My wife and I both work full time, and our daughter is in school a mere 12 hours a week. Those hours are precious. In February, with a full calendar and our exercise routines slipping, we embraced the fact that we couldn’t put aside a full hour for training runs on work days. We adopted a mantra: Have 30 minutes? Take 30 minutes. It helps us squeeze in runs and build consistency into our training. But a half-hour run is often easier said than done: if it’s not planned right, it can stretch out to a 60-minute ordeal. Part of it is actually taking that time, the other part is having the right gear to make it as convenient as possible. Here are the items that we’ve been using for the past three months to make sure we never skip a short run.
Get Comfortable Shoes
Having plush running shoes waiting for me on my front porch makes me significantly more motivated to get out the door. First, I look forward to putting them on. Second, I find my feet and legs warm up more quickly in cushioned kicks, which is particularly important for short runs—if I’m running for 30 minutes I don’t want to spend 20 of them tuning up. Every runner and every foot is different, but my current preference is Hoka’s Clifton 8 ($130, available June 2021) which are some of the most comfortable running shoes I’ve ever worn. My feet are wide and brutally beaten up from years of hard use. While I should probably invest in a trip to the podiatrist, the Clifton 8s are keeping my dogs happy for the time being. My wife Sarah is wearing—and loving—Altra’s Olympus 4 ($170).
Have a Clothes Plan
On hot multi-hour runs, I’m a big fan of running in five-inch shorts with fancy supportive underwear and techy tops that look like they could be worn under a NASA space suit. But for quickies, I run in athleisure wear that I won’t have to change out of when I get home—showering doesn’t fit into the half-hour run window. I like Reigning Champ’s Polartec Power Air joggers ($130) and Polartec Delta Shirt ($80) Both pieces fit me better than 90 percent of the clothes in my closet, while the matte black finish and remarkable wicking of the Delta never fails to look clean on Zoom. If I have to take an important meeting, I throw a collared shirt over the undershirt. I recognize that this is significantly more difficult for folks who have more formal clothing expectations or have to go to the office (and, as one of my female editors pointed out, this is harder to pull off for women). My wife often lays an outfit for herself on our bed to change into after she stops sweating. That’s a good move for office workers too.
Deal with Your Hair
We have the luxury of indefinitely working from home, but we still regularly take video calls after our runs. Most of the folks I work with don’t mind if I throw a hat over my greasy hair, but my wife prefers to use Virtue Labs Dry Shampoo ($16) to get ready for meetings.
This whole system hinges on your willingness to sit in your post-run sweat for the rest of your workday, whether you change or not. I find that I can handle that no problem as long as my socks and underwear aren’t nasty. Nikwax Base Wash ($26) does a fantastic job of knocking out stink and is so effective that I can usually get a few extra uses out of socks or underwear between washes. Separating technical gear out to use this special cleanser takes time, but I only do it about once a week. It’s no more onerous than separating whites and darks, which most of us do without thinking about.
Important caveat: if looking at a short run on your Strava profile bums you out, skip this tip. My private little Strava group is positive and not super competitive. I have a friend who recorded a rigorous gardening session a few weeks ago—which warranted kudos and a comment from me. We’ve found that logging small runs and walks is a great motivator for us to keep moving when we’re in a time crunch. While these short jaunts may not get us any medals on the app, they are likely to get you a thumbs up from encouraging friends that share the same goals. It’s a sweet little reminder that can push me over the edge to make a run happen.
Keep a Snack Waiting
I have a passion for making intricate experimental burritos after a long run. Prepping, cooking, and cleaning up after these wonderful concoctions can add up to 30 minutes, though, and are not an option on packed weekdays. Having a snack ready to go afterward ensures I won’t crash in the afternoon. One option is leftovers, whether from meals prepared on the weekend or from the night before. I usually keep it simple though, eating whatever snacks we have on hand for our toddler, like an apple with peanut butter.