So I just completed my 100 days of running Challenge. Though the least distance we had decided upon was 5km, my co-challengers and I really ended averaging 6km overall by the end of the challenge.
It seems almost unfair if I don’t share my experience and my journey with others who would like to embark on similar challenges or for that matter just want to face any problems in life. The biggest learning, of course, was that whatever may happen we have to keep stepping one foot forward after the other.
There were many obstacles, disruptions, hits and misses that we faced during this running challenge. And I would like to share some of my experiences.
- It started with my visit to Chennai where my parents live. I started my challenge in the city of Pune but when I traveled to Chennai, my concern was not to break the chain. With the beautiful beach of Marina only 4km away from my home, this obstacle was already solved. My parents live in a very dense part of the city with narrow and crowded streets and a peaceful run even in mornings is hard to think of. Running at Marina also had a lot of nostalgia for me and it was fun that I could mix up some running on sand in between the runs on pavements along this beach.
- Around 5.5 years ago when I had started running, my purpose was to improve my punctuality and turn into an early riser. With this challenge, I was able to improve my sleep patterns and rise even earlier than I used to. I thought I can’t do earlier than 7 am every day but this challenge has broken that mental block for me. Now I rise at 5.30 any day I want and step out for a run.
- This challenge is definitely not good for beginners of running. You don’t want to lose interest even before you see your best running. Beginner lessons with a running group will prove really helpful if you wanna get here later. I did a refresh session too.
- In the first couple of weeks, fatigue started in knees and ankles. The strain of calves was a bit of a disturbance too. But consistent Strength training with my co-runners helped in a big way.
- If this running challenge can’t make you consistent, nothing else will. I was able to consistently wake up at 5.30 am every morning and almost subconsciously get into running clothes and step out.
- On alternate days I was religiously doing Strength training. This meant that I had to finish my 5km run before the training. But once in a while when I ran after the ST, I always felt guilty of it because the sun would come down harder and make the run less enjoyable.
- I bruised my feet by wearing fitted shoes initially. It could be because I hate wearing socks. So the craze for laceless, breathable shoes will not go. I still wear the same shoes but restrict it for just 5km. For longer distances, it has to be proper shoes with laces and socks. All this does not apply if you are a barefooter of course.
- My visit to Chennai where my parents live gave me a chance to run in sand. The Marina beach sand was very soothing for my feet and it is good for balance. I repeated this when I vacationed at Konkan later, again during these 100 days.
- Sleeping on time is so important for this running challenge. I can’t emphasize this enough. Since I work a full-time job between Monday and Friday, the only recovery I get is a good night’s sleep. Can’t afford to compromise that at all.
- Having the right mentors around is important to keep you grounded and also to keep you on track. It’s a natural tendency to keep doing what you are doing daily and not realizing if you have drifted to bad posture sometimes or just skipping warm-ups and calm down stretches like I had started skipping. But not anymore.
- One of the greatest memories was that I hit my personal bests in timings of my runs. I did a 5km in 34 min and 21km in 2hr 37min. Some may say that this is average but I am just happy that I bettering myself even after over 5 years of running.
- We followed Underpromise and Overdeliver. The distance of 5km was the minimum that we had set. We kept doing longer distances over weekends. Something between 10 to 22km. In the end, we over-delivered by running 604km in 100 days. That’s about 6km on an average. Not bad huh?
- We had the honor to join a couple of Guinness Record attempts. One was the Zumba world record on 30apr where around 15000 people danced at the same time. Also, a friend of ours was attempting to run barefoot 21km for 121 continuous days, we supported him in few of his runs.
- On the sides, I got really better at taking selfies because I looked to share my daily runs on Instagram and my WhatsApp running group. That’s one record number of selfies!
- I will be lying if I said that work pressure did not get in the way. On somedays, I had to work late and run late in the night to reach my goals. On a couple of occasions, I was warned not to enter office late or leave early. It is difficult to make people understand about recovery sometimes, they just start looking at you as a machine. Sorry not that strong yet.
- Running continuously for 5km was one of the improvements I found in myself. Though I have reached 21km runs I did walk in between until this running challenge. Now that need is becoming negligible.
- A slightly basic need is to carry stuff while running. Try not to carry much. But for my house keys and a mobile was unavoidable. So I stitched pockets in all my tracks. Fuel belt is another good option I used occasionally.
- It’s good to run at the same time every day. This induces discipline in sleep pattern as well.
- Some ways to keep oneself motivated is by shuffling groups of runners to run with, supporting other runners, doing interval training, doing longer runs only on weekends, doing CrossFit trainings once in a while, trying workouts like 5 min planks/handstands, carrying music along, running at trips and treks, changing routes, sometimes gymming, running in various weathers and adapting to change in weather.
- To achieve fitness improvements like weight gain in my case, better rhythm in running and a better comfortable pace such challenges can in handy. Not to forget balanced nutrition! I don’t add sugar into my homemade foods, avoid fried food and I don’t drink alcohol, coffee or tea(except green tea in the morning on empty stomach). Otherwise, the quantity of food I take is high in the mornings and afternoons given my increased appetite from the runs.
- I have to mention my love for sunrises. Half the reason I stuck to jogging and running where my love for seeing sun rises and the freshness that comes with it.
- Injuries have to happen when you are on the road for so long, 604km to be exact. So I had a few too. In the middle of a hill run, I tripped and fell on my knees and bruised both. Tore the pants at both knees too(which I took care later by cutting the length of it). I still ran on following days except that some workouts were difficult to do. But what was worse is that I had an eye injury when I was in the 90s. With very few days to go, giving up was out of the question. My left eye had a bandage due to a scratch in it. Though it was weird to run with it for two days, I am glad that the injury was nothing serious and I could continue the rest of the days with some eye drops.
- During this running challenge, world acclaimed Kipchogee completed the full marathon of 42km in 2hrs 23 secs. I watched it “live” and needless to say that the adrenaline that it gave me lasted for days. These are the icons and role-models that our generation needs.
- I live in Pune far from my family which is back in Chennai. So the typically daily hustles of the family was not an obstacle for me. If anything, they were constantly encouraging me in their own little way from far apart. My friends the at office and at the running group turned into family. Taking care of me when I had injuries or needed any other support. Balancing relationships can become a real challenge if you don’t have the support of your family and close ones. I was lucky to have that sorted.
- We ended the running challenge with grand celebrations by the whole Pune Running Group coming together and cheering for us. And of course a party with some of my office running pals.
Through rain or sun, through city- hill – sand – jungle, alone or in community, morning or evening, sick or not, injured or not, gadget or not, shoes or not…..No excuses! Absolutely none at all. This is how I managed not to miss a single day of my 100 days challenge.
P.S: I plan on running for few more days. To join some runners who started their 100 days challenge 24 days after us. It’s no less than addiction to run daily now. 😉