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Running in your lunch hour

Fit a run into your break

Work takes up so much of your time that it becomes difficult to find time to run. If you want to get running more try running in your lunch hour. Running during your lunch break may help you keep on top of your training and keep you fit and healthy.

Running in your lunch hour: be prepared and organised

To make running in your lunch hour  work for you, preparation and good organisation are key, so here's how to make things easy:

running in your lunch hour - tips and advice

 

  • Tell your employer what you are going to do, so that they know this is your sacred running time and is not to be eaten into by more work.
  • If you don’t have access to showering facilities at work, or you don’t work from or close to home, consider joining a gym close by where you can use the showers. The gym’s treadmills might be of use to you too.
  • Leave a kit bag at work with enough gear to last you the week. This way you will only need to bring it in on Monday and take it home on Friday.
  • Get into a routine of making your lunch at home so you don't waste precious lunch hour time.
  • Spend a few minutes reorganising your kit bag at the end of the day, so it's not in a state the next day forcing you to route through the sweaty stuff when you should be running. Rinse out your drinks bottle, too.

Running in your lunch hour: start your warm-up at the office

To make every minute count, start your warm-up at the office. Run up or down the stairs instead of taking the lift; raise and lower your heels and tap your toes at your desk; do a few shoulder rolls, gentle twists and neck bends; walk briskly to the toilets/changing rooms; and take some deep breaths. This will help to get your body geared up for activity, so it will respond more quickly when you begin your run.

Running in your lunch hour: lunch hour training sessions

If you are intending to run at least three week day lunch hours, then Monday, Wednesday and Friday are best, since this will provide you with a day to recover between each one. It is possible, of course, to run on five days, but if you do, you'll want to make two of those sessions easy-paced runs.

running in your lunch hour session ideas

The best option is to have those two rest days and head out on a long run at the weekend. Each of your sessions should be slightly different, as this will be far more beneficial to you than repeating the same session each time.

Here are four different suggested lunch hour running sessions. None of them will take more than 45-50 minutes including a warm-up, so you should still have time to get a bit of lunch.

  • Running in your lunch hour: interval session – 45 minutes

Focus: To increase aerobic capacity, increase leg turnover and improve running economy (i.e. the amount of energy it takes to run at any given pace).

Start with a slow jog, building up gradually over ten minutes to your usual training speed. Now speed up to the fastest pace you think you can sustain for five minutes (you shouldn’t be able to hold a conversation during this time – and remember, it’s five minutes, not 30 seconds!). Follow this with a three-minute slow jog. Then repeat this three more times, using the final slow jog recovery (it doesn’t matter if this is longer than three minutes) to make your way back to work.

Tip: Ideally you should do the five-minute efforts around the same route, so that you can keep tabs on whether your pace is being maintained or if you are slowing down slightly as the reps go on.

Work on speed with a short intervals session: start with the warm-up as above and then alternate one minute fast with one minute slow for 20 minutes. Then cool down for five minutes.

  • Running in your lunchhour: threshold run 35 minutes

Time-pressed alternative – 35 minutes

Focus: To raise lactate threshold and improve speed.

Start with a slow jog, building up your speed over ten minutes to your usual training pace. Now gradually speed up to a pace that is just beyond comfortable (so that you can say the odd ‘yes’ and ‘no’ but can’t natter away if you’re running with a partner), and sustain this for 20 minutes. If this is too daunting, then go for ten minutes, take a two-minute rest, and then do another ten minutes. When the threshold run is finished, jog slowly for five minutes to cool down and to get rid of the lactic acid from the muscles.

Time-pressed alternative – 30 minutes
Try a ‘Kenyan hills’ session. This differs from a usual hill session because you don’t get a recovery between efforts – which will improve your lactate tolerance and clearance, as well as leg strength. Start with a ten-minute warm-up jog towards a long, steady hill. Then run up the hill swiftly, and after you reach the top, turn and run down swiftly while allowing your strides to open out. Run up the hill again without a break, continuing for seven and a half minutes. Take a two-minute rest and then repeat the seven and a half minutes. Then jog slowly back to work.

  • Running in your lunch hour: varied-pace (Fartlek) run – 40 minutes

running in your lunch hour session ideas


Focus: To become accustomed to running at different speeds, and work on different aspects of fitness such as power, strength and speed.

