Sometimes life gets in the way of exercise, making it hard to fit in a run before or after work. That's why a lunch run is a good way to maintain fitness, clear the mind, get energised for the afternoon, and stay on track with your running training program.
Melbourne runner Paul Wilson regularly exercises during his lunch break.
"I've tried running early in the morning and it has its own allure - like gorgeous sunrises, but my body takes a few hours to get going.
"Lunch runs give me a chance to enjoy daylight no matter what time of year it is."
Clear out the cobwebs
Running in the middle of the day is great for the body because your muscles are warmer than in the mornings, and you're not as tired heading into evening runs. Better still, research shows that a burst of exercise can prevent a slip in energy later in the day and your metabolism remains elevated for up to four hours are a run.
Plus, plenty of work problems have been solved while combining fresh air and exercise.
"When you are having a challenging day at work it's great to get outside and 'run out the crazy'. Things just seem clearer," says Wilson.
Hour of power
If you can plan your meetings and step away from your desk, one hour is all you need to fit in a midday run. Give yourself five minutes to change, 40 minutes to run and 15-minutes to cool-down and have a shower.
Wilson usually runs between six and eight kilometres.
"My runs normally go for 30 to 45 minutes; but if I'm deep in marathon training then I might run for a little longer," he admits.
Make it a ritual
Make running a regular lunchtime ritual by scheduling it in your diary and letting colleagues know this time away from the desk is important to you. Better still, why not see if a few of your work mates want to join you.
Wilson recommends runners should find a routine that works for them. "Over time, fine-tune where you change; your escape route to start your run; and your post-run cool down, shower and change," he says.
"If you don't need to think about these things then it becomes a breeze to just get up and go."
Pack your bag
Wilson suggests leaving a bag of spare clothes, toiletries and towels at work if you can.
"If you have access to a locker, keep a pair of running shoes, towel and other items there so you don't have to bring it to work each time or forget something important."
"I've had more than one nasty blister caused by forgetting my socks, but more often I've forgotten my towel and not realised until I'm in the shower! That's when I need to think outside the box and improvise," he says.
Another way to make your lunch run a set and forget exercise is to plan your run, including distance and route the night before.
Food for thought
Plan what food you'll eat before and after your lunch run. If BYO isn't your style, take a quick break mid-morning to get your lunch so that when you return from exercising you can refuel quickly.
Wilson only eats after a run.
"I'm a runner. I eat most of the day! But I eat lunch after my run, as there's no love in your food making a reappearance part way through a tough interval set," he says.
A mid-morning snack like a banana and oat muffin or a low GI and sugar muesli bar will give you plenty of energy for your run. And don't forget to drink plenty of water before and after your run.
If you're not a sweaty Betty, you might be able to get away without showering after a run. If it's a cold day or if your workout wasn't that strenuous, a clean with some baby wipes may be enough. If you need to wash the sweat off, streamline your shower by limiting it to three-minutes. And female runners – dry shampoo is your new best friend!
The goal of one day completing an ultra-marathon inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. With a day job in the corporate world, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to clear her mind and challenge her body.
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