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The Great Unwashed: Strategies for Working out When Showers Aren’t Nearby

I like to run. A lot. But I also live in the Midwest where days can be quite short during the winter and time is scarce during the summer. Because I ran the Ragnar Relay and completed my first 70.3 triathlon last summer, I had to train during the middle of the day at times to get acclimated to running in full sun.

How to Pack a Gym Bag
Keep your gym bag stocked with supplies and ready to head out to work with you.

But to get in those double runs or full-sun, 80-degree training shuffles (it’s unfair to call those sessions runs), I had to take an innovative approach. I had to run during my lunch time, which was interesting since I work full time in an office. There isn’t a shower there, so I’ve learned how to make do. I also go to CrossFit, and my particular gym doesn’t have a shower. I can usually stop at home before heading out, but sometimes schedules require me to get creative.

A successful running lunch (runch) is all about the planning. First, you’ll need a well-stocked gym bag featuring a hand towel, a hair dryer, deodorant and unscented baby wipes. The unscented portion is important, because otherwise you’ll smell like a sweaty baby.

Next up, plan your work outfit accordingly. Learn from my mistake: Do not wear tight-fitting cotton. Poly/cotton blends and loose-fitting dresses are good, because depending on your genetics, the temperature and the strenuousness of your workout, you might sweat for a while. If you’re me, you’ll keep sweating and look like a not-hot mess sweating it out at your desk all afternoon. I plan my runches to coincide with days that I’m not meeting with clients, so I can get away with slightly more casual attire. And because I want to look cool and collected for clients, not like I just ran intervals in the parking lot. If you’re a lady, don’t wear mascara that morning, either. It’s just a recipe for disaster.

Also, plan out your route in advance and if you wear a GPS watch, set it up before you duck out to get ready. Pack a lunch, too, and save if for after the runch. I strategically eat a small snack mid-morning, so I’m ready to runch two hours later.

First step: remove your makeup, don your running finest and get out there to do your thing. I usually go for quick sessions to get back to the work of the day. Intervals, a quick 5K or a tempo run are all par for the course. These runs are all about getting it done.

Once I’ve wrapped up, my first order of business is to remove the sweaty clothes and place them in a plastic bag. Then, I use the baby wipes to swab off before getting dressed in work clothes again. Next up, I wash my face, reapply deodorant and start drying my hair with the cool setting on my hair dryer. I use dry shampoo once my hair is dry, then style it back into place the best I can.

The final step is adding a bit of makeup back to cover the inevitable red face. I grab a cup of water on my way back to my desk, check my e-mail and then heat up my lunch. With this strategy, I’ve successfully fit in runches throughout the year to help me maximize my training time while avoiding running in the dark.

Kelly Janowski is a runner, a foodie, and a triathlete. You could follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyCulinarian for recipes, motivation, and fitness advice. Or, maybe you’d like to circle up with and share ideas with her!


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