In October I set myself a challenge to run 1 hour every day. I also added the extra challenge of making it a different run route every time I went out for a run. 1 hour a day may seem like quite a lot, viewed in isolation it would be a short run for me.
Why 1 hour? When I thought about doing this I decided that I could sustain an hour daily. Based on my recent ultra running back ground it meant that my legs should be able to cope with some tiredness. I had also in August done a 3 day block of long runs which worked well. This in part had inspired me to try the 1 hour a day for one month idea. I would neither recommend this to everyone and in particular not over that length of time. A daily run, why not? As long as you select the appropriate amount of time based on what your body can cope with.
I was determined to complete the challenge but equally was prepared to stop if I was at risk of getting myself injured. After roughly the first 10 days I appeared to have the onset of what seemed to be a form of shin splints. I gave my calves in particular a good massage with the foam roller. At this point I noticed that the pain transferred into the sole of my foot so didn’t actually originate from the shin. So a bit of additional work with a tennis ball to massage the feet. The following day I decided to take things easy but in order to keep the challenge alive I went out for a 15 minute easy run. I would make the time up on other run days. The pain I had in the shin area duly went away.
One of the things I learnt from the challenge was the importance of recovery strategies in between runs. I would stretch, massage, have the occasional cold bath and use the foam roller or the tennis ball to work on tight areas in my legs and wear compression gear. I was also selective on when I would go running so that I could sometimes effectively have 36 hours between runs and on other times it would only be 12 hours. So I might run one evening and then the following morning again or the other way around.
With the exception of 2 sessions all runs were at moderate intensity, so steady paced. The other 2 were a track repeat session and a hill repeat session. A large percentage of the runs were off road to lessen the impact on the legs.
One area that tended to feel quite tender for a lot of the challenge was the Achilles area of the lower leg. On the second last Sunday I was due to go out for a longer run and thought it would be wise to massage my legs before I ran. To my astonishment the Achilles area that had been sore for days before suddenly felt absolutely fine. There was no logical explanation for that one. Adaptation maybe?
Most of the runs were an hour long, some turned out to be a bit longer which meant that I made others a bit shorter allowing myself to finish the month on 31 hours of running. The last few runs felt laboured as I think I was both mentally and physically a bit tired. In contrast though I was actually running faster than early on in the challenge.
I did get the opportunity to find lots of new routes around my area of Edinburgh and got out into the Pentland hills for a fell run. I also ran from Newcastle Station to Ponteland one day and had 3 runs in the Yorkshire Dales two of which were fell runs.
I wore my Saucony Fastwitch race flats for most of my runs except the fell runs and some of the trail runs where I used my Inov8 trail shoes.
All in all a really good challenge which taught me a lot about recovery strategies and timing. I completed a total of 342km over the course of the month.