I just completed running 5k everyday for 30 days straight. An entire month’s running distance of just over 3 miles a day. That’s about 93 total miles for the month.
This challenge taught me quite a bit about myself and my running abilities. I also learned more about the status of my cardiovascular health and cardiovascular fitness in general.
So, I thought I should sit down and write this article with you to share my experience and hopefully encourage you to consider running 5k everyday challenge.
Why Did I Choose The 5k Running Challenge?
I Do Better When I Have Rules To Follow
Let’s break this question down into two parts. First, let’s talk about the challenge aspect.
I always do better when there are rules to follow. Rules help me stay on target and create guidelines for what I can and cannot do.
Strangely, I need structure to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Rules also typically give me a target or a goal to reach. This helps me stay motivated to push forward with whatever challenge I find myself in. This comes in very handy when I feel like quitting.
I completed the 75 Hard Challenge on January 15th and found myself coasting for the next couple of months regarding my fitness.
As usual, one too few late-night junk food binges, and my weight had gone back up close to the same as when I started the 75 Hard challenge.
I was still doing resistance training and weight lifting most days and still following a generally healthy diet, but that small percentage of me who wasn’t following the rules was REALLY not following the rules.
So I realized I needed a new challenge to help me re-focus, and my search began.
How I Decided Running 5k Everyday for A Month Was My Move
I enjoy running to a degree (it’s my favorite cardiovascular exercise), but I usually wouldn’t have considered a challenge involving running 5k everyday.
I have far more steady-state cardio and high-intensity interval training workouts over the last several years, so my comfort level would naturally guide me towards that.
However, for the last four months, my youngest kid started his first year of high school track and field, and as such, I’ve been to quite a few meets.
And as it turns out, I have enjoyed them. Specifically, I have enjoyed the running events. And with my kid participating in some of these events (usually the 1 or 2-mile events), I found myself talking with him after the meets about the results, how it went, how he felt, etc.
I suppose that I found myself running more than usual through all the track and field conversations with him. I mean more than usual, a couple of times a week at a leisurely pace.
Maybe it made me feel like part of the team, or it was becoming more enjoyable since we were doing something similar and could chat about it together.
Either way, when it came time to choose a new challenge, running 5k everyday made sense.
With any challenge, I must clearly understand what I want to accomplish during the process or what I deem as base expectations. For this challenge, I made the following list as my reference:
- I Wanted To Get Better At Pacing
- I Wanted To Get An Overall Faster Time
- I Wanted To Lose Weight Running
- I Wanted To Improve My Running Form
- I Wanted To Improve My Cardiovascular Fitness Level and Muscle Endurance
Now that I knew what I wanted to accomplish, I had to devise the rules.
There are several programs and challenges already out there, but I wanted mine to be unique to me. So similar to the 75 Hard Challenge program, I sat and made a list of rules I must follow.
What Are The Rules Of The 5k Everyday Challenge?
1) Running 5k Everyday
I supposed this should go without saying, but this is a running 5k everyday challenge. I wanted to clarify that this isn’t about running 5k everyday for 30 days. It’s about running 5k everyday for 30 days straight.
That’s quite a bit different.
So from the day of my first run, I knew I would have to find time outside to run. This also meant trying to work around or with the weather (which sometimes would not work in my favor due to living in the midwest).
Any day missed meant the challenge was over, and I would have to restart it if I wanted to complete it.
2) No Rest Day, Must Run A 5k Every Day
Pretty simple. No days off. No rest days are allowed.
I added this rule in for a couple of essential reasons. First, I wanted to make sure there was no doubt that this was a daily challenge. As soon as you introduced a rest day, the challenge concept felt lost.
I added this rule because I knew I would want to take a day off after a week. As a 45-year-old, I know how my body will feel after a couple of weeks, and my brain will surely be right there to lend its 2 cents to the situation.
So a “no rest day” rule essentially blocked me from getting in my way.
3) No Walking
I had to decide what type of activity would be allowed during the challenge, which means what pace was acceptable to the challenge.
As the challenge was conceived as running a 5k every day challenge, I opted only to include movement, which was faster than a slow run.
I realize this might be a bit of a personal opinion, but I knew what that meant for me. I know my slow run and when it’s a brisk walk.
So I see the requirement of anything a slow run or faster was allowed.
4) No Sprinting At The End Of The 5k Run
I went back and forth a bit on this one, but in the end, I am glad I made this decision.
Since two of my main objectives were to learn better pacing and get better timing, I wanted to create a challenge that allowed me to do both parts simultaneously.
But that meant I had to create rules that helped me accomplish both goals.
After watching all those track meets, sprinting for the last short distance of the race is standard for the course, but it doesn’t tell us a story about the pace. Yes, it might increase your finish time, but your pace doesn’t benefit if you rely on that last jolt of energy and speed.
So to concentrate on my pacing, I restricted any spot sprinting in my daily 5k run. This allowed me to focus more on consistent pacing and assess the pace using the final time of the run.
5) Running 5k Everyday Must Be Outside Running
I do own a treadmill. I’m not too fond of it, but I own it.
I find running on treadmills boring. It’s a drag on the time passing.
Running a 5k every day outside, although it still drags, maybe drags a little less.
Outside running also provides some unique challenges that you can’t get on a treadmill, like fighting with the weather, uneven running surfaces, and terrain elevations. Those require specific adjustments to the run, which a treadmill cannot replicate.
For that reason, I required the runs to all take place outside.
