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What Happened to my Mental Health When I Ran Every Day? RED January days 28-31

What Happened to my Mental Health When I Ran Every Day? RED January days 28-31

First of all, I wanted to say thank you to everyone that has followed my Run Every Day January journey and has spread the word, taken part and supported the mental health charity Mind.

If you want to learn more about Run Every Day January and how it can help you, I’ve put together this post which gives you information on the charity and how taking part can help your mental health.

To read my full RED January journey, here are all of my previous blog posts, no holds barred and 100% honest:-

Continuing the RED January Journey

As RED January draws to a conclusion I’ll be sad to see it go. But first, here are my last 4 days of the run every day challenge 2019.

Day 28 >>> 0.64 miles >>> Sponsored snoozing

I was exhausted when I got home. I sat on my bed for a moment and then accidentally slept for 3 hours! Obviously, this is a new habit that I’ve adopted for RED January, does anyone want to sponsor me do that every day instead?

So by the time I got out for my run it was 9.20pm which isn’t the ideal time to go out obviously.

Day 29 >>> 0.7 miles >>> Snow thanks

Today’s run did not feel good! I was short of time so had to whizz around the block but it was also starting to snow. My legs felt super heavy and I had a little headache so absolutely wasn’t feeling it.

I then spent the evening driving around Bristol City centre hopelessly lost because of the new bus lane restrictions to turn up to the pub quiz an hour late to then come probably last. If you can solve any of the below anagrams and what they all have in common I’ll hand out a prize…

Day 30 >>> 1.1 miles >>> That was not (n)ice

Possibly the coldest run of RED January! The paths were very slippery in places and it was so cold I couldn’t really feel my face.

While running in cold weather is my ‘thing’ when it’s too cold I end up with a chesty cough when I get home which really isn’t nice.

I’m absolutely over the moon that I have one run left of this challenge and that I’ve run. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! Who would have thought that I’d have been able to complete this challenge, certainly not me!

During today’s run I was thinking about next January and how I can hopefully take part next year too. It will be interesting to see where I am and what I’m doing in 2020, it’s all very exciting.

I had the day off today but I certainly wasn’t having much of a rest as I had so much to do so I planned in my run for a little later in the afternoon.

Day 31 >>> miles >>> The final day!

Wow what a final day! It was very windy and there was a promise of snow in the air. The wind made for a pretty miserable run, however, I’d resigned myself to the fact that I was going to get a January PB and smash out a 5k tonight using my training feature on my Garmin Fenix 5s.

I wasn’t disappointed, it’s not quite my 27 minutes all time 5k PB but I’ll take it! I feel kind of sad that the challenge is over but I’m definitely going to put my feet up and enjoy a girly cider and some chips to celebrate. The snow certainly came down this evening, I hope tomorrow isn’t a snow day although all of the street is completely covered and it’s definitely settled.

I’m running the London Winter 10k on Sunday which I’m looking forward to I just hope it doesn’t get snowed off! I need that polar bear medal in my sweaty palm whether there’s snow on it or not!

My RED January Stats!

Here they are in all of their glory, my total RED January stats for 2019:

Total distance | 45.1 miles
Total time | 511.74 minutes
Average daily miles | 1.5
PBs I achieved | 2
Times I ran in my pyjamas | Probably around 5
Vo2 Max Increase | +1 (this means according to my watch, I didn’t get any fitter)
Buttons I begrudgingly sewed on | 28 – at time of writing, I still have 4 to sew on. This was the real challenge….

What did I learn from Run Every Day January?

I feel like I learned a lot about myself during RED January. I realised that I’m actually a lot more determined and headstrong than I think I am when I put my mind to it. I felt sure that I was going to fail this challenge at some point due to illness or injury but I actually enjoyed running every day, even if it meant having to go out at 9pm!

I learned I need to work on my procrastination and to try and get things done in the moment instead of hesitating in starting. I am juggling many balls in the air at the moment so my free time is so precious to me and maintaining a good work-life balance, relationships and self care time can be difficult.

I often say I’m doing many things badly, which makes the overwhelm just that little bit more difficult to deal with. Running even for a short distance did make me feel like I’d accomplished something even if I hadn’t managed to tick off any of my other things to do that day.

