Like all of you, running, fitness, and training are far from the only things that fill my day. We all have other priorities as well, and for most of us, that includes work. My job, like many these days, involves copious amounts of staring at a computer screen, while my fingers run intervals around my keyboard. Excellent if I was training my eyes and fingers for endurance racing, but not so great for the rest of my body. Even worse, this type of sedentary work has been found to be downright detrimental.
I remember a thought process that went through my head over and over before I ran my first 50 Mile race. I was hoping to finish in a time around 8 hours. That was daunting. I thought about the kinds of things I do in my life for 8 hours at a time. The only thing I could think of was a day at work! In an 8 hours day of work, I normally spent more than 90% of the time sitting. Then I considered how lucky people are that have active jobs, or at least standing jobs. They are getting some level of “free” ultra running training every day! That got me thinking about stand up work stations. I have to be at a computer most of the time for work, but I could be standing rather than sitting which I figured would better prepare my body for long days out on the trails.
One concern I had with a standing work station is that there are times when I need to, or want to, sit down. Occasionally a task requires sitting in order to access documents, and more importantly on Monday morning after a long race, the last thing I might feel like doing is standing! Thankfully there are solutions that offer me what I was looking for. There are a number of manufacturers producing sit stand workstations that allow an easy transition between a seated or standing configuration. See below for an overview of the two specific sit stand workstation options I have been using from Ergotron and Health Postures.
I have been using these two different products for the past few months and have been very impressed with both of them. They are designed to convert an existing desk into a sit stand workstation. This brings the cost down as it uses the desk you already have. One was configured to allow the use of a side-by-side dual screen set up – either two monitors, or a laptop and monitor combination. The other is setup with a single monitor and a work surface for a keyboard. Both allowed for a very simple adjustment from sitting to standing which meant I could change positions any time I wanted very easily. I don’t have any quantifiable results indicating how this switch has improved (or worsened) my running, but I am happy I made the switch. I have had no issues with increased standing, and have to assume it has helped my body better adapt to the strain of being on my feet for long distance training runs and races. Like any change, I tried to gradually adapt to it. I started out alternating between sitting and standing a few times a day (which is very easy with these types of workstations). I made sure the standing position was ergonomically correct and allowed me to work while maintaining good posture. I will definitely continue to use a sit stand workstation both at work and at home. I feel like it allows me to incrementally increase how active I can be while working, and can only benefit my fitness even if in small ways.
Ergotron Workfit-S Dual Monitor Sit Stand Workstation
This Ergotron workstation definitely has that high tech look and feel to it! I have been using the Workfit-S configuration which allows for dual side-by-side displays. This can be setup with two monitors, or the way I used it with a laptop tray and an additional connected monitor. The two displays mount on a horizontal arm and can be adjusted up or down to align the screens. The screens can also be tilted to get the best viewing angle. All of this adjustment was crucial to allow me to maintain an ergonomically correct posture both while sitting and standing. The Ergotron has a keyboard tray, with a slide out mouse surface. One really smart feature is that the tray could be flipped up and out of the way when I wasn’t using the workstation. It shipped with supplies to secure cords and cables, and Velcro to attach the keyboard to the tray so it can stay in place even while flipped up out of the way.
Raising and lowering the workstation was very easy on the Ergotron. It used a cable and pulley system with an adjustable counterforce that allowed me to smoothly raise and lower the displays and tray with little effort. Once adjusted it was easy to raise and lower the whole unit and it still stayed in place at whatever level I wanted.
Taskmate EZ 6400 from Health Postures
The Taskmate EZ 6400 workstation was a more simple design that was still very effective. The configuration I used was for a single display with a large work surface for a keyboard, mouse, and had room for any other work materials I needed. The design was very simple and consisted of a post that I could either clamp or bolt to my desk, a mount for the monitor, and a separate mount for the main work surface. To raise or lower I simply had to move the mounts up or down and place them in the slots on the back of the post. Gravity did all the work to keep the display and keyboard at the level I selected. This was a simple but effective way to convert my existing desk into a sit stand workstation. I really liked the large work surface as it allowed me to lay down materials like papers, etc that I was working with. It also had enough room to hold a laptop if I wanted to work off of it while connected to the external monitor above. This workstation was also easy to adjust up or down when I felt like switching between sitting and standing. Another nice option with this system is that when I wanted to use the original desk surface, I could simply lift the two mounting brackets off of the main post and place them out of the way.
I’m not sure what kind of performance improvement I am reaping from spending more time on my feet, but it definitely can’t hurt to keep more than just my butt engaged when I am stuck staring at a computer all day (or night). I will continue to use these stand up options and hope that it pays off as the hours tick by in my long races.