Barring the coldest days of winter and the hottest days of summer, I have a standing lunch date three or four days a week. His name is Linus.
Linus is the nickname I gave to my running bag when I realized that it was the same shade of blue as the beloved Peanuts character’s signature blanket, and like Linus, I carry that thing everywhere.
Nearly every workday, I pack Linus up the night before (ok, sometimes that morning) – stocking him up with everything we’ll need for our lunch date: sports bra, socks, headphones, and of course, my precious Mizunos.
I’m going to fully admit before I go any further that I realize that “runch” (running at lunch) isn’t an option for everyone and even if it was, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Before I started doing it, I had some hang ups – thoughts like, “I’ll be sweaty and nasty for the rest of the day” and “will I even be able to even get a decent run in with only an hour’s time?”
I have been blessed with a flexible lunch time and bosses who came to understand that I am much more pleasant and functioning when I run regularly. My daughter was about six months old when I started running at lunch and I swear at first I did it out of simple lack of any other time. I commuted nearly an hour with an early start time and was rushing to and from daycare on both ends of the day. So, along came Linus, lugged in over my shoulder, to be tucked under my desk until we could start suiting up come noontime.
My first concern was where to go, but some time scouring over Google Maps and a little experience showed me varying routes and I quickly knew where I’d hit a mile in every direction.
There is something that feels incredibly special about hitting the pavement mid-day. The sun is high in the sky, traffic is moving, and people are in the midst of their business. Life is going on – and there I am – out in the light and free of my computer screen – running through the center of it. This is my time.
There have been busy streets and quiet neighborhoods on my lunch runs. There have been shaded bike paths covered in Fall leaves and road shoulders thick with the remaining road sand of Winter. There have been sweltering days when I literally ran for the shade and there have been days when I couldn’t feel my freezing toes. Like every runner, each day I get out is a blessing. Once I’ve found my cadence and settled into the fact that, yes, I made it here, I’ve never once regretted lacing up. I’ve been lucky enough to see some cool things during my mid-day journey: a hawk perched on a fence not three feet from my shoulder, a retiree who clapped for me as he went to get his mail, faces of fellow runchers who became familiar. This is sacred time to me.
There is a dark side to runch.
I return and stop by App. I evaluate my time and catch my breath. I stretch a minute… and then like the cold freeze of mid-summer AC, it hits me. I have to go back…to work.
This is the hard part and, I imagine, the part that turns some away from runch. It’s hard to switch gears again, and there isn’t much post-run downtime to bask in your effort and enjoy the endorphin high. At this point, it’s time to face both the time crunch and the odd looks from your co-workers.
This is the nitty-gritty of runch and where Linus and I get close. Somehow, I have to transform from the sweaty, red-faced superhero I have become back to the mere mortal who occupies my desk chair.
Planning helps and here are my best tips.
- If you have long hair, take it down as soon as you get back. Any sweat there needs air and time to dry and ponytail bump is never cute. A few spritzes of dry shampoo make all the difference for the rest of the day, but you need dry hair to get the benefit.
- When changing, get naked. I don’t recycle any of my daywear into running clothes or vice versa. Not even underwear. I try to keep a plastic shopping bag handy to wrap up any worn clothes and keep them separate from anything clean in my bag.
- If you can’t shower (I don’t unless it’s stupid hot out, mostly for time reasons) it helps to cool your body down as much as you can so that you stop sweating. When changing, I find that a cold, wet washcloth helps to accomplish this. As all moms know, baby wipes are your friend, and if you’re inclined, there are wipes designed specifically for post-workouts. I utilize a toiletry bag which hangs up for easy access to these as well as cleansing face wipes, fresh deodorant and a travel size bottle of a lightly scented body spray.
- Linus is also packed up with other handy necessities only for him, which keep my excuses at bay:
- Hair ties , comb and brush
- Phone carrying options (Flip Belt, Arm Band)
- Hand held water bottle and fuel belt
- Gels and protein bars
- An emergency extra pair of socks and underwear kept in a secret compartment (there is nothing worse than going to change and having no socks!)
- Zippered pouch for bandages, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, travel pack of tissues
- Hat & gloves in cold weather
- Extra washcloths for warm weather
Again, this type of routine isn’t for everyone. I’ve been told more than once that “I could never do that. I have to shower.” I respect that. Truth be told, I’ve had some brutally honest cubicle mates who couldn’t tell an hour after my return if I ran or not, and I’ve passed their sniff test, but I still worry people think I’m gross. The endorphins help with this. It helps to feel accomplished that I’ve got my run in. It helps to know I am training and getting stronger and faster. It helps that returning to my desk means guilt free lunch (I heart food).
It helps to know that anytime I’m feeling antsy, or I’m trying to get miles in for the week, or I’m simply having a rough day as a single, working mom Linus is there to be my lunch date.