Run Every Day – Challenge Accepted?
Month challenges are a real thing these days, aren’t they?
Veganuary, Stoptober, Movember, NaNoWriMo, Run Every Day….seems whether you want to stop something, start something or do more/less of something, there is a challenge for you to sign up to. Hashtags, selfies, social media likes, kudos and shares. I’ve taken part in writing challenges before, it’s how I wrote a good chunk of my novel’s first draft, but never a fitness one. I always felt that I wouldn’t stick to it. Basically it sounded like hard work!
But, here I am all signed up for Ronhill’s October RunEveryDay challenge. Apparently, Ron Hill has run every day for over 50 years. He’s 80! So, surely I can do it for a month.
I broke two toes earlier in the summer in a wee incident involving me and my bike against a stupidly steep and gravelly slope. So I haven’t been running and it has made me feel sluggish and fed up. I’ve missed going to my running group and building on my 10k achievement in June.
However, I wasn’t sure how to go about running every day. Is there a special way to approach it? What if the weather is really really bad.? I don’t have access to a treadmill. I usually run 2-3 times a week plus group session on a Sunday, but this past year or two has been a bit stop/start. There is always the worry of injury as well. Maybe my body isn’t up to it. Maybe I’m too old, fat, lazy….the usual mind monkeys that we all get when we set out to do something new.
Motivation is the real issue. The first few days of any challenge are all full of ‘I am awesome, I can do this’, but then reality sets in, and it seems easier to just give up, why did I bother thoughts creep in. Box sets on Netflix and bags of popcorn seem very appealing all of a sudden.
So, to help anyone taking part in this, or other challenges, I’ve gathered a few top tips to consider –
Deal with the Mind Monkeys
The main issue is probably not physical but mental. The voice that says, ‘stay in bed’ or ‘just take that short cut and go home’, or’ you look really stupid all red faced and sweaty.’
Beat the voice by –
- Having a buddy. Either someone doing the challenge who you can run with or at least cheer you on. A few folk in my running group are doing the Ronhill challenge so we have that motivation and support. Plus there is usually a facebook group or Strava club to join in with and Instagram posts (#RunEveryDay for this one), so you can use those to keep you going too. Also telling other people is a commitment, and the fact that they will know if you opt to skip a day or two can be enough motivation in itself.
- Unless it is a distance challenge then remember that anything counts. For the Ronhill one, its run every day, with a minimum of 1 mile. So, all I need to do is get my running gear on and say I’m going around the block a few times. I might even end up doing more once I am out there. Following on from this, trick yourself into doing it by thinking about each day rather than the month. ‘I’m going a run tomorrow’ rather than ‘I’m running every day’.
- Rewards are key. . So, have your favourite coffee when you get in, or some other treat. Promise yourself new running clothes at the end of the month.
- Look after yourself. Get a sports massage. Your body isn’t used to this daily exercise. You will feel it in the legs. So look after them! Get a massage to tick off both self care and reward. (If you are in Fife or Edinburgh Get In Touch!)
- Plan your runtime – first thing gets it over with, but if that doesn’t suit your schedule, plan it in. Lay out your gear. Don’t let the weather get in the way. This is October, where I live it can get pretty wet and windy at this time of year. Have the right clothes. In my experience, it always looks worse from the house than it is once you are out in it. Especially if you have a decent water and windproof jacket. Running in the rain can be quite exhilarating.
- It helps if you know WHY you are doing it. Is it to raise money? Is it to lose weight? Just feel fitter? Help your mood? Running (and exercise in general), is proven to help low mood and depression. Have a goal, and write it down somewhere you see it. Or keep a diary for the month. Write how you felt before and after the run. Surprise yourself by doing more than you expect.
Keep yourself motivated and interested by playing games with yourself too.
- Vary your route if possible, or run it different directions. Try off-road running if you normally stick to pavements.
- If distance and time are not an issue, then play with interval training and hill challenges. It will all help your running. At the end of the month, you’ll be fitter and running better. If you are not used to running every day then make sure you have ‘rest days’ which would be shorter, slower runs. I do the minimum 1 mile slowly round my block and instead of thinking about pace or time or heart rate. I think about running well, relaxing and my breathing.
- Use an app. Many of the running apps have story runs – Runtastic and Zombies Run are both fun. Although I scared myself half to death when the Zombies came after me. (Note to self – there aren’t really any Zombies, and all the people round about see is a mad woman screaming and running as is if she is being chased, well, by Zombies).
Look after Yourself –
- Don’t forget to warm up gently and stretch afterwards. Try to incorporate some yoga into your day as well. A few ‘salute to the suns’ will help keep things supple. Look up ‘yoga for runners’ which usually focus on hip openers, very improtant for runners. There are many videos and apps out there with good yoga classes.
- Use a foam roller. And use it properly. It’s meant to be a gentle stretch of the fascia, not a deep grind into the muscle. Fascia stretches lengthwise. When I do MFR treatment with people I am stretching along the body to lift the fascia off the muscle. If I am working into a muscle I work down, through the layers.
- If you can, build in some strength training as well, or cross training with some swimming. Nothing too heavy or intense. Think about your core muscles. A strong core helps strong running and less injury prone.
- I already said it, but get a massage!