I’ve ran at least one mile every single day since 2018. As of the time of writing, that’s 747 days straight. In this post I’ll explain why I took on this daily habit and what I learnt from it.
Why do I run a mile every single day?
As with everything worthwhile in life, having a why is imperative. It’s the why that keeps us moving forwards when the going gets tough. I had several whys that motivated to run a mile every day. Here’s a few of them.
Why number 1
The first why I had for running a mile every day was that I love starting the day with a morning run. Running is genuinely an activity that I enjoy a lot. It never feels like a chore to get up early, get my gear on and venture out of the day. For me, it’s an energizing way to start the day and gives me the mental boost knowing that, regardless of what happens in the day, I have done at least one productive thing.
Why number 2
The second why is that I become much more productive after having gone for a morning run. After I’ve laced up and clocked some miles, I find that I can produce better work for longer and with a heightened sense of concentration. On days where I run in the evening (though these are rare) I notice a huge slump in productivity in the morning compared to days when I’ve had a workout to get going. This must have something to do with the fact that exercise keeps blood, glucose and oxygen levels high in the body due to the body’s demands of them during exercise.
Why number 3
My third why is that I am a big believer in the idea of challenging oneself. This was perhaps the hugest motivation for me. I think it’s important to get out of our comfort zone, do difficult things and embrace discomfort in order to grow. David Goggins calls this getting ‘comfortable being uncomfortable.’ Sure, I love running, but there are days when I wake up and just don’t feel like it. I might be tired, be lacking in mental energy and willpower, or it might be raining or even snowing. However, it’s through being committed to challenging myself that I’m able to push through the easy way out of skipping the run and ensure that I get my shoes on and go for that run.
Why am I so invested in the idea of challenging ourselves?
In our modern lives, we’re constantly being sold to with comfort, ease and luxury, with the promise that these will make us happy. As Rich Roll says, comfort won’t make you happy. Instead, doing difficult things and getting out of your comfort zone will expand you as a person which will truly make you happy. Third why was for the element of challenge. Big believer in getting out of comfort zone, embracing challenge, and doing difficult things. Not missing a single day was crucial.
What is my typical running routine?
As with anything in life that we do for a long time, I soon developed a routine to make my running a habit. Here’s the routine that I follow each morning:
- Wake up around 6am, make a coffee, read for 20 minutes, get dressed, have some water. Then, head out for the run.
- Typically run 4-6 miles but up to 12 on the weekends depending on time availability and what I’m feeling like.
- Return from the run, have a shower, make breakfast and another coffee as a reward. Perfecto!
This routine makes just a small part of my running system, which has helped me maintain a mile everyday for two years. For more information about running systems, check out the following blog post:
What were the biggest challenges I faced during my two years of running?
1. Getting ill
Having a cold or just generally being ill could have jeopardized the mile a day. Whilst I worried about this from time to time, I’ve been incredibly lucky so far. Since starting the challenge, I’ve had three colds and a minor flu in early 2019. Fortunately, none of these illnesses were enough to prevent me from running at least a mile a day and I managed to strip back the run to a single mile for these days.
To reduce my chances of getting ill, I try to get decent sleep, eat a balanced diet and take a daily multi-vitamin.
2. Minor running injuries
In my very first year of running, I experienced three bad injuries which meant I had take a recovery break from for up to three weeks at a time. What was the reason for my injuries? Taking on too much too soon. On my first run as a new runner, I thought I could tackle seven miles in a single session. You can guess what happened next.
Luckily, I had learnt enough from my past mistakes and had researched proper conditioning strategies at the time when I started this challenge, so my body was well accustomed to running. This meant I’ve had minimal injuries throughout my two-year stint of daily running.
Since starting this daily habit, I’ve had two minor episodes of shin splints from over training. To overcome these, I ran only a lightly paced daily mile for a week to allow my body to focus on recovery.
3. Finding motivation
Finding motivation was only a challenge for the first month. To start with, I missed my rest days and questioned why I would subject myself to running in the pouring rain on days of poor weather. However, after this first month had passed, it got so much easier and my daily run became a habit. As Zig Ziglar said, ‘motivation gets you going and habit gets you there.’
