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Thursday 1 October 2015

Support Sheet for Colleagues of Runners: Working With a Runner? We Can Help


How do you know your colleague is a runner? They will mention this or their multiple marathons, races or horrendous feet within 20 minutes of their introduction into your working environment. You may also be able to spot strange tan lines and broken or missing toenails depending on the strictness of the uniform in your workplace.  

Conversation & Your Runner
Be able to engage in a debate about:
  • Why everyone should start running.
  • Whether running is good for the joints.
  • Whether obstacle runs are real races.
  • Chia seeds, quinoa and why beetroot is a superfood.

Learn why you must never use the follow lines:
  • “There is a valid place in running for Fit Trainers”.
  • “Headphones should be allowed in road races.”
  • “‘Born To Run’ isn’t a very good book. And ‘chia’ is a made up word.”

What the safe phrases are. These include:
  • “So have you ever had a blister? Have you any pictures of your worst one?”
  • “So what’s your 5k PB? What’s the secret to a fast 5k?”
  • “So trainers ... what’s your choice of trainers. What would you recommend?” 

Walk Identification
Be aware what sort of walks to mention. DO mention the stiff legged smug ‘Marathon’ walk. Do NOT mention the ‘undercarriage chafing’ walk. Refer to Guide Sheet A to be sure of identifying these correctly. 

Snack Allowance
  • Designate a team member to keep the snack box key. This must at all times include flapjack, chocolate and fruit. The runner must NEVER be in charge of the snack box but may be allowed to choose items when supervised. 

Things to Watch For
  • They hoard toilet paper. Be aware of this. Do not take action until the desk drawers won’t shut. 
  • Be prepared to inspect medals and belt buckles. Do not use subjective comments like “Valerie’s Race For Life medal was bigger than this.” Instead try to stick to generalisations such as “Nice bling!” and “Great job!”
  • If they are injured, they will be irrational, grumpy, and basically all of the 7 dwarves of running. You may want to suggest they work from home on these days. 
  • Ensure there is a ready supply of rubber bands that will double as hair ties. DO not allow your runner to get anxious or they may start to develop pre-race behaviour which involves binge drinking coffee, pacing and going to the loo multiple times. Also ensure there are always a minimum of 4 safety pins within eyesight of the runner as this will alleviate anxiety. 

  • Give them a 5 minute slot after every weekend to allow them to talk about their races. This will allow them to be able to boast about the races but within a time slot which means you can back to actual work. Failure to ask may result in: sulking, constantly talking about weekend activities, passive aggressive facebook statuses about ‘How No-One At Work Understands Me’. Failure to set a time limit may result in: talking about running all day, encouraging other innocent staff members to take up running. 
  • Keep a spare deodorant in case of emergencies. Everyone is allowed to forget once in a while but this should not be encouraged. Likewise babywipes in case of shower failure. 
  • Learn what a fartlek is and why you must not laugh at this term. Smirking is allowed.
  • Mark race dates in the team calendar and remember to ask to see the medal / finisher line photo. You need to do this within 15 minutes of the runner entering the office after the race weekend to stop a) Sulks b) Tantrums c) The runner spending all day on company time on computer entering races to alleviate post-race blues and sulking because s/he hasn’t had a chance to tell anyone about their race. Also ensure the lift is working on these days as otherwise 15 minutes may need to be set aside for stair navigation. 
  • Meetings should finish promptly and preferably before the hour as the runner will have to maintain full use of their lunch hour to fit the longest run in possible in the time and will have complicated timings for each section such as: Chair to bathroom (3 mins or 7 mins if can’t avoid talking to Clive from accounts). Change into run kit (3 mins). Shower after run (6 mins). And will have diligently added these up to work out MRT (maximum run time). Meetings that run over will eat into MRT and may cause anger issues although the late minutes of a meeting may be a good time to get a runner to agree to a task as they will agree to virtually anything to get out onto their run on time. “Secondment as post boy? Sure.”
  • They may occasionally fall asleep at their desk. Ignore this and let them sleep instead focusing on all the additional working days you’re getting from them not being sick. And focus on how glad YOU are that they’re doing all this energetic stuff and you don’t have to.
  • London is NOT the only marathon. And it is NOT the longest marathon. Please refer to appendix A: Running distances and their names. Please note that Race For Life does not appear on this. 
  • Ensure you separate a tapering runner from any ill colleagues. Do not allow sneezing within a 10m radius as this can actually cause an entire seasons worth of sulking and years of stories about “I would have run a sub 3hr marathon if only I hadn’t caught Julie from payroll’s dreadful strain of French flu...”
  • Understand why it’s ok to spend £20 on a pair of socks. 
  • Never EVER mention the Race For Life in the same breath as a marathon. 
  • NEVER ask them if they did a negative split unless they volunteer this information.
  • Never EVER use the phrases “So you went out too fast?”, “You didn’t train hard enough” or “You just weren’t really trying.” These may result in bitch slaps from their puny runners arms. These won’t hurt but you may spill your coffee. 
  • Do not let them practise snot rockets in the office. Do not let them practise sprints in the office. Do not let them practise beer miles in the office. 
  • Do not limit toilet breaks the day after a race and never underestimate the effect that multiple gels can have on a runner’s system. Note: See Appendix B, toilet paper stocks. 
Managing Multiple Runners
Be aware if you have more than one runner in your team you will have multiple actions: 
  • Suggest running talk be kept to break times (otherwise this can impact meetings and disrupt team time with jargon involving splits, yasso 800s and other made up running terms. 
  • Schedule lunch times and start times to eliminate shower wait time and the aroma of stinky runner in the office.
  • Implement rules from the start ensuring dirty kit can NOT be kept under desks. This includes trainers and heart rate straps.
  • Absolutely no encouraging each other to enter races on work time and using work computers.
  • Allow 2 pieces of running memorabilia per desk maximum.
  • Do NOT allow them to talk to customers about running. 
  • Encourage them to buy new kit. New kit is expensive and will encourage productivity as they strive for their targets for extra bonus. 
Benefits of Encouraging Runners into Your Working Environment
  • Runners will tend to have less sick days. Sick days from work will mean they can’t train. Not training will mean they will get slower. You may need to tell them to go home when limbs are hanging off and they are a germ factory. 
  • You will find them useful at figures after years of working out paces, speeds and whether a 6:43 min/mile will get them a course PB. Utilise this awareness of figures for straight-line projections and monthly targets. 
  • High boredom threshold after all those hours pounding out road miles in marathon training. Great for data entry and spreadsheet creation. 

