From Run Streak to Yoga Challenge.
Whenever I hear the word "challenge" or "goal" I pretty much jump and commit quickly. I'm a very determined person, which can be a wonderful quality and also a challenging quality. Once I've decided in my head that I'm going to do something, I do everything I can to reach that goal. Hence, currently being signed up for my 5th marathon this upcoming October. All of that being said, a few months ago I read a post from Runners World about the Runners World Run Streak where you run from Thanksgiving Day until New Years Day, one mile a day. Naturally, I immediately said I was doing it. I had this grand vision of me continuing to run ten miles every weekend, having four mile runs and five mile runs throughout the week, then on my usual days off I would run a quick one or two mile run. At the beginning, I actually had the thought that I couldn't imagine just running one mile for a run so I would probably end up running two miles. I started out strong, still running a long run on the weekend and running several miles a couple times during the week, while continuing to go to my strength classes at the gym. Let's be real, that lasted probably two weeks. After 14 days of running every day I was already feeling like this was going to be a little overwhelming. It was in the midst of the Holiday Season, my social life was busy, my work life was busy, and I had committed to having zero rest days. It quickly became truly one mile a day with the occasional four mile run, and by that final week of the RW Run Streak I was absolutely only running one mile a day. Those last several weeks I really thought a lot about why I was doing the run streak, part of it was certainly for fitness I knew if I was committed I would get out there on the path during a season where my cookie intake skyrockets, but I knew the bigger part of it was the fact that I had committed to it I had said aloud that I was doing the Run Streak, it was a challenge and I was going to complete it. What I ended up realizing in the end that by committing to daily running, I was actually getting way less quality running time. I would quickly throw on my running clothes, get the one mile done with and check it off the list. Rather than recognizing that realistically I can only run 4-5 times a week, but when I get out there I give it my all and I get the miles in. Did I feel accomplished at the end of it? Absolutely. Am I happy I did it? Yes. Would I do it again? I don't think so, I learned that if I want quality runs I need to stick to my normal routine and I certainly need rest days (if not physically, mentally!)
You would think that after that I would realize daily fitness challenges with no rest days weren't for me, but apparently not because on New Years Day I decided to commit to 30 days of yoga for the month of January. Yoga With Adriene is a youtube Yoga series that is year round and she does a new 30 Days of Yoga series every January. I thought that following my run streak that this would be good for my body and my brain, and I knew the rest of the year I'm typically training for some type of distance race so this would be the perfect time to commit to it. Throughout the year I try to do yoga once a week, usually on Mondays which is always the day after my long run, so I knew this would be a whole different challenge to go from one day a week to seven days a week. Well, first of all it was a good reminder of how challenging yoga truly is, not only physically but mentally. We live in such a fast pace, loud world where we are constantly thinking and making lists in our heads, and a huge part of yoga is learning to be present on your mat which is extremely hard when we are surrounded by and taught the exact opposite. But again, about halfway through the challenge I was definitely getting a little frustrated with myself for committing to 30 days straight, immediately after the RW Run Streak. At this point I was just craving a day off, and there were a couple of days I did skip and then I doubled up on the following day, but I was ready for it to be over. I think the best part of the 30 Days of Yoga for me was seeing how much my flexibility increased and my body strengthened from day 1 to day 30. But ultimately I learned, again, that I operate much better with a normal routine that includes rest days. I so easily slack, and rush through things when they are just something to check off on the list. So again. Did I feel accomplished at the end? Absolutely. Am I happy I did it? Yes. Would I do it again? Actually, yes. But with better timing, probably not directly after a Run Streak.
Now for the past month I've been training for a half marathon, the Chi Town Half Marathon on April 8. It's funny how much I immediately appreciated my change in schedule, I adjusted right back into my normal routine- 4 days of running with one speed workout, one strength day, one yoga day, and one rest day. It felt refreshing to enter back into my comfort zone, and honestly I feel my workouts were all higher quality. Some people may operate well with daily fitness challenges, but I think I have learned that I am not one of those people. As I said before, I think the moment that there's a daily check list I tend to rush through the workout, doing the bare minimum, just to check it off and accomplish it. When I approach workouts in that way, I don't actually make them quality, not only physically mostly mentally.
I'm excited to continue going through 2017 with my normal routine, I've realized where I operate well both physically and mentally and thats a great thing to know. I'm also thrilled that I'm currently training for a half marathon- I forgot how great it is to train at such low mileage in comparison to a full marathon, it's been refreshing and far less overwhelming than last years 3 back to back marathons! But I know I'll be ready to get back into full marathon training mode come summer, just in time for the 2017 Chicago Marathon training!