30-Day Challenge: How to Run Everyday as a Beginner

running every day challenge

Photography and Writing by Conni Biesalski
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I used to hate running.

Now, it seems like I’m falling in love with it.

I can hardly believe it myself.

So because I want to show you what my keys to success are and also because I would like to get my head around this whole thing, I’m writing it all down.

I’m truly convinced that if I can do it, anyone can.

I am now half way through my 30-Day Challenge that I set myself: Go for a run every day.

Before I was utterly out of shape.. Embarrassing really.

On my first day, I wasn’t able to run for more than 3 minutes. Ridiculous, right?

But I didn’t let that discourage me. So I did 3 minutes of running and 1 or 2 minutes of walking. Two days later I upped it already by 2 minutes of running.

I knew I shouldn’t push myself to hard in order to prevent injury and losing the fun, so I kept increasing my running only very slowly.

Now, two weeks or 15 days into the challenge, I can run for 20 minutes straight, followed by 1 minute of walking and another 8 to 10 minutes of running. Cool, ha?

Well, maybe still pretty pathetic to some regular runners out there, but you know what, I don’t care. I feel like I have made incredible improvements, and I’m proud of myself that I have come from 3 minutes to 20 minutes in only two weeks. That’s almost seven times longer than on day one.

However, as a friend of mine pointed out, it’s not really the best physical strategy to go running every day (injuries, no time for the body to relax and build up strength). This is a reason, why I’m not pushing myself too hard. Sometimes I walk for a minute after 10 minutes already, just because I don’t want to provoke anything.

Once I finish my 30-Day Challenge, I will probably only go running three times a week but then also go a bit harder on myself.

 

tempelhof

This is where I go running when I’m in Berlin, Tempelhof Park, an old airport…

 

Why am I Doing the 30-Day Running Challenge?

Ok, so some people might ask: Why go through all the misery? Why chose the most boring exercise ever? Yes, I asked myself the same questions before I started. I had never been jealous of any runner I passed on the streets.

I need to move my body

I’m sitting at the desk or on my couch a lot these days, as I’m working to realise some awesome projects before I go off traveling again and I announced 2013 my year of business. Meaning: I want to put in a lot of hard work, to reap the financial benefits in 2014.

However, staring at a laptop screen is poison for my body, hence: move.

It’s free

Running doesn’t cost a dime. I find that pretty awesome.

I use my supercool Nike Free Run 3 Shoes that I wear on a daily basis, wear boardshorts and a normal t-shirt. So no investment costs either. And no excuse.

I can do it anywhere

No matter where I am, I can go running.

As a travel blogger and digital nomad, this comes in extremely handy.

My body is turning 30 soon

Well, so about that. I’m not going running to lose weight, but to rather tone my body and keep it in shape.

I believe I’m getting closer to an age where my body will slowly degenerate and hence, I’m trying to counter-act that process. Yes, I still wanna look amazing when I’m 75!

Morning Routine Before Starting to Work

I like morning routines. Instead of diving straight into doing stuff on my laptop, I take the time to go outside and move my body.

It’s a great way to start into the day.

Something to turn my head off

I have been having issues with my thinking rollercoaster. It happens, I’m too much in my fucking head.

Running is a way for me to calm my mind and focus on the now, one step at a time.

Turning it into a habit

As it is widely knows, it takes about 21 to 30 days to establish a new habit in life.

So in order to turn running into something that I just do because it is part of my life, I need to kick my own ass for a while.

 

What are the mid-term results so far?

  • My body feels stronger, more toned.
  • I’m more in tune with how I feel physically.
  • I have more energy.
  • I’m more balanced mentally.

 

What I’ve Learned so Far

1. Doing it in the mornings rather than evenings

For me, the best strategy is to get up in the morning, have some coffee, maybe check my e-mail briefly, then put on my running clothes and head to Tempelhof Park a couple minutes from my house.

