It has been just over a month since I finished my challenge to run every day for a year. I was initially going to write a blog post about the run sooner but think waiting a bit has given me time to reflect and also see how my body would react after the challenge was over.
The daily minimum distance for my run was 3km. The longest run I did during that year was 120km. I completed one marathon, 6 ultra marathons, one 10k and a number of fell and cross country races. I also did a triathlon. I DNFd one ultra marathon. I ran early in the morning, and very late at night. I ran on Scotland, England and Wales. I also ran in Germany and Austria. I ran on mud, snow, road and trail.
I ran – a lot! A total of 3480 km.
3 km a day isn’t a lot for someone like me who runs a lot. It is a 15 minute workout. It has been pointed out to me that I didn’t have a rest day in those 365 days. This is technically true but slightly depends on the definition of a rest day. If I did my 15 min workout at 8am one morning and then did my next 15 min workout at 6pm the next evening I had a 34 hour break in between – more than a full day. I did still run on consecutive calendar days.
The challenge made me notably stronger without having to post really long runs for the ultra marathons I was doing. In autumn I placed in the top ten twice and in the top 15 twice with my best finish being a 5th place at the Three Peaks Ultra in Jedburgh. Long training runs though were around 20-25km. But what I did was regular.
Once the challenge was over I had a few days of no running. Starting back with just the odd day of running felt really weird as if I had lost all leg strength. My legs had got used to the routine of running every day. This new routine of not running was alien to them. So I have now returned to running 6 days a week.
I got very inventive with when to schedule my runs and tried to plan them around going to see clients, going shopping or any other chores that could include a minimum of a 3km run. It got more difficult when I’d spent the whole day skiing in a ski resort and then had to head out in the dark, just before dinner to do my 3km. Or, after returning from Ponteland with a stop off in the Borders for a 3 hour cycle, then nearly arriving late at the Commie Pool to coach the swim session, we got home at 9:30pm and I got out for my run. Dinner at 10:15. I did get a few odd looks from friends and family we would visit when I regularly would come out with the words: I just need to fit my daily run in. Other stories here on a previous post.
There were moments such as the above where I nearly threw in the towel. I never got injuried or ill but I had niggles that too pushed me to the brink of throwing in the towel. All through autumn I was bothered with niggles similar to plantar fasciitis but never fully materialised. I felt that it was hindering my training – both the niggle and the challenge. But at the same time I was posting my best race results ever. And anyway: It isn’t called a challenge for nothing. And one day suddenly the niggle was gone.
During a year like that you understand your body and your legs better. You learn what is a niggle and what could be more than just a niggle. You start to work out what may be causing it so that you can continue with the challenge and find ways of making sure it goes away and doesn’t come back. The aim is to manage any of the arising issues and continue running.
In the end I came away a stronger runner and one who understands his body better too. Reading stories from others who are doing similar I can see that they are having some of these experiences too. I’d do it again! It is a good way to get stronger and it is definitely something most people can try. You just have to find your ideal minimum distance or time that you and your body can handle each day.
If you have any questions around my challenge or are doing something similar please let me know how you are getting on.