Managing Special Occasions
Be aware that the runner’s anxiety may spike during special occasions especially if there is a birthday and cake or chocolate is given as a gift or brought in by colleagues. The runner’s will power is never amazing and you may experience a swing from “I deserve this I ran 14 miles last night” to “I must NEVER eat sugar. I am a toned athlete whose body is a temple.” Both of these emotions may be seen in the same runner within the same hour.
Also be aware when booking a team meal that for runners coming up to their A race, the nominated restaurant needs to have the following menu sections:
  • Sugar-free
  • Gluten-free 
  • Vegan 
  • High fat
  • Low fat
  • Superfood
And for runners who have just completed their A race the menu needs to have: 
  • all-you-can-eat-buffet 
(Your runner may tell you they need “Alll the food” and they “Totally Deserve This.” Just nod and agree.)

First aid 
  • Keep corn plasters and Vaseline on hand.  Understand why Vaseline is a necessary addition to the first aid box. Understand why chafes are the ‘invisible piranhas’ of the running world. Why blisters should mean an extra 3 days annual leave. Dog attack counselling. Debate groups for why cyclists should be allowed to share paths. 
  • Snacks. These are also classified as First Aid. See Appendix C.
  • Post Race Blues. Be sure you can identify the signs of this particularly after a DNF or a big race. If unmanaged this may lead to your runner trawling race pages in search of The Next Big Race, loss of running motivation (and associated benefits) and general grumpiness.  


Your runner should be a valuable and contributing member of your workplace, so long as you are careful to follow the rules laid out for your and their safety. So long as these guidelines are followed you will have a dedicated team member and an employee you can guarantee will strive for their salary if only to feed their increasing trainer and race entry habit. 


  1. Love this! Ironically I am reading it whilst trying to actually do some work....

    I'm moving into sports marketing in a couple of weeks and I don't know if it is a great thing or a bad thing as I feel my weekend exploit stories will no longer trump everyone else's and I will accidentally end up signing up to do even more stupid activities....

    1. Sports marketing? How exciting!! And you'll get to hear about all the crazy new events first!! Eeeeek!! p.s. Am SURE you can still manage some AWESOME weekend stories to trump everyone else!! :)

  2. But ‘Born To Run’ isn’t a very good book, there's no such thing as a superfood and £20 is too much to pay for socks. Soz.

    1. Oh what a sceptic. I'm sure I've got a 'support sheet' for that ...

  3. This should definitely be available in a handy fact-sheet to pass out to the non believers !

    1. I've given a copy to my manager. Not sure he believes it's from the company Quality Manual though ...