Nick Thompson runs to work.
Nick Thompson runs to work. (Andrew Hetherington)

How to Be a Super Commuter

Copy these overachievers and make the most of your trek to the office

Nick Thompson runs to work.

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The average American commutes nearly an hour per day. That adds up to nine days a year. But your trip to work doesn’t have to involve cramming your face into someone’s armpit on a packed train or suppressing road rage on a clogged freeway. Make like these four professionals and turn it into a mini adventure.

Nicholas Thompson

Editor in Chief at Wired, New York City

“My boss is Anna Wintour,” Thompson says. “I’m supposed to look good.” But at the risk of mussing his hair, he runs nine miles round-trip between his home in Brooklyn and his Manhattan office nearly every day, no matter the weather. Thompson does a marathon once or twice a year, and these daily jaunts are a big training help. “I’m able to stay in shape without having to find time in the day for it,” he says. “I get to relax and run twice a day. It’s a nice break.” Plus, he hasn’t bought a monthly transit pass in years. 

Make your routine efficient. Thompson covers his one-way distance in 35 minutes on foot. And his shower routine is spartan—in and out in five minutes. 

Plan ahead. Thompson keeps a few full outfits at the office and runs with a fanny pack (even though it slows him down by five to seven seconds per mile, according to Strava) to hold his keys, wallet, and phone.

Steal family time. “Showering at the gym means I don’t have to shower in the morning before I go, which means a few extra minutes with my kids.”

Beware of tourists. “The dangers are selfie sticks, cars driving the wrong direction down one-way streets, wedding photo shoots, and people getting out of cars. But it’s like 90 percent selfie sticks.”

Drew Myers

Founder of Banyan, Seattle 

Myers’s commute lines up with his general ethos: an aversion to waiting and an affinity for wide-open spaces. He may love his ride to work more than anyone in the world. Since 2006, he’s been hopping on a jet ski from Mercer Island and zipping across Lake Washington to his office—passing everyone stuck in traffic on Interstate 90. Driving would take 30 minutes, but jet skiing takes about ten from dock to desk. “There’s nobody out there. It’s totally free,” Myers says. 

Don’t fall in. But just in case, make sure you have the best computer drybag out there. “I could throw my Drycase in the water and it would be fine,” Myers says.

Embrace bad weather. “For the most part, I do it even in the pouring rain,” he says. He keeps his work clothes dry under head-to-toe waterproof gear.

Safety first. Myers always wears a life jacket. And he only commutes eight months of the year—in the winter it gets dark at 4:30 P.M., making for a potentially dangerous crossing. 

Cassidy Doucette

Nurse practitioner at Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City

Doucette’s car usually sits on the street. For the past nine years, she’s biked five miles round-trip to and from the hospital for convenience and personal enjoyment, but also to reduce her impact on the environment. Her route cuts through the University of Utah and offers uninterrupted views of the Wasatch Mountains. “Unless my errands require transporting large objects, I’m mostly able to bike anywhere I need to go,” she says. 

Start the day off right. “I work with cancer patients. It’s emotionally and mentally challenging. Those 20 minutes on my bike in the morning give me perspective and goodness before a ten-hour shift.”

Watch out for pedestrians. “College kids looking down at their phones are my biggest obstacle.” 

Stay organized. Doucette leaves shoes at work and carries her post-shower clothes in a Patagonia Black Hole packing cube to keep them tidy in transit. 

Phil Hitch

Director of product development at MSR, Seattle

Hitch commutes an hour and fifteen minutes each way in ultimate Pacific Northwest style: he bikes four and a half miles from his home on Bainbridge Island to the dock, hops on a ferry to downtown Seattle, then rides another two and a half miles to the office. 

Consider it a workout. “I get an hour in the saddle every day, and I don’t have to go to the gym,” Hitch says.

Make no excuses. Hitch commutes approximately 200 days a year. In the winter it’s dark both ways, and there are no streetlights on most of the island. His advice: don’t think too hard, just put on your gear and head out the door. 

Join the crowd. Hitch says there’s a strong contingent of bike-ferry commuters in Seattle: a steady 30 people in winter, and 100-plus in the summer months. If it’s not too rainy for an outdoor commute in Seattle, then it’s not too rainy where you live. 

From Outside Magazine, July/August 2019 Lead Photo: Andrew Hetherington

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