Maximize Your Midday: Master the Art of the Lunch Break Run for Boosted Productivity

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

Ever thought about lacing up those sneakers and hitting the pavement during your lunch break?

Whether you’re juggling endless meetings or tackling that mammoth to-do list, a brisk lunchtime run could be your golden ticket to soaring productivity and a jolt of fresh, creative juice!

But how do you squeeze in a quick run amidst back-to-back meetings and an ever-buzzing inbox? Don’t sweat it (well, maybe a little)! I’ve got the ultimate playbook to help you nail the lunch break run game. Dive in!

The Benefits Of Running at Lunchtime

The concept of a “runch” may seem new or quirky to some, but there’s a growing community of professionals who’ve discovered the rejuvenating power of hitting the pavement or treadmill in the middle of their workday.

Here are some detailed insights into the benefits of lunchtime running:

Mental Reset:

A midday run serves as a mental break, helping you to decompress and distance yourself from the stresses of the morning. A study published in the “Journal of Applied Psychology” (Smith et al., 2017) found that taking breaks during the workday, such as a midday run, can improve mood and reduce stress, contributing to a mental reset.

Endorphin Release:

Running triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood elevators, helping reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Research in the “Journal of Sports Science & Medicine” (Wang et al., 2018) has demonstrated that running induces the release of endorphins, which act as natural mood elevators, helping to reduce stress and anxiety.

Posture Improvement:

Constant sitting can lead to poor posture. Running helps activate and strengthen muscles that might be dormant during desk work, promoting better posture.

Counteracting Desk Fatigue:

Regular movement, especially running, combats the negative effects of sitting for extended periods, reducing the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease.

Better Decision-Making:

A break from constant decision-making allows the brain to recharge, leading to better choices in the afternoon.

Problem Solving:

Stepping away from a problem can lead to unexpected solutions. A run gives the subconscious mind a chance to mull things over.

Improved Concentration:

Physical activity has been linked to improved focus and concentration, meaning a post-run afternoon can be highly productive.

The “British Journal of Sports Medicine” published a study (Elmstahl et al., 2019) highlighting the positive effects of physical activity on focus and concentration, which can lead to a more productive afternoon.

Fighting the Afternoon Slump:

A midday run can counteract that typical afternoon energy dip, making you feel more awake and alert. In a study by Harvard Medical School (2016), researchers found that brief exercise breaks during the workday can combat the common afternoon energy dip, promoting alertness.

Brain Boost:

Exercise has been shown to boost creative thinking. If you’re stuck on a task or need a fresh perspective, a run can help those creative juices flow.


Regular midday runs can contribute significantly to weekly mileage, aiding in fitness goals.

Top 7 Tips For Running During Your Lunch Break

If your job is demanding, you might find it hard to get alone time at lunch break, let alone go for a run.  But keep in mind that you need is one hour  – or maybe less, depending on your readiness and run duration.

  1. Planning And Scheduling Matter

The secret to running on your lunch break lies in planning ahead.

Before the week kicks off, check your schedule and plan which days you’re going to run at lunch.

If you want to devote a few of your lunch breaks to running a few times a week, plan these sessions and schedule time out of your office for your run.

Here’s how to create a foolproof plan to ensure your lunchtime runs are a success:

  • Pack Ahead: The night before, pack your running gear, including shoes, socks, a change of clothes, and any other essentials. This ensures you won’t forget anything in the morning rush.
  • Weather Check: Check the weather forecast for the week and plan your outfits accordingly. If it’s expected to rain, consider bringing a light rain jacket or opting for indoor workouts.
  • Routine Reminder: Set a daily reminder on your phone or work computer. This will help reinforce the habit until it becomes a natural part of your day.
  • Flexibility: Life happens. If something urgent crops up, reschedule your run for another time in the day or consider a shorter, more intense workout.
  • Cleaning Up: If there’s no shower at your workplace, bring cleansing wipes and dry shampoo. You’ll be surprised at how refreshed you can feel with a quick wipe-down and a change of clothes.
  • Storing Your Gear: Designate a space in your office or car to store your running gear. A clean and organized space can act as motivation and reduce the chance of forgetting anything.

Additional Resource – Running while constipated.

  1. Have Your Running Bag

Having everything you need in one spot is essential for maximizing your running time and ensuring you don’t forget any vital items. An organized running bag is a time-saver and reduces pre-run stress. Here’s how to keep everything in order:

  • Dedicated Running Bag: Choose a medium-sized gym bag with several compartments. This helps segregate items and allows easy access to what you need.
  • Compartmentalize: Use small pouches or packing cubes to separate clean clothes from dirty ones after your run.
  • Versatility: Consider clothing that’s office-appropriate yet comfy for a run, like black running leggings, which might double up as casual wear.
  • Travel-Sized Items: Use travel-sized bottles for body wash, face wash, and sunscreen to save space.
  • Freshen Up: Dry shampoo and baby wipes can be lifesavers for a quick freshening up when showers aren’t available.
  • Protection: Ensure your GPS watch and any other tech items are safely stored in padded sections to avoid damage.
  • For Cold Weather: Pack gloves, a beanie, and a warm jacket.
  • For Rainy Weather: A light waterproof jacket and a small umbrella might be beneficial. Consider also packing a plastic bag to store wet items post-run.

Additional Resource – Here’s the full guide to feeling bloated after running

woman starting a run

  1. Warm-Up Properly

If you have limited time for your lunch run, you might feel tempted to skip your warm-up to save time, but this can compromise your performance and increase the risk of injuries.

