I’ve long considered myself a running enthusiast. For the purposes of sharing my own definition, it means that I like to run regularly, I have joined many races (including four marathons so far), but I do not consider myself a serious runner who goes after constant PRs* and runs to win races. I run for the joy of running.
I usually run 3 to 4 times a week, doing shorter 30min runs during weekdays and running at least an hour during weekends. I don’t usually count my mileage and pace but I hover around 10 to 15 miles per week at 12min/mile. That’s slow by any serious runner’s standards but suits me just fine as a turtle runner just after my happy hormones. If I skip a day or two of running, I wasn’t bothered by it. I only followed a schedule diligently whenever I trained for marathons but I haven’t done one since 2015.
Sometime in July, I realized I couldn’t do the Bali Marathon which I registered for (timed for September) due to unforeseen personal circumstances. Since I couldn’t do the marathon, I wanted to challenge myself in a different way somehow. I decided to try running every single day. I didn’t diligently track my mileage or pace till August so I guess I can say August 1, 2018 was day 1 of my run a day quest.
My stats so far: 86 days, 55 hours, 315 miles which means I ran an average of 3.7miles per day (25.6 miles per week), at 10.5min/mile. Compared to what I used to average – I have doubled my mileage, while improving my time by 1.5mins/mile.
Beyond the stats, running daily has taught me several things:
The body is a creature of habit.
I once read that if you do something 21 times, then it becomes a habit. While it was hard at the start to wake up, get up and run every day, after a week or so, my body’s rhythm became in synch with the new routine. Even if I didn’t want to, or had a late night, my body would wake up at 430am! And my instinct would be to immediately prep myself for a run. Rain or shine. It became a habit!
The mind becomes better focused.
Running daily, for the most part on my own, with no music, just me and my surroundings became meditative. It cleared my head of overthinking and unnecessary anxieties which I usually have at the start of each day as I go thru the things I need to accomplish. Instead, I just focused on my breathing, the rhythm of my run, my surroundings. Mindfulness while running** in turn gave me clarity of thinking for the rest of the day. I relaxed my mind enough so I could focus on the most essential.
The heart can be consistently happy.
There is some adrenaline rush or high that comes from running. I call it my happy hormones (it’s endorphins really). And the mood booster can last the whole day! So regardless of what’s thrown at me, I remain unfazed and ready to take anything on!
Consistency brings improvement.
Try as I might, I can’t run slower now… ha! Over time, I began running better and faster, with less recovery time. I also shed some pounds and inches, which are very good side effects indeed! Most of all, I feel stronger and have not been sick since I started running daily despite my runs in the rain, the pollution around, the constant travel and life stresses.
Improvement brings greater challenges.
As I tracked and noticed the improvements, I became even more motivated to continue my streak. Thus I started doing hill repeats, interval runs, and the like to spice up my runs and challenge myself more. I also began joining virtual challenges on Strava*** like 10K PR, 21K PR, elevation and distance challenges with virtual running friends all over the world.
Sleep is a given. I don’t really have trouble falling asleep before but now, I sleep like a baby. The time I sleep is more consistent too.
These may or may not be backed up by scientific research but running daily surely has given me great benefits. I am convinced and I will continue doing this.
Might it be that this old maxim is true? “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise!” I guess it's true for me but I will change it up a bit and say "Early to bed, early to rise and exercise makes this woman healthy, wealthy, and wise!"
*PRs - personal records
** Mindfulness while running - a practice taught to me by Tao of Running founder and coach, Stephane Thiltgen
*** Strava - a social network app for athletes (mostly SBR - swim, bike, run)
About this post: Wrote this piece when I saw a friend tracking his 10,000 steps a day challenge and that he was nearing his 100th day. I realized then that I too was nearing my 100th day of running daily.