What I learned from a month of No Days Off
Running every day without breaking down.
Vanity will break you
, so my friends see the running I do. It’s tempting to try and keep every single run you do above a pace you’re proud of — for years I’ve felt embarrassed about posting runs that average less that 5min/km (8min/mile), but within a fortnight of No Days Off, I had to rethink that. When you run every day, you can’t be vain. Some days you’ll run fast, but the payback is that you’ll have to run slow — embarrassingly slow — to make up for it. No Days Off doesn’t mean “don’t recover”, that wouldn’t work for long, so instead it forces you to recover on your feet, to put your vanity aside and run slowly. Which leads me on to:
Running slow doesn’t make you slow.
You won’t race fast without running fast at least occasionally in training, but running slow doesn’t necessarily make you slow. I got married in February, and on honeymoon I ran every day with my new wife. We got lost, we explored, we ran trails and we topped out at around 8:30/mile. It was fun, but it wasn’t fast. And when I got back to the grind the following week, I felt fresh and ready to go fast. Slow is not bad. Slow is the best recovery you can have.
My favorite day has become Friday, when I make up for starting work early by taking a long lunch break, jogging 2.5miles slowly to the yoga studio. After an hour of yoga I jog home slowly via a slightly longer route, to make it 6miles for the day, feeling looser, fresher and stronger than I did when I woke up. Yoga has been a revelation to me: I only started recently, mistakenly believing it was all about stretching and funny poses. Now I know the truth: yoga is about gaining mastery of your muscles, encouraging them to do what you want them to do when you tell them to. I’m convinced it’s making me a better runner, and the stopwatch suggests it’s making me faster too.
Maintaining a streak is so much easier when you sleep well. Even a couple of glasses of wine wrecks my sleep, which makes recovery and motivation harder. One day I’ll remember this after the first glass…
Easy days are easier with entertainment
Right at the beginning of the month, I chose to run back from a meeting rather than taking the train. To keep myself entertained on an uninspiring route, I listened to Tim Ferriss’ conversation with Seth Godin. As a coffee enthusiast, Godin’s assertion that he makes great coffee but doesn’t actually drink coffee was something of a WTF? moment, but I persisted and I’m glad I did. By the end of the podcast I’d picked up a handful of recommendations for my Audible credits. First up I downloaded Debt: the First 5000 Years by David Graeber. It’s 17hrs long, but on those long easy miles, it was perfect blend of entertainment and education.
This month I’ve also enjoyed catching up with the Guardian Short Stories Podcast. It’s not been updated since May 2013, but the most recent episode, with James Salter reading Break it Down by Lydia Davis is pure magic.
Am I going to maintain the streak? Probably not. I’m racing a half marathon on March 13 — we’ll see how that goes.
Learn more about Tracksmith and No Days Off at Tracksmith.com