Here’s a quick, effective warm-up routine that’ll get your body ready in no time:

  • Foot Circles: Sitting or standing, lift one foot off the ground. Rotate your ankle clockwise for tten circles, then counter-clockwise. Switch feet.
  • Calf Raises: Stand near a wall or desk for balance. Raise your heels off the ground, coming onto the balls of your feet. Lower and rep15 times.
  • Leg Swings: Hold onto a wall or a sturdy object. Swing one leg forward and backward in a controlled motion. Do ten swings and switch legs.
  • Walking Lunges: Take a step forward with your right foot, sinking into a lunge. Push through your right foot to bring your left foot forward, lunging again. Do ten lunges for each leg.
  • Hip Circles: Place hands on your hips and rotate your hips in a circular motion, similar to a hula hoop action. Do ten circles in each direction.
  • Arm Circles: Extend your arms out to your sides and rotate them in small circles, gradually increasing the size. Do ten circles forward and ten circles backward.
  • Jumping Jacks: This old-school exercise is perfect for increasing your heart rate and preparing your body for a run. Do two sets of 20 jumping jacks.
  • High Knees: March in place, bringing your knees up towards your chest. Start slow, and gradually increase the speed. Do this for 30 seconds.
  • Deep Breaths: Close your eyes, take a deep breath in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, then exhale for a count of 4. Repeat 3-5 times. This will help in centering your focus and calming any pre-run jitters.
  • Easy Jogging: Before you launch into your planned pace, jog lightly for 3-5 minutes. This eases the transition from rest to activity, further warming up your muscles and joints.

Master The Quick Change

Changing up, both before and after running, can eat away at many a precious minute.

So even if you have a “flexible” lunchtime break, you’re better off making the most out of it by devoting your time to running, cooling down, and lunch.

You don’t want to spend a long time changing from one outfit to the next.

So what’s the best way to do so?

Here are some quick change strategies to help you make the most of your precious time:

  • Wear Your Running Gear Underneath: Opt for moisture-wicking, lightweight running clothing that you can comfortably wear under your work attire. This eliminates the need for a complete outfit change.
  • Reverse Packing Order: As you mentioned, pack your running bag in reverse order. This means having your running shoes, socks, and anything else you’ll put on last at the top. This ensures quick access to the items you need right away.
  • Simplify Your Running Gear: Stick to the essentials. If you don’t need to bring a full set of makeup or a change of clothes, leave them out. The less you need to change, the faster it will be.
  • Pack Before Bed: Ensure your running gear and lunch are packed and ready the night before. This minimizes the chances of forgetting anything and allows you to have a smoother start in the morning.
  • Use Ziplock Bags: Place small items like your watch, headphones, or energy gels in labeled ziplock bags. This prevents them from getting lost in your bag and makes them easy to grab.
  • Baby Wipes: If shower facilities aren’t available, have baby wipes handy for a quick wipe-down. They can help freshen you up and reduce the need for a full-body wash.
  • Combine Cool Down with Changing: After your run, start your cool-down walk. As you walk, remove your running gear and replace it with your work attire. This minimizes downtime.

Additional Resource – Here’s the full guide to running watches

Freshen Up

Cleaning up quickly after a lunchtime run, especially when you don’t have access to a shower, is essential for returning to work fresh and comfortable. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you freshen up swiftly:

  • Pre-packaged Body Wipes: Invest in pre-packaged body wipes designed for post-workout use. These are larger and more effective than typical baby wipes.
  • Thorough Wipe-Down: Start with your face and work your way down, focusing on sweat-prone areas like your neck, underarms, and groin. Pay special attention to areas that tend to chafe.
  • Swift Change: Change into your work attire using the quick-change strategies mentioned earlier.
  • Consider a Fresh Bra: If you’re a woman, consider packing an extra sports bra. Changing into a fresh one can make a big difference in comfort.
  • Dry Shampoo: If you don’t have time to wash your hair, use dry shampoo to freshen up and remove excess oil.
  • Hair Ties and Clips: Quickly tie up or clip your hair to keep it off your face and neck.
  • Effective Application: Apply antiperspirant or deodorant generously to key areas where you tend to sweat.


Before you schedule your lunchtime run, plan your meals for afterward.

So once you’re out of your running clothes and freshened up, it’s time to get in a quick meal.

Here are some meal-planning tips and ideas for your post-runch nourishment:

  • Morning Prep: Prepare your lunch in the morning before heading to work to save time.
  • Healthy Choices: Opt for a balanced meal that includes lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and a variety of colorful vegetables. This will provide the nutrients your body needs for recovery.
  • Pasta: Whole wheat pasta with a lean protein source (chicken, turkey, or tofu) and plenty of veggies. Add a light olive oil-based sauce or a tomato-based sauce for flavor.
  • Salad and Ham Sandwich: A hearty salad with greens, veggies, and lean ham served with a whole-grain sandwich is a quick and nutritious choice.
  • Wraps: Whole-grain wraps filled with lean proteins (turkey, chicken, or beans) and fresh veggies make for a satisfying and portable post-run meal.
  • Chicken and Vegetables: Grilled or baked chicken breast with a side of steamed or roasted vegetables is a classic choice.
  • Omelet and a Banana: An omelet with spinach, tomatoes, and a banana on the side provides protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins.
  • Water: Rehydrate with water after your run to replace lost fluids.
  • Electrolyte Drink: If you sweat heavily, consider an electrolyte drink to replace lost salts and minerals.
  • Moderate Portions: Keep your post-run meal portioned appropriately. Overeating can lead to sluggishness and discomfort for the rest of the day.
  • Timing:
  • Eat Within an Hour: Aim to eat your post-run meal within an hour of finishing your run to optimize recovery.

Tips For Running During Your Lunch Break – The Conclusion

If you’re running a busy lifestyle, running during your lunch break is a fantastic way to help add more movement to your daily life.

Not only it’s a fantastic way to fit in a run during the day, but you’ll also get an endorphin rush, improving your productivity.

What’s not to like!

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