How to Run at Lunch

At Runner’s World, the lunch run is ingrained in our culture. Flushed cheeks and sweaty button-ups are common sights at meetings after 1pm. We know we’re lucky; getting out for a workout at lunchtime is a luxury not everyone can enjoy.

But doing a RUNch isn’t as difficult as you might think. We asked expert lunch-runners around the office for their tips, and then put together this step-by-step guide to getting out on the road in the middle of the workday:

Figure out where you want to run. Map a simple route from your office or drive to a local park. It’s best to keep any driving short.

Plan to meet a friend. Having a partner is the best way to ensure you actually get out the door.

But if you are running with someone, make sure you know where and when you’re going to meet. You don’t want to spend a quarter of your lunch break tracking down your mate.

Block out time on your schedule. If there’s a way to alert people that you won’t be in the office and available for meetings during your lunch hours, do so in advance. It’s also a good idea to have a sense of what work you need to accomplish before your outing.

Pack Your Gym Bag

“I pack my bag the night before when I’m feeling ambitious,” says RW international designer Karen Matthes. (It’s also a good idea for those of us who tend to run late in the mornings.)

Here’s a combined list of what’s in the RW editors’ bags:

  • shorts
  • shirt
  • sports bra, if needed
  • socks
  • shoes
  • post-run underwear
  • GPS watch
  • towel
  • washcloth
  • deodorant
  • soap/ body wash
  • baby wipes, if you don’t have shower access
  • face wash
  • dry shampoo
  • brush/comb

Keep it Simple the Morning of Your RUNch

Eat your regular breakfast and pack a light snack to eat an hour before you hit the road. “My go-to pre-lunch-run snacks are a piece of fruit with half a cup of yoghurt,” says executive international editor Tish Hamilton. “Or a handful of almonds.”

Plan your work outfit. It should be something that does not need dry-cleaning, e.g., a washable cotton shirt and pants or skirt.

To save milliseconds, wear the socks you plan to run in.

Keep your hairstyle simple. Limit your use of gel or hairspray—you don’t want that gunk dripping down your face when you sweat. If you have long locks, this is the day for a French braid.

Apply sunscreen.

Master the Quick Change

At 11:55am, head to your office  bathroom, hop in a stall, and change. Five minutes is a generous amount of time to get run-ready. Make sure to reapply your SPF before you head out the door.

Enjoy Your Run!

If you’re by yourself, try to clear your mind and focus on the benefits of logging kilometres midday. “Even 20 minutes of running can help improve your mood and productivity,” says international fuel editor Heather Irvine. “Take whatever time you can get.”

If your coworkers join you, that’s great. But know your crowd when bringing up work-related issues. You don’t want to complain about your superiors in front of other management.

Clean Yourself Up

If you have access to a shower in your office or at a local gym, then you know how to make yourself smell better (hopefully).

But what if you don’t have a shower? A birdbath will do.

“I’ve been running or riding to work for 39 years and had lots of days without the opportunity to shower,” says chief running officer Bart Yasso. “Two things I always used are wipes and an absorbent towel. All you need is a sink. I would clean up quickly and then get dressed for work.”

There are other products that will help combat sweat and stink for the afternoon. And for women, dry shampoo is a saving grace.

“I spray dry shampoo in my hair, comb it, and then blow it out quickly,” says international social media editor Hannah McGoldrick. “It smells good and looks like I just came from the salon instead of the roads!”

Back to the Grind, Bask in Your Accomplishments

Are you feeling supercharged? Probably—studies show that physical activity boosts brain power.

Don’t be self-conscious if you are still sweaty. “If you feel like your colleagues are giving you weird looks,” says international junior video producer Derek Call.

Finally, share your RUNch on social media. You might encourage some of your friends, family, or co-workers to join you the next day. See you out there!



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