Where I live, we're still in full-fledged winter mode, which means a lot of treadmill running for me. Running on the treadmill isn't all bad. I can control my speed, change up my workouts, and experiment with different intervals and inclines.
On the flip side, it can get incredibly boring. If I'm not into my music or watching something on TV as I run, 30 minutes can seem like an eternity. Motivation aside, it's cold outside here and snow is everywhere, limiting my ability to do other workouts.
To set the stage, we bought a treadmill for our basement back in the fall. With long days at work and long winters in the midwest, we figured we'd get a lot of use out of it, especially in the wintertime. Having the ability to pop downstairs early in the morning or even late at night isn't necessarily easy, but it can't get any more convenient.
The novelty of having the treadmill made me naturally want to use it. A lot of workout programs start out with a goal. It could be "working out for a certain number of days" or "losing 5 pounds," etc. In my case, I had no plan other than to use and enjoy the new piece of equipment in my basement. One day turned to five turned to thirty (In some interesting research, it actually takes 66 days to completely form a new habit).
While I didn't set out to run for 30 days straight, I'm glad that I did. For one, I know everything about my new treadmill (including how to fall off of it; we'll save that story for another time). Most importantly, though, I grew to look forward to the part of my day when it was time to run. For some pro's and con's of running everyday, check out this article.
Here's what else happened.
1. I Lost Weight
I didn't lose a lot, but I did lose some. As my legs and lungs evolved, I noticed myself running longer, and thus burning more calories without much thought. This is all despite eating essentially the same diet as before.
I intentionally mixed up my running paces. So while I ran everyday, I ran at different speeds, incorporated some interval training, and added some incline on certain days.
I also drank a lot more water. Between pre, during, and post run, I had a 32 ounce bottle that I'd easily finish each day. I'm normally not a water drinker, so the fact that my body wanted the water and it wasn't a chore for me to drink it was a good thing.
We often read that healthy habits are "stacked," meaning that one action leads to another and so forth. The simple act of running led to better hydrating.
2. I Added Flexibility
After a lot of my long runs, I felt the natural inclination to stretch more than I used to. My running style seems to have become more upright, where my body is naturally positioning itself to run further and longer as opposed to shorter and faster. For most of my life, I've been a sprinter and trained for short, explosive movements. Running more distance seemed to stretch my legs and hip flexors out a bit, if that makes sense.
Because I sit a lot for my day job, it was important for me to stretch my hips. I'd do some core work focused on my hips and glutes each day. Again, this was less of "my plan," and more a natural response to how I was feeling.
3. I Experienced Days With Dead Legs
One of the biggest realizations for me was that my body was telling me on multiple days that I probably should've been doing something else. My legs felt "unresponsive" and "tired." As I've gotten older, it's important for me to listen to my body. If a workout sheet says one thing, but I'm feeling a certain way, I adjust. My goal used to be to win the day at all costs. Now, I want to wake up the next day and not be riddled with extreme soreness.
I got a lot of use out my massage gun, as well as my foam roller.
Had I neglected the core work and hydration, I think I probably would've felt quite a bit worse.
4. I Realized My Body Responds Well to Cross Training
I compared my 30 straight days of running to other training programs where I did more cross-training. I tend to feel like I'm in the best shape when I cross train. That could be mixing up activities like running, biking, swimming, and lifting. For those that know me, I like to throw some basketball into the mix as well. I don't think it's imperative to be on a strict schedule, where, let's say, I only swim on Tuesdays. However, I think it's good to change it up. That way, I look forward to the days that I run if that's an activity that I prefer.
I also think cross training lends itself to overall athleticism. Being able to run, jump, throw, etc. come with being able to move and contort your body in different directions.
Derek Mays is a yoga instructor that's crazy flexible but has some free videos on YouTube that have helped my overall flexibility and athleticism. If you're looking for something short (20 minutes) that you can incorporate into your weekly routine, I'd recommend the video below.
5. Music Is Important to Me
Let's face it. Running indoors can be incredibly boring. I run longer and faster when I have a good playlist. If I'm constantly having to change songs, I don't feel like I get into a good flow, which leads to a bit of ADD. Getting into a good groove takes my focus away from my legs (and the running itself), makes the entire experience more enjoyable, and typically results in a better and longer run.
In a perfect scenario, I'm not messing around on my phone while I'm running. Put together some playlists during some down time at the office or when you're relaxing in the evening. Your run the next day will be more enjoyable.
6. Step Up Your Shoe Game
In general, I'm a shoe guy. But, when I'm running solo in my basement, how my shoes look takes a backseat to how they feel. I bought a pair of Asics Novablast 3's last fall, and they have been incredible to train with. Take care of your feet (and the rest of your body) by making sure you have some decent gear. You don't need to break the bank, but if you feel the need to stop running or end a workout early due to what you're wearing, you need to get some new workout clothes.
My favorite gear?
Running shoes: Asics
Running clothes: Hoka
Watch? Garmin (Here's the one that I have)
If you need insoles, I'd recommend Superfeet but make sure you buy the correct color based on what you need.
7. I Felt Better About Myself
There really isn't any other way to put this. While I didn't set out to "accomplish" anything, I felt accomplished at the end. The simple act of committing to something on a daily basis made me think about other aspects of my life. Were their other daily habits that might help my work performance, my marriage, or my relationship with my kids?
Some days were easier than others. Regardless, at the end of every run, I made it a habit to tell myself "good job." While it's well know that exercise is good for the brain, I think we often underestimate the impact that it has on our daily attitudes.
Would I Recommend This?
My short answer is "no." Do I recommend getting some form of exercise everyday? Absolutely. Do I think it should be running everyday? I don't.
What I would recommend is this:
Find a time everyday that is dedicated exercise time. Let's call it the "30-Day Exercise Challenge." Schedules change, kids have games, and life can get stressful. Try to find time everyday to do some form of workout. If you end up completely falling in love with running, there are a lot of cool "30-Day Run Challenges" to explore and help hold you accountable.
Change up your workouts. If you lift one day, run the next. If you're focused on distance one day, throw a HIIT workout in next. Variety is good for your body (and your mind). Don't look at things like stretching or yoga as "off" days. These are important for body.
Enjoy the time. Find a healthy balance of being yourself and having fun. Better yet, find a friend or join a group. If it's miserable the whole time, you're not going to be able to sustain what you're doing.
Last, take an honest look at how you're feeling and adjust accordingly. Drinking water, stretching, and adjusting as you go is the best thing you can to establish a fun and sustainable exercise program.
Comments, thoughts, or suggestions? Shoot me an email on our Contact Page or comment below.
John Willkom is the author of Amazon best-selling basketball books: Walk-On Warrior and No Fear In The Arena. John is an avid reader, sports fan, and father to two incredible little girls.
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