Running during your lunch hour is easier than you think plus the benefits are endless. You’re going to feel more energetic, less stressed and clear your mind for any challenges that the afternoon ahead may hold. So forget about another lunch hour spent in the dreary work canteen and instead reap the benefits of a midday jog by have a look at these 10 tips.
Plan your Route
If you include roughly 20 minutes for your pre-run kit up and post run cool down and shower, you’re left with roughly 40 minutes of running time. Maximize this by taking the time to pre-plan your running route, based on time and your running pace. Try apps like Runkeeper.com and MapMyRun.com to map a route.
Pack your Bag Before Bed
Avoid having to half heartedly throw your kit into a tog bag, or worse – run out of time to do it at all – in a typical morning dash to make the train or get to the office before your boss does, by packing your kit the night before. Remember to go through a mental list of everything you need, both to run and to freshen up afterwards.
Calculate your Cool Down
It seems minor, but you need to factor in a proper cool down period after your run. If you don’t, your body temp will stay high and your sweat glands will continue to do what they’re designed to – produce sweat to cool your body down. And nobody likes sitting in a meeting next to the creepy sweaty person. It’s awkward. In summer you’ll need a couple of extra minutes, and less so in winter.
Send Yourself a Meeting Request
Don’t shrug off your exercise when something ‘more’ important hits your inbox. Commit to your lunch hour run by sending yourself a meeting request and booking the time out.
When you’re maximizing your lunch hour, you need to be smart about your lunch. Best-case scenario, pre-pack a lunch box the night before and eat it at your desk. Not allowed? There are great organic, natural meal replacement shakes available that you can enjoy while you’re changing or order online and get something delivered that you can inhale in under ten minutes while you make yourself a cup of tea in the common room. Less time wasted at the sandwich deli means more time for running.
Your Shower or Mine?
Not showering isn’t an option. Your colleagues will notice. You will notice. Your boss will notice. And no one will be happy. If your company doesn’t have shower facilities available, then scan the area for the closest gym, YMCA, sports or athletics club. The latter are much cheaper options, and the bonus of using external facilities is that your colleagues won’t have to see you all sweaty!
The Hero Drawer
Regardless of how meticulous you pack the night before, there will be days that you forget an essential item of kit, or a key toiletry – like soap! Keep a stock of the necessities in your desk drawer, things that you’re bound to forget at some stage: Shower gel, socks, clean undies, hair bands and for the ladies, emergency make-up kit.
Make Urban Trails your Playground
If you’re reading this and considering turning your lunch hour into a running session, you’re going to need to get your head around the terrain. Urban scenery can be dire and uninspiring, unless you learn how to turn it into your playground. So learn how to master stairs, use lampposts for speed intervals and use urban features as new obstacles. There are loads of ways to challenge yourself in a city environment, finding them is part of the fun.
Make the Circle Bigger
Enlist co-workers in your new lunch hour running venture. Flying solo gives your mind a lot of opportunity to talk yourself out of actually running, but with co-workers on the scene, you more likely to get out there, regardless of the weather or day you’re having. Start a leaderboard, a group mail or a Whatsapp group and before you know it, you may have the boss joining (which means longer sessions without getting shouted at!).
Maximize your actual running time by trying interval or speed training in your lunch hour. Use lampposts, gateways or office parks as markers and alternate over similar distances or time splits between a marathon pace, half marathon pace, 10kay pace and 5kay pace to get the most out of your session.
Benefits of Lunch Hour Running
- Prevents injury. Sitting at a desk all day is a runner’s worst. Hip flexors shorten and your gluts and hamstrings become inactive and non-responsive to exercise. Moving during the day stretches your body out, moves the muscles and prevents bad things from happening.
- Boosts your energy levels. An hour outdoors in the elements is enough to leave you invigorated for your afternoon in front of the computer. Failing to break up your day could lead to fatigue.
- Increases metabolism. An active lunch hour means an active stomach. Exercise increased metabolism, which – providing you don’t eat a bag of donuts post run – means weight loss.
- Reboots your mind. A time out, where no one in the office can contact you, is like active meditation. Exercise releases endorphins (feel-good neurotransmitter) which produce a feeling of wellbeing. Couple that with the invigorating feeling that comes post-workout and you’ll be flying through your afternoon meetings.
- Reduces stress. It is easy to be consumed by stress, especially when stuck in a difficult spot or environment. Time away from a messy situation can lead to reduced stress and a new perspective to help you deal with the problem. When we exercise, our brains produce more serotonin, a chemical that acts as a mood stabiliser that helps to relieve depression and reduce stress. A much better solution that crying in the office loo cubicle.
- Frees you up for guilt-free drinks after work!
By Bryony McCormick