A runner’s feet on sand wearing grey running shoes

My Year as an Accidental Runner

I’ve accidentally run 145 days in a row — every day this year so far to be exact.

And by accidentally, I don’t mean I keep finding myself running when I meant to do something else instead. I mean it’s not something I set out intending to do but here we are, late May and not a day missed. Yet.

As I look back over my first 145 days (because heck yes, now that I’ve come this far, I’m definitely keeping going) I realize I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Learning #1: Goals & Targets matter. To begin with my goal was to run every day in January — just to see if I could. And I did and when February 1st rolled round, instead of breathing a sigh of relief, I found myself lacing up my running shoes and getting back out there. My goal then was just to keep going and see how far I could get, but that felt too vague and to be honest, just a bit scary too. So I decided to set a distance goal for the year instead and work towards that. I quickly realized that for it to work as a motivator, I needed to break it down into monthly & weekly targets — knowing I was ahead of schedule fed my surprisingly competitive soul!

Learning #2: Having a purpose matters more. Particularly in the first month, giving up would have been very easy. There were definitely days when the lure of staying inside in the warm & dry was very strong. What kept me going turning out in all weathers was the commitment I’d made to tie my Run Every Day goal to a fund raising challenge. My Dad was diagnosed with Dementia last year so I chose to fund raise in support of people with dementia & their care givers. Knowing that neither my Dad or my Mum, as his primary care giver, could take a day off was — and continues to be — a huge motivator to me to stick with it every day, regardless how I’m feeling.

Learning #3: The best goals grow with you. When I first started, the goal was to run every day in January. In February it was to keep going. While I haven’t admitted it to myself, the real goal is to run every day this year but that feels too high pressure so my official goal is mileage based instead. Initially it was 750 miles in 2022, based on incremental growth from what I ran in 2021. When I set it in February, 750 miles seemed huge. By the time I got half way through April and had already hit 400 miles, I knew it had to grow. 1000 miles seemed too neat — and not meaningful enough — so instead, my new 2022 goal is 1257 miles (or 2022 km, give or take). Achievable, but only if I continue to push myself to run every day.

Learning #4: Injecting fun & variety makes it less of a slog. There are definitely days when the thought of going out for a run is NOT appealing, and even the satisfaction of ticking off a few more target miles doesn’t cut it. I realized I needed something else by way of motivation. Now, I realize my definition of fun may not be everyone’s but when I found myself in that motivation slump, I started playing around with different challenges — not just miles per week or runs per day, I added in an elevation challenge (ft gained per month). I also challenged myself to find routes — and also to remember one of the things I first loved about running; the opportunity to explore new places on foot whilst still feeling purposeful. Combining the two meant running UP the mountain instead of always down & jumping off onto that enticing trail instead of sticking to the sidewalk all the time.

Learning #5: Sometimes just the smallest effort is enough. Because my overall goal was to run every day rather than hit an overall mileage target, getting out was the most important thing. That’s been really helpful to remember on the days I didn’t feel like it. Lacing up my running shoes and stepping outside the front door was manageable, even on those ‘can’t be bothered’ days. And more often than not, once I started keeping going was easy. Not setting a minimum distance has made it easier to stick with it and continue to make progress.

Learning #6: Pacing is Vital. Knowing whether I’m heading out for a short or long run dictates (or should!) how fast I kick off. Using too much energy too early in a long run is a killer — at worst, you might have to cut it short, at best you’ll probably exhaust yourself too quickly and your running time will suck. Settling into a consistent & sustainable rhythm has been an important lesson & has improved my running no end.

Learning #7: Running form & technique makes a difference. Knowing what to do (and NOT do) and learning the techniques that keep us doing more of the right things more of the time makes for a better & less tiring run. Just because something looks simple & straightforward doesn’t mean that it is. Investing time in learning a few tactics & techniques has definitely made me a more efficient runner.

Learning #8: Running on empty only works for so long. I can run short distances & easy runs without fueling up first but for anything else, if I want to enjoy the run & put in a good performance, I need to make sure I’ve had enough to sustain me before & during the run.

Learning #9: Mindset matters. How you feel heading out on a run makes a huge difference to your performance. It’s like making sure your mind is fueled with positive energy & has ways to sustain itself while you pound out the miles. . So often it’s about having trust & belief in myself. Knowing I CAN do it because I’ve done it before makes it easier to carry on when my body & mind are screaming at me to just stop

Learning #10: Don’t do it all on your own. While solo runs are easier to organize, running with someone else has a huge set of benefits. Accountability — to keep you turning up, moral support — to keep going when you’re tired, competition — to push you just that little bit further, and reassurance — on the routes you haven’t done before & the days when you’re not sure your legs will work.

Learning #11: A destination is sometimes better than an exact route. Obviously if you’re running a race, the route is non-negotiable. But for the rest of the time, knowing where you’re headed but leaving the exact route flexible allows you to follow your curiosity, adjust for your energy levels & discover more. Yes, sometimes letting your feet wander means you hit a dead end & have to double back, or come across an unexpected hill when your legs are already tired, but it can also lead to new opportunities, fantastic views & different experiences. At worst, we learn not to go that way again!

Learning #12: Running isn’t everything. There’s a reason I run outdoors. For me it’s about getting out in the fresh air, exploring, seeing what’s going on — and on my best runs, being out in nature. The experience of running is as important to me as the process of running itself. Giving myself permission to stop & take in the view has changed my whole relationship with running for the better.

Learning #13: Running isn’t the only thing. I’ve learned (the hard way!) that running on its own isn’t enough — either to make me a better runner or to keep me fit & healthy. I’ve also had to learn to stretch, to be better with my sleep patterns & my diet and next up is to build core muscle strength to make those long runs less exhausting.

Learning #14: These learning points are transferable to business too.

Over the 106 hours I’ve run so far this year, I’ve had a lot of time to think — and I realized these lessons about running are relevant to business too:

· Goals & targets are important, but we need to make sure we’re measuring & checking in against them regularly for them to have a meaningful effect

· Without bigger meaning, our goals are unlikely to motivate us when the going gets tough. Hitting a revenue goal is less meaningful than knowing we can afford that additional team member, new piece of equipment or just that week off to recharge

· Things won’t always go to plan. Learning to be flexible and respond is essential

· Understanding what works for us as entrepreneurs (and doing more of it more of the time) is essential & will make our business experience easier & more effective

· We will have days (and sometimes, weeks) when nothing goes right & we just want to give up. Developing insight & self compassion are critical skills. Progress is what matters not necessarily speed. Sometimes even just one tiny step forward is enough & should be celebrated.

· Learning the skills of BEING in business are as important as our technical or professional skills. There is more to being a business owner than just being good at what our customers buy from us.

· Not all activity is productive and being busy is not necessarily the same as being successful or making progress. Learning to use our time, effort & energy effectively & with purpose is an essential discipline — filling our days with productive work, not just busy tasks.

· Mindset matters. Enough said…

· Even if we’re solopreneurs, going it alone isn’t a good tactic. Finding our network is important. Having somewhere to share the lows & the highs, to talk out ideas, get advice & solve problems will not only make it more manageable, it will also make our businesses better and is worth the investment.

· If it’s not fun at least some of the time, keeping going is virtually impossible.



Rebecca Maxwell, Perception Insights

Leader, Coach, Trainer, Consultant. Supporting leaders, entrepreneurs & business owners grow their potential & their success.