Thursday, 7 May 2015

How To Run Every Day For a Month

In this post I'm going share what I learned from Running Every Day For A Month. For me it was a great way to restart my training, lose some weight, get some much needed miles under my belt, see how far I could push myself, and most importantly, get back into the habit of running regularly.

So I'll share what I've learned, and hopefully this will help you, should you decide to try something like the challenge I've just finished...

How Far Should I Run Every Day?

If you are going to be running every day for a month, you should be realistic about how far you can run, for several reasons. I chose to run 3.12 miles (5K) every day, as I thought this would be achievable.  It's probably about 1/4 of what I could run in one go. It should also use enough calories to help me start losing weight.

If you find the thought of running 3 miles off putting, then I would recommend choosing a much shorter distance. You could decide on running a mile or kilometer, and then if you find it doesn't challenge you enough, you can increase the distance to suit.

Running Takes Time

If you want to run further than this, be aware that it will take more time out of your day. I can run 5K in just over 20 minutes, but some of the runs I did this month took much longer. My final 5K run of the month was at a very slow pace, taking me over 31 minutes to complete.

You won't be able to run at a fast pace on every run, so be aware that choosing a longer distance could take a long time to complete.

I did a handful of runs that were longer in distance, and they did take their toll on my legs. A 5.5 mile run may sound easy to some people, but when you have been running without a rest day, it gets pretty tough going. I probably shouldn't have run the longer distances, but luckily I made it to the end of the month without getting injured.

Where Should I Run Every Day?

Running In Aghalee
Runs can start looking similar

I chose a regular route that started outside my front door, was a 3.2 mile lap, and that ended with a short cool down walk. I would suggest that you find a main regular route that starts from your house, work or somewhere convenient. You don't want to have to travel every time you go for a run, as this not only takes more time, but also may put you off from actually getting out of the house.

Running In Aghalee
Runs can start looking similar... again

The less hills on your regular route, the better. If you can make your main route as easy as possible, then it becomes mentally easier to get your running shoes on and get the run done. This also means that you aren't  pushing your legs too much, and that you can give yourself some easy workouts.

Running In Aghalee
Runs can start looking similar... again and again

You may well get bored of running the same route time and time again (as the three pictures above should show...) , so if you are able to change the runs a bit, it's worth doing. I discovered a few different routes that I hadn't ran before, which helped make this challenge a bit more interesting.

Running At Lough Neagh
Yay... I found somewhere new to run...

When Should I Run Every Day?

Whenever it suits you best would be the obvious answer, but I'd recommend doing it as early in the day as possible. The hardest part of this challenge for me was getting started, so the sooner I got the run out of the way, the better.

Running In Moira
Running first thing in the morning... Almost caught the sunrise

I did a couple of Parkruns, and also a 5.5 Mile Trail Race during the challenge, so I tried to leave as many hours as I could either side of these without running. Looking back, while the trail race was very enjoyable, I could easily have injured myself doing it. I would not recommend racing during a challenge like this. If you do decide to race, then all I can say is to take it easy.

Will I Get Injured If I Run Every Day?

This was a big concern for me while attempting this challenge. Remember that this is only about training for a month, so you should not push yourself if your body is telling you to stop. Remember, you want to be coming out of this challenge feeling fitter than when you started, not unable to train for any races or sporting activities you may have coming up.

To help prevent any injuries occurring, I would recommend taking ice baths, stretching, using a foam roller, getting enough sleep and making sure you get enough protein after you train. I'm going to be very honest with you... I didn't do these half as much as I should. But if I was doing this again, I would be paying a lot more attention to them.

Peatlands Park Jog Around The Bog
5.5 Mile Peatlands Park - Jog Around The Bog Race

I mentioned taking part in races, and again I would say that this can put you at risk of injury. This challenge consists of over-training, so you shouldn't put any more stress on your body than is necessary. Again, if I was to repeat this challenge, I would not race during it.

I ran most of my runs at a very slow pace, but maybe that's why I got through injury free.

