Maintaining motivation to train through the winter can be difficult at the best of times. Winter 2020/21 was even more difficult than usual – with the COVID pandemic meaning there were no live events in the calendar to help focus training and provide motivation. To counter this, taking inspiration from Ronhill’s RunEveryDay challenge, and Tiny Habits, I focussed on a challenge that the pandemic couldn’t stop – simply running every day. The Clock Change Challenge was born – to run, every day, at least a mile, between the clocks going back at the end of October, and going forward again at the end of March.
The challenge resulted in 58 hours of running over 155 consecutive days, with over 400 miles covered, as well as
Here’s the highlights and the lessons learned…
It really did help
Keeping active is a great way to boost our mental wellbeing. Running at least a mile a day through the winter will not necessarily provide you a great base for ultra running or a great base for fitness generally… especially if more often than not you only do a mile! However it will ensure you stay active. As an office worker and now a home worker, during the winter months I truly miss exposure to natural light and have far more challenges to my mood than during the summer months. This was of course only heightened during the coronavirus lockdowns. But the challenge forced me to get out, and to keep active, and to keep going.
I actually did runs at recovery pace
It’s rare that I manage to do a proper recovery run, on heart rate alone, unless I am very seriously training for something. The phrase blue moon springs to mind. But running every day gave me the opportunity to do so – I did not feel the need to push myself on every run that I often do if only training 3-4 days per week. Instead I could go out, get the legs turning, and focus simply on getting the knots out of muscles after long runs.
It helped me explore the local area
Running every day soon leads to absolute boredom of the routes you know… and necessity is the mother of invention. I’ve explored every footpath and every trail for miles around, and found every geocache anywhere nearby! This has brought great variety into my training and meant that, despite the winter mudbaths, I’ve spent far longer on the trails then I generally would, much to the benefit of my core and leg strength.
It’s a great way to help structure a varied training regime
I still did long and tempo runs and speedwork. But on “days off” I would try and add helpful extras to my routine. Often I would run one mile barefoot… or run barefoot to the park (half a mile), do some strength work on the chin-up bars, and run back. 10 minutes of running serves as great warmup to a 20-30 min high intensity bodyweight workout with squats, lunges and burpees. And even if you can’t do any of this – at least you got out and ran a mile on your day off.