Work and Working Out

I have been a runner for about 7 years and I have been an HR professional for about 20 years. The concept of work and running is relatively new to me as I only recently started to find a correlation in both. Of the 7 years of running, I have only been running during work hours for about 2 years. During this time, I’ve learned a few do’s and don’ts for me about how to maintain a semi-consistent weekly run schedule while working a full-time job.

I used to be an early morning runner during the week. I’m a morning person anyway and my natural alarm clock wakes me up between 5:30-6:30am, regardless of the previous day’s activities. I enjoyed getting it out of the way before the chaos of the day started. But, as with anything, life would take priority. Our daughters started school earlier, their activities were sometimes before school, and, we got a dog. Given the fact that getting a puppy was my idea, I was in charge of taking her out during the morning and evening hours. This pretty much took away all of my morning running time.

I needed to find a way to get back into the daily running routine. Fortunately, my office building has a gym and our office is located steps away from the beautiful Chicago lakefront. So, I ponied up the minimal one-time fee and tried to start a new running habit.

I had to get used to bringing my running shoes and clothes on my commute. This was a hassle, early on, because I didn’t like bringing the extra bag. I then started keeping my shoes in my office, though, and just brought a fresh set of clothes each day. I can easily fit my shoes and clothes in my work backpack and I have a small bag I leave at the office to go back and forth to the gym.

The most important thing I do is schedule the time to run. We live in such a calendar-dependent environment and each minute on that work calendar is precious. So, each week, I intentionally put 1 hour every day on my calendar for running and lunch, or as is sometimes referred to as “runch.” While there are many unexpected events that pop up every day in the HR trenches, I try to stick to the calendar as much as possible. Many of my colleagues know my routine, too, and it’s a great conversation starter about wellness in the workplace.

I have learned a couple of “what not to do’s” while trying to maintain a consistent running schedule during the work day. Do not schedule your run right before a face-to-face meeting. Let me explain. My weekday runs are typically 30 minutes or less. This gives me enough time to get to the gym, change, run, shower, grab a sandwich, and get back at it in 1 hour. If you know Chicago in the summer, you know the heat and humidity can be brutal. My body needs plenty of time to lower my core temperature and a cold quick shower rarely does the trick. I have had several meetings immediately after a run where the sweat continues. Then, my anxiety kicks in as I see the funny looks I’m getting as sweat is dripping, and even more sweat appears. This is not a good look. Just ask my co-workers. So, if you can avoid it, don’t schedule a big meeting right after your run.

As an HR professional, my schedule is rarely my own. I cannot plan for the unexpected employee relations issue, the frequent office pop-in’s to help and employee through a tough situation, or the everyday distractions of the role and life. But being intentional about my run and my schedule helps to make sure I get out there more times than not. These runs help to reduce the stress, clear my head, and better equip me to handle the day in a better frame of mind.

This all works well when I’m in the office. This is more of a challenge when I travel and I’ll deal with that in another post. Now, off to runch!

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