4 Lessons I’ve Learnt From Running in 30 Days

I ran 20 runs in 30 days and I managed to crush the 2.4km run with a timing of 8 minutes and 58 seconds. Here are 4 key lessons that I’ve learnt from running in 30 days.

A lifetime record!

Introduction

During the circuit breaker, I followed the trend like many other Singaporeans and I became a runner. Now, during normal times, I dabble mostly in weights and BJJ and don’t run often at all. However, with the closure of gyms and martial arts schools, it was a choice between burpees or running to maintain my weight and aerobic conditioning. So I decided on running because I hate burpees (who doesn’t!).

My history of running is as follows:

  • Ran a lot when I was 18 and was on the basketball team
  • Ran a 10km race Nike Human Race once in Junior College
  • Best timing for 2.4km was 18 when I ran 9:45
  • Got 2nd place in my Junior College Run-a-thon where I clocked 18km
Peak running performance when I was 18

As you can see, most of my running was done when I was 18 which was 10 years ago and also when I was 10kg lighter! I also never really ran that much until it was time to practice for IPPT (like every one of my Singaporean brothers out there). Even then, I usually ran around 11 minutes to 13 minutes, which wasn’t fantastic by any means.

Letting myself go in April VS Training hard in the weight-room, regular cardio and a better diet.

Bringing the Pain

Running isn’t fun. It’s makes my legs burn and my lungs hurt. But I had put on some weight from the first month of April and I knew I had to do something about it. Fitness leaders got to lead by example!

The following was a record of my run distance, timing and pace.

A toal of 20 runs in 1 month!

I started off my running journey with not much planning and just ran when I felt like it. Of course, this was not optimal and I ended up getting pretty burnt out. I made some adjustments and eventually managed to improve on my speed and timing. However, I learnt some valuable lessons throughout this month from my running. If could repeat the experience, I would definitely have made some big changes to my training schedule right from the start. Let me share with you what I learnt and some practical tips to be make your own training more effective and efficient!

4 Lessons I Learnt From My Month Running

Let me share with you 4 Lessons I learnt from this month of running which helped me get that elusive sub 9min timing. You can use this lessons on your own running journey and they might be able to help you out in making your running training more efficient and effective.

1. Don’t Try Too Much Too Soon

It is easy to feel very motivated at the start and try to run every day or not giving our bodies enough time to rest. We do this because we have the common misconception that ‘More is better’ or that ‘No Pain, No Gain’. However, by doing so, our body really takes a beating. This happens even more so if you haven’t been running much before. Our body needs time to adapt to new stressors and running (a physical activity) is a relatively high impact stressor. This can then lead to feelings of burnout, decreased performance or joint pains.

This happened to me after 2 weeks of running where I ran 12 times over the course of 14 days on top of my regular weight training. This might not seem like a lot of mileage to experienced runners. But remember that we are just starting out. I ended up feeling very demotivated and burnt out from the frequency and stopped running for about a week.

Practical Tips to Improve

If you are someone who is just starting on your run training, start the first few weeks with 2 to 3 runs each week. Keep the frequency at one that you can manage and recover from. Do not attempt to do too much too fast even if you think that you can manage the load. Be patient and take it slow and steadily.

2. Earn The Right to Run Fast

Another lesson that I learnt was that I should not be focusing on speed first. My first few runs were pretty slow (Pace > 5:36/KM) and I being motivated, I really wanted to improve. So I kept trying the best I could each run. And you know what? I DID improve! After a week, I got my pace for the 2.4km run down to 4:15/KM and this spurred me on to keep on going. However, the high frequency of my runs coupled with the intensity that I was going on, really put a strain on my mind and body. This double whammy of high intensity and frequency was not something that I could maintain so soon in my run training and also led to my burning out.

Practical Tips to Improve

Don’t start off blazing. Most of your runs should be going at a moderate pace to help build aerobic capacity. Build a foundation of running endurance and slowly improve from there. Aim for slow and steady improvements and progression.

Start your first few weeks with runs of moderate intensity. Once you are comfortable with that, you can start adding in some intervals or speed runs to build speed. But again, a good focus for beginner runners would be to build your aerobic base first. This will set the foundations for your running which can help prevent burn out and even potential injuries due to overtraining.

3. Good Music and Good Scenery

This might be personal as I know some people don’t like listening to anything while running. But putting on good music and running a scenic route really helped get me in the mood to run. Initially I was running around the HDB and roads early in the morning (Because East Coast Park is too scary for me at 5am). I also tried listening to the news to be even more productive while running. However, the boring route and listening to the gloomy global outlook didn’t help much with motivation and made running more of a chore.

I decided to switch it up and started running along East Coast Park and also downloaded a playlist of some of my most favourite HYPE songs. It made a world of difference in allowing me to be more present in the run and enjoy it.

Practical Tips to Improve

Come up with a good playlist of uplifting beats as well as a nice scenic route to energise your runs! Running is painful enough as it is! Decorate it with some sprinkles and good vibes to help you enjoy it and allowing you to be more consistent!

All smiles and enjoying the process!

4. Enjoy The Process

This might be the most important lesson that I’ve learnt from these 30 days. As a trainer and coach who is highly present on social media, I really wanted to show great improvements and how hard I was willing to go. So I had unknowingly put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed and get great timings. So other than putting my body under a lot of stress with the high frequency and intensity, I was also putting my mind under a lot of stress.

Once I let go of that, I managed to enjoy running a lot more and this helped me tremendously in staying consistent. I stopped trying to get good timings all the time and when I was feeling sore or demotivated, I still ran, but at a slower pace. This helped me clock in the distance and still build on my endurance as opposed to being burnt out and stopping because I didn’t feel like I was good enough.

This mental shift made it easier for me to start enjoying the process of running. Instead of being a mental and physical chore for me, it started to be an uplifting and free-ing activity. I enjoyed it especially as it gave me time with my thoughts to just think about life in general. By doing this, even though I wasn’t chasing for a good time, it eventually came to me as I was consistent in my training.

Practical Tips to Improve

Stop putting too much pressure on yourself to chase numbers and goals. Set realistic goals and plans and work towards them. More importantly, don’t beat yourself up if you do not achieve them. But find out why, make the adjustments to your training and then try again. Remember, this is a marathon and not a sprint! If you’re in it for the long haul, learn to enjoy the process.

Conclusion

Running is a simple and cost effective workout that one can do right now in order to stay in shape and build fitness. For us guys, it is also a way to get $500 bonus every year! I hope you guys enjoyed the lessons I’ve learnt from running in 30 days. Do try out these tips to start running more effectively and efficiently! Let me know how your training goes and let’s keep on improving together!

If you want to learn how to warm up properly prior to your runs, check out my article on warming up here!

Author: Leon Tan, CSCS

I'm a certified Fitness Coach with a degree in Sports Science. I am passionate in Health, Fitness and helping people become a better version of ourselves.

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