Readers Roundtable: Running at Work

imageI used to be a professional. I’d head to work at the tall office building downtown in my suit and pumps, but I didn’t carry a briefcase. Instead, I carried a gym bag full of running clothes, make-up and other sundries I needed to catch some miles during lunchtime and transform from a hot sweaty mess back into my lawyerย suit. I didn’t think I was any kind of expert on running in the middle of a workday, but as I’ve talked to other professionals who also run, many of them can’t believe I used to pull that off.

But I get so sweaty!

We don’t have showers!

I don’t have time during the workday!

There are solutions. I know a lot of us are pros at making it look like we showered after a run without ever seeing a drop of water, while others of us know how to get in any number of miles within a hectic work week. Still others are experts at figuring out where to get in our miles from the most running-hostile office parks.

So today we ask all of you run-from-work professionals to share your secrets!

How do you get in your miles from work? When do you go? Do you have access to showers or do you have tricks for faking a post-run shower? Do you have good places to run from work or do you have to improvise? Tell us!

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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25 comments

  1. I LIVE this. As a parent with a wife who runs as well it is imperative that I am able to run at work! I have had a few instances where I need X miles but have to be back for a meeting so I end up going sweaty and get some looks. But with strong deodorant and baby wipes you can get back in the game without too much trouble after a run! Guys I would say have it easier tho! Sometimes I’ll just wear running shorts under my pants at work!

    1. No that I’m home with my kids I do everything sweaty and in running clothes and I really don’t care. There’s only so much time in the day and I’m not going to not get in my running because I might offend someone with my sweaty hair. If I have to look at least somewhat presentable, deodorant and baby wipes are clutch! Also, if my hair is clean before I run, then it’s not too bad right after a run and I can fudge it without a shower. For women I think it helps to have either very short hair or hair long enough to pull back into a bun or pony tail.

  2. I’m spoiled at the moment because I “only” work half days, so I don’t have to deal with returning to work post run. I change at the office and run part of my commute, which makes it a lot less annoying. Then I go straight to pick up my son from daycare. So yeah, I’m That Mom in the running clothes.

    We do have a shower and changing room at work, but there’s no hot water, so…not for the faint of heart.

    1. We had a gym at work and I’d take 30 sec showers – kept hair out of water and rinsed off the grossest parts. If I was still sweating at shower time, which was pretty often, I’d blast myself with cold water. So, I think I could do the cold water shower! If you have to wash your hair that demands warm water and is a lot more of a pain in the ass.

      1. Yeah, I’ve done the cold water shower a couple times when I had to go back to work. It was ok in summer, but in the fall I just never warmed back up and shivered all afternoon. Never Again!

  3. Generally it’s too much of a hassle for me to do my run during the workday, but I do it in a pinch if necessary. I am lucky to have non-stinky sweat glands, so my “get back into work mode” routine is generally nothing more than a paper towel dabbed on my face, a fresh application of lipstick, and pull my hair back into some type of heavy sweaty bun thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I typically run before work, but in order to get in as much as 14 miles and arrive at a decent hour, plenty of days I show up with my hair in a ponytail or bun. I also almost constantly haul around a leather (attempt at “professional”) gym bag full of running clothes and shoes in case things slow down enough to squeeze in a strength workout in the gym at the end of the day.

  5. I always run on my lunch break at work (whenever that may occur), and am fortunate to have membership at a sports facility within walking distance of my office building, equipped with showers (and weights and a pool!). Making the time to run is more of a challenge. I try to block off my calendar with a meeting during “lunch” time, but it’s only effective about half of the time as everyone knows that’s when I go running vs. having an actual meeting.

  6. I could get in a short midday run at work (without a shower, since we don’t have one here) but I typically don’t do that. After work is my go to (for now, since I don’t have kids etc.), and sometimes before work. I’ve definitely had my fair share of runs where had to go somewhere right after though, and for that I recommend the all mighty baby wipes, dry shampoo and deodorant ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. What about in the winter when it’s dark. I ran during lunch during the winters before kids just to soak up some sun. I’d work later or come in earlier if I had to. I’m not a big fan of running in the dark.

      1. I’ll run in the dark occasionally and depending on when I start, the last mile or 2 of a run might be sunsetting in summer. Winter, I typically will treadmill it- because cold dark and ice/snow sounds miserable to me.

  7. I desperately wish I could make it happen during the work day – but I can’t seem to walk away from the desk (especially during deadline time) – and sadly I work from home 99.99% of the time (so I’d be able to shower, etc.)

