It can be tricky to go for a run during work hours, but with some good planning and simple sessions, you can make the most of your lunchbreak.
Running for just 20 minutes, a couple of days a week can keep you ticking over.
You’ll see them at traffic lights, jittery, keeping moving while waiting for the cars to stop. You’ll see them bounding down the stairwell at 1.05pm and climbing the steps, a little more jaded, half an hour later.
You won’t want to get into a lift with them at that point, that’s for sure, but they’re an admirable bunch all the same: they are the lunchtime runners; dedicated to grabbing a few miles when they can.
If you leave for work early, return home late, and have to fit family life or anything else around that, then squeezing a run in to the day can be tough. But lunchtimes are increasingly busy, with office workers throwing on the runners and getting out for a few miles before settling back to eat at their desks.
Running for just 20 minutes, a couple of days a week can keep you ticking over and prepared for longer runs at the weekend. And there’s hardly anywhere that doesn’t offer a decent running route. Most offices have a park, road or river-path close by that offers a good stretch of traffic-light running.
It requires being prepared, though. So here are a few tips for getting out, and some straightforward programmes when you’re there. (By the way, the woman in this picture has clearly NOT been for a run before tucking into her lunch.)
SIX STEPS TO GET OUT THE OFFICE DOOR
Leave gear in the office. Bring two pairs of everything, so that you’ll always have something fresh. Or, if you’re very organised, every Monday bring a week’s worth of gear with you, and then take it home on Friday. You’d want to consider not stinking out the office, though.
If your office doesn’t have shower facilities, then think about joining a gym. That might also be useful in the winter months, for adding a little cross-training (such as swimming).
Don’t skip the mid-morning snack. Make sure to eat something so that you have the fuel on board. And sip on water during the morning (you should be doing that anyway).
Bring your own lunch. Every minute of your hour will be precious, so you don’t want to waste it at the tail end of a deli queue.
Don’t pull a muscle. You will need to warm-up and cool-down. The urge to bolt out can sometimes lull you into forgetting this.
Find a running group. When you have to meet other people, it’ll motivate you all the more. If you can’t find one, look for a running partner or two in the office.
FOUR LUNCHTIME SESSIONS
The 25-minute run. Sometimes it’s just a case of getting out there and enjoying a run, so if you get the chance, even over a short period of time, then just go out for a steady run.
If you’re starting off, you may want to walk-run-walk. Either way, it’s a great way to relax and soothe the stress of the office environment, while building or maintaining your fitness.
The 30-minute tempo. Warm-up by starting with a slow jog, but build it over 10 minutes until you hit training pace. Then push for a 15-minute tempo at about 85 per cent of absolute maximum. Then warm-down for five minutes.
The 35-minute city circuit. If you’re near a park, use it for some strength work. Warm-up jog for 10 minutes. Then hit training pace, but break for sit-ups, push-ups, or lunges every four minutes. You can even incorporate park benches into “dips” and other exercises.
The 40-minute street sprint. You can turn the session into a pace-alternating “fartlek” by using the street furniture to guide your pace. For example, once warmed up, you could jog slowly to one bin, run at training pace to the next, go flat out to the next, and then decrease the pace again over the next couple.
Alternating your pace will improve your overall fitness.