RUN: What I Learned From Advent Running

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From the 1st right up until the 25th of December, I ran for 30 minutes every single day.

A lot of it was done in the wet; even more done in the dark. I even took up running to and from work just to get the time in. As someone who normally runs two, maybe three times a week normally, this was pretty daunting to me; throw in my crosstraining around it and at first it seemed an impossible ask for my body and mind. The first week was extremely difficult but as I got used to running every day (and my brain got used to the idea!) it became a lot easier, and I feel like I learned a lot about myself and my running..

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Running every single day is not as hard as it seems.
When you know you have to run that day, you just get it done. First thing, before tea, before bed; whenever, it just gets done. When you’re sortof-maybe-perhaps-I’ll-go-after-work-ing it there’s a lot of bargaining that goes on. “Well, maybe if I don’t go today, I can run double tomorrow”, or “I need to have clean hair this afternoon so really can’t go this morning”. Taking the decision away by telling yourself you ARE running EVERY day makes it easier just to lace up and go!

Swapping out shoes can help with any burgeoning niggles.
I ran with three different pairs of shoes over Advent Running: Nike Lunarglides 5 and 6, and Nike Free 5.0. Accidentally leaving my Lunarglide 6s somewhere I had to wear a different pair of shoes, and found that really eased the shin niggle that was starting to develop. I never much believed in the concept of having different pairs of shoes to run in before this challenge, but I definitely do now!

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Barefoot shoes give your feet a really nice break!
Barefoot running is, again, something else I never really believed in. At work I recommend people run in them once a week to help strengthen tiny muscles, tendons and ligaments in the legs and feet, but always thought that if I ran in them I’d injure myself. Not true. Running in my Frees gave my feet space to stretch out a little, and I was running softly with a faster cadence so it was less jarring for my legs. I maybe ran in my Frees 2-3 times a week over Advent Running, and will definitely be using them once a week going forward.

Overtraining is a real thing.
In the last week of Advent Running, I started to deteriorate. Going out running with a dreadful hangover the Sunday before Christmas was the beginning of the end, I think: on a day I should have been resting off the night before’s excesses, I dragged myself running. From there I started to get ill and, incredibly, I still feel crappy nearly three weeks later. I hardly ever get ill and I’ve never in my life been ill for this long. I believe this was down to overtraining, so although this challenge was all about training every single day, it’s actually taught me the importance of rest and giving yourself time off when you need it.

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Going for a run on Christmas Day is loads of fun.
Although I was absolutely full of cold I wasn’t going to miss the big culmination of my Advent Running, which was Delamere Parkrun. I dragged my mum and her cousin Malcolm out to watch me (boyfriend got to stay in bed!) and ran a sub-25 minute 5K, which considering how poorly I felt I was pretty pleased with. It was lovely to jump out of bed, clear the cobwebs with a run, then come back to open presents and fill myself with food, and it’s something I hope to do next year.

Would I do a runstreak again?
This close to the event, I’d say no. Next year when Advent Running comes around I’ll probably make an extra effort to run more, but I don’t think I can run through illness and rotten Christmas party hangovers again. I’ve proven to myself once that I can do it and that’s enough to me.

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10 Comments

  1. January 6, 2015 / 12:30 pm

    Massive well done for doing the challenge! Running every day isn’t for me either, but it’s a great learning experience, and you nailed it 🙂

    • January 13, 2015 / 11:13 am

      Thank you. Exactly, it was an experience – probably not to be repeated again to be honest!

  2. January 6, 2015 / 1:55 pm

    Yay! Well done us!!
    I’m really sorry that you got ill at the end of this whole thing. At the end I felt I needed a day off but at the end I only had 1 day off in the whole of December 🙂

    • January 13, 2015 / 11:13 am

      Well done to you! That’s awesome, I definitely had to take time off after Advent unfortunately!

  3. January 6, 2015 / 3:22 pm

    I’d love to try this one year but I’m always scared of getting injured and overtraining! I started my marathon training plan just before Christmas though and I actually loved running loads over the festive period, even with hangovers haha.

    • January 13, 2015 / 11:13 am

      I was worried about injury too, but as long as you’re sensible and listen to your body it should be OK. Not that I did, that’s why I got ill 🙁 Feels great to run over the holidays!

  4. January 6, 2015 / 4:21 pm

    I LOVED running on Christmas day. I really wanted to do advent running, but I don’t think with my arthritis it would be wise. The niggles tend to last a lot longer with me. BUT I am tempted by some Frees… Come pay day we may need to have a little chat 🙂 x

    • January 13, 2015 / 11:12 am

      Yes yes definitely.. I’m honestly finding Frees helping a lot. They might teach you to land very softly which in turn will help your arthritis a lot.

  5. January 6, 2015 / 4:40 pm

    Well done Sarah! Welcome home too. See you soon 🙂