Stand and deliver… why standing all day and running go together

Stand and deliver… why standing all day and running go together

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.

But why?

Standing desks at freestak

Standing desks at freestak

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.

 

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About simon

I run marathons. Everything else is a result of that.

11 Responses to “Stand and deliver… why standing all day and running go together”

  1. Steve May 15, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

    Interesting – we’ve recently been moved to a state of the art office with a few desks you can raise up to a standing height by pressing a button. I’ve only seen one person using one and he does stand out a bit (excuse the pun). I think I might join him!

  2. Scott Mathers May 15, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    Nice article Simon. I must say that I know where you’re coming from. I work from home 50% of the time and the transition from bed to chair to sofa and back to bed doesn’t include a whole lot of movement.

    I’ll let you know if I realise any benefits from standing, particularly in the build up to my next marathon at the end of June.

  3. David Anderson May 15, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    That sounds interesting – wonder if I can get my work to spring for a standing desk – it would free up room too, I’d guess, and it would certainly count as ‘agile working’… :-)

  4. Gabrielle Collison May 15, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    Interesting and I don’t necessarily disagree. However, can I make one observation? Your photo shows you with your laptop screen at lower than eye level. I have been told (partly due to the problem I am now experiencing with thoracic outlet syndrome etc) that your screen should be at eye level. This is to stop you stooping over it. Any thoughts on this?

    • simon May 15, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

      Gabby, I totally agree that the set up is far from perfect and I did know that looking down at my screen is less than ideal. It is something I am going to look into, but for the moment I am thinking that the benefits of standing, albeit with a screen that is too low, outweigh the negatives and certainly outweigh the problems that come with sitting all day. But I will look into a better head position as soon as I can!

  5. Warren May 15, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    I’m curious whether standing in one place at a standing desk is less “sedentary” than sitting (referring to the first article you linked to). Very interesting that in the article it mentioned no amount of exercise makes up for the inactivity. Makes me think that the treadmill desk I saw online somewhere may not be such a bad idea.

  6. Julie May 16, 2013 at 12:33 am #

    Just wanted to point out that it wasn’t my back that started the standing-up craze, but rather my knee. After years of running injury-free, I suddenly developed knee issues, which manifested while running. The only thing I had changed in my life was that I had started working from home. The osteo I went to see confirmed that it was the seating that was the problem: my lower back/bottom was simply too tense from sitting down 14h/day, and the tense ITB was pulling up the knee, causing pain. Standing up solved the knee issue in just 2 weeks (and some foam rolling on the pyriformis and ITB)!

  7. Gabrielle Collison May 16, 2013 at 7:59 am #

    In general, I don’t think laptops are that good for us due to the screen/keyboard set up. Other than buying a desktop, I think the next best option is to buy a separate keyboard and place the laptop on a raised podium thing. I am going to do this shortly. I still sit, but quite often I will use my Swiss ball. I am not sure if this is any better, but it’s good to experiment.

  8. Dominic Leung May 17, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    I’ve been working at a height adjustable standing desk for 9 months and its been a revelation. I’m far more focused and less lethargic. As a film editor I’m often with clients and I wondered if it might feel a bit odd for them but after the initial curiosity fades its actually a very collaborative. It does take a couple of weeks for your legs and feet to adjust but now it is the norm for me. I’ll never go back to sitting for 12+ hours a day.

  9. Andy June 17, 2014 at 6:48 am #

    Hi there,

    good to hear that things worked out! I am on day 2 of standing. My run yesterday was appalling – v high heart rate whilst going as sloooooow as hell (despite feeling I was pushing it). Really hoping that running and standing desks work out for me too! It must just take time to get used to it.

    cheers,
    Andy.

  10. Susan Zalis December 21, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

    We all know that sitting all day is terrible for health, so standing all day can help us burn more calories and avoid the post-lunch slump, but prolonged standing can result in swollen legs and feet and lower back pain. For me I always wear comfortable shoes for standing all day, it helps reduce the risks, and relieve soem foot pain, and support the skeleton. So Wearing Appropriate Shoes is a must, and compression stockings. Thanks for the tips Simon.

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