I was never excessively interested in any form of athletic endeavour as a child. I only really started running as something to do to get out of a student flat for an hour a few times a week – from the centre of Dundee over the Tay Road Bridge to the home soil of Fife and back. On arriving in Glasgow as an SHO, I started running the odd 10k and between times was just running on a treadmill but still nothing to write home about.
That changed in 2011 when I read “Born To Run” by Chris McDougall. It’s a book about a journalist’s quest to overcome injury, barefoot running and an ultra-marathon in Mexico. I devoured that book in 24h and decided that this was going to be my new thing. Having only ever run a competitive 10k, I entered a 40 mile race from Partick to New Lanark in July 2012 with a marathon sandwiched into my training plan. Since then I’ve run seven ultra-marathons (any race >26.2 miles) and squeezed training around work and family.
On 1st December 2015, I decided to start a daily running habit motivated by the annual Marcothon (essentially 5k/30 mins per day in December as per Marco Consani, Scottish ultra-runner and husband to the equally successful Debbie Martin-Consani who has the single best Twitter handle ever @ultrarunDMC). On the 1st January, I decided to carry on and maintain a running streak for 500 days simply to see if I was able.
My rules are simple:
- At least 1mile/10minutes per day – in reality, by the time I’ve got changed and out the door I never stop at 1 mile but knowing that I can allows me to trick my body out the door.
- Must be wearing trainers and some form of running clothing – running back from the pub in jeans and shoes doesn’t count.
- That’s it….
This daily habit has led to a number of benefits for me:
- I no longer have to decide IF I’ll run on a particular day, the only question is WHEN that will happen.
- I have dedicated time each day to think or not to think – I don’t “do mindfulness” so this is the closest I get.
- I’ve not been ill – other than occasionally self induced…
- I’ve not been injured – permanent low grade aches but nothing bad enough to stop me running.
- I’ve slept much better (when the kids allow).
- My daily RunKeeper updates on Facebook have trimmed down my friends list very effectively.
- I’ve realised how fortunate I am to have a wife and life that permit me to do this.
My stopping point is now only 75 days away so we’ll see if that happens or not – I’ve got a couple of ultra-marathons booked in already this year so the running won’t stop, even if the daily habit does. But then maybe it won’t…..