Head Physio Sophie joined a challenge at the start of December 2018 to pledge to run every day until Christmas day and raise money for charity, called The EggNogJog.
This type of challenge was new to me, but with a 24-hour race in my sights for summer 2019, I thought it was a good way to test the water.
So I put on my trainers and ran. If only it was that easy! I really had to think about this for every day and make sure it didn’t get to 9pm and I had totally forgotten to run. Yep, that happened!
The rules stated it was a minimum of a mile for each run, so there were a lot of 1 x mile runs on my 24 days! But one of the biggest challenges was not getting bored doing the same route I do all the time. I found it easier to mix things up to stay motivated, run with friends, run hills, run through the park, run through the woods and even got off the train early to make it part of my commute to run home.
This type of training takes planning and that is something I wasn’t prepared for. This meant squeezing a run in when I wasn’t ready for it, tired, or hungry or starving. There is a real skill to planning your training throughout the week well so that you really get the most out of it. Most of us know the basics rule of never training when you’re hungry or tired but when you do something like this, chances are you still have to run despite those things. I’m hoping this has taught me some discipline for the 24hour run! But something it definitely taught me, as a runner and as a physio is that it isn’t good to run every day. My muscles were stiff and sore and even though my mileage was fairly low my recovery was terrible and so my pace was really affected.
I did the best to stretch, do some yoga and get some heat into my muscles but despite this, it still surprised me how heavy and lead-like my legs felt. Recovery days are there for a reason guys and girls!
A good thing happened over the month though, after a week or so I did get into a rhythm and if I didn’t run in the morning felt a little weird, like I needed to. I had more energy throughout the month and that drove me to do more in other forms of training, like regular swims and rowing again which I haven’t done for about 18 months.
Through this experience, I think back-to-back run days can be really beneficial. However, they must be planned and there must be a sense of purpose to it– otherwise, I think the motivation goes and you do the bare minimum necessary– just to get through rather than because you really want to do it, or feel compelled to do it to further your training.
Overuse is a big risk for injury and by the end of the month, my right calf was suffering. Most people who run around 10K a week aren’t ready to simply up their mileage and run every day but if you have some baseline level of fitness and you're prepared to work hard with planning, I think it’s something to be undertaken– but again only if there is a purpose. That way you’ll stick to it.
I plan on revisiting back-to-back runs over the springtime to get some early prep in for later in the year but it won’t involve a whole month and there will be plenty of S&C before then to get me up to scratch.
Happy running folks!