Running Every Day Half Year Observations

REDFAY 2013Halfway through the year and my Run Every Day For A Year challenge is going well. I thought I would stop and do some reflection on how the challenge has affected me. It might be instructive for others who are also considering taking on this type of running challenge. My running streak is now up to 205 days in a row but the challenge is to run every day in 2013, so I am officially at day 190.

I have behind me around 21 years of running experience where I would term my attitude as serious. Over that time I would estimate that I have averaged around 3 – 5 runs per week. I strongly subscribed to the belief that running every day was dangerous to the body’s well-being. Naturally, I based this belief on other people’s opinions and the dire warnings of experts.

The important point to highlight here is that my body has become used to doing a lot of running. Something that anyone who is considering this should take note of.

Strava Activity to July 9 2013How Did The Challenge Come About?

The challenge of attempting to run every day for a year was suggested by a friend towards the end of 2012 – around October, I think. It appealed to me for a number of reasons, not the least of which was my penchant for attempting all types of running challenges.

I felt it would provide me with a year long personal goal that would be achievable as long as I maintained my commitment. I have always run better when I have a goal – whether that is a race that I’m training for or something else. This is the something else that I hoped would work. There was going to be a bunch of us all attempting the streak so there was already a built in support system in place. (In all, 7 of us set out on the challenge – 5 are left).

The big attraction for doing this type of challenge is that there is no pressure on running a certain pace or for a certain distance. All of that is completely up to me (with the only caveat being that a run must be at least 2km in length to count). All I have to do is find a minimum of 10 minutes every day and the challenge will remain alive. Easy.

Notable Points

At 190 days into the challenge there are a few observations that are worth noting. These are purely my own experiences and will not necessarily be the same as others.

  1. The body is getting stronger. This is the biggest surprise that has come out of the entire experience. My expectation was that I was going to feel incredibly tired. Particularly because I had never run more than 7 days in a row before. I had prepared myself to be exhausted and that I would be dragging myself out each day but this is far from the truth. In fact I feel fresh and strong for every run – it’s amazing how quickly the body adapts.
  2. Recovery and rest days. A recovery or rest day now has an entirely different feeling. In the past this meant not running at all, now it means running a shorter course and at a slower pace. On some days my recovery day simply means slowing down my pace.
  3. There is time for a run every day. One of the fears before starting this challenge was that there simply wouldn’t be an opportunity each day to set aside time for a run. My experience over the last 190 days is that it is always possible to make the time to get at least a 2km run under the belt.
  4. My passion for running is rekindled. I should preface this by saying I have always enjoyed running, I’ve been running for over 20 years, after all. But at times I have found the passion subsiding a bit. Since starting this challenge I have felt reinvigorated and look forward to each day’s run like never before. It may have to do with the fact that I am feeling fitter and that every day represents a new challenge. It may also have to do with the fact that I have a GPS watch that tracks every km I run. I’m not sure, but I do know that I am by no means “dragging myself out there” each day.
  5. I need more running shoes. It stands to reason, doesn’t it? I’m running more, I’m covering more distance and so my shoes are going to wear out more quickly. I don’t subscribe to the recommended maximum number of kilometres the manufacturers give as a guide to when you should change your shoes, but I do understand that they wear out. I am currently rotating through 8 pairs of shoes – 4 pairs at work and 4 pairs at home. This may be overkill but the rotation of shoes tends to work for me.
  6. I’m exploring more territory. The mere fact that I am running every day has prompted me to start looking for new courses to run. Running the same route day after day gets old very quickly and caused me to desperately start scouring the maps looking for alternatives. My quest to keep things fresh and interesting has meant that I have run down some streets in my local area that I have never seen before…it’s amazing what you find when you step off the tried and tested path.

One extremely important point to note as well. I attempted to start this challenge in November 2012 to get an idea about how difficult it might be. I managed to run for 9 days in a row and then succumbed to a back injury that had me out of action for an entire week. I have been plagued with occasional back problems for the last 5 years or so and it hit me this time without any warning. It wasn’t looking good at all.

Once I had recovered I started again in mid-December and have been running ever since. The back is feeling good and, with any luck, is actually getting stronger.

I acknowledge that not everyone is going to be able to be able to cope with the rigors of running every day. Some people are more prone to injury than others and the added stress of getting out for a run every day could lead to a break down. That being said, if you are sensible about it and reduce your running pace while cutting down the distance my experience tells me it is a challenge that any motivated runner is capable of achieving.

I have another 175 days to go to complete my challenge. It no longer feels like the ridiculously enormous task that it did on January 1.

Just for fun I have included a screen shot of part of my Strava page that shows my running for the year. This indicates the number of runs I have done, the mileage and a few personal best performances throughout the year. The reason why the number of runs is 194 rather than 190 is because on 4 occasions I ran twice in a day (from memory, each time I stopped at a pub or a pop-up bar for a lunch-time beer before jogging back to work). Hey, you’ve got to find ways to add to the enjoyment of your runs, right?

Read more posts about my Run Every Day For A Year Challenge

Running Every Day For A Year 2013 – The Idea Is Sparked

Running Every Day – The Build Up

Running Every Day – First Update

Running Every Day – Day 200 The Halfway Point

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