As many of you will know, at the end of last year my wife, Julie, and I launched freestak, a social media marketing business for running and endurance sports brands. In many ways this has been a life-changing experience: I am working many, many more hours than I ever have before. I am also loving every minute of work (in fact I wish I could find another word for it than ‘work’ because what I do all day is the most exciting and fulfilling way I can imagine to spend my time). I am spending more time thinking about, reading about and learning about my two favourite activities – running and social media.
I am also working from home. And this is where I have made another big change – I now stand all day.
Yep, that is right – I no longer have a chair. Julie was the first to abandon her chair in our little home office. Initially she tried a kneeling chair and then, because that was uncomfortable on her shins, she moved to standing up. Just after Christmas I followed suit and now we have a fully standing office.
The reason Julie threw her chair out was that she was starting to get back ache. I had a sore back most days too.
After a few weeks of standing, Julie told me that her back was absolutely great and I conceded that slumping in front of a computer 12 or 14 hours a day was just not doing me any good, so I decided to try standing.
My back no longer aches. At all.
As if that wasn’t enough, I feel energised standing up. I don’t suffer from the mid-afternoon crash any more. I feel alert and awake all the time. I can walk around the room thinking and as I am a bit fidgety anyway, I am now free to juggle, dance and wander around when I need a moment away from the key-board.
Finally having looked into the whole issue of the health issues surrounding our sedentary lifestyles (check out this and this) I realised that with all the time I was working I was either flat on my back asleep or slumped in a chair 22 hours a day. Even when I am running 85 or 90 mile weeks, that probably only represents an hour and a half a day on my feet running.
How to manage standing for 16 hours a day whilst marathon training
The reality is that for the first few weeks that I was standing all day, I did find it tiring. I was certainly ready for bed at the end of the day. But within a month, that is by the end of January, I was standing at my desk from 8am to 10pm every day with only a few breaks (running, dinner, laying on the floor…) without a problem.
As I increased my weekly mileage through January, February and March in the lead up to the London, I was finding that if anything I was having fewer problems with my hips, glutes and hamstrings than I had been when I was training for previous marathons and sitting all day. There were days when I was tired and then I would just bring back the chair for an hour or two. And after long runs I would wear compression socks if my calves were complaining. But it really was never a problem.
I also think there are other benefits: I stand up straight and that improves my posture: my legs feel stronger as a result of standing: I feel lighter (that could be nothing other than all the marathon training).
So if you haven’t thought about it before, I would urge you to consider kicking the chair into touch. Maybe start for an hour or two a day and increase the amount of time you stand. But try it – after all if you are getting out of bed in order to sit at the breakfast table, sit in your car or on the train to work, sit at a desk or in meetings all day, sit in the car/train on the way home, sit down for dinner and then sit on the sofa for an hour before retiring to bed… you’re really not using your body for what it was designed for!
If you do decide to give standing desks a go, please let me know how you get on.