Right now I’m basically exercising three times a day. No, these are not all hard workouts. I would have dropped dead by now if so. Or be incredibly ripped. Who knows.
For example, on weekends:
Morning – Take a 2-3 mile run, or a long walk of probably a couple miles. Either option gives sun exposure in reasonable temperatures, and some light to decent calorie burning exercise. If I have any step goals, this gets me a good way there. Any extended walking would last about 45 minutes, and is a thin substitute for the everyday walking in Chicago. Since I’m not seriously training for races right now, I play this by feel. I run that day if running feels good, and walk that day if it probably doesn’t.
Afternoon – In the blazing hot Vegas sun, probably during a brief work-from-home break, go for a brief run around the neighborhood. This is only a few blocks, and less than a mile, all pretty close to my home just in case I absolutely have to stop for some reason. I run about 3/4 of a mile, and come back inside. it takes about 7-8 minutes. That’s pretty much all you can reasonably do in 100 degrees Fahrenheit without hurting yourself. This is more of an anti-cold-shower mid-day pick me up than serious training. But it augments your training volume.
Evening – Towards the end of the day, around 7pm, I go to the gym and get some swolework. Do my 20 minute workout. Head home.
One could arguing doing several miles of aerobic work and a full strength workout in one day is a killer. Of course, the general assumption in that discussion is that you’re doing everything all at once. In that case, yes, such a workout could be a killer.
At the same time, I actually kind of used to do that. During my latter days working in Evanston, training for races years round, I would:
- Commute on foot, walking at least a mile or so: Half a mile or more to the CTA station, half a mile or so from the destination station to work, incidental walking around campus for lunch, errands, etc.
- Run after work from work to the Loyola Chicago campus, or to the nearby LA Fitness gym, where I would get in a brief strength workout.
- Walk some more to the train, maybe stop at the nearby Whole Foods for recovery food, and then take the train home (but not before walking another half mile from the train station to get home).
Since I clearly handled that just fine, and stayed in pretty good shape, it’s probably not a problem to handle the three part schedule I mentioned above. In fact, since all three segment are done individually and hours apart, it’s a lot easier than the work commute scenario I mentioned.
For months I’ve been researching, tinkering and working to develop an intermediary approach to exercise, to allow me to get in the kind of work I could do before in Chicago despite the suburban style commute challenges in Vegas that prevent my previous methods.
Obviously, with a 12-20 mile commute one way, running to or from work is not practical.
Obviously, because of the suburban sprawl of Vegas, I have to drive everywhere and cannot rely on walks for incidental exercise.
So, when I need to go into the office on weekdays, a three part schedule can look like this:
Morning – Sneak over to the gym before work, or go for a run early, or go for a walk. Options are flexible since I don’t need to get to work before 11am. But it’s valuable to get some exercise with that time.
Early Afternoon – I won’t take a lunch break until later in the day, but around noon or so I can take a 10-15 minute break without a problem. So I’ll go for a brief walk outside around the commercial center in which we’re based. This walk is usually between 1/4 and 1/2 mile, nothing huge, but the break is some quick and easy exercise. Plus I get midday sun exposure to the hot Vegas sun without getting too much.
Late Afternoon – I typically take my lunch break after 5pm, after the rest of the office has taken off. Since I can eat a light meal at my desk before or after stepping outside, I often get most of the whole hour long lunch break to do other things. Plus, my workload is fundamentally fluid and not typically time-sensitive at this hour.
I have two options here.
- If I haven’t gone to the gym, and want to, this is ample opportunity to sneak over (my gym has a location about 5-10 minutes away by car) and get a 20 minute workout in.
- If I don’t need or don’t prefer to do swolework, I’ll just take a longer walk. I have a consistent walking route that’s about 1.4 miles. This takes about 30 minutes to walk. The sun is still hot, but not as much as mid-afternoon, plus at that hour the sun angle creates enough shade in enough places that it’s not a full 30 minutes of high-UV sun exposure. Obviously, the more walking I’ve done earlier, the less inclined I am to walk for 30 minutes in the afternoon. I don’t want to get too much sun that day: It’s still harmful in large doses!
On my midweek days off, I obviously have a lot more latitude on when to do things. Obviously I’d prefer to do any running in the morning when it’s not hot (winter would be a different story), and would prefer to do outdoor activity towards the evening after it’s cooled down some.
A typical day-off would look like this:
Morning – Probably go for a 2-3 mile run if I haven’t the day before and I feel good about going out for one. At the very least I’d go out for a 2 mile walk. But if the opportunity for a run is there on a day where I have nowhere to be, I go for it. Only exception is if I have some important morning appointment: Then I probably table this morning session entirely.
Afternoon – I’ve found my ideal time to hit the gym for another 20 minute workout or extended machine cardio (45 minutes or so) is around 3-4pm. Pretty much anytime before the afternoon rush is a good time to go, but for me personally I’ve found I feel best and get the best results going during mid-afternoon. This is admittedly consistent with desk jockeys who like to hit the gym during the afternoon on Saturdays. Because I have more free time, I often may do some extra cardio to warm up beforehand, usually about 10-20 minutes. And this is just an augmentative warm-up, to get me ready for swolework, though yes it also adds a bit to your aerobic fitness.
Evening – I’ll try to go for a walk around 7-8pm, around sundown. Once night has fallen, I’m less inclined to go walking: The part of Vegas I live in isn’t super dangerous or anything, but I always like to play it safe and not be out on foot at night. But if I can get out towards sunset, I’ll take a 2 mile walk around the neighborhood. Since it’s cooled off by then, it’s a nice comfortable walk.
I’m not saying this is the Working Class Runner answer to living in Vegas. Your situation will obviously vary, and this outlined approach may not be as practical for you as it is for me. In fact, should I ever change jobs, this approach will likely have to completely change again.
I’ve mostly crafted it to fit the schedule I now have to work, and that crafting work is part of the process of developing any successful fitness habit. You find the available gaps and spaces in your schedule, and you do what you reasonably can to utilize them as best you reasonably can.