Back in late November I decided to take on a brand new running challenge. Having completed my first ever Half Marathon in the October I wanted to take on something different, an experiment, so I decided to do the #100Runs100days challenge, the idea being quite obvious – run every single day for 100 days.
I know what you’re thinking Is she mad???. And yeah, I guess I was a little. Would I be mad enough to do it again??? Hmmm, No, the answer is a definite, NO.
Technically there were no rules to this challenge, other than don’t skip a day or you have to start again. There was also no set distance that I had to run each day, although I sort of had at least One Mile as an unwritten rule in my head, otherwise what was the point?
Being the stubborn, competitive character that I am – and yes I even compete with myself – I carefully considered whether I should do this challenge and the real reasons I wanted to. Well, getting fit was a big reason, maybe lose a few pounds, but overall I wanted to become a better runner and I was also intrigued to see if I could actually do it, if I could dedicate myself to such a physical challenge for such a long period of time.
I will happily admit I was born lazy, I swear Laziness actually runs through my blood. But I don’t want to be lazy. My body hates physical exercise, but my mind wants me to do it. And so I’ve fought against my strong urges to slob on my sofa for seven days straight and let my fitness levels decrease with age. Instead I turned myself into a runner. But could I Run every single day? There was only one way to find out. So on Monday the 23rd of November I began the #100Runs100days challenge, and here is how it went:
THE BEGINING aka the “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy” stage
Having spent the Summer training for my first Half Marathon I was no stranger to running, and although I was still calling myself a newbie, I suppose I had clocked up enough miles to officially call myself an experienced Runner. But still, after a four week break from treading the London pavements, I eased myself into the challenge by doing around 2.5 miles a day. As I went into the month of December I upped my distance to between 2 and 5 miles a day and by Christmas I was jumping from anything to 2 miles to 7 miles. And I felt fantastic for it!
BUT I must point something important out – during the months of November and December I was full time blogging and writing, in other words, I was working for myself at home. This meant that I could run whenever I wanted, I had a park nearby, quiet roads, no boss or colleagues to respond to, no meetings to get in the way. It was great. I would usually run right in the middle of the day and work up an appetite for lunch. I had no pressure to hurry back home, I was on my own schedule and it worked perfectly.
THE MIDDLE aka the Make it Stop! Please somebody, for the love of God, make it stop! stage
My routine completely changed in January when I took on a new in-house Freelance position. The hours were the usual office hours – 9.30am until 6pm – and it was a central London location. I assumed that going back into a strict routine would actually be good for my running, I’d probably choose a time and stick to it, right? Wrong. Running every single day soon became a huge impracticality that got in the way of my life and bugged the hell out of me. I was too lazy to get up and do a 10k run in the morning, but with things to do in the evenings, running became a nuisance.
Also, why the hell did I choose to do this challenge in the middle of Winter?? I must have indeed been mad! It was freezing out there in January! Who in their right mind, no matter how much of a fitness fanatic, wants to climb out of their soft warm snuggly bed into the darkness to be exposed to the freezing cold air? And I’m talking about my flat, let alone the actual outside world which was crazy cold in January.
Come mid-Jan, around Day 50, I absolutely 100% despised this challenge. My runs had gone from long and enjoyable, to short and chore-like; it was just something I needed to do to complete the days checklist. I would snooze through my alarm, missing the opportunity to run in the morning (which in truth is ALWAYS the best time to run, I know it is, and when I get up and do it I love it, but the majority of time sleep gets the better of me – Dam you Mr Sandman!!) Then all day in the office I would dread going for my run the way you dread going to the dentist – I knew I would be glad of it once it was done, but I just didn’t want to do it in the first place. I would angrily tell myself all day ‘You must run at least 5 miles tonight, you must, you must’ and then I’d get home and be tired, freezing cold with more work still to do and my grumpy butt would only end up running two. This would leave me racked with runners guilt yet I’d still be posting my Nike+ picture to Instagram to make myself feel better and prove to myself that I was just as good as all the other runners out there.
But I began to fear that my relationship with running was over. Because what is the point in doing something that makes you that miserable?
THE END aka the “IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN” stage
No, I did not quit. I carried on. I did this by first addressing the issue, an issue that had not been around when I first started the challenge – I simply did not have time to run far every everyday, nor the energy! Between freelancing full time between the hours of 9.30 till 6pm, then running this blog, as well as writing and taking on a new social media project, my schedule was jam packed. I decided to accept that Monday to Friday I was only going to run 1 or 2 miles per day and I was NOT allowed to feel guilty about it. Once I accepted this, it was easier. I no longer spent all day telling myself I had to do a big run that night. I kept my runs short and sweet and saved my long runs for the weekend. I even signed up to do another Half Marathon and began to use this new schedule as a training plan. By day 72 I was completely back on track.
On day 84, yes, a mere 16 days away from completing the challenge, I pulled a muscle in my bum. Now how on earth did that happen?? you may wonder, I’m not 100% sure myself, but I think it was something to do with my Pole fitness training NOT my running (I think I need to avoid ever doing both on the same day!) Either way, it hurt when I ran, walked and I couldn’t even lie down or sit on my bum properly, so continuing with the challenge was out of the question.
Initially I was furious! I was so close to completing 100 days of running, how could my bum do this to me?? How dare it, how very dare it!
BUT! On the other hand … hmmm, I hate to admit this … I was kinda relieved! Relieved because A) I could FINALLY have a rest, finally, after 84 days. In fact I took a whole week to rest. And it’s a good job I did because I had naively only just realised how important rest days are thanks to this blog post by my friend Emma who is training for the marathon. And B) because it has resulted in me (now fully healed of course) being able to to return to running the way I used to; a few times a week, looking forward to it and using that time to de-stress. I’ve even been getting up in the mornings to do it.
Running every single day without resting is clearly not good, it became a chore and honestly, I don’t actually think it’s safe! BUT, the challenge was in no means a waste. I would like to share a few personal achievements I’ve made via running, especially for anyone out there considering taking it up as a hobby or a form of exercise:
I started off with an average pace of 9’45 per mile and ended with an average time of 8’24, knocking off 81 seconds, impressive yes?
I did my fastest mile ever in 7 minutes and 46 seconds which was a really big deal for me, the girl who was doing around 10 minutes a mile during her half marathon training
Throughout my 84 days I ran over 211 miles (340k). That’s 16 half marathons or eight full ones!
I ran 10k on a beach on a rainy Christmas Day and as mad as that seems, it was one of my favourite most memorable runs EVER and I can’t recommend it enough
I ran on every single hangover I had and although incredibly hard to motivate myself to do it, I often found my Hungover runs to be some of my fastest and they left me feeling so much better. A newly discovered Hangover cure Perhaps?
I have lost half an inch around my waist and an inch around my thighs and my calves have REALLY toned up! Just call me Mr Miss Muscle!
In terms of actual weight I only lost 2lbs but this is because I gained so much muscle (muscle be heavy, innit!)
And finally, it was captured moments like these that made it all totally worth it …
I may have technically failed at my #100Runs100days but I gained so much from this challenge (and lost a little chunk too). And I’m not just talking about gaining great stats, improving my running time and getting fit, but this experiment made me realise that I really can do anything when I dedicate myself to it and am willing to work hard. Just think about what else I could achieve if I applied the same dedication I did for this to other aspects of my life or towards a creative challenge – 100 days of writing, of blogging, of taking photos? The options are endless.
What do you think of the #100Runs100days? Would you give it a try?What’s the craziest physical challenge you’ve ever done? I’d love to know in the comments below (because I’m really nosy and love hearing about other people doing crazy if not crazier things than me!)