Rather than having to think about having to go for a run throughout my day, I get it out of the way in the morning. Plus, it energizes me incredibly and jumpstarts a great day.

2. A great place to go running helps

I’m not sure I could enjoy the running as much as I do now, if I didn’t have this huge, awesome park right outside my house.

There are never too many people (which I find very annoying when having to run through crowded places), it’s big enough to alternate my route, and it’s just this big wide space that makes me feel very free.

It helps that it’s close to home, I don’t think I would take public transport to go running somewhere nice.

3. Stitch is a bitch

I have been having issues with pretty nasty and painful stitches on my right side below the ribs. Some days it appears very quickly after a few minutes, and other days it doesn’t annoy me until minute 20 or 25. Really strange.

Some physiologists have theorized that the common side stitch comes from your stomach and other organs bumping into each other as your feet hit the ground. And others speculate it’s caused when the ligament that attaches your liver to your diaphragm becomes overstretched.

I have noticed that very deep breathing eases the pain sometimes. I have had days though, where I had to stop my run for several minutes, stretch a bit and do breathing exercises before I could commence running.

It’s super annoying actually, and I really hope it will go away soon.

However, to be fair, I believe that running every day is not doing the stitch very good. If the area is irritated, it might just take some time for it to relax again.

One more thing I just read about dealing with a stitch during a run is to touch the ground with the left foot when breathing out. Will have to check that one out.

4. Every Day is Different

It has been very interesting to observe how different my body and every run feels each day.

Not two days in a row have been the same. I feel like I’m a lot more in tune with my body, which makes me notice changes quicker. Love that.

5. Podcast instead of Music

The biggest problem that I have had with running in the past, is that time seems to just not pass. At all.

And music in my earbuds really doesn’t do anything for me, it just makes each song seem like it lasts forever.

But since I love podcasts, I found that listening to them works best, especially some really cool episodes about (Warning: Nerd Attack) Online Marketing, SEO and Nootropics and Neuroscience. They distract me from the actual running, I concentrate on the content of the podcasts and time seems to almost fly now.

I might look into audio books as well at some point and see how they work.

6. Runtastic App

A wonderful little iPhone app that tracks my run (distance, speed etc.) via GPS. E.g. every kilometre it tells how long it has taken me via my earbuds and after each run I fill out how I felt, what the weather was like, what surface I ran on. Pretty cool having statistics like that.

7. Running is meditative

Who knew, right.

Running has become a great way for me to get out of my head and into my body. It’s very meditative and really helps me to calm down mentally.

7. Holding myself accountable is important for my success

Another reason why I turned this running thing into a challenge, is so that I can hold myself accountable and not throw in the towel so quickly and give up.

By telling some of my friends and post status updates on Facebook about my progress, I feel like I can’t just stop this. Good motivator for sure.

 

All in all, I had no idea what to expect from this 30-Day Challenge and to be fair, I didn’t think I would even make it this far.

And yet, here I am, halfway in.

It has been a really cool ride so far and I’m excited to see how I feel after the next 15 days.

If I can do it, anyone can, I swear.

 

Good Resources for Beginner Runners

Here are a few posts by Leo Babauta on one of my favorite blogs of all times, Zenhabits, and a couple others:

 

Are you a runner? What was your experience when you started out? Or maybe you are planning to get into it? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

 

9 Responses to 30-Day Challenge: How to Run Everyday as a Beginner

  1. Zap says:

    Good article with one BIG flaw. First of all, let me tell you this – I love running and every article encouraging people to run has a great value in my opinion, this one had some really interesting points. But the flaw is – running every day as a beginner is just asking for injury and stopping running altogether. Especially as a beginner, you need to give your body time to recuperate – you may not feel a need for it now but in a long term, it will come back to bite you. Do it slowly, run every other day and keep enjoying is so your running career may last your whole healthy life and not only couple months ;) Cheers and all the best on your way to becoming a runner ^^

    • Even going from 3 to 4 times a week can be a painful experience for even a seasoned runner as it can lead to injuries when done wrong. Once you have obtained shin splints, a problem with your tendons or even broken a bone because of overdoing it, it’s not just that you have to pause but it throws you back big time, fitness-wise. Longdistance runners put their focus much more on strength training then doing a lot of milage.

