Weekends can be a runner’s paradise, as you can schedule your run for whenever it works for you. You can run as long as you want and also use it to catch up with a running buddy. But those five days a week when you’re office-bound can be another matter. Those days are typically jam-packed with commuting to the office, meetings all day, then maybe commitments after — or, if you’re lucky, no commitments, but also: no energy. What’s a runner to do?
We’ve compiled seven ways to make office life a bit healthier so you can fit in a run or be ready for a run whenever the opportunity arises:
RUN TO THE OFFICE
Sure, the lunch run sounds like a great way to clear your head, but more often than not, even if it’s on your calendar, something comes up and the run never happens. Instead, build it into your commute. “When I ran marathons back in the day, I would run home from work a couple of days a week,” says lawyer Barry Cox. “If that’s too far, consider getting off the train, bus or subway and running the rest of the way home or driving halfway and running the rest of the way.” Get creative with how you get to the office. Run packs are great for stashing your lunch and laptop, and you can leave a few changes of clothes at the office and drive once a week to swap them out.
FREQUENT THE WATERCOOLER
Most of us don’t drink enough water throughout the day, especially when the coffeemaker feels more accessible than the water cooler. (Morning coffee is fine, but you shouldn’t be relying on it all day.) Keep a big bottle on your desk and refill it regularly — remember staying hydrated is an energy booster. Also, when you find time to run, you’re hydrated and ready to go. Bonus: You’ll also get your steps in with trips to the restroom.
TAKE THE STAIRS
Even if you can’t do a run-specific workout in the office, you can find time to shift your position and get in some steps. Former HR manager Kate Sparling says, “If you happen to work in building with multiple floors, use amenities on different levels so you regularly have to travel up or down stairs for bathroom, coffee, water or photocopier.” A few flights of stairs can bring your heart rate up and get you primed and ready for your post-work or lunchtime run.
SCHEDULE WALKING MEETINGS
Brandon Olin, founder of Movility, spends his days helping offices become more ergonomically friendly, but he says his best tip is simply to walk whenever you can. That may mean walking meetings with your fellow workers or boss or even taking some phone meetings while meandering through the park. (Pro tip: Always carry a notebook and pen with you.) It’s not running, but it will help you keep your hips open and contribute to your overall step count for the day.
INVEST IN YOUR WORKSPACE
Olin is a fan of swapping a desk chair for a yoga ball at a minimum, but really likes the walking desk. “I love the saying that your best posture is your next posture,” he adds. “So anything that keeps you shifting around is ideal.” Standing desks with treadmills are hard to come by, but can be a huge boost to your workspace. If you dig the treadmill desk concept but can’t afford or fit it, a mini-stepper that can tuck under a standing desk will keep you moving all day without your coworkers noticing. (Check with the HR department before making changes or ordering something like a standing desk — you might be surprised to find out that the company will cover it.)
BE READY TO RUN
Whether you find a rare moment during the day or get stuck in the office late and need to blow off some steam, having an “emergency run bag” can be a gamechanger. Just adapt an approach of always being ready to run, and you’ll be less likely to skip out on workouts in favor of happy hour — or at least get your run in before happy hour.
TALK TO YOUR BOSS
You may be overdue for a chat with your boss about the possibility of working remotely one day a week, which would allow more time for running that day. This won’t work for everyone, of course, but it never hurts to ask about how you can make your job more run-friendly. (And check with HR for perks you might be missing. Some companies offer less-well-known perks like gym memberships or discounts or physical therapy as part of your health benefits. Some offer bonuses for commuting on foot or by bike.)