It’s fair to say that I didn’t run at all between the beginning of June and the end of August last year, but by that time I was starting to suffer from the lethargy that creeps up on you when you’re not doing enough exercise.
As I was updating materials & content for new second-year students joining my Creativity in Enterprise module at Brighton Business School, it occurred to me that I could use the same approach that I was advocating to them… doing a little each day, rather than trying to do a lot once a week.
Going for a long run once a week is really lovely, but the ‘getting ready, running, recovering and writing’ process is invariably more than three hours, even for a relatively short run… or four hours if I ran to the Beacon and back. In September 2016 I didn’t have the time or the motivation… and even five miles is a long way when you’ve not run for three months.
The sustainable alternative was to run one mile each day instead.
Obviously it helps a lot if you have a running machine in the house, which we do. Then it’s about creating that impetus to run a short distance each day. I achieved this by targeting myself to run at 6mph, so 10 minutes per run… knowing full well that I would otherwise compete with myself to increase the speed, which would not be good over such a short distance with no warm up.
In September I clocked up 20 miles, then monthly totals of 27, 27, 29, 23, 24 and 25, which was in March when my module came to a close for the year. April and May were then not so impressive at 3 and 2 miles respectively, but the total was 180 miles in under 30 hours. A worthwhile amount of exercise to have notched up, and analogous of a considerable amount of additional learning for my students.
Of course I didn’t entirely manage to remove the competitive urge. Where I would normally run on a gradient 2, to represent the effort required to push the world round underneath me outside, I slowly suckered myself into running at gradient 3, then 4. I even managed a week of runs at gradient 5 before I backed off again… 5 is really effortful, where what I needed was simply a little exercise!
Why stop? You may well ask. I normally do ‘stuff for me’ in the mornings, because this is the only part of the day that is relatively consistent. However, the combination of some qigong stretching, 15 minutes of yoga, 15-30 minutes playing the guitar, 10 minutes running, 10 minutes cooling down in the garden, breakfast, shower etc meant that by March it was taking me 2 hours to get ready for work each day. It’s a lot of fun (great me-time), but at that level not sustainable… something had to give.
It was the running that quietly dropped off the agenda.
My mornings are still fun, but at the moment that extra slug of lethargy-reducing exercise is coming from other interesting activities… like gardening. But more about that in another post sometime. 🙂