Those who follow me in Instagram might already know that I have decided 2021 is a year when I will set myself monthly self-improvement and/or wellbeing challenges. The challenge for February was to Run Every Day.
Other than the obvious reason – madness, why did I decide to run every day?
That is a bloody good question. Why would I put myself through something like this?
The first reason was the success of my 30 day yoga challenge. I really enjoyed committing to a daily practice and wanted to try something else. But I wanted something that tested my commitment and limits more. I first thought of cycling, but with lockdown restrictions still in place and limiting our movement, I opted for running.
By the way, I have earmarked April as a cycling challenge month. But back to running.
Since I changed my lifestyle following the cancer diagnosis, I have been running reasonably regularly, but most I had ever done was 5 runs a week with rest days in between. For January I wanted to max the envelope (as Homer Simpson would say).
It was as much a mental as a physical challenge
It definitely tested my mental strength as much as physical strength. There were several days when the last thing I wanted to do was to go for a run.
What kept me going on those days was the thought of our cycle ride. I’m sure there will be days during the ride when the last thing I want to do is to get on the bike, but I’ll have to.
My running challenge was good preparation for that, and most days the run was enjoyable once I got out of the door.
I don’t think I would have made it through the month, had I not told everyone on the blog and on Instagram I was doing the challenge. Sharing it with others made me more accountable, and the encouragement I got along the way from everyone helped me keep going.
Would I say the challenge was a success?
I set out to run every day and complete 140km in the 28 days. I managed 26 out of the 28 runs, not bad at all, I’d say.
The first time I missed a run was the day after my Covid vaccination. I wasn’t happy to miss a run, but there was no way I could have dragged myself out for a run. The vaccine completely knocked me out and I could barely get off the sofa, let alone gone for a lap around the park.
The second day was the final Monday of the challenge month. I simply felt knackered and I have finally learnt to listen to my body.
Despite the two days I missed, I met the distance target I set myself. In fact, I exceeded it and ran 144km in February.
Would I sign up to run every day again?
I’m pleased that I took up the challenge and even more pleased that I completed it, but what pleases me most is that the challenge is now OVER!
It was a great challenge to test my mental and physical boundaries, but I wouldn’t do it again.
There are great benefits to regular running. For example, it might reduce the risk of dying from cancer by 30-50% and running for one hour might translate into seven hours of extended life for many adults.
A question: if you keep running, can you extend your life indefinitely? Probably not, but I take each hour. 😊
However, rest days are important to let your body and mind recover. I definitely noticed when I took the second rest day, that running felt great when I got back to pounding the pavement.
For those who want to delve deeper, here is an interesting article about running every day from Runner’s World.
Benefits From The Challenge
I’d say the biggest benefit was realising that I CAN. Getting out for a run day after day, made me realise that if I can do this, I can do anything I put my energy and attention to.
Yes, the mental gains outweigh the physical gains from my running challenge. Definitely not the expected outcome.
Of course I feel physical benefits, too. I am stronger and my average speed has improved.
However, here is an interesting thing: I barely lost any weight during the month. I actually lost more in January when I did my daily yoga challenge and didn’t drink alcohol.
My challenges are not weight loss driven, but I am currently slightly overweight and would like to get within the healthy weight range for my height.
Confession time: I have replaced the daily beer with a daily desert. There have been many strudels with vanilla custard consumed in January and February. That might explain why the weight loss was minimal 😂.
My tips for taking on a running challenge (applies to other challenges, too)
- Make yourself accountable. I did this by posting on Instagram, but there are other ways to do it. Tell your friends and family about your challenge and get them to keep taps on you. And it’s not only about accountability. When you share your goals and progress, you get encouragement and support along the way.
- Consider doing it with a running buddy. Personally, I prefer to run alone. I have my music and I can set my own pace, but for those who enjoy running with others, do the challenge together. Having a buddy along for the run can help you get through those tough days.
- Record your progress. To me, this is really important. It motivates me to see that I’m getting faster or can go for longer. I also loved seeing the kilometers add up.
- Listen to your body. I really wanted to run every single day, but it was more important to listen to what my body was telling me and take a rest. The last thing I wanted was to have an injury from overdoing it. Taking a day off was a better option than calling the whole thing off.
- DON’T GIVE UP. There will be days when it feels impossible to get out. Take those rest days if you need them, but get back on it the next day. And remember, half the battle is in your mind. Don’t believe it if it tries to tell you can’t do it. Some days when I felt very unmotivated, but still went out, I ended up having a great run and feeling amazing afterwards.
I’ll keep running, but not daily. I enjoy running, but I value the rest days.
I already mentioned that April is a cycling challenge month, but I obviously needed something for March, too. My March challenges are Callanetics three times per week and splits training.
Callanetics should help me lose a few kilos and tone up. Splits training came about because I have always wanted to do the splits. I have been close in the past, but never quite managed it. Let’s see how it goes this time.
As always, I will keep you posted on social media and report on how it all went once the challenges are over.
Until next time!
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