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Month: April 2016

Sneak in More Runs This Week

 

I used to be a bit of a “weekend warrior”. I would cram in two, sometimes three long runs between Saturday morning and Sunday night.

Then the most exercise I would get between Monday to Friday was a brisk walk from my car to the office building.

It can be a challenge to ramp up or maintain your mileage when you have a full-time desk job, but it can be done! Here are some tips on when to fit in some weekday runs.

Get Up Early

Pros: You can count on a pretty consistent mood boost any time you get your run out of the way early. You get to have that feeling of accomplishment before most people have had their first sip of coffee!

Cons: Getting in a run before work may sound logical, but if you’re not a morning person and you have an 8 o’clock start time at your job, this can be a groan-worthy suggestion.

Make it Work: Hear me out, there’s way to make this option suck less! Get to sleep a little earlier, and I’m not talking about making a huge adjustment to your current sleep schedule. Even turning in half an hour earlier can make your alarm clock less cringe-inducing come morning. Getting up 40-60 minutes earlier should be sufficient to pound out a few kilometers and still have time to cool down before beginning your normal morning routine. You can also plan your morning runs to be short. It’s a lot easier to get up to run if you’ve only committed to a 15-20 minute lope, and there is no shame in short runs! 3k is better than no k, right? Although once you’re out there, you may find yourself busting out a couple extra kilometers anyway!

Get Out on Your Lunch

Pros: The biggest perk is that you get your runs in during the day so your morning and evening schedule can remain uncompromised. And with enough planning, you can pull it off without returning to the office looking like a soggy tomato.

Cons: This option has to be a carefully planned event since you only have 60 minutes to change, run, cool down, change again, and get back to the office. This also might not be a great idea if you can only run outside and it’s summer, when temperatures are soaring their highest at midday. You’ll be sweating buckets before you’re five minutes in, and no amount of towelettes or deodorant is going to be adequate for that long afternoon back at your desk. Trust me, just ask your co-worker.

Make it Work: If your only option is to run outside, I would save this option for cooler months between September and May. Shorter runs are key. You’ll need to be organized enough to bring along your workout clothes and running shoes. You’ll also do yourself (and your colleagues) a great service to pack some baby wipes, travel deodorant, and a change of undergarments. Make sure your lunch is prepacked or easily accessible so you can either eat at your desk, or wolf it down in the five minutes before you need to be back. Depending on the logistics, you can probably allot 30 minutes maximum for running and the other 30 minutes should be for cooling down, changing, and eating.

Get it In After Work

Pros: Depending on your schedule, this option may provide the most time and flexibility since your work for the day is done. You could get in a run either right after work or later in the evening. In the summer months, this may be a more attractive option for the outdoor runner because its stays lighter later, and it’s cooler than at lunchtime.

Cons: Personally, I find this time of day to be the hardest to commit to because depending on how stressful or busy your day was, you may not have the energy or willpower to carry through with your planned run by the time you clock out at work. Also, unless you have access to a treadmill or indoor track, this will most likely be a no-go in the colder months when its dark and snowy.

Make it Work: If you plan on running right after work, bring a snack to nosh on in the afternoon to give your energy levels a boost. This will help keep you from flaking out on your run plan. If you need to go home first, keep all your running stuff by the door to minimize your chances of succumbing to the couch. Take it from me, if your butt so much as touches that couch, you’re done. If you plan to run later in the evening, eat an early and light dinner. Make sure you finish up your run at least a couple hours before you need to turn in, as exercise too close to bedtime can result in less than optimal sleep.

In Summary

At the end of the day, the best option for logging miles during the work week is the option you can actually commit to. You may want to try every option before deciding what’s most effective for you!

 

Photo Credit: GrejGuide.dk via Compfight cc

4 Reasons to Take Shorter Vacations

 

January might not be your favorite month as a full-time employee. The holidays are over, you’re back at work, and your pants are undeniably tighter than they were two weeks ago. To top it off, you’re about to buckle down for three months of cold, dark, harsh weather.

But not all is lost; as of January 1st, you are back to having full vacation days!

Yet the typical full-time employee only has 10-15 vacation days to use in a year. While most people can agree that time off work is critical to mental and physical health, it’s not a lot of days to work with. So what’s the best way to make the most of them?

I advocate spreading out your vacation days throughout the year rather than taking one or two longer breaks. Here’s four reasons why shorter is better!

