Every October, the running community follows a trend called “run every day”. Back in 2015 when I started to run again after a few months of intense weight loss and fitness activities, I ran for a mile every day of October.
Last year, 2016, I found myself in a much better position, so I did a little experiment called “run 10k every day“. People asked me about going from 1 mile to 10k in just a year and “why not just 5k?”. Well, 5k is a fairly short distance for me. Even when running below the lactating threshold, the time I spend for that 5k is under 20 minutes. Sparing 20 minutes every day seemed too easy, so I raised the bar to almost an hour. That’s because the average distance I ran every day in October 2016 was in fact just shy of 12km.
At the end of the first week my legs were quite tired and I could barely push myself to get a good time at the local parkrun. However, starting week two, everything got back to normal. No overused joints, no sore muscles. I finished the challenge with a stunning time of 18:04 at the Serpentine Last Friday of the Month 5k. And the best thing was that I felt absolutely great after the race and with a strong feeling that I could have done better. I just didn’t expect my running to improve so much. Just a month before, for the same race and course, I got a time of 19:11 and my PB was 18:34.
So what were the ingredients of the 12 km every day running challenge that upped my running fitness so much?
I don’t finish the Strava elevation challenge that often – actually a very rare event. But that month I wanted to, so I did most of my runs on the hills around Enfield and Southgate. In October 2016, the elevation I needed to achieve was 3000m. Quite a lot, but I finished it in the 26th day. One important thing I did was, even though I didn’t really race those hills, I still ran a bit strenuous up them keeping myself in the lactate threshold zone or just under.
Running up hills also toughened me mentally, after few days you just get used to it being hard and fairly uncomfortable. Running on flat surfaces then becomes more like a treat. Besides making me stronger mentally, there is a long list of physical improvements it also brings. From improving the running posture, to strengthening the muscles, improving your cardio fitness (heart and lungs economy) and many many others.
Because of the high volume of running, I could only do around two high intensity workouts per week. Intervals, threshold running, even parkruns themselves, all these contributed to my overall running speed improvement. But I also did legs and core workouts at home, which tackled my weaker muscles, the ones that aren’t usually trained during the runs, but they contribute to your running economy (like gluteus medius and minimus).
There is a but in this equation. When I started the challenge I was already fit enough to do it, the more intensive the challenge is, the higher risk of injury you get. So don’t do it as a beginner. An injury will keep you off the track and your running fitness levels will go back down.
Will I do it again, maybe even more challenging? We’ll see 🙂
What’s the story behind your PB?