This month I set myself the challenge of running at least 5km, every day in June. I wanted to do this as a nice way of kicking off the first month of Berlin Marathon training, to get a decent mileage base in, and hopefully learn a few new things along the way! So, how did I get on?
Well, first of all, I did it! I got out there every single day in June, racking up a total of 176km for the month. That’s a pretty nice achievement! My VO2 max has gone up by a couple of points, and running a comfortably-paced 5km feels as easy as breathing.
I really wanted this month to be all about trying as many different runs as possible, pushing myself way out of my comfort zone and having a whole load of fun in the process!
Looking back on June as a whole, its been an absolutely incredible month of running, full of so many new experiences! I kicked off the month with a visit to Stevenage parkrun, and in fact managed to visit three new parkruns throughout the month, including an unforgettable pilgrimage to the spiritual home of parkrun; Bushy, and a trip to Great Notley in Essex, the nearest parkrun to my childhood hometown. Sunday mornings saw us all run as a family of four for the very first time. Oscar, now four years old, is eligible to run at Junior parkrun, and it was such a special moment to run his first 2km together. Matty, my seven-year old, is going from strength to strength, and managed to take another 20 seconds off of his 2km PB. It was so heartwarming to see the boys so proud of their running, and I know this is definitely something we will continue to do as a family.
I did my first ever pre-work running this month, setting the alarm early and getting out the door by 5:30am, at least once or twice a week. It did feel quite liberating to be back and showered by the time the kids were just waking up. June is the perfect month for early running, with it being so light in the mornings, but I don’t think I will want to keep going with the early starts once it gets darker.
I also discovered new trails this month, the highlight being one glorious 8.5km trail from my office, through a secluded underpass I never knew existed, out into the rolling wheatfields, woods and hills of the Hertfordshire countryside. This one will be a definite new favourite route, and I have already arranged a run with colleagues next week to show them the way!
Although at least half of my running has been done solo, I’ve had some fantastic runs with friends as well. One particular highlight was the Superhero in the City race on 13th June, where a group of us dressed up as the Justice League and ran around the streets of London, much to the bemusement of the locals and tourists. Another memorable day saw me head over to Finsbury Park with 15 inspirational women, to take part in a running photoshoot for the Sport England This Girl Can campaign! I’d love to talk more about that but it is all under wraps for now, hopefully I can share the professional shots and full story with you before too long!
So, I guess the question is, after so many wonderful experiences, will I be continuing to run every day?
And why not? Well I guess it all depends on what you want to get out of your running. Running 5km over and over again is an exercise that just gets you good at, well, running 5km. And I am now 13 weeks out from the Berlin Marathon, so focusing solely on the shorter distances just isn’t what I need to be doing right now. While this was a perfect foundation-building month, from here on out I need to be stepping up the longer distances every week, working up to a 20 mile run in early September. In marathon training, rest days are just as important as running days, allowing your body time to recover and stay injury-free after the more gruelling speed or distance workouts.
Running every day also doesn’t allow much time for other sports or types of training. I’ve recently taken up a fantastic Friday lunchtime boxing class at work, a really intense 60-minute session which provides a full cardio, upper body and core strength workout. Coming home from work on Fridays after that class, knowing that I STILL had to go out for a 5km run, all seemed a little unnecessary. Doing some kind of exercise every day is totally fine, but instead of just running and running, what if I swapped one of those early morning runs for a home calisthenics or strength training session? Surely that would be more beneficial for me in the long term.
Childcare was also a bit of an issue for me at times. If you are a parent to young children as I am, you can’t just leave them unattended and go for a run whenever you like. At many times, running became a logistical challenge, juggling snatched half-hours here and there when my husband was home. This only intensified when he went away travelling for the last five days of the month, leaving me having to call in childcare favours from family and friends, which seemed a bit much when I had already run six times that week. Despite all this, I’m really glad I took up the June run streak challenge, which has totally normalised for me doing some kind of exercise every day, and set me up with all kinds of new ideas for getting exercise into my weekly routine. I’m hugely full of respect for those runners out there who manage to keep a run streak going for years on end, what an amazing feat!
Moving forwards into July, I can’t wait to get stuck into the next phase of my Berlin marathon training plan, with the pressure off, knowing that if i have to miss a training session one day, it’s ok!