Now that I work for myself, I don’t have a set lunch hour. So although my working days can start as early as 6:30am and finish at 8pm, I generally have plenty of time in the middle of the day to head to the gym or for a run.
Yesterday was my first day back at my desk after taking a few days off last week. Monday mornings are always my online coaching catch-ups and the I went straight into a pile of emails that had built up over the weekend.
The sun was shining and I really wanted to head out for a run, but I didn’t. I stayed at my desk until midday. Even with all the flexibility that my working day has, it’s still hard to break the habits of 15 years of office life: 9-5 with an hour for lunch.
I worked at my last full-time job for 8 years and it was where I started running. For the last couple of years of being there I was also coaching in the evenings, which meant my training for several marathons and two ultra marathons was squeezed in where I could find time. I ran to work in the mornings and I ran at lunchtimes.
My friend Laura first coined the term Runch. She worked on the other side of the River Thames and on a couple of occasions we successfully synced our lunch breaks to run together along the Embankment. And we weren’t the only ones out there, there’s always groups of office workers who e swapped their suits for race shirts getting some lunchtime miles in.
Brooks Running sent me a press release the other week that said that the average UK worker spends 4 hours 26 mins sat at their desk a day – that’s a marathon worth of sitting! And 23% spend 7 hours or more sitting each day.
There’s plenty of people – nurses, teachers, traffic wardens – whose jobs mean they spend a lot of time on their feet. And probably sitting down is a welcome break at lunchtime for them.
But, for the rest of us, as much as we might enjoy our work (I enjoyed my last job), very few of us want to sit at our computers for longer than necessary. And yet we still do it, when getting up, going for a walk at lunchtime or a run is going to make your day much more enjoyable, give you more energy and be better for your health.
Last year, I was asked by a company in the middle of London to coach a 0-5k run group at lunchtime for staff. Over 10 weeks I led staff twice a week in their lunch hour, and after 10 weeks we ran 5k down the river. A year on they’re still running and the office has now implemented an afternoon plank break.
23% of people spending 7 hours sitting is a lot of hours. I’d like to see more companies investing in the health of their staff like this. But we can all take responsibility for our health and wellbeing, step away from the desk and get some air.