Start with a five- to ten-minute warm-up and then use the environment around you to dictate some bouts of varied pace. For example, if you encounter a row of park benches, you could increase your pace each time you pass one until you’re running flat out. Then slow down till you recover. If you find a steady climb, you could run up it swiftly and then jog back down to recover, and repeat this a few times. Alternatively, if there aren’t many features in your surroundings to work with, count your strides instead. For example, 50 strides at top speed, followed by 100 to recover.

Time-pressed alternative – any shorter amount of time
Your ‘Fartlek’ run can last any amount of time at all – so, if you’re time-crunched, simply fit more efforts in and take fewer recoveries, so that you’ll be able to fit the session into the time available.

And finally…

All the above sessions are challenging, and will help you to get the most ‘bang for your buck’ in your lunchtime run. However, if you don’t feel up to doing a strenuous run – or if you want to run more than three times during your working week – then include a steady run as follows:

Running in your lunch hour: steady run – 35-50 minutes

Focus: To improve stamina and fat use – and to reinvigorate you for the afternoon.

This steady run is all about you. It’s one you should ideally do at your favoured pace in a pleasant environment such as a park or riverbank (though listening to your iPod while running on a treadmill could work, too). Concentrate on running with great technique i.e. make sure you are relaxed, running tall, and using your arms to help power you along. This way you will get more out of your run – and enjoy it more too!

Comments (12)

  • PaulRitchie2 'Some good ideas for runs here and I'd be tempted to use them at times other than lunch time. Running at lunch time is just not practical for me as there's nowhere to get a shower afterwards. Perhaps I could try and sweet talk the staff at the nearby gym to let me use their showers.'

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  • JeremyCotton2 'Running at lunch time is great; it also keeps you awake in the afternoon! I joined the gym next door to use the showers - well worth it.'

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  • TonySmith2 'I'd have to agree, a run at lunchtime does keep me going - without it I'm normally flagging by around 2.30pm. Just wish I wasn't so busy so that I could fit one in more frequently!'

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  • Chris_Whitehead 'Running at lunch time is just not a possibility. there's nowhere for me to get changed or showered and a can of deodorant a day would be far too expensive. '

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  • adam_s 'There's no chance of me getting a lunch hour break these days, let alone going running, so I have to save my runs for the evenings.'

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  • charlee 'I have tried running at lunch, but with no wash facilities felt yukky all day. I already belong to a gym near home, so didn't want to join another gym just for the wash facilities. I tried to get shower facilities in the office block, but was told that I am not the first person to ask, but that they wont do it, cus if they do then all the other office blocks will want them ?! Instead I run Mon, Wed and Fri evening and go swimming Tues and Thurs lunch.'

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  • IMMOVABLE_OBJECT 'I trained for a half marathon using lunch time runs and they were great - I had bags of energy afterwards. There is a down side though. I was red in the face for ages afterwards and virtually all the staff asked if I was OK. I have had to e-mail people in my office warning them I am to start lunch time runs again in January so they know.'

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  • Andy_W 'Morning runs from work are better as it sets you up for the entire day and you've already achieved your goal before 9am. You don't have to worry about breaking off from work and worrying about getting back for a meeting. Lunch breaks are uncommon nowadays with meetings in the diaries all the time with no consideration to lunch.'

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  • Andy_W 'Morning runs from work are better as it sets you up for the entire day and you've already achieved your goal before 9am. You don't have to worry about breaking off from work and worrying about getting back for a meeting. Lunch breaks are uncommon nowadays with meetings in the diaries all the time with no consideration to lunch.'

    Report as inappropriate

  • Andy_W 'Morning runs from work are better as it sets you up for the entire day and you've already achieved your goal before 9am. You don't have to worry about breaking off from work and worrying about getting back for a meeting. Lunch breaks are uncommon nowadays with meetings in the diaries all the time with no consideration to lunch.'

    Report as inappropriate

  • Andy_W 'Morning runs from work are better as it sets you up for the entire day and you've already achieved your goal before 9am. You don't have to worry about breaking off from work and worrying about getting back for a meeting. Lunch breaks are uncommon nowadays with meetings in the diaries all the time with no consideration to lunch.'

    Report as inappropriate

  • Andy_W 'Morning runs from work are better as it sets you up for the entire day and you've already achieved your goal before 9am. You don't have to worry about breaking off from work and worrying about getting back for a meeting. Lunch breaks are uncommon nowadays with meetings in the diaries all the time with no consideration to lunch.'

    Report as inappropriate