  2. Nina says:

    Danke Conni!!! In vielerlei Hinsicht bist du mir eine große Motivation und Inspiration! Nachdem ich diesen Artikel gelesen hab konnte ich mich nach über einem Jahr wieder dazu durchringen dem Laufen noch eine Chance zu geben. Nun war ich zwar erst zwei mal los und … äääm ja meine Kondition ist noch quasi bei 0 aber gut, ich zieh es nun erstmal eine Weile durch :)

    Und in einem haben Jahr geht es auf unbestimmte Zeit auf Reisen! Der Entschluss stand zwar schon fest bevor ich deine Seiten kennengelernt hab, aber du zeigst mir das es das Richtige ist!!
    Mach genau so weiter! Nina

  3. Raam Dev says:

    First, let me just say that is one AWESOME place to run!! An empty airport runway?! So cool! Also, I thought of you when I was flying over Berlin a few days ago, en route from Athens back to the USA.

    As a runner for the past 13 years, I wanted to offer a suggestion with regards to the cramping (or the “stitch” as you called it): I experienced the same thing when I first started running and it took a while to learn that it’s directly related to one of two things: hydration or diet (i.e., what I ate leading up to my run).

    If I drink too much water before a run, I almost always get those cramps. Also, if I eat right before a run, I usually get the cramps.

    Potassium really helps with cramping, so try eating more bananas.

    Also try not eating or drinking anything for at least 1 hour before running. If you run first thing in the morning, this can be difficult.

    If you do get a cramp, try pushing on it as hard as you can. The cramping pain actually comes from a muscle in your abdomen and putting pressure on it actually relaxes the muscle. When I get a cramp while running, I can usually put pressure there while running and just keep going — the pain disappears after a few minutes.

    Breathing also helps. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. It will take some time before you can do this regularly, but the nose-breathing really helps relax all the muscles in your body, even while you’re running.

    I hope this helps! Congrats on starting to run. It’s my favorite activity for the same reason you mentioned: it moves my whole body.

  4. Tom says:

    Hi Conni, I’ve just stumbled across your article. How is the your running? In case you are still struggling a bit, my main discovery when I started running was: keep it slow or slow down. You”ll realize you can last much longer when you jog very slowly. As you’ll also keep better control of your breathing the “stitches” shouldn’t bother you anymore. Good luck with running & thanks for your interesting travelling blog.

  5. Kevin Bowling says:

    Hi Conni,
    Just watched your great interview with ‘The Minimalists’ and ran across your blog on running.
    One thing you might try is the ’1-2-3…1-2′ breathing
    system. You breathe in for three steps and exhale for
    2 steps. This alternates the impact foot-strike and
    really helps the diaphragm. Check out (google):
    ‘Running on Air’ by RunnersWorld magazine. Take care!

  6. Franzi says:

    Hi Conni,
    Danke Danke Danke fuer den podcast beim Laufen Tip !!!Ich habs gemacht und es war super. Ich habe mir eine so lustige Geschichte angehoert, dass ich echt ablachen musste als ich da so vor mich hin getippelt bin und schwubs verging die Zeit..:)

  7. It’s great to see that you are sticking to the plan and are doing so consciously. Evaluating where you are and thinking about where you are headed is a great way to accomplish goals of any type. The work you are doing here is sure to translate to benefiting your life in many ways.

  8. Grit says:

    Hey Conni and everyone else,
    For me personally stitches only come, when I run too fast!!
    Slow down, breath – and the stitches will go away.
    If you run a bit more slowly anyway, they won’t even show up.
    Just my little bit
    Cheers
    Grit

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