I am now just over 4 months into my run every day for a year challenge. This started when I got to know Tony Curtis (a personal trainer and ultra runner from Glasgow) and he suggested I join him and a few others in the challenge. Further details of the challenge itself are at run365challenge.com
The main thing is to run every day for a minimum distance which you set yourself. In my case I decided on 3k as my minimum distance so it wouldn’t impact on overall training for ultra distance races.
As I run a lot anyway the essence of the challenge didn’t seem to hard a task to achieve. It is the little things that get in the way and the moments when rest seems the more sensible option that make this a true test for me.
So far I would say there have been 3-4 times where just getting the minimum 3k in was a challenge. Two of these were after the 2 ultra marathons I have done this year – Highland Fling Ultra and the West Highland Way Race. The day after the Fling I did just under 4km but I did run all of that. The day after the West Highland Way Race I ran/walked 3k to a pub with 50 % running and 50 % walking. The allure of a cold beer helped I think.
The other 2 turned more into planning challenges. Fiona and I cycled to Durham over 3 days with minimal luggage. Due to the challenge my luggage wasn’t quite as minimal as I took running kit with me. Nonetheless I managed to fit my 3k in every day. Then there was London 2012 and on the 2nd last day of our stay there I nearly missed out on my run. Had planned to do it mid-afternoon after meeting a friend and before dinner and the Proms. Got back to our accommodation but the Garmin wasn’t behaving (i.e. refused to find a satellite amongst the high rise buildings). Abandoned run attempt and finally did the run at 11:15pm after we got back from the Proms. Phew! Lesson learnt: Do your run first thing in the morning on a potentially busy day.
In general though getting the runs in is fairly easy. In many cases I use errands as an excuse to go for a run. I may take a long route to get to the shops and then walk home. Or I am coaching at a running track or local swimming pool – I will run there and back. Anything that I do which I can combine with running I will combine with running. This means there is less of a challenge in finding time to run. There is though a challenge in doing run specific workouts and going for longer runs but it has helped me to plan the longer runs into my day. In many ways the 3k is too short as I wouldn’t plan that and I aim to use the 3k as an occasional run when I really can’t actually fit a run in but most others will be 5k or more as I can be more specific about the workout I plan to do.
An obvious challenge is recovery and one that people who have heard about the challenge tend to bring up. There are in my opinion 3 aspects to this.
Firstly, the actual time between runs. Even though I may be running every day the gap between runs can be anywhere between 12 and 36 hours and therefore there is at times a significant gap between workouts.
Secondly some of the short runs will be at a very low intensity and therefore are effectively recovery runs (active recovery) causing little to no additional stress.
And thirdly there needs to be a focus on recovery strategies especially if there are multiple long runs or runs with higher intensity thrown in. Some typical strategies would be massage, stretching, post run protein intake and cold baths. And it is important to listen to your body to iron out any issues that may arise.
So far though the challenge has been going well and the next ultra marathon is on the horizon. I am due to run River Ayr Challenge again. Last year’s race report is here.
I will add further comments to the run365challenge here in future months.