My challenge for May 2017 was to go for a run every day. I had a specific set route, along a cycle path up to the first road and back. This only took about 12 minutes to run, but I challenged myself to have the discipline to do it every morning.
I had done quite a bit of running before, but never every day. Over the winter I hadn’t been running, but in April I did a run once a week, to get me slightly warmed into it! I knew that it is healthy to exercise, so it would be a great challenge to do, as it’s great to start with the physical.
Here are the notes I wrote at the end of the challenge:
I’m really proud that I did this challenge, and ran every day except for one. The first few days were easy but I think the hardest part was around days 4-14. It felt like such a long month ahead. Also, I struggled more with aching. But I learned more stretches, and since I started doing more stretches I have not ached so much.
The day I didn’t run was the 15th of May. I had a long day out, but I got up at 6 to make time for running. It was raining, but I got ready to run. When I opened the front door, it was raining harder, so I decided to leave it and run in the evening instead. When I got back, it was around 8 pm, and it was still wet outside. I needed to prepare for the next day, and eat, so I decided not to run. I would have gone running in the morning if it had not been raining. It may actually have been good for my body to have a day off, as my run the next day felt much easier. I was disappointed that I didn’t run on that day, but onwards with the challenge!
How has it affected me, physically?
Physically, I have found it fine, especially later in the month. I have not had sore knees or anything. After the day I didn’t run, I think I just got into the routine of running, and mentally it was easy for me to get myself to go running. I was never seriously tempted to miss a run because I wanted to complete the challenge. I’m glad I bounced back from the day I didn’t run. I feel as though I could happily keep up the running. I was slightly counting down the days but really I haven’t minded it.
In terms of fitness, I have definitely improved. I haven’t been so out of breath or tired at the end of a run. My breathing has actually been not far off normal by the end of the month! So to actually improve my fitness from here, I’d need to look at running further distances and/or improving my speed.
I tried breathing better (more deeply / rhythmically) while running, and a technique of 3 paces in, 2 paces out, but I didn’t really implement it much.
I haven’t visibly changed much, e.g. my abs are not visible, but I think my legs are bulkier with muscles. My skin maybe glows more too, and I have a slight tan from running in the sun, but not much. My flexibility may be slightly improving from my stretches.
How has it affected me, mentally?
In terms of confidence, I am no longer as bothered by cars, bikes etc going by. I am still self-conscious when passing pedestrians but I run past them anyway. I was lucky that I barely passed any the whole month, which I think was because of my early running time, before the school kids and most of the dog walkers came out.
At first, I was running with music but phased it out and now never take music. I no longer feel the need for it for confidence, and I find it fine without it, just left to my thoughts. And, it’s less to carry.
I’ve enjoyed my runs more than I used to before the challenge. I can usually zone out and just think about stuff, without constantly thinking about how far is left to run. Before I know it, the run is finished.
I haven’t noticed a dramatic improvement in my mood from running, although I do feel good and proud that I run. I think my energy levels are similar too. Also, I have been sleeping well, falling asleep right away.
I’ve learnt that even if it’s been raining, it’s not that slippy, and it’s easy to avoid slugs and snails. I also learned to dress in cool clothes even if it feels a bit chilly when I step out. But of course, in winter, when it’s actually cold, layer up.
I have tried to eat more to compensate for the extra calories I have been burning, as I know I am low on body fat. I have been craving sweet things a lot but I don’t know if that is related to the running.
For a couple of runs I tried wearing my lighter trainers, but I didn’t notice it being easier like I thought it would, so I went back to my normal ones.
Will I continue to run every day?
I definitely plan to keep on running, but not every day as I think it’s good to have rest days. My plan is to do 4 days a week, as that’s more than the 3 days a week (at most) that I was previously doing, but it will let my muscles recover between runs and give me time to do other things. I think I would find it a breeze now to do 5 or even 6 days a week, but I’ll try 4 for now. Now I’ve done this challenge, I would easily be able to increase it to 5 right away without needing a trial/challenge if I decided to. I know I can run nearly 31 days straight, so I don’t think motivation would be a problem now.
4 days a week gives me the flexibility to plan which days are best to run. I am going to plan in advance my run days for the week and pencil them in my diary. The days will vary, rather than having fixed days of the week where I run. This is because my schedule differs, so the same day may not always be ideal.
I need some structure and planning of when to run because otherwise, I’m more likely to put off the runs when I don’t feel like it and say that I’ll run later in the week. But at the same time, if something comes up, or I have tons to do to get ready that day, or it rains, or I feel ill, I can change my run to later in the week. Hence I will not normally schedule a run for a Sunday, as that’s a backup day if I needed to postpone a run. I don’t think I’ll often need to do that, as this month I have proved that I can fit in runs on all sorts of mornings, e.g. early starts, busy days, wet(ish) weather. But it’s good to have flexibility.
I was lucky with the weather this month – no full-on rainy runs. But I think I would reschedule if it was raining because it may be slippery.
Will I do longer runs?
I will stick to my normal distance for now because I think I would get impatient with longer runs. Although, I can change my route if I wish. I’ll save longer runs for a future challenge, I think.
Did I keep running after this challenge?
After finishing this challenge, I managed to stick with doing 4 runs a week for most of the summer, until October 2017 (although there were some exceptions). I found that I preferred to run on weekends because there were fewer cars and people about. So, I made my ‘run weeks’ start on Saturdays instead and often scheduled runs for Saturday and Sunday.
In October, it started getting cold and I stopped running over the winter. I didn’t really get back into it until doing my 10000 steps challenge in September 2018, when I did several runs, including several much longer ones (around 30 minutes rather than 12). I am still doing occasional runs now, in October 2018, and would like to do more, especially as I am currently reading ‘Spark: How exercise will improve the performance of your brain’ by John Ratey, which is inspiring me to do more exercise. However, the weather is getting colder outside, so I may need to re-think what time of day I run at or stick to indoor exercise until the spring. I could still do the occasional run on mild days.