I started my challenge of running every day for thirty days to jump start my life-reboot. Before tackling all the things great and small, I figured I needed to start with my mental outlook. Getting out on the road has not only improved my physical condition, but I know it provides me with a certain kind of mental clarity. There is nothing quite like pushing your physical boundaries to humble you. It breaks you down, and then builds you back up. It felt like the right place to start.
I have never come back from a run thinking, "I wish I hadn't done that." That said, it can be very difficult to head out some mornings. Even after all these years and miles, those first steps are still a challenge. After the marathon in January, and with no races on the calendar, it was too easy to listen to those voices talking me out of action. A short night's sleep, a tight muscle here, a little nagging niggle there, and I spent far too many mornings trading a half hour on the roads for internet time.
Even knowing that running would improve my outlook, I was stuck in a lazy loop. When I draw up a marathon training calendar, there is a commitment to getting out. Though the commitment is only to me, I take it seriously. Not ready to sign up for a marathon, I made a different kind of commitment this time. I vowed to run every day for 30 days. This would jumpstart my reentry into running, and put the procrastination on hold. There was no debate whether I was up for a run - every day was a running day.
As I mentioned before, I have never run more than three times a week, even in the height of marathon training. I was always worried about injuries, and decided that three days was the perfect balance of training and recovery. In my better days, I added in a day each of biking and swimming, but I limited the leg pounding of running to three a week. So this experiment was not only to break one habit (procrastination) for another (action), but also to see how my body would hold up under an every day regimen.
So, I ran without fail each and every morning, and yesterday marked day 30. I ran at least three miles each day, and ran most often at a decent pace. Most days were only three miles, but I also threw in an impromptu 13.1 miler on day 12. My friends Cherie and Wendy were running the Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon, and unable to run alongside them, I ran a San Diego course at the same time they were running. We exchanged texts and encouragement along the way, and it was the next best thing to being there. I was a little concerned about running the distance after twelve straight days, but it went well and I finished in a respectable 1:50.
There were extra aches and pains as the days and miles accumulated. My ankles hurt one day, my knees the next, but this was most pronounced in the middle of the month. By the third and fourth week, my body seemed to be getting stronger. Though there were fewer aches and pains, the fatigue built upon itself and it felt harder to maintain pace this past week (though strangely, day 28 was my quickest run). Throw in some long, hot, physical days at work, and I was happy not to put my running shoes on this morning.
I hadn't really thought about it previously, but this 30 day commitment was similar to what I did last year, choosing a different resolution each month. Some asked why I didn't wait until the first of the month to make July my "running" month. The answer was simple - I couldn't put it off. I had to start somewhere, and I had to start right now.
Would I do it again? Only if I needed to. The every day commitment helped me fight that procrastination gene, and starting every day getting my blood pumping improved my outlook. I am more fit than when I started, but I feel run down as well. I needed this month for my mind, but to make my body stronger in the long run, I need to take rest days. Your body rebuilds in the moments after the struggle, and that is when you get stronger.
Now, where did I put that bike?