For many runners, the flexibility and work-from-home options created by the pandemic allowed for well-rounded training habits and routines. Being able to squeeze in midday training sessions, mobility routines, strength work, and meals has proved beneficial for advancing their abilities. So now that many are seeing an end in sight to the days of working from home, what negative aspects of a return to the traditional work setting should we be aware of, and what healthy habits might translate well into the office setting.
Sitting For Hours A Day
In 2019, the average commute to work was 27.6 minutes. While these times can vary greatly (upwards of one hour or more, one way in some cities), this suggests that at least 45 minutes to an hour is spent sitting in a car driving to and from the office daily.
Once we arrive at the office, for many of us, a job seated at a desk or a table awaits. Whether we’re taking zoom calls, working on a computer, or attending meetings, the hours spent sitting add up, magnifying the problem. “The longer you sit, the tighter you get,“ states Dr. Sophie McDonald, a sport-specific chiropractor, and owner of United Sport Solutions. “Creep is the medical term we use to describe how tissue gets “stiff” if it is in a sustained position for so long.”
In the body, it takes about 20 minutes for soft tissues like muscles, tendons, ligaments to adapt into a position. If you sit at a desk for 20 minutes, your hip flexors shorten into a position to keep you seated. After 20 minutes, if you try to stand, walk, or go for a run, the hip flexors feel stiff and resist lengthening because they have become accustomed to the shortened position. Try to move every hour, but preferably every 20 minutes; it may help prevent creep and maintain the elastic properties of our soft tissues and decrease the risk of injury, perceived stiffness, or pain.
Sitting for an extended period creates imbalances if not appropriately addressed, significantly impacting athletic performance and running efficiency.
Working from home has allowed greater flexibility to stand and take more frequent breaks. Many athletes and runners incorporated a short 10-minute mobility routine, completed multiple times a day to help stay limber.
Take breaks to stand every 45 minutes to an hour.
Complete a short mobility routine 2 - 3 times daily at the office, focusing on pelvic mobility and posture.
Adjust the position of your desk, computer monitor, and chair to promote good body alignment.
Go for a short walk to loosen tight muscles and encourage blood flow.
Nutrition And Skipped Meals
Working from home allows for greater ease and access to daily nutritional necessities such as meals and snacks to fuel a demanding training routine. Now that many will be returning to work, meal prepping will take the place of the short walk to the fridge we’ve grown accustomed to this last year.
Many employers may not take well to frequent breaks for meals, so here are a few tips to stay on top of your caloric needs:
Keep a water bottle easily accessible in your office or at your desk.
Pack your lunch ahead of time to save the time having to commute for food.
Bring snacks such as fruit, granola bars, or yogurt for quick access to accommodate a demanding schedule.
Don’t skip lunch. Although some days it might be tempting, it’s not worth the negative impacts to training that may result.
Long Days Late Nights
With the return to the office comes an increased chance of a missed training session due to fatigue or family obligations. Many will find themselves heading out the door early to beat traffic, and some may decide to stay late to avoid rush hour on the way home. Think adaptability when it comes to planning a training schedule.
Keep a set of running clothes and shoes in your car
Go for a run during lunch
Create space in the schedule to run in the morning or evening
Consider access to a gym or purchasing a treadmill at home
Be mindful that scheduling changes are common in the office setting. Review and embrace your running goals. It’s not impossible to maintain a high level of training when you return to the office, but it will take some time to adapt to a new routine.