If You Want To Run Every Day For A Month.....

Choose Which Month You Run In Carefully.
Spring/ Summer months are ideal, as it's easier when it's not snowing or raining outside. Try not to choose a month which you know is already going to be busy. If you have a holiday, wedding, moving house, new job etc, this might not be the best time to take on a daily running challenge.

Make Your Daily Run As Easy As Possible.
Choose a mileage that you think will be achievable, yet challenging for a month. I chose 3.1 miles (5K) but you may find a distance that suits you better. The less hills the better, as this challenge will become tough enough. Don't worry too much about the pace of your runs, just concentrate on making your run a daily habit.

Running In Newry
One of my few night time runs... 

Make Time For Your Run.
Having a running route close to work/ home can help with time management. Leave your running kit ready for the next day, so that when you are able to go for a run you don't have to spend time preparing. The earlier in the day that you can run the better, as you can then get on with normal life.

Shorter runs require less time, so remember this if you plan to start running long distances. Post run shakes (I use Maxi Nutrition Promax Lean) are a quick and easy way of getting enough protein to help repair your muscles.

If You Miss A Run, It's Not The End Of The World.
I missed three days in total. The first was on Day 7, the other two were at the very end after a hard race. Did I fail the challenge? Technically yes, but I finished the month injury free and in better shape than I started. I achieved a lot in a month, and I'm not going to beat myself up for missing three days. In saying that, I probably should have ran on Day 7.

Running In Aghalee
Why am I doing this every day again?

Know Why You Want To Run Every Day.
For me it was mainly about getting into a routine again. I also wanted to improve my 5K time and lose weight. I achieved all these. You may have different reasons, such as improving recovery times, starting running after a break (or for the first time) or just a general fitness boost. It's important to stay focused on your reasons for running.

Make Sure You Don't Get Injured
Like I have said, this was one thing I did worry about. You will be over-training your body, so get plenty of protein, enough sleep and rest, take ice baths if possible, use a foam roller and make sure you do post run stretches. Don't take part in strenuous activities such as racing (I know, I know.....), football matches or other competitive sports as adrenaline can take over make you push your body too much.

Pay Attention To Your Diet
I'll be honest, this is one thing I did not do during my month of running. If I had of eaten right, I probably would have lost twice the weight that I did. I certainly ate and drank enough calories to replenish those used during my runs.

Post Run Calories
The calories burned on a 5K run were soon replaced. Possibly too much. 

Make sure you eat enough. When I say pay attention to your diet, I don't mean start starving yourself. You will need the calories. But eating the right foods and staying away from alcohol, chocolate, fast food etc.. will be a great a help. Also, make sure you drink enough water. If you get thirsty, you aren't drinking enough.

Pain Is Inevitable.
Sorry, but it is. I woke up every morning feeling the previous days run, not only in my legs but also my upper body. But if you feel any sharp pains, or pain that feels like it might be an injury on its way, stop training until it subsides. A dull ache is to be expected,... a sharp sore pain is a sign to stop.

Running At Lough Neagh
Taking a bit of time out to explore when running...

Enjoy Your Running
This is the time to forget about pace, hills, sprints, track laps, long distance, treadmills... whatever. Take time to enjoy your runs. Go to places you haven't been to, stop and explore. On Day 23 I went for a run and stopped a few times, taking photographs and enjoying my surroundings. Over the course of the month I visited new places which I intend to return to run again.  It doesn't have to be all about sweat and workouts. Take the time to enjoy your running.

When The Month Is Over..... Take A Break
Don't plan any long distance runs or races for a few days after completing the challenge. Give your legs and muscles time to repair. They will need it.

My Results Of Running Every Day For A Month

I ran a distance of 90 miles (the most I've ran in one month since I started using RunKeeper).
I lost 9 pounds in weight.
I ran for 27 days out of a possible 30.
I finished injury free
I learned that my body needs less recovery than I had thought
I ran a personal best 5K during the challenge
I started to love running again :)

Half Marathon James

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