Today, I ran 5 miles to complete my first year’s run-streak, running at least a mile a day every day for 365 consecutive days and I plan to continue this daily rhythm throughout 2021. When this run-streak started, none of us had any idea what a life changing year lay ahead. Whichever country is your home, Covid has affected us all and my thoughts and best wishes go to those of you who have lost family or friends or who are struggling to get over the effects of the virus; be that health or otherwise.
For those of you contemplating your goals and opportunities for the approaching new year, whether a regular runner or not, consider building running in to your daily routine to give you your best possible opportunity to move forward and be the best you can be in 2021. Here are the 7 benefits of running every day which have helped me enormously through a challenging year.
Most nights I go to bed between 9.30 and 10pm so that I can have at least 7 hours sleep before getting up at 5:10 each morning to run, whatever the weather. My kids are 12 and 13 so that means I am sometimes in bed before them, which is a bit weird! If I’m feeling great in the morning then I have a faster run and if I’m not feeling the running ‘love’ I put on my Aftershokz and listen to some of my favourite music whilst enjoying a slower run and 9 times out of 10, I feel great by the time I get back home. This early start gets me ahead of my day, I feel good about myself with increased energy for the day ahead.
It took a good month for this routine to become a normal habit and once set became the bedrock of my daily routine; for running; work; my diet and it really helped me to bring a sense of order to my weekly routine. Having this discipline helps in every area of life, you realise that planning time to achieve your goals or objectives makes achieving whatever needs to be done much simpler a process. Once you have an established process to deal with the life and work stuff, blocking time for each priority allows you to be ahead of the game and get things done.
I have had two health incidents this year and running every day has provided both a constant and a sense of normality through the highs and lows. The most bizarre run of the year was running on the spot in the hospital for 30 minutes following a seizure some 20 hours earlier which had left me unconscious for 20 minutes or so. I clocked 1.4 miles. That run was so important in maintaining my routine and a sense of normality at a time when my good health was in question.
3. Valuable thinking time
I really got in to running in my mid-thirties and since then, I have found that I do my best and most creative thinking whilst running. Quite often, I will head-out on a run with something bugging me or a problem unresolved and return with an idea or solution formed in my head. There is lots written about the meditative state we can enter in whilst running and I find this really helps me to clear my thoughts. Check out this interesting article from Runners World and see what might work for you.
4. Health benefits
One of my goals is to be Super Fit @ 50 and to share what I learn. There is so much written and understood of the physical and mental health benefits of daily exercise; the human body is designed to be active and personally, I am conscious that our time on this amazing planet is finite and I am determined to make the very best of my small chunk of time here. So, for me it makes absolute sense to be as healthy as possible; both physically and mentally. Running helps me physically because it is a great exercise which I enjoy; gets my blood and lymphatic system circulating and helps me to control my weight. Mentally importantly for me, running gets me outside in the fresh air whatever the weather. To clear my mind and to enjoy the surroundings, wherever I am.
I live in the UK and our December days are short and the weather windy and wet, but there is something really great about being out early morning in a rainstorm and saying ‘hi’ as you pass like-minded souls running during a storm!
5. Sense of purpose
Whatever your sense of purpose, getting up first thing of a morning and getting out to run sets you up for your day. You are committed to whatever you have set out do and I find that this generates an enormous amount of energy and determination to get on with the day and to achieve what I want to do.
Back in 2016, Neil Thubron of XNRG gave me this book to read by Tom Rath, which was a great read and helped bring me clarity and to define my own sense of purpose. If you are struggling to find your sense of purpose then I would recommend you read this book, it has been life changing for me. My purpose to this day is ‘to be the best possible version of me and to help those around me to be the best possible versions of themselves’. This brings me clarity and simplicity to every and anything I am doing.
6. Getting ahead of the day and being your best
For those of you who are morning people, then you will get this. For the other half of you 😊 do whatever seems right for you, but I would suggest you give early morning running a try, for a month. These seven benefits are inter-dependent, and I am a firm believer that we all feel stronger and more focused when we have a sense of control over our day; over our actions and the outcomes we want to see from our efforts. Be that at home or in work.
7. Getting outside whatever the weather and connecting with nature
For me this is important and something I have missed following my Lyme’s disease, which has significantly reduced my running volume. Disappearing for 3 to 4 hours on a long Sunday run was a real reset and relaxation for me and something which I am missing.
This morning’s run was about as far as I can currently manage, but it was partly up in the woods near where I live, and I really enjoyed being out in nature. It is early winter here and the trees are pretty bare, but the scenery is still stimulating, and the birds are still singing so it’s lovely to be out and about and for me, there is no better way to recharge my batteries!
So, whatever your goals for the coming new year, if running is something which you enjoy or are considering taking up, then think about running each day. The benefits for me have been enormous and I really do hope they might help you too!