You may have a hectic schedule, but you dont have to log all your kilometers inside on a treadmill.
As long as you can get away from your desk (or other commitments) during the day, a one hour lunch break is all you need to improve your running. If you give yourself five minutes to change clothes and 15 minutes to clean up afterward, youve got 40 minutes to work out.
“It’s dark when I leave for work and dark when I get home,” says Tim Johnson, a marathoner and lab-safety officer. ”My lunch-break runs help me maintain a solid base of fitness throughout the year.”
Forty minutes is plenty for most runners to log a respectable distance, even at an easy pace. Still, the most efficient use of your lunch break is to focus on quality workouts such as speed sessions, hills and tempo runs. These harder efforts will improve your pace, stride and running economy, and get you primed for spring racing season.
Two easy short runs can maintain a weekend warrior, says Justin Peschka, a running, cycling and triathlon coach. But two short and intense efforts per week will make you faster.
Midday is actually ideal for quality workouts, as your muscles are more warmed up than in the mornings and you’re not as tired as you may be heading into evening runs. If you’re used to running in the mornings or evenings, lunch-break workouts might take some getting used to; but once you adjust, they’re very effective.
For hard-charging workers and timepressed parents, the biggest challenge of the midday run isnt the running itself, its breaking away for it. If you find yourself working through your workout, you may need to set an alarm on your computer for 11h30 or even earlier, to remind yourself to have a light snack so you have energy for your run.
Invite co-workers who run to come along, says Katie Blackett, the chief executive officer of a running club. Meeting up with someone will force you to get out, which may be worth it even if that means adjusting your workout plans. Blackett and a coworker started a weekly team building run, with five to 10 people going out for easy runs of five to eight kilometres. It was fun, not fast, says Blackett. It was a chance to talk to people you normally didn’t interact with, and people from all different departments joined in.
Though Johnson had a scheduled noon break from his lab duties, he didnt feel completely comfortable leaving to run at first. I was worried my co-workers and manager would think I was doing less work, he says. He casually let them know that he was heading out for a run, and over time, they started asking about what marathons he was working toward. People dont get interested in the training, he says. But they all recognize the races and its significance.
And if you think your lunchtime run will wipe you out for the rest of the day, rest assured. The opposite is true: A quick shot of exercise can prevent a late-day slide into lethargy. Your metabolism stays elevated for up to four hours after a run, especially after intense workouts like intervals. A 2005 study in Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise showed that workers’ moods, productivity, work quality and ability to meet deadlines improved dramatically on days when they exercised.
You relieve stress, reduce muscle tension that builds up from sitting at a desk, and increase the oxygen in your blood, says exercise physiologist Kara Mohr. Youll return to your desk with a better mood and a sharper mind. And you’ll be ready to do some fast, sharp work.Want the biggest brain boost? Run hard. Studies show that intense bouts of exercise improve learning 20% faster than easy running or rest does.