready while roughing it. Prep the bag the night before and set it by your front door so you don’t forget it when heading to the car. Here are some recommendations on what to pack:
● Extra layer/shell
● Pack or belt
● Headlamp (if you need to do lots of miles and need to run early before an 8am
meeting, this is a necessity!)
● Flip-flops or sandals (to wear while changing at the car)
● LilyTrotters Compression socks - to recover while driving back to the office - or
even under your work pants during the day! I’m obsessed with wearing mine
● Recovery drink, shake, or easy-to-eat post-run meal (I recommend Tailwind
Nutrition Recover in coffee flavor)
● Large towel or changing towel (Orange Mud makes a great one favored by trail
runners and surfers alike)
● Water and/or coffee
● Wet wipes, rinse-free body wipes, or baby wipes [there are a ton of
biodegradable options to choose from - this is a core piece of gear!]
● First-aid kit (you never know!)
● Wet bag to hold your stinky running clothes (bring a second bag for your shoes, if
needed, but I prefer to put mine in the back of my car to air out)
● Small trash bag for used wet wipes (use a biodegradable one if your wet wipes
and packaging are also biodegradable)
● Work clothes (choose an outfit that doesn’t wrinkle, is easy to pack, and is
comfortable). Don’t forget your underwear!
● Dry shampoo (recommended!)
● Small makeup bag (optional)
● Face lotion
● Shoes! Your colleagues will appreciate it if you wear different shoes than the
ones you ran in.
● Wallet or purse (if you are like me, you run with the bare minimum of
identification, so don’t forget the rest as you may need it for the office
● Laptop bag (if applicable)
● Badge/key to office
● Lunch or snack (if you like to prepare lunches or snacks for the week, you can
still bring them on a trail run day, just use an ice pack)
● Personal refillable water bottle (recommended)
This may seem like a lot, but once you have a system this kit is very easy to maintain. I personally bring two bags: (1) running-related items and my work-ready kit (clothes, personal care items, etc), and (2) work bag with my laptop, identification, wallet, keys, and a snack. I throw both in my car in the morning when heading out for a run.
How to look conference room-ready post-run
No shower???? That’s right! Those wet wipes or body wipes will become your best friend. Here are your steps to going from trail to conference room in a jiffy:
1. Feet, Flip Flops, and First Steps: Remove your running shoes and socks, and put on your flip-flops or sandals. Using one or two of the biodegradable wet wipes, wipe down your feet and legs. If you ran through mud, you may want to use water to rinse off your legs - use your water bottle from your post-run kit if desired. Put your dirty socks into your wet bag. Start a pile for your wet wipes to be thrown out later.
2. Changing Towel Gymnastics: Using your large towel or changing towel, remove your running clothes. If this is difficult, consider undressing in the backseat of your car and using the towel to block the windows. I stand outside my open hatchback and use the towel around my waist, removing my running shorts first. I then tie it higher to remove my shirt. Sports bra stuck? Too hard to get it overhead? Consider pulling the straps down and shimmying the bra down your torso to remove instead. Even better: use a sports bra that has a clasp for easy removal. Put dirty clothes in the wet back.
3. Wet Wipe Magic: You can use the wipes on half your body and then add clean clothes before moving on to the other half. I like to start with wiping down my lower torso and upper legs first, then throwing on my work pants. That way, I feel less exposed when I change out of the rest of my running clothes. Use the towel to blot dry any wet spots before putting clean clothes on.
4. Hair Happiness: Whether you have short or long hair, post-run hair may be the reason you strongly prefer to hit the shower before being in public. That is understandable! While everyone’s hair is different, there may be options to make that process a little easier. Long hair: Tie your hair in a tight bun on the top of your head while running; Post-run, remove the hairbands and finger-brush the hair before brushing. For most hair: Use dry shampoo at the roots near the front, or dry with a towel. Pro tip: running the AC or heater in the car will also help with last-minute drying. Consider an easy style with a messy bun, professional ponytail, headband, or use a little mousse to style your hair. For natural hair, consider running with a silk bandana near the front of the scalp to help capture sweat and reduce drying time. If you can access a public restroom at work with
power outlets, you can even stash a small hair dryer or flat iron for touch-ups before you head into the office.
5. Everything Else: Slap on deodorant, moisturizer, and makeup, if applicable. Use the rear-view mirror or the reflection in your car window.
6. Fuel: Don’t forget to have your post-run recovery drink or snack! It is also important to hydrate, so ensure you are getting water after your run, or fill up your personal reusable bottle when you arrive at the office.
If you work for a large company with a campus, you may have access to large bathrooms or even showers. If you do, great! For those of us that do not, just know you can get office ready without these luxuries. If towel-changing at the trail is not possible or unsafe, do not attempt.
Another option is treating yourself to a coffee at a local coffee shop and asking to use their bathroom. You can be changed and wiped-down in a couple of minutes, and can finish (hair, makeup, shoes) back at your car when you enjoy your fancy coffee drink. This may add more time to your total commute, but consider it an option!
● Night Before: Prep go-bag and work bag. Lay out running clothes to change into first thing in the morning. Don’t forget to put your work clothes and shoes in the go-bag. Get to bed early!
● 5 am: Alarm goes off. Start the coffee maker, get dressed, grab any additional supplies, and head to the car. Put bags in the trunk or otherwise out of sight to prevent break-ins at the trailhead.
● 5:30 am: Drive to the trailhead. For me, I need anywhere from 15-30 minutes to reach the trailhead, sometimes longer.
● 6 am: Arrive at trailhead. Have fun!
● 7:15 am: Arrive at the car - you did it! Change and wipe down. Take a look at your hair, apply skin and facial moisturizer, pull on your LilyTrotters recovery socks. This may take only 5 mins or closer to 15… it will become faster with practice!
● 7:30 am: Wrap up personal hygiene and car-changing, be sure to drink your post-run recovery shake!
● 7:35 am: Drive to work!
● 7:55 am: Walk into work and give yourself a pat on the back for getting a solid trail run in!
● After Work: Throw your running clothes in the laundry and toss your used wipes. Replace any used personal care items. Want to run tomorrow? You are halfway there with a go-bag!