    I’m much better at getting up early and hitting the road for a 3 mile walk/run (I’m not running full on like most of you) at 5:30am while everyone in my house is still tucked in bed. Granted I haven’t done it in the last two plus months due to weather, lots of work deadlines (causing lots of very late nights) and a foot issue (yeah I know – I’m full of excuses), and I desperately miss it. No exercise is making me grumpy and depressed.

    Fifteen plus years ago (wow… that makes me sound old…) when I worked in an actual office, I used to manage to go swim at a fitness center on my lunch hour. I have talked about doing again (in addition to my AM walks), but you know, see excuses above.

    I was on a roll for about six to seven months of getting out there every weekday morning (and some weekends too)… but then I got derailed, and I’m having a hard time getting back to it. I’m a beginner and no where near as experienced as all of you. In fact – if you would have told me this time last year I’d be talking about missing my walk/run, I’d have said you were nuts.

    1. Beth, I feel you! I’m at home all day working too and I always have more I should be doing and when I do go out to run I feel really guilty. It’s a struggle! The winter makes it worse especially if you’re going early in the am. Thankfully the weather is improving and we’re getting more daylight every day. There’s no easy answer other than to bulldoze everything to the side for that hour and put on the blinders against the guilt of not being “productive” and doing something for ourselves instead of everyone else. I assure myself with this mantra “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” and that applies to my family and Salty Running and everyone else who relies on me or expects me to always be perfectly showered and dressed ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. I run at lunch most days. With three kids and a running spouse with a difficult schedule it is often the only guaranteed time I have to run outside. I can only fit in 3-5ish miles depending on the day but getting outside is essential to my mental health. I am sure folks at my work think it is crazy but I don’t care. Wipes and deodorant go a long way. I’ve been doing it 10 years now and plan on for a long time to come. I do admit to fantasizing about a shower in the office.

  9. For the past year, since I’ve been back at work with 2 kids, I’m a die hard run commuter. My old job was about 3 miles from home, so I’d run both ways, showering at work in the morning. Now I’m closer to 5 miles, so I usually run in the morning and take public transit home. My job is too busy to predictably fit in a run at lunch, unfortunately.

      1. I can’t speak for Jesse, obviously, but I have done this as well. You can either be super-organized about bringing clothes, toiletries, towels etc to the office at the beginning of the week…or, what I do: 20-liter running backpack. I leave shoes at the office and bring clothes in the backpack. It’s not the most comfortable way to run, especially if I have to haul my laptop back and forth, but it’s better than not running at all!

      2. A few years ago I wrote about how I found my commuter pack. I’m about due for a new one! http://www.saltyrunning.com/2012/05/16/the-right-backpack-for-running-to-commute/ Generally speaking, some days I groan about my pack, but I’m always glad I have it. I’d way rather be able to run somewhere and carry all my crud than to not be able to carry all my crud. I don’t really do any workout runs (tempos, etc) with it, just easy runs, and it doesn’t bother me unless I put a bunch of really heavy stuff in it. I’ve run 15 miles with it and been fine.

    1. Oh I should mention – having both the chest belt AND the hip belt on the pack definitely helps. But before I threw down $ for my current pack I started run-commuting with a spike bag, one of those drawstring backpack things. It was bouncy and annoying so I’d tie the strings together in front of me. It wasn’t the awesomest, but it’s a good way to try out running with cargo to see if you can get the hang of it!

  10. I’m spoiled. We have a pretty dilapidated office, but it includes a shower in the bathroom (odd, but lovely). I run at lunch and find its a nice time for short speed work. That said- speed work + summer = disgusting. Court starts at 1:00 pm no matter what. My best solution: I keep a towel, a basic shower caddy at the office. One corner of my office looks rather like a college dorm. I hang the towel on an adhesive hook.

    For post run prep- I take a 1 min shower and don’t wash my hair. Dry shampoo is my best friend. I add mascara and generally a low pony tail or bun. Done.

  11. I’m not full time so have 4 days a week when I can leave the school I teach at, fit in a run up to about 10k and then be back at the same school to pick up my son who goes there. There have been many occassions though where I have had to meet with parents when I get back, at which point I just apologize profusely and if possible open a window in the classroom! It is a very small school and at this point all the parents know I run in the afternoons so they get it.
    On my other day of the week I work at a larger school for the full day. My “lunch hour” consists of 20 minutes of lunch, then 20 minutes of yard duty, then 20 minutes of lunch. Needless to say a lunch time run does not work!

  12. I am pretty gross when it comes to running at or to/from work. Fortunately, it’s not uncommon for myself or many of my co-workers to run/bike/etc and barely shower after. We have a shower in our office, but I’m usually running around frantic, so I revert to wet-wipes and perfume showers!

  13. I wish I could get ready as fast as the pictures above suggest! If I am running in between work, I definitely don’t have time to shower. It would be a bun and some perfume spray.