My only ever lunchtime run at work, around two years ago, went quite well – 30 minutes of speed work in the quiet depths of a large park near our headquarters.
The problem came afterwards.
It was a humid, overcast August day in Paris, without a puff of a breeze. I had run hard. And the busy showers in our building weren’t well ventilated, which turned them into a veritable sauna. Even after turning the water from warm to cold, I just couldn’t cool down.
So I spent the rest of my lunchbreak drenched in sweat, gobbling my microwaved pasta while sitting in the coolest place I could find in the building – the stairs down to the underground car park. And it took me ages to feel cool and un-sweaty enough to go back to the office.
Was this to be my fate if I converted to lunchtime running? Forever hidden away in the basement stairwell like some gluttonous, perspiring, hyperventilating family secret? Never!
In truth, that lunchtime run was just an experiment for variety’s sake; I was perfectly happy to stick to running outside of office hours.
Not everyone has the luxury or convenience of being able to run at lunchtime. Some people must clock in and out at lunchtime, which puts every minute at a premium. Others mightn’t have shower facilities at work. (Both of these situations apply to me.)
Aside from the logistics, I prefer to take lunchtime literally, as time for lunch. As strict principles I never eat lunch at my desk and I never combine work with lunch. (The notion of a brown bag lunch offends me.) For my mental wellbeing I need to switch off from work for lunch.
And by lunch I mean more than a sandwich gobbled on the move. Lunch is my biggest meal of the day and essential for my fuelling. I’m lucky to have a canteen at work where I can get a filling and balanced meal – and that deserves enough time for me to eat it slowly and properly.
But even if I had perfect facilities and conditions, I would still be reluctant to run at lunchtime. Just like the idea of running to and from work, squeezing a run into a window of my working day would take a lot of the enjoyment out of my running. And I’ll like to know I can relax after my run, without any pressure to dash through the showers, wolf down my lunch and then head straight into a busy afternoon at the coalface.
Running at lunchtime just isn’t to my taste.