I Tried Running for 30 Days and My Life Will Never Be The Same6 min read
Two months into quarantine my fitness was at an all-time low. I wasn’t going to the gym. I wasn’t doing yoga. I wasn’t exercising.
On a walk with my parents, I was out of breath. My parents are both around 60 and were completely fine. Nope. That was not going to fly.
I needed to get back in shape, but I also wanted a way to be outside. Walking was an option, but seemed boring. I decided to start running. This way could go outside, get in shape, and see what all the hub-bub was about.
I made a plan to run for 30 days. No matter what I will wake up and run.
Day 1 was a struggle.
I didn’t know: where to run, how fast to run, or how long to run.
Do I swing my arms or keep them at my side? Where do I strike with my feet? Do I need running shoes? How do I track my fitness?
My chest hurt, my legs hurt, I felt like I was bringing on my childhood asthma again after not using an inhaler for 5+ years.
Like it really sucked.
I would feel like I was dying but just keep telling myself to keep running, to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Oh yea, everyone was passing me.
I don’t know when it happened, but slowly the days, and the miles, were passing by.
Slowly I was running farther, faster, and better.
I ran three miles.
Then four miles.
Then FIVE miles.
I used the Nike app to guide me through the runs, one quote from coach Bennet really stuck with me:
You’re not finished if you stop. You’re finished if you don’t start doing it again.Coach Bennet
I didn’t run every one of these 30 days, and I didn’t do that for a reason. I’ve never been a runner, I don’t know anything about running, all I knew is I wanted to run. If I ran every day, being completely new to running, I knew I would burn out. If I burned out I would stop for good, and I wouldn’t start again. I didn’t want to fail coach Bennet.
Coach Bennet was my companion on most of these runs, and he was great.
He taught me many things like, always imagine you are watching yourself running, how can you run to look the strongest?
Another gem was to run slow and short, you will improve over time.
I showed up consistently, and guess what? I was getting better, and, more importantly, I was feeling better.
There was an amazing moment when I got the runner’s high. I think it was around day 20 of my running journey. I got it. I got the runner’s high.
I was 20 minutes into my run, following the delaware river as I cruised along the eastern edge of philadelphia. Suddenly, the man talking in my ear (coach Bennet), told me we would be running our mile pace. I was gassed. I didn’t have my mile pace in me, but if he says it, I do it.
Suddenly a tingling appeared in the center of my stomach, then I couldn’t help but smiling, other runners were looking at me strangely, and, I realized, my arms were in the air!
That was my best run ever.
After that run, my mindset changed and it was game over. Running is cool, running is fun. Running can make me feel great.
I tried intervals, Fartleks, distance runs, I loved it! I bought fancy new shoes, got shorter shorts, and special compression socks.
I was hooked and, at the time I am of writing this, I am still hooked.
As I neared the end of the 30 days I began looking forward to my runs. I was running about every other day.
I discovered that running was almost meditative. The run made my mind focus on my feet, my breath, and the path in front of me. I began appreciating my environment more and the resilience my body seemed to have.
The great thing was this new, healthy, routine seemed to bleed into everything I did. I was less stressed and slept easier. I spent more time on the things that matter like family and pursuing this internet dream, and less on things that don’t matter, like TV and video games.
Then, suddenly, I hit 30 days.
I wasn’t thankful it was over, but grateful for the discovery.
I went from running two miles and feeling like shit, to running six miles and feeling like a new human.
According to Fitbit, my resting heart rate went from 65 bpm to 48 bpm and my sleep quality went from an average of 72% in June to an average of 75% in July.
According to a meta-analysis from Sports Medicine in 2015, which looked at 22,380 records, “endurance running provides substantial benefit on body mass, body fat, resting heart rate, VO2max triglycerides and HDL cholesterol in physically inactive adults.”
One paper from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology looked at 55,137 adults and the association of running with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk, “Compared to nonrunners, runners had a 30% to 45% lower adjusted risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, with a 3-year life expectancy benefit.”