1. You Can Take Them More Often

Studies show taking more vacations make you happier and healthier! Our brains give us a mood boost whenever we have an upcoming opportunity to take a break from work, regardless of its duration. You can look forward to an upcoming vacation from work every couple of months, instead of slogging through six long months before your coveted two week break in July. You can take six or seven vacations in a year if you only use two days at a time and tack them onto weekends and long weekends.

2. It’s Easier to Plan For

Financially and logistically, shorter vacations are easier to arrange. You don’t need to spend as long saving up for them. You don’t need to spend as much time figuring out where to eat, or what activities you’ll be filling your days with. You only have a few days to plan for, so you can focus on just a few highlight activities to make the most of your trip.

3. Shorter Vacations May Actually Be More Memorable

In 2012, Time posted this article about how shorter vacations create better memories. Evidence suggests that you’re better off having two action packed days off work than a longer, less intense vacation. Think back to the last vacation you took that was a week or longer. Chances are, there was a least one or two days where you didn’t do much, or it was more of the same of what you’d already one.. Or can you even remember those days? (See what I did there?)

4. Returning to Work Sucks Less

You’ve just returned to work after two weeks off. You have 3602 emails in your inbox, and stack of paperwork that’s as tall as your cubical. The project you were working on right before you left inevitably went sideways in your absence. Worst of all, you have to deal with the chunks of congealed milk floating in your two week old cup of coffee because you forgot to rinse it out before you left for your vacation. Need I go on?

In Summary

To reap the most benefits from your vacations, keep them short, sweet, and frequent. This year, try spreading your vacation days out instead of taking them all at once. You could take some three-to-four day trips to a Northern resort, or Southern winery. You can even take two or three well-planned “staycations”. So what are you waiting for? Take next Friday off and get vacationing!

What Happens Someday

It’s not that you don’t love your job.  But let’s face it, you’re a nine-to-fiver. Weekdays are pretty much a write-off. By the time you get through the front door at the end of the day, it’s all you can do to pour yourself a glass of wine and unzip your pants. If you’re lucky, you get to flake out on the couch for 45 minutes until family duties drive you to action. Sure, there may be some days when you can muster up the mandatory excursion to the dentist after work, or the carefully timed mission to Service Ontario on your lunch hour, but there’s just only so much you can accomplish between home time and crash o’clock, right?

That means that the majority of your errands and social life must be accomplished on one of those two special days, Scatterday and Someday.  But really, you can forget about Scatterdays.

On Scatterday, you at least wake up early because your body is on a 9:30 pm sleep schedule. From there, the day is a blur. You hoist a week’s worth of clothes into the laundry machine and hasten to the grocery store to beat the crowds. But as usual, the Superstore is already rammed by 8:30 am. No matter how well-organized your grocery list is, it still takes you an hour to grab everything and check out, and when you get home you realize you forgot the sour cream. Again.

The afternoons are less predictable. Sometimes, you’re finally getting around to organizing your closet, or tackling the weeds in the garden, or cleaning out the fridge. Other times, you’re able to get out to see that movie with your spouse, or get your hair done, or catch up with a friend. Those afternoons go by so fast that you’ve but blinked twice before you find yourself back at home, realizing that your laundry from that morning is still crumpled up in the drier waiting for you to fold them. You try to stay up late because it’s Scatterday night, and that’s what you’re supposed to do. But you end up passing out at 9:30 pm, because that’s what you always do.

So really, Scatterday is a write-off too. Everyone knows that Someday is the only day you can get anything done.

Someday is far less hectic than any other day of the week. It’s the one day that you have some amount of mental space. You are introspective. You wake up early in order to get to yoga class. Then you dream that Someday you’ll be the one teaching the class instead of being the one who falls on their face during crow pose. Instead of finding nirvana as you lay in savasana, you think about how you still need to pick up the sour cream, and Someday you’ll remember to buy it at the same time as the rest of your groceries.

The afternoon creeps in and you start thinking about the workweek ahead. You sigh to yourself that Someday you’ll have more time to do accomplish everything else you wanted to do.

That night, you stare at your computer screen and think that Someday you’ll have enough time to write something, because you do love to write, you just really don’t have time to today.

Then in one magical moment, you remember that Someday is today.

And then you write.

 

Photo Credit: 藍川芥 aikawake via Compfight cc