30th Nov 2018 finds me at the milestone of running every day for 2 years. I thought it was time to explain a bit more about this.
What is the challenge?
I run at least one mile every day. I don’t use treadmills and I don’t run inside. This means I have various different 1 mile loops from my front door – trail, flat, uphill, and in various directions. When I would normally have a rest day in my training programme I just pick one of my one mile routes.
There has been a lot written about the mental health benefits of running. Running every day is essentially about learning to make positive, life fulfilling, healthy choices. It's about learning to say YES instead of NO, learning to drop the excuses. These choices affect you mentally as much as they do physically.
It keeps me motivated
When you run every day, you start to look at life differently. Instead of asking yourself the question ‘should I go running today?’ the whole thing gets reframed. You start asking ‘when will go running?’ instead. This whole thing has a ripple effect and I’m sure it makes you more determined and ready to accept challenges of all shapes and sizes.
It helps me be still
7-15 minutes of time for myself is invaluable. Sometimes this is a quiet moment when I can still my mind. At other times I decide I want to think something over or have a chat with my wife. It’s a great discipline.
It makes me run slow
Because recovery is really important in your running, I learn to run slowly through this daily habit. In Chi Running, we learn to run at various different speeds. I very often fund myself running my daily mile in gear 1. Using a heart rate monitor helps me slow down really well. Learning to run slowly is really important because 80% of our running should be in a low heart rate zone, with the remaining 20% in zone 3-5. So it doesn’t just make me slow, it contributes to my whole training programme and helps me get the balance right so that I ultimately get faster. Is that working? Well, recently yes it is …
It’s part of my rhythm of life
Our bodies love rhythm and ritual. They have an optimum heart rate for training, an optimum cadence, they like a 24 week training programme (but no more please.) They LOVE rest in the right rhythm and proportion to our exercise levels – rest can enhance our speed and reduce injury. I have developed a ‘rhythm’ for each day and each week, and running has now become a part of that rhythm, along with other mindful practices.
A few more questions I am often asked…
Did I ever consider stopping?
Yes – I was on the platform between trains at York Station. That was a pretty close call – I almost missed the train. Yes I would stop if I needed to because ultimately I think it’s far more important to look after your body and show care for yourself than run through pain for the sake of it. Fortunately I’ve been uninjured for a number of years now.
Do you really manage to find the time?
Of course. If you can’t find 10 minutes for yourself in 24 hours, I think it’s time to rethink your life and decide if you are looking after yourself well enough.
What’s it got to do with Chi Running?
The mindful side of it has got EVERYTHING to do with Chi Running. Chi Running really is very much about living your whole life mindfully. Of course listening to your body and being kind to yourself is so central to mindfulness. So this actually means I’m very likely to STOP running every day at some point unlike the legendary Ron Hill who kept going for over 50 years!!!!
Finally … This is not something I think is a good idea for everyone, in fact I’ve seen a lot of people injured by these ‘5k a day’ or ‘Run every day in xx month’ challenges. I think that’s because they often mean people break the rule of gradual progress that I’ve blogged about many times before.