Why I Signed Up for 100 Miles in February Fitness Challenge – and How It’s Going

Confession: During this lockdown 3.0, there have been days when I haven’t left the house, even though I’m always encouraging others to get outside every day. I haven’t stopped training and doing my workouts but they’ve all been indoors (at the furthest, in the communal corridor) so sometimes that walk outside just never happens. Naughty I know – especially for a health and fitness editor! – so I was keen to do something about this bad habit creeping in.

I’ve been reading Dallas Hartwig’s The 4 Season Solution and felt drawn to his account of why humans, in line with the rest of nature, have different rhythms throughout the year and why we should honour a slower pace in winter. So let’s say my desire to stay cocooned has been part lockdown-lethargy and part Janaury’s fault (read this Instagram post about this).

So as January was coming to an end and I was keen to get moving again, a friend suggested doing a fitness challenge to cover 100 miles of running, walking or cycling across the month of February for Street Doctors charity – it didn’t take me long to sign up. It felt like just the push and nudge I needed so I jumped right in.

Why I wanted to do it…

JANUARY IS OVER. That evolutionary pull to hide and hibernate during the depths of winter, is hopefully on its way out. On the 1st Feb, it felt like a veil had been lifted and I instantly felt more inclined to take on something active and new.

THERE’S A GREATER GOOD. Sometimes an external motivation, like a charity or cause that’s meaningful to you, can give motivation the kickstart it needs. Our Just Giving page for Street Doctors explains why this organisation, which helps young people facing violence on the streets, is absolutely worth getting out of bed for on a cold February morning.

FRIENDS ARE INVOLVED. Buddying up with a friend has definitely boosted my enthusiasm. If self-motivation is lower than usual, then a little team effort could go a long way. The best bit about this Street Doctors challenge is that you can split the mileage with a friend or more and share it however you choose, which can be more fun than doing it alone.

IT’S A GOOD EXCUSE TO GET OUTSIDE. I’ve been good at maintaining my training during lockdown but that often means staying in my living room where my kit is. I’ve done the occasional run but quite often, when I ask myself whether to go for a run, the answer will be a big fat no. Now I have no excuses – with miles to clock up for charity, I have to go!

IT WILL SHAKE UP MY ENERGY. Movement sends endorphins out into the blood stream making it almost impossible not to smile afterwards. So I know for a fact, this regular running (and a new routine) will help lift a low winter mood.

Here’s what happened…

WEEK 1-2

I planned to start slow but when I did the maths in my head and realised I’d need to run 3.5 miles a day to complete 100 miles in 28 days I decided to switch things up, pronto. So day one, I managed to clock up seven miles running along my old marathon training route. Phew. A strong start.

By the end of week one I’d totalled just over 26 miles – exactly on track! It’s felt great to be running regularly again, which I haven’t done for a long time – years in fact. The runs have been at a moderate, relaxed pace first thing in the morning, without even coffee – because it’s not like lifting a barbell where I have to concentrate on something technical – I’m just putting one foot in front of the other, almost on autopilot, and letting the morning air wake me up.

With no pressure of time or pace, the runs have felt quite meditative rather than trying. This is so different to my old run training days where I’d be clock watching for my pace and checking my progress at every step.

Interestingly, I’ve not felt exhausted even though I’ve been running daily. I’ve felt quite lifted in both mood and energy and have noticed lots of mental clarity after each run (instead of the intense, albeit amazing, high after a Crossfit workout, which often leaves me feeling depleted). I guess these runs have been more LISS – low intensity steady state – which means they’re gentle on the body but still uplifting.

TOTAL MILES: 28.4

WEEK 2

The snow came and it got super cold! I was super proud to make it outside even in zero temperatures even if just for a mile or two – every bit helped.

I’m not going to lie, running in freezing temperatures isn’t my bag of fun but it’s amazing what we can do when there’s a bigger motivation and objective. I simply double wrapped every part of my body and braved it: two hats, two pairs of socks, four layers of clothing and two snoods! A wonder I could still run.

Fell a bit behind on the target miles at the start of the week but as the snowy temperatures cleared, I clawed back and managed to just surpass my 25 mile-target that week. Incredible.

TOTAL MILES: 26.8

WEEK 3

Time to catch up on missed snow miles although the weather was still pretty gnarly with biting, sub-zero winds. The double layers were here to stay for another week. As well as the daily runs, I managed to get in some long walks that helped top up the miles bank.

Surprisingly I was hovering around 89 miles total by mid-week which gave me a massive boost of excitement. That means by the weekend I’d it 100 miles a week early – MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! My finished run was on the Sunday morning, for just 2.5 miles.

I had no idea that I’d finish so quickly (and relatively easily), which goes to show how just small regular runs daily can add up. I simply chipped away consistently at this huge (and seemingly unattainable) target and made it happen – a fantastic feeling!

TOTAL MILES: 46.2

WEEK 4

With the challenge completed, the pressure was off. I continued to run but kept things short. I’ve enjoyed the daily routine of getting out and wanted to keep up that intention.

This month’s running challenge has reinvigorated my love for lacing up and brought me back to my running roots. No matter how much my life is filled with weightlifting and Crossfit training, I know I’ll always be a runner.

Today marks the last day of the 100 miles for Street Doctors and it’s apt that we hit our fundraising target today too! We hope for a bit more to come in so if you’ve checked out the amazing work Street Doctors does for young people facing violence then we hope you can add a few pennies or pounds to the pot on our JustGiving page – it’s all so appreciated.

CATCH UP ON ALL THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STREET DOCTORS 100 MILES IN FEBRUARY CHALLENGE ON MY INSTAGRAM STORIES HERE.

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