Throughout the two years of daily running, I have run in seven different countries and over twenty different cities. My reasons for travel were either for pleasure, challenge (e.g. climbing Ben Nevis in Scotland) or because I was on tour with my band at the time. It was a challenge to maintain a daily run whilst travelling because of travel fatigue, jet lag in some cases, tight schedules and having to squeeze running gear into my suitcase.
However, I was organized and planned in advance throughout my travels so running on the road was much easier to maintain. I’d say that some of my best running memories to date have come from running in new places where I’ve been able to soak up the local culture. It’s not everyday that a British guy like myself is able to relax after a run with a Baguette and coffee from a Parisian bakery whilst strolling past The Eiffel Tower.
What were the biggest benefits from two years of running?
1. Teaches you the importance of consistency
‘It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.’ Anthony Robbins
Anything in life that is worth achieving takes discipline and focus over a long period of time. Whether the goal is to learn a new language, pass an exam or to create a successful business, consistency is required. Consistency is all about showing up, day in and day out, and putting in the work. Gradual improvements are made over time and, before you know it, you’re well on your way to achieving your goal.
Running every day for two years has taught me about the power of consistency. At the start of the feat, I was an average runner and could just about run a 5K in under 23 minutes. Fast forward to now and my 5K PB is 18 minutes 30 seconds. I’ve also achieved many feats including:
- Completing 25 half-marathons
- Achieving a half-marathon PB of 1 hour and 22 minutes
- Clocking up 2000 miles in one year
- Climbing Ben Nevis in Scotland and Mount Snowden in Wales as running training
- Achieving a 5K PB of 18 minutes and 30 seconds
- Running at last one mile every single day since New Year’s Eve 2018
Had it not been for consistency, I wouldn’t have achieved any of these feats. Having run a mile everyday has taught me the importance of discipline and I’ve been able to apply the principle of daily effort to other areas like learning French and studying for exams.
2. Productivity increased
Starting the day with a run increased my productivity massively. In the mornings, I usually feel a little sluggish and my body takes a while to get itself into gear for the day ahead. However, going for a morning run jets me out of this temporary energy rut and, after having pounded the pavements, I feel ready to take on my work with commitment and focus.
When I run in the morning, I’m able to concentrate on my work for longer and get into the flow state easier. The result? I produce higher quality work in a quicker and more efficient fashion.
3. Improved mood
Running everyday has given me a massive mood boost and I’m now a much happier person.
When we exercise, the body releases chemical that cause a general sense of happiness and well-being. What’s more, exercise also suppresses the production of stress and anxiety provoking hormones. The result is a much happier, energized and confident you.
4. Improved PRs
In my two years of running every day, I achieved PRs in every race distance from 5K to marathon. The day that I’m most proud of is when I smashed my half-marathon time from 1 hour 25 minutes to 1 hour 22 minutes in a single race.
When you do something consistently for a long period of time, it’s highly likely that you will become better at it. If you’re hopeless at darts now but play it for an hour everyday for a year, you’ll have come on in leaps and bounds. Similarly, if your kitchen expertise currently extends to a fried egg but you made a habit of trying a new recipe every two to three days, you’ll soon become a mini Jamie Oliver or Rachael Ray.
If you want to improve at running, I’d strongly recommend making it something that you do consistently.
5. Explored new places
Running everyday for two years has given me the opportunity to explore new places that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I’ve been to new counties, cities, towns and villages, all thanks to participating in events, training and taking on challenges.
My favourite place so far has got to be the incredible views of Mount Snowden in Wales. My brother and I ran up most of the mountain in March 2020 and it was breathtaking.
6. Improved physical fitness
Something that I’ve noticed subtly is an improved level of physical fitness. I’m able to walk further, quicker, without tiring. I notice this when I’m walking alongside friends and family members as they often start to breathe heavily when trying to catch up with me. The thing is, I don’t even realize that I’m walking fast.
I always compare physical fitness and health to the foundation of a house. Without a strong foundation, it’s not possible for a beautiful house to be built. Similarly, unless you have a decent level of health, it’s not possible to live a productive, happy and fulfilled live to the full. believe it’s important to have this base for living a productive and happy life.
We’re now halfway through January 2021 with me entering my third year of consecutive daily running. I’d recommend anyone whose interested in the idea of running a mile a day to try it out. The benefits are immense. One things for sure, I’ll be continuing with my daily running for as long as possible.