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.
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!