A mile a day kept the sloth away

2019 started with the streaky blinders race, a challenge that required entrants to commit to a form of exercise every day for 31 days.

Of course, you could mix disciplines if you chose to and you could include things like gym sessions, HiiT training, dance, as well as the usual running, walking, cycling and swimming.

I decided that I would embark on my first ever 31 day running streak.  A terrifying and daunting commitment because, like everyone, I was already trying to balance family life with work, household chores and include the occasional social venture.

January 1st (feeling a little delicate), I tentatively laced up my trainers and considered how far I could actually make it.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't my fitness letting me down.  2 days earlier I had achieved my 2018 sub 30 5k PB, it was a combination of a hangover and the inevitable sloth inside me that just wanted to stay home and eat carbs.

I 'settled' on a mile.  But admit I already felt a failure with this distance as I felt I owed it to myself and Team Virtual Racing UK to do more.  This was not the start to the 31 day streak that I was hoping for.

Nevertheless I headed out into the cold and ran.  As I ran I picked up my speed and resolved that if I wasn't going far then I shouldn't dawdle.

A respectable 10.27 min/mi pace.  Having never been a 'fast' runner, I was happy with that.  It felt comfortable and steady.

The next day everything returned to normal - hubbie at work, me at work (although we don't really take 'time off' anyway) but my pre-schooler was at home.  The crushing reality of how on earth I was going to balance work, entertaining a 3 year old and a run, all came crashing down.

I have historically been a buggy runner but in seriously bitter weather I won't take him in the buggy, not least because he isn't a massive buggy fan nowadays, but also because when its freezing I daren't risk him getting a chill.

So how on earth was I going to do this?

I muddled through the day and when my husband returned from work at 8pm, I was laced up and out the door before he'd taken his coat off.  Again just a mile but a steady one.

So there began my month.  At weekends and one day during the week I managed a longer run of 5k or more but for the main, it was a mile a day.  As the days ticked by my confidence grow and I pushed myself faster.

The results?

I have been shocked to see the massive improvement it has made to my fitness. My VO2 Max saw a huge leap and my overall speed across not just a mile but also longer runs, has also seen a huge improvement. I didn't anticipate that I would see an increase in stamina at a faster speed but I really have.

I recently completed a 10k in 58:57 - 9 minutes faster than my previous PB.

I have continued my fitness streak into March with the Streak into Spring but this does include a mix of cycling and exercise classes.

But what I have learnt really is that no matter how busy our lives are EVERYONE deserves at least 10 minutes a day to themselves to exercise.  That could be yoga, a HiiT or a quick mile.

On super busy days when the ankle biters really don't give you time to nip the loo alone, I wait until he is settled in bed and throw my running gear on.  As soon as Kris gets out of the car I am off.  Most of the time I have made it back before he is even changed from his work clothes. 

Those 10 minutes would otherwise be me just killing time until dinner, now I am keeping my inner sloth at bay with my mile a day.

So next time you put off exercise telling yourself all the reasons why you don't have time, consider where you can find ten minutes and just give it a whirl.  You body and mind will thank you for it!