Most runners have a day job and, for most of us, that involves spending a significant amount of time sitting at a desk. Amazingly, even for runners, sitting at a desk poses significant health hazards, not to mention the tightness induced in key running muscles. Additionally, bad posture habits can easily carry over to your running, resulting in a tendency to slouch or lean too far forward.
From a productivity standpoint, sitting at a desk all day raises concerns as well. First, from a running perspective, that is time that could be spent on improving your capabilities and, eventually, performance. But more significantly from your employer's (and therefore your own) standpoint, taking breaks from sitting in front of your computer can actually boost your productivity. Thus, your interests are served in many ways by getting out of your chair regularly.
So what's a desk worker to do? Fortunately, there are a wide range of options available to you if you're only willing to employ a little creativity (and perhaps brave some quizzical looks from your co-workers). Let's start with four things you can do even while you are sitting at your desk.
- Use a Standing Desk: The options for this vary widely, from a do-it-yourself approach (many of which may be more suitable for a home office) to a commercially available model. Just like introducing new stimuli in your training, it's probably best to do this as a gradual process instead of going cold turkey.
- Sit on a Stability Ball: The constant adjustments you need to make in your core muscles (specifically hips and abs) make sitting on a stability ball helpful (if only incrementally) for your running. Studies have shown an improvement in focus by children (particularly those with special needs or ADHD) who sit on a stability ball, which may well translate to adults with attention challenges of their own. However, this is not a shortcut for improving your posture—studies have shown that, if you aren't mindful of it, at least, you can actually slouch more.
- Get Up Regularly: Even if you use a stability ball, getting up on a regular basis to move around is essential to offsetting the negative impacts from sitting too long. Go get a drink of water at the farthest water fountain, and help with your hydration while you're at it. And, if you can get away with it, do some drills like A-skips (at least the march), B-skips, or butt kicks while you're at it. If you have trouble remembering to do this, there are many timer applications that can help.
- Do Simple and Discreet Exercises at Your Desk: Try toe yoga or similar foot exercises, calf raises (if you are standing), and other related fine motor activities. These can be completed easily during a few minute break without leaving your desk.