It might seem like an odd question to come from people who run regularly, but it’s not as uncommon as you might think.
A lot of us have inconveniently computer dependent jobs and while we might get out for our run in the morning, we spend a whole lot of time sitting other than that. And sometimes, the running workout might be so intense, that it actually seems to enforce this. That’s not to say that rest is bad, or you shouldn’t have a lie down or binge watch Queer Eye on Netflix, but that often what is linked to your health isn’t how much time you spend exercising, but actually how much time you spend not moving at all. Which is a different conversation.
So, it becomes less about your run or your workout and more about how you actually spend your whole day and also how you utilise active recovery as opposed to complete rest.
I work from home so I do have a lot more flexibility in this than people who don’t. But even if you are working 9-5, there are ways that you can work it in to your day.
1. Take regular breaks
They don’t have to be huge, it can be as simple as getting up from your desk every hour or so. If you do have the flexibility what I like to do is to do some computer stuff for an hour, then maybe break that up with cooking, cleaning or errand or other tasks that get me moving a bit more. I think the tendency in our brain is to want to do things in blocks – so x hours of work and then do all of this ‘other stuff’ later but you might actually find yourself a lot more productive if you break it up more.
2. Cross training isn’t just for injury
Admittedly, pretty much the only time I hop on the exercise bike is when I am injured, but the benefits to cross-training aren’t just about developing or maintaining aerobic fitness, it’s about moving your body in a different way – especially as running is so repetitive. So for me my cross training of choice is swimming, CrossFit, walking and also yoga lately although for me and the style of yoga I do I would consider that more as body maintenance because I’m doing restorative yoga not a full practice. For me, swimming is probably the one I get the most out of, because it’s full body, it’s non impact and it’s a completely different movement pattern.
3. Could you walk there?
So many things I used to drive to, I now walk to. Now, admittedly if you live out of town this might not be a possibility for you. But maybe if you are at work and you have an errand to do you could walk to do that and then come back to the car before you go home – that kind of thing. Or maybe if you are having a meeting at work you could suggest a walking meeting (definitely the best kind of meeting). And if you do have to drive to your errands – maybe park a little bit further away so you can get in some extra moving that way.
4. Alphabet feet
This is one you can do at your desk. Use your feet to draw the letters of the alphabet. Pretty simple, but adds in a nice bit of foot mobility into your day.
5. Use environment cues to help you
I put my foam rollers and other assorted devices in the lounge room in front of the couch, so if I am sitting down they are there too, judging me. Have a look at your environment, is there something that is blocking you? You might like to do some yoga or stretching but do you have hard floors and that’s a deterrent. It might sound simple, but those little environmental cues can have a big impact. I find even with having my space set up in front of the TV, it’s not actually ideal because I don’t really want to do yoga with Spongebob in the background, so I’ve started moving it into the bedroom instead.
6. Pick something to work on through the week
This might be squat mobility (so accumulating time at the bottom of a squat), or it might be improving push ups or working on single leg balance – and then at several times through the day just take a minute or two to work on it. It’s a whole lot less intimidating when it’s only a minute and you don’t have to commit to a full routine.
7. Adjust your workout schedule
This is one that can be the most challenging to do. But if you are so exhausted or sore from training that it’s impacting your movement through the rest of the week, it might be time to reduce your load. Consistency is greater than intensity – so if your hard workout is stopping you from being consistent, it’s probably too much right now.
The important thing is to try new things. It might take you awhile to find something that you enjoy and feels good for you and your body and that is okay. Just keep trying things on until you find what works for you.