Running a minimum of 5km every day in December Part 2
Alex – Chiropractor based at Skelian in Cheltenham, talks through his experience of running a minimum of 5K every day during December 2019.
If you have read part one of my blog, I went through what the challenge is and how it came about that I took part in the challenge back in 2016. Three years later I decided to take part in the challenge again! This time round, I had a significant “running start” (no pun intended), compared to three years ago. In 2019, I had already completed a fair few runs throughout the year, but at no point through the year had I ran more than once every couple of days. I knew what sort of gauntlet lay in front of me this time round, so there were no surprises. This time I had a GPS running watch, which would allow me to record my running without needing to take my phone out with me, as my watch uploads my run to the Strava app automatically on my phone once the run is complete.
If you are new to running or thinking of getting into running whilst reading this article, I highly recommend getting a GPS watch and a good pair of trainers, those two pieces of kit would be my on my essential list that is worth investing in. A GPS watch makes recording your run very easy. It also allows you to track your running speed, as well as distance covered during your run. Being able to monitor your run like this allows to gauge how to pace yourself (especially if you are new to running). Knowing how to pace yourself is a key skill to learn during a run. The more experience and miles you wrack up over time, the more you will get used to “listening to your body”, before then a GPS watch is probably the best way to go when running longer distances.
So, December the first comes around, first run of the thirty-one day running challenge. First run goes well, no problem, nice and easy steady pace as there is a long way to go this month. The first week goes well, motivation is not a problem. It feels good ticking off the days on a calendar as they come and go, then the second week hits. Squeezing a run around a busy December schedule is doable, even when the weather is bad. That being said, when you finish a long day at work and you’ve not seen any daylight, you get home and everything is nice and cosy and the sofa is drawing you in, you just have to take a deep breath, focus your mind on the task at hand, put on your running gear and get out the house as fast as possible! Once you get out of the house, the run is fine, plus it only lasts around the 20-30 minute mark.
The other issue with motivation I was struggling with was: running the same routes. While a lot of people love routine, I’ve found when it comes to running mixing up the routes is key to keeping mentally fresh. Otherwise if you start getting bored, you will probably notice your times getting slower. These were the biggest issues with motivation I found in the second week. It wasn’t the fatigue, pain or niggles; it was mental boredom of running the same routes in the dark. Having experienced this in the past, I tried to turn this into a positive. Rather than allowing the feeling of boredom or winter hibernation to take hold, I thought I would try and run faster rather than just plod along. I would try and compete with my previous times every other run. I would have one fast day then a slower day. I also started running with music again which also helped. Since getting into trail running, it rekindled the joy of running without music and just getting lost in my own thoughts, almost like becoming an active meditation. These shorter runs were too short for me to get into a mental head space to digest the daily activity, which is what I would usually do on a longer run, so music was a great boost.
Week three came around fairly quickly, this week out of the four weeks was the one that seemed to take the longest to complete. Part of it, might be to do with being the penultimate week, mentally you know that you are near the finish. I would be lying if I did not say that despite all the tricks I had up my sleeve, this week was a drag. Week four on the other hand, felt much easier despite having Christmas day, Boxing day and New Years Eve. Again, it just goes to show how much of running is mental versus how much of it is physical. My legs were feeling tired, as some days I ran more than the 5km, to mix things up.
Depending on the day, I would go on hill runs, road runs, trail runs in different locations. Despite the feeling of fatigue in my legs, I was still able to get out and run.
As a chiropractor, you are always wary of injuries or the possibility of precursors to injury. Trying to perform a task whilst fatigued is one of those factors that may increase your risk of injury. I personally found that I had DOMS (delayed onset of muscles soreness), despite that I was still able to perform the task of running at least 5km. I just listened to my body, on some days I felt like I had more “in the tank”, so I was able to run faster, the other days I ran as fast as I felt was needed. Running at the slower speed, I was able to run and talk comfortably at the same time. Around the Christmas period, with all the festivities and food, I decided to go out for early morning runs. I found this much easier that the first attempt at Marcothon. New Years Eve came around, the final run of the month! I was excited to have completed the task of running every day throughout December. It was also a sense of relief, as the challenge continued, I kept feeling a sense of anxiety, hoping that I did not pick up an injury right at the end meaning I would not be able to complete the challenge. I decided to do the run at night, as I had no NYE plans. So, I put my head torch on for the final time and steadily completed my final run. When I got home and uploaded my data onto Strava, I felt a real sense of achievement as well as relief that the challenge was now over, especially having told my patients that I would be running every day. Having now completed this challenge twice, would I do it again? Yes! It is a great way of getting some form of exercise in everyday and it also proves to you that you can do it, it is possible to get out the house even in December. The commitment to the challenge is a great way to forge new routine.
Here are my top tips to completing Marcothon.
- Make sure you are already able to run 5km. Sounds silly but this is not a task you want to go into “cold” as it were. I would suggest getting into doing some regular park runs. If that is too much, then start with the couch to 5k training program. A lot of my patients have found this app very useful.
- Have a decent pair or running shoes. By this I do not mean the most expensive, top of the range shoe. It might be worth popping into a running store where they can analyse your running style. They will hopefully be able to recommend a good shoe.
- Download the Strava app onto your phone or sign up to their website where you can manually upload your times. I would highly suggest getting a GPS watch, more so if you are planning on doing more running after this event. Running with a watch, rather than going out with your phone, in my opinion is much better.
- Find someone else who is also willing to do the challenge. You don’t have to always run together, but by having someone else running with you really helps with your motivation and commitment.
- Invest in something to help with chafing. Might sound a bit over the top for a 5k run, but these regular runs add up over time. This means that your skin (especially sensitive areas) do not get much of a break from the friction. Petroleum jelly or anti-friction cream are two good option to help with this.
- Mix up your running routes. This will help with mental fatigue, as running the same loops will get quite boring, unless you love routine.
- Run with and without music. Again, having a mix will help change things up as you run.
- Get a head torch. Trying to fit runs in around a busy December schedule means you will probably end up running at night. Even with street lighting, a head torch will probably come in handy.
- Pace yourself. Remember, you will be running every day for a whole month. It’s not about how fast you complete your runs, it is simply just completing the run.
Hope that gives you some inspiration to get out there and get active. Maybe, it has given you an idea for a new challenge. Either way, good luck if you decide to take up a running challenge in 2020. If you already have some injuries, but like the idea of becoming more active. Speak to your chiropractor or physio first for ideas and tips.