They concluded, “Running, even 5 to 10 min/day and at slow speeds <6 miles/h, is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease.”
However, just from my personal experience with running, I plan to keep it up. It has changed my fitness dramatically for the better, and, more importantly, my mind.
What I Learned About Running
Take all of this advice with a grain of salt, I really know nothing about running, this is just what I learned, for myself, over the past (two months now) of running 3-4 times a week.
- Start slow, like really slow
- Go to the bathroom before every run
- If you are new, I really really really loved the Nike app
- Drink a good glug of water ~30 minutes before you run
- Run in the morning, as soon as you wake up
- Shoes do matter, this could be a whole article in itself, but these are the ones I got
- Some runs will suck, but some will be great. You grow most on the runs that suck
- If you want to push yourself wait for the last third of the run
- Be Happy! You are running and that is awesome!
My Times and Improvement
*= Interval Run (So entire running time/distance was not tracked, only during intervals)
I have included my current times as well.
|7/5||2.01 mi||8’54” /mi|
|7/6||2.6 mi||9’14” /mi|
|7/8||2.6 mi||8’45” /mi|
|7/10||1.71 mi*||8’27” /mi|
|7/11||1.3 mi*||8’37” /mi|
|7/12||2.94 mi||9’28” /mi|
|7/14||2.85 mi||8’14” /mi|
|7/16||4.04 mi||8’40” /mi|
|7/18||1.8 mi*||8’36” /mi|
|7/20||3.04 mi||9’42” /mi|
|7/22||2.32 mi||9’01” /mi|
|7/24||3.25 mi||9’13” /mi|
|7/28||2.61 mi||9’21” /mi|
|7/30||2.81 mi||8’53” /mi|
|8/1||3.23 mi||9’17” /mi|
|8/4||2.03 mi||9’07” /mi|
|8/6||4.63 mi||9’03” /mi|
|ONE MONTH DONE|
|didn’t track a few…|
|8/20||5.17 mi||8’42” /mi|
|8/25||4.99 mi||9’08” /mi|
|8/27||2.54 mi||7’53” /mi|
|9/1||2.31 mi||9’06” /mi|
Aditi · January 4, 2021 at 4:43 am
I love this article! I recently discovered you on YouTube for your Anki setup videos and went down a rabbit hole of tips and advice until I found my way here. Thank you for being so candid and truly so very helpful. I’m not sure how you manage to keep up with med school, your channel, website, and entrepreneurship ventures but it’s definitely inspiring. I’m rechasing my own runner’s high (haven’t run consistently in years) but this gives me just a bit more motivation to get back at it! Good luck this semester!
Zach · January 5, 2021 at 4:18 pm
Thank you so much! Really appreciate your nice words.
Yeah, get back out there! I’m sure you will catch it soon.
Marie · April 4, 2021 at 2:54 am
Great article! I tried running this summer, and I kind of hated it. Actually, I really hated it. It helped to know that for you, it took until day 20 before you really started to enjoy it. This Spring and Summer, I’m going to try running too! thanks for the inspiration!
Zach · June 2, 2021 at 2:03 pm
Well done! Yeah, it is hard in the beginning but quickly becomes more fun and easier.
Firas · June 9, 2021 at 1:52 am
Awesome article, just a quick question, did you run on an empty stomach in the morning? Or what did you have? This is the thing that I find the most confusing. Thanks!
Kino · June 26, 2021 at 3:00 pm
Great article, awesome experience! It seems that trying a new habit in 30 days and tracking, reviewing at the end is alternative topic-focused diary which make me want to try.
Btw, Nike app’s link seems like broken.
pallavi · August 19, 2021 at 12:58 am
Nice Article. Will give it a go and see – for 30 days at least
Zach · August 25, 2021 at 4:38 pm
Awesome! Let me know how it goes.