Where did this running streak idea come from? At the end of March, a challenge was presented by my sister-in-law, Jen, to 'streak' in April which is basically running every day for 20 minutes without missing. I took the challenge by testing it out on March 31st, 2017, and so began my streak.
What is #20minutesofrunning in my context? For me, this meant completing 20 minutes of actual running (jogging) at whatever pace I was able, interspersed with walking breaks when necessary. The majority of the days in April, the Galloway method (which consists of run/walk intervals), presented to me by my hubby, Dave, was used to prevent injury. An example of this method which we used was a 60/30 interval where we ran for 60 seconds and walked for 30 seconds. This was repeated 19 more times in order to complete #20minutesofrunning. About 3/4 of the way through the month, we "leveled up" to 90/30 intervals, repeated 13 more times for 21 minutes of actual running.
After 30 days of #20minutesofrunning, I have some thoughts.
What I've gained:
- An exercise-related activity. every. day.
- More time with my hubby. Since he joined me a few days in, he has run with me every day since. Turns out he's a pretty great coach and motivator!
- Knowledge and appreciation of running. An activity that certainly wasn't a favorite, not sure if it even made 'top ten', is now rising up the ranks...
- Stronger legs. After experiencing hamstring pain about a week or so in, I incorporated a short hamstring workout after my runs that I believe helped a lot.
- A sense of accomplishment. It is no small thing to get out and run every day when excuses are a dime a dozen.
- Some wiggle room. I allowed myself to indulge in the food area a bit over the Easter Break, with the knowledge that I was being active every day and not sedentary (that's a pretty ugly word that I don't care for as a descriptor!)
- Accountability. While I did not publicize it on FB or elsewhere at the beginning, I did announce it to my hubby and kids, and my sister-in-law who posted the challenge at the start of April.
- Time outdoors. I love nature, but sometimes I just don't make the effort to step outside and take it all in. This past month I did!
- A faster pace. After committing to 30 days, at multiple elevations, and in varying weather conditions, I have increased my body's ability to handle running. I believe this was less a goal and more of a natural outcome of dedicating time to the sport. Glad I did!
- Temporary relief for migraines. This discovery came on the final 2 days of the streak when I experienced a migraine. I ran despite the pain and found out that the pain subsided during the run - both mornings. Too bad I couldn't have just kept running until the migraine wave dissipated completely...
What I have not gained:
- A way to lose weight. Despite my varied serious attempts over the past year to reduce the size of my midsection and thighs, the scale refuses to move from this plateau. (Caveat : I did put on a few pounds (read: 5) over the 2-week break, of which I have only lost about half. Perhaps I will need to revisit this particular aspect.)
- A sustainable routine. This was an experiment for me, a challenge outside of my comfort zone. While these can be fun, contagious, and stretch my current limits, I'm not sure if it's the healthiest way to continue since it fails to allow the body to 'recover.' However, I may have to research this a bit more since I am not covering extensive distances.
- Enough movement in my day. Previously, I had a goal of getting 10,000 steps in my day. This was typically accomplished with walking. When I started this streak, I set aside the 10,000 steps idea since I was putting the effort into running. I think I would end up achieving it at times, but my current step counters seem flaky and/or inaccurate. For example, today I covered a distance of about 2.4 miles - my watch says 2,771 steps, my cell phone says 3,672 steps and charts tell me it should be close to 5,000 steps for the pace. All that being said, I want to emphasize #movementalldaylong, not just with a run each day.
Well, it looks like my lists are unbalanced, definitely heavy on the 'gains' side. It was definitely worth the effort, and I feel that I have received much more than I have given, in a sense.
I don't want to end the challenge, so my goal now is to find a good aspiration related to running. Dave mentioned two ideas. One is going for speed, improving my 5K pr. I ran one back when my youngest was a little guy, and I was much younger! The second is going for distance, increasing my endurance and stamina to complete a 10K which I have never run.
I have also thought about incorporating a separate idea - continuing the streak, barring any major illness or grave injury. The Galloway method, which I will continue to incorporate, is meant to prevent injury. Also, my distances aren't incredibly long, so there is less stress overall on my joints. My somewhat arbitrary number is 66 days (current research says it takes this many days on average to form a habit).
Stay tuned for the answer and my progress in this and other areas.
What will your next challenge or experiment be?