Running every day definitely improved my mental health without a doubt. I’m the type of runner that can go out with a jumbled mind and come home with complete clarity. I do a lot of my best thinking when I’m pursuing another activity (such as driving or in the shower) so running is perfect as I’m getting fit while sorting my thoughts and feelings.

Some days I went running in my pyjama bottoms and I’m ok with that. I sure was generating a lot of washing during this challenge so some days I went in whatever I was wearing around the house and some days this was pyjama bottoms if it was dark enough for me to get away with it!

I’m not the type of person to get emotional from nowhere but a few times while running I felt this sudden sadness or uncontrollable upset creep over me. I never felt that this was a bad thing, I felt like it was an opportunity for me to address any feelings that may be bothering me and doing this every day perhaps was forcing me to address them sooner than I would usually. I’m 100% an overthinker and I’ll analyse every word I’ve said that I think may have upset someone or play back in my mind something that I wish I’d done differently.

One thing I really embraced as part of RED January was the community aspect of it. I enjoyed the fact that loved ones and colleagues and even people I’ve met online had been inspired to take part and everyone was automatically welcomed as a REDer with words of encouragement and motivation.

A surprising thing I’ve learned from running every day is that my fitness did not appear to improve at all… I’m wondering how this is possible??

My watch stats (while I know they are not exceptionally accurate and only a general guide) suggest that I didn’t improve my fitness levels at all during the whole month of January.

I also didn’t feel any fitter from the first day to the last day. I’m quite surprised how much fitness I’ve lost from taking those couple of months break, I can usually get back into it but couldn’t seem to the entire month.

I’m going to be doing some more cross training next month where I can get some great cardio and strength training in.

Running every day definitely took a toll on my body and I had quite severe side effects about 6-8 days in.

I had terrible stomach pains that I just couldn’t shift and they continued on and off throughout the month. If I had done more miles one day, I seemed to pay for it in the following couple of days.

Towards the end of the month this pretty much disappeared but I think all that jumping around and using core muscles that I hadn’t used for a few months was a little bit of a shock to the system!

Another thing I learned, not necessarily about myself but about people in general is, some people don’t want to be helped and that’s fine too. By forcing someone or harassing someone to take part in the challenge, they’re not going to necessarily gain anything from it as it will become more like a chore than a pleasure.

I want to take part in Run Every Day January, how do I do it?

I picked up some tips and tricks I learned along the way from RED January that will help you to conquer the challenge yourself and also motivate you along the way.

  1. You’re in this for the long-haul. This challenge is going to take determination to complete but don’t forget there are 31 opportunities for you to prevail so you need to keep your fitness up to last the entire month. Keep your mileage low! We’ve all got different fitness abilities so you will have to tailor this to your abilities but don’t go out all guns blazing smashing out 10ks every day. You will burn out and you’re likely to get injured if you aren’t conditioned to run these distances. My own personal goal was to get out with my trainers on every day but I soon upped the challenge slightly by challenging myself to a mile every day when possible.
  2. Sign up for RED January at https://redtogether.co.uk/. Here you can get lots of great advice on how you can get involved and how you can support the initiative. You can also purchase a Run Every Day January T-Shirt to tick off those days you were active.
  3. You don’t have to run every day! The community encourages you to do some form of physical activity every day but this doesn’t mean you have to run, this could be swimming, walking, yoga, tennis, anything that gets you moving.

4. Join the RED January community by following along on social media and make friends along the way.

Follow along with RED January with these links: –
Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/redjanuaryuk/
Twitter | https://twitter.com/redjanuaryuk
Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/redjanuaryuk/

Follow the mental health charity Mind with these links: –
Website | https://www.mind.org.uk/redjanuary/
Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/mindcharity/
Twitter | https://twitter.com/mindcharity
Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/mindforbettermentalhealth

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this challenge and I’m so glad I signed up for RED January. There are more resources, more people willing and able to help you and ways you can improve your own mental health than you could believe.

I hope that this post has inspired some of you to take part in next January’s challenge but you don’t have to wait until then, you can start today! I guarantee that if you put in just a little bit of time and effort every day you’ll feel the benefits because I did and there’s no reason why you can’t too. So get out there and start today!

Thank you to everyone that has supported and sponsored me this far on the journey. If you want to donate to the charity Mind, click here.

running every day | mental health and running

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