by Cathryn Scott, Run Buddy
Today I ran for the 60th consecutive day. I have laced up my trainers every single day since New Year’s Eve and gone out for a run. I’ve run in the wind, the rain, the snow (three times), the sunshine. I’ve run in the morning, at lunch time, in the afternoon and the evening. Every single day I have run on my own.
The RED January challenge helped kick start things, even though when I initially signed up I was planning on it being ‘regular exercise daily’ rather than ‘run every day’. When I got to the end of the month, I wasn’t ready to let go of the run streak… and so I continued for February. As I’d also run on New Year’s Eve, this meant 60 consecutive days of running.
It’s been hard at times. There have been ups and downs along the way. But I’ve absolutely loved it. It’s taught me a lot about myself, about running, and about how vital regular exercise is for my mental health.
I never intended to run every day for 60 days. But I’m really proud that I did.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
1. I am capable of more than I think
I never intended to undertake a 60 day run streak… it just kind of happened. If I’m honest, I never would have believed I had it in me. If someone had set me the challenge, I woudn’t have accepted it. If you’d told me at the start of the year I would run every day for 60 days I would never have believed you. I never, ever thought I could manage something like that.
But, as I keep on discovering with running, I am more capable than I think. With every running achievement I slowly grow in confidence. Not just when I’m pounding the pavements but in life in general. It’s one of the best gifts running has given me.
I didn’t think I could run every day for 60 days. But it turned out I was wrong.
2. It very quickly became part of my routine
I used to think I didn’t have time to run every day. What I’ve realised is that I have the same 24 hours as everyone else; for me, it was about making the time for running. Granted, it’s much easier to do that in a global pandemic when we are spending so much time at home, when my life is a much slower pace than usual, and with my husband working at home meaning childcare has been way easier. But within a few days my daily runs became a part of our family routine. Everyone in my household knew I would be going for a run and we worked around it. After a week or so, even my Strava would beep at around lunch time with a suggestion that I should start an activity right now.
3. Running daily meant doing less of other things
I haven’t done as much yoga these last two months as I usually would. I haven’t read as much as I usually would. My lunch time running meant I had to find a space in my schedule to catch up on the life admin I would usually have done in that time. I’m okay with that in the short term, but long term I’m looking forward to a bit more balance.
4. Getting out the door is often the biggest battle
I remember one day when I really didn’t want to run. I was feeling tired from not sleeping very well the previous night, it was cold and wet outside, I’d done a lower body strength session and my legs were sore. I was very close to not going. But there was a little voice in my head telling me I’d regret it if I didn’t. I decided I would just go for a one mile run streak ‘saver’. However, I did my mile… felt okay and managed another two. Sometimes the biggest battles are in our mind and getting out the door is the hardest part.
5. I spent more time in sweaty running kit than my regular clothes
I often ran at lunch time as it seemed to be the easiest time of the day to fit it in amid the homeschool/homeworking juggle. I would put my kit on in the morning because I knew if I showered and put on regular clothes, I’d be less likely to go out. When I’d get back from my run I wouldn’t always have time to eat my lunch and for a shower… and so I’d often be in my kit until late afternoon. This is where being in a global pandemic was useful because no one could smell my slightly sweaty aroma! On the occasions when I did run earlier in the day, my family would jokingly ask why I’d made such an effort to dress up.
6. I let go of distance and speed and embraced running for the sake of running
I soon realised that if I wanted to run every day, I needed to let go of any expectations of speed and pace and I needed to let go of the long distances. My shortest run was less than two miles. The majority were between 3 and 4 miles. It’s only the last two weekends I’ve added in comparatively long runs of 6 and 7 miles. I walked and stopped when I needed to. I ran slowly when I needed to. I tried not to look at my running watch to check my pace and instead let how I was feeling determine my pace. Like a lot of runners, I’m usually working towards a specific distance for a race, or trying to improve my pace. There’s nothing wrong with that, but one of the things I loved the most about this challenge was not thinking about any of that at all and getting back to the basics.
7. The daily headspace helped my mental health so much
I’ve long been aware that regular exercise is vital for my mental wellbeing and it’s a huge priority in my life. In ‘normal’ times I run regularly, I go to the gym and I practice yoga. As a family, we go on long walks and cycle. However, even I was surprised by just how good running outdoors every day made me feel mentally. I was more alert, more patient, less stressed, less anxious calmer. It definitely had a positive impact on my life.
8. I’m ready for a rest
My body is feeling tired now. My legs are heavy and my hips are feeling tight. I’m ready to stop and rest. I know I need to before I do my body any damage and rest is enforced upon me due to injury.. I’ve been there before and it’s hard. This time last year I was injured and couldn’t run for 17 weeks. It made the already-hard lockdown even harder and definitely had an impact on my mental health and self-confidence. I will never take running for granted and I feel so grateful to have been able to have run for so many days in a row. But I also know it’s time for me to stop and recharge.
9. I’m going to miss it.
Having a daily half hour to myself – and, importantly, having this time outside in the fresh air every single day whatever the weather – has helped me in so many ways. I’ve always been the kind of person who needs time on their own and I enjoy my own company. As much as I love spending so much time with my family during this pandemic, I know I am a better person, better equipped to deal with everything everyone else needs from me, when I get a little bit of space to myself. It will be really strange not going for a run tomorrow but I’m hoping now that the routine has been established, I can find the time for a walk on my own instead.