How I Accomplished a Daily Mile

20 Jan

I didn’t have a FitBit on January 2, 2014–the day I began my mile runs.  But here’s statistics from mid-Jan 2014 to exactly 1 year after that:

in 1 year I took exactly 3,518,249 steps, which is 1,2738.26 miles.  Actually, it’s not exact because of times I forgot to wear the FitBit (not often) or when I took steps but my FitBit wasn’t counting them because the battery had died unbeknownst to me (too often).

The week I took the most steps was May 12-18.  Because I was finished with school for the semester and apparently studying had made me stir-crazy.  Which explains why my week with the least steps (only 2.7 miles) was April 21-27.  My best single day was Nov 15 = 13.6 miles!  This was because of running and work.

Now that you see in the data that it’s totally 100% true, I’ll share how I managed to run at least 1 mile every day (and increase my overall activity level over the year).

uphill rd

-3 words underlie the majority of the success of this goal:  In a row or Break the chain.  As in, once you get so many days in a row, no amount of laziness, sickness, or business will allow you to “break the chain.”  Seriously, there WERE many days I did not want to run my mile.  Realizing I’d be throwing away 40, or 100, or 377 days in a row of keeping my goal = MOTIVATION.  All caps necessary.  I encourage anyone wanting to really succeed at any goal to do it “in a row” so you will not under any circumstance want to break the in-a-row streak.

-Make it a priority.  It’s cliche for a reason.  It also is a big factor in keeping any goal.  I put my run first.  If I had an exam to study for–I planned ahead and studied earlier to make time to finish my daily run.  If I had to be at work at 4AM (this is real life) I woke up at 3AM to finish my mile FIRST.  When I traveled, I took my sneakers, and found a route the night before.  Because I told myself I WAS doing the mile no matter what else was going on–I arranged things in my life so it would get done.

-Do it first thing–very first so your brain can’t conjure up excuses reasons not to.  I am the best at coming up with reasons to go back on my self-promise and start. . .  Tomorrow.  Perpetually tomorrow.  I’m tired.  I’m hungry.  Now I’ve put food and water in my stomach so I might barf if I run.  There’s nothing to wear.  I don’t want to drive anywhere and deal with parking–to run.  My neighborhood is dangerous.  Work called me in at the last minute and there’s no longer time.  I should be studying.  I mean, once my mind is awake there are more then a billion reasons why I can’t run today.  Stumbling directly out of bed and into my sneakers doesn’t give my mind time to formulate any excuses.  By the time I’m thinking–I’ve finished a mile.

-I also, made my goal as easy as possible for myself.  Which took some self-evaluation.  I know I’m a fair-weather runner.  I could tell myself–“I’ll be tough, I’ll get out of my box and be a big girl, I’ll FORCE myself to run in rain and snow.”  But it’s not super-practical.  Let’s be real–that’s not going to happen.  I looked inward and said:  I know I’m lazy.  I don’t want to go anywhere to get the run done.  I don’t like having to make myself presentable.  I hate driving places.  I’m not a fan of rain/snow.  I’ll never go outside and run if it’s less then 60 degrees.  And sure, maybe all these things make me a baby, and I should work on THOSE.  But really, I’m trying to work on running.  So I worked with myself.  I bought a treadmill on Craigslist.  That way I could roll out of my bed (scrubbin’), go only as far as my living room, and have no excuses!  Whatever your scene–just be honest with yourself and do what you can to make it easy.

-Did I mention I’m lazy?  Totally true.  I swear.  I know you’re reading that I managed to run a mile for 365 days in a row (actually as of today it was 384 days) so you think I’m an insane, super-strict, disciplined runner-type fitness freak.   Nope (I swear!) I’m not.  My favorite activity is watching TV.  Which is why my favorite day of the week is Sunday–when nothing is scheduled.  I love carbs more then anyone should, and routinely partake in Ben & Jerry’s.  I’m so lazy, that even though I worked 4 more hours/wk then required (during busy school) in order to get a free gym membership–I have NEVER used it.  Read–I work at a gym (YMCA, actually), yet have never worked out there.  That’s me.  So if I can make a mile a day happen–anyone can.  Wanting it was a huge part of the goal.  I wanted the bragging rights (which after 100 days in a row you are completely entitled to), and I wanted to show myself I could get it done.

-Get enough sleep.  You’ll just feel more fresh and energetic come morning.  Plus, it’s good for your overall health.  The military did a study that showed sleeping 7 hours a night for a week (a.k.a. missing 1 hour/night of sleep) had the same effects as a blood alcohol level over the legal driving limit.  Yes, your cognitive powers, coordination, and demeanor are the same as a drunk person’s when you get less then 8 hours of sleep/night.  True story!  So set yourself up for success and mind your sleep hygiene:  Sleep at least 8 hours, go to bed at the same time nightly, etc. . .

-Less important–get your family and friends trained that you are unavailable before your mile.  It’s certainly not essential to have outside support.  After all–you can only control YOU.  But if you make it clear you’re not available to do chores/hang out/work/whatever before your goal run is over–you’ll be surprised at how your support system not only helps create that time–but DEFENDS that time to others.  Now you have running goal bodyguards to help protect your running time.

-Change it up.  I LIKE the treadmill.  I’ve said it before, and it’s true.  Not everybody does.  If you don’t, go outside or to a gym.  Change your route–or your music.  Buy a new pair of shoes.  If you have to be on the T.M. make it fun.  Change the incline, set small goals for yourself, create an interval routine.  You can even make things exciting by watching TV while you run, listening to music, or creating a special playlist you’re only allowed to listen to while you run.  I do something different on the T.M. every day.  Every.  Day.  No two runs are the same.  So keep it fresh to keep your motivation alive.  And set goals, whether it’s speed, calories, distance, or BPM–just work toward stuff.

bumpy rd

-That’s how I did it, but some people also swear by a workout buddy.  It helps keep them accountable and provides a social outlet.  And while I like my alone time, and prefer making the running ME time, where I get to focus on my own inner thoughts and do something nice for my body–that might work for you.  But hold yourself accountable–because this is about sticking it out, not having someone drag you.

So all you have to do is want it and start.  Don’t break that chain!

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