In my last post I was being realistic about how hard it is to fit everything into your life, however good your intentions. Working full-time and finding time for regular exercise – as well as having a life in there somewhere – is just really difficult.
So I was interested to find out how someone who is managing all of the above, achieves it.
I’d spotted a friend and former work colleague, Michelle, was posting on Facebook about her #run366 challenge (a ‘runstreak’), which I referred to in my last post (and how I’m failing miserably at it). And I’m very pleased to present Michelle’s guest blog on it below – so a big thanks to Michelle for also finding the time to write the post!
Don’t be put off by Michelle’s previous running experience – her #366 challenge is the perfect entry into exercise if you’ve, shall we say, ‘not been active for a while’.
You can scale it down and set your own #7day challenge, or perhaps a #29day challenge starting on 1st February (see my comments at the end of the post). I hope this post inspires you to just give it a go though, whatever target you set.
Over to you, Michelle:
Are you thinking about starting exercising regularly in 2016? Not sure where to start? How about a mile a day?
Joni got in touch with me recently and asked me to write a little bit about how I’ve been running every day, and the benefits of it. I’m a 36-year-old mum of one, and have been running on/off for around 14 years, but five years ago I started running more regularly when I set up a local running club. I’ve been running every day since 31st October 2015.
I had heard of ‘runstreaks’ previously, and had always avoided them, worrying about getting injured without a rest day. However, towards the end of October, my husband and I met the famous Ron Hill who has been running for over 51 years EVERY DAY and we felt so inspired to try. So we decided to stick to Ron’s own rules of a minimum of a mile a day, and committed to a challenge of running every day for a year.
The first week felt like a novelty, and I was full of energy. I went out and ran a fast mile, following a warm up, with the aim of testing my mile time every month throughout the challenge to track my progress. I headed to the hills for a hill session, and on the 7th day I even went out for two runs that day!
The second week I had already agreed to try fell running for the first time, and ascended Mam Tor (1800ft), which I really enjoyed, followed by more hill runs, climbing 3500ft in the space of five days! But achieving a personal best in my last 10k of the year meant I was completely sold on the power of a runstreak!
I won’t pretend it hasn’t been challenging, but on days where I’ve felt tired, I’ve had the dog (and my husband!) to prompt me out of the door for a mile jog with her.
I’ve also been gaining a 36 hour rest period by doing a short run early one morning, then a short run late the next day, which has worked to revive my legs on tough weeks.
I have battled with the weather some days, where I wouldn’t have normally got off the sofa. I also have a 2 year old toddler, and on days where my husband is working away, I simply have to put her in the buggy and take her AND the dog for a run. No excuses!
The fact my husband and I have committed publicly to this challenge, also makes us more accountable for it, so we’ll stick at it.
As I write this, I am on Day 74 of my #Run366 challenge. I’ve knocked 50 seconds off my fastest 5k time, I brought my fastest mile time down by 25 seconds, and my strength, fitness, endurance, and – somewhat oddly – my squat range have ALL improved. I’m being very careful to stick to the 80/20 rule of training, so no more than 20% of my running is done at what I would consider a moderately hard, or fast pace.
Most of my runs are between one and three miles, done at a very leisurely conversational pace with the dog (who never answers back). The dog has got fitter too!
I’ve also enjoyed so many more new running experiences already. Probably around the time this blog is published, I’ll be tackling 15 miles and 4000ft of climbing in the Pennine hills, and I’m genuinely excited. I’ve also had the opportunity to run with the inspirational Ben Smith of The 401 Challenge who’s doing a runstreak on a whole other level of 401 marathons in 401 consecutive days.
Running on Christmas Day took some forward planning around the family, and next week will bring challenges as my husband is away for 10 days.
Over the year, I’m looking forward to having more new experiences; I’m trying some track work with my running club for the first time (www.withamrunners.co.uk) and a mud half marathon.
So my top tips for starting a challenge like this would be:
- Decide what your challenge will be. Set a minimum distance and amount of time and commit publicly, so tell your friends
- Find a buddy to support you. My husband and I have been supporting one another and the thing I like most about our runstreak is that it’s a common goal, and I believe we’re setting a good example to or daughter to be active every single day. Most importantly, we now have an excuse to run, rather than an excuse not to.
The challenge also comes with some caveats however. Always listen to your body. If you feel pain, stop and have a rest. If you don’t have a good base level of fitness, start with walking. One step at a time.
If you’re looking for support, I would urge you to visit your local parkrun. These are free, weekly 5k events happening in a park near you every Saturday at 9am and they are the most welcoming, non judgmental community of runners I have been privileged to be part of. Runners of all abilities take part every week, and 5k is a very achievable distance for beginners.
I am also a running coach, so feel free to get in touch for any advice or questions about starting running.
Tweet me @shellmoby and check out our blog for #Run366 updates at www.shellmoby.wordpress.com
A really big thanks to Michelle for this post. Has she inspired you to run or walk a mile a day throughout February? If you’re up for a #runstreak (a #walkstreak is equally valid if you’re starting from scratch) post a comment and let’s do this together!