I’m writing this 30 days into my #ActiveEveryDay in December Challenge. Here I explain why I chose to be active every day in December, how I did it – and what I gained from doing it.
Why I set the goal?
- Too busy to think – December is hectic – and extra crazy for me this year, as I’ve started a new business HER SPIRIT and launched a new coaching course GET KNOWN. I didn’t want to have to think too hard about training. Keeping goals simple is I believe the key to achieving them. To just run every day was a good base line from which I could add on layers, for example, a park run or a long run.
- Consistency – I believe consistency is the key to success in running, or triathlon training. Fellow endurance woman, Julia, who’d ran at a very high level often reminded me when we trained together, when one week is done you get up on Monday and start again. Doing the same thing, week in, week out, can be boring, and there’s no glory, but it is what gets results.
- Reactivate the runner in me – 2018 was a mixed year for me. Officially older now, and with two accidents on the bike resulting in two broken collar bones and a new tooth, had affected me physically and emotionally. I was shook, literally, and my back is still paying the price for it. Recovery and getting through the Ironman Training meant that running had taken a back seat. I’ve slowed down (partly age, partly less miles, partly biomechanics), but to feel like a runner again, I had to just run.
- Getting outside on winter slow-down – December is dark, the days are short, it’s easy to hibernate . But for me fresh air and movement keeps me from getting too sluggish. To allow for that body clock slowing down thing (not sure if there’s any science there, just my experience) I made sure I had no pressure on pace and other than Tom’s sets I didn’t plan in hard sessions. Getting outside and absorbing vitamin D (which is in short supply) felt important.
How I did it
- Accountability and purpose – Even though I’ve not been a regular at the club, I joined the Run Up 2 Christmas challenge and made myself accountable to the group. I set a goal of 200K between 1st and 25th December and went over it. and we raised cash for Mind, a charity I feel passionate about. I also made myself accountable to the endurance women community by setting up the challenge on Strava.
- Sustainable Goal – The basic goal remained active every day, but the second goal was try to stick to 5K running a day. This has meant that some days I’ve ‘moved’ around the park at 10 minute mile pace for just over 5K, in the dark and at the end of a long working day. Having run every day as a minimum requirement means I’ve actually started to do more, and found it easier to make sure I go along to Tom’s speed sessions on Tuesday at 7pm (it’s dark, I’m tired, it’s often rained!).
- Preparing for the Crazy Week – I knew Christmas week would be hard, so I made sure I got a long run done on Xmas Eve before setting off on the road. For the rest of the week not only was there over-indulgence to content with but a lot of travelling. I drove at least 650 miles between Christmas Eve and Friday 29th. Having the goal meant I ran in Somerset on Christmas Day and saw great views and discovered a new path along the canal in Watford.
- Park Run – I forced myself to do a park run event though I knew I’d be slow. I ran one of my slowest park runs, at 22.48 for 5K. But it felt the same as when I ran sub 20 or 21. The effort was there – and so was Father Christmas!
- It felt easier than having days off – Without the option of not running, running felt easier. Once I’d taken out choices, I just did it. It’s advice I got from another endurance women training partner, Sam, when I was about to bail out of a swim set after a 19 mile-run, ‘Don’t question it Fiona, just do it,’ she said. It’s stayed with me!
- It cancels out the bad stuff – As well as running every day, I drank alcohol every day bar two. I think my unit count was probably the same as my mileage count on some weeks. I’m hoping that the running counteracted some of the negative affects of drinking (although I will be doing dry in January as I don’t think I could carry on doing this!).
- I did more than I thought I would – I’ve written lots of complicated running plans in the past, and often not stuck to them. I know what’s needed for marathon training and by running every day I didn’t have to plan it. I just started to do a long run, add in a park run, go to Tom’s sets. The result is (once I’ve done today’s run) over 40 miles a week and regular long runs, ideal for preparing myself for Brighton in 2019.
My running is still slow and by running every day I’ve worked out it could be biomechanics. My back aches a lot – so for January I’m adding in swimming three times a week to a basic weekly mileage for the marathon.
If you need inspiration for January I’d recommend trying to be active every day – keep it simple and relative to where you are now. So if you’ve done nothing walk every day, if you’re injured stretch, it’s a simple goal and a great feeling when it’s done (which reminds me… I’ve still got two days left to go!)