6) Run A Consistent Running Route
As a complement to the previous point, creating nearly identical routes was essential for me to gauge my daily run results.
To work on a running routine, I picked my general route for the next 30 days, which happens to be in my neighborhood. I would run the same known route in the same general direction.
The only caveat will be if I need to redirect due to heavy winds, which did happen a couple of times.
But in general, the same running route every day.
7) Take A Picture With The Run Time Every Day
I came up with this rule for two primary reasons.
First, it was easy to reference and track my daily progress simply by flipping through the pictures on my phone.
The second was to use for social media postings. Not necessary for the challenge itself, but a nice extra reward for completing it.
8) Follow A Healthy Diet Plan
I’m a big believer that no matter how much strength training you do, how much you work out, exercise, run, whatever; you cannot out-work a bad diet.
And even though my diet wasn’t “bad” per see, it needed structure.
And anytime I do a challenge, I find that if I also create rules around my food and meals, the challenge feels more “real” since it’s impacting me throughout most of the day in some fashion.
So I picked a calorie deficit meal plan. I tracked my calories daily to ensure I was within my allowed calorie count and secondarily followed my macros as a sub-target.
Those are the rules of the running 5k everyday challenge. So with that part done and my expectations laid out, there was nothing to do except start the challenge.
How My 5k A Day Challenge Went
The entire first week of the challenge was windy, every day. I remember mentioning to my wife that it seemed instance how much wind I was dealing with on my runs.
The first couple of days went as expected. I had previously averaged around a 9’44” mile when running 5k everyday, so the first day was picking up right where I left off.
My time remained the same thought that first week despite the increase in wind per day.
My pace was a bit of a trouble spot for me. I could feel myself start slowly and gradually increase each run, but that didn’t fit what I wanted. I wanted a consistent pace from the first step to the last, so I knew I needed to work on this going forward.
As for my form, I spent the first-week taking mental notes on what I felt and what I needed to work on correcting. I noticed a lot of shoulder discomfort during the first week and a lot of calf soreness during the run. I will address these issues in my second week. For now, I just wanted to take notes.
By the end of the first week, I didn’t feel any improvements in muscular endurance or general fitness. Each day was a struggle to get through the run. My breath wasn’t coming easy, and my body was not thrilled at what it was being put through.
I saw a slight body weight reduction, dropping from 234 pounds on Monday to a low of 230 by Saturday. I know better than to expect too much weight loss, especially within the first week of any new training, so this was a pleasant little surprise.
Overall, I was happy with the first week. I wanted to establish a few baselines for the rest of the challenge, and I did just that.
Heading into week 2, however, mother nature wanted to show me a few things.
Whatever small amount of wind and rain I saw during week one was merely a precursor to what was coming in week 2.
The wind ramped up at the beginning of the week. It hit me so hard in the face that it blew one of my AirPods right out of my ear.
Another day, it was so strong that it felt like someone was holding onto the back of my shirt when I was running.
This caused my overall time to jump up to over 10 minutes per mile, almost 1 minute extra per mile.
One good thing did come from the required increase in muscle strength and speed. It did help me to find a steady pace from the beginning of the 5k run until the end. There wasn’t any chance to speed up, so finding a steady pace was relatively straightforward this week.
My body started to react in ways I had not experienced before.
During the week, my left hip joint would hurt midway through each run on each leg rotation. I’ve never had hip problems, and it wasn’t enough to slow me down, but it was something for me to watch.
As I looked for ways to find better running form, I concentrated on my shoulder pain from the week before and worked on driving my elbows down towards the road a bit.
By doing this, I noticed an instant relief in my shoulders when I ran, and at no point did I have any more shoulder problems during the challenge, as long as I concentrated on driving my elbows lower towards the ground.
I knew I couldn’t change the rules, but I couldn’t help but think it through.
My weight saw another dip this week, dropping a few more pounds to the 226 range.
Towards the week’s end, I felt myself getting stronger and faster. With a few days left for the week, I worked my time down close to the 9-minute mile mark, and on day 13, I had my first sub-9 minute at 8’51”.
I hoped I would keep seeing good progress on my running 5k everyday challenge requirement at the halfway point.
In week 3 of the running 5k everyday challenge, the wind was still a factor, but not nearly as crazy as it had been the week prior.
The rain came in several days, and I was completely soaked by the end of a few runs. Not much worse than running in wet socks.
But the sun came through in the end and gave me some lovely days of running 5k everyday.
Over the next seven days, I ran 9’00’ or less for five days, which I was super happy with. The overall time decrease to complete was doing exactly what I had hoped.
I also continued to monitor my pace to ensure I was consistent during each mile.
I spent more time during this third week concentrating on my stride. Naturally, I tend to take shorter strides, impacting my time and its toll on my body. I noticed that with the longer strides, I could cover more distance with less stress, even if it was hard to get going at first.
I also spent more time on my footwork. I am a victim of over-pronation, so I was working on keeping straight feet (specifically my right foot) with each stride.
This ended up being more of a challenge than I expected, as it took total concentration to keep my foot straight and the hip flexors areas that required my attention to assist.
I didn’t lose weight during the challenge beyond this paint, capping around the 226 mark. I had a slight spike down to 224, but I think it was more of a daily aberration. In many challenges I do, I see weight loss plateaus around the third week, so I have come to expect this during this timeframe.
Towards the end of the week, I noticed that I was struggling more with breathing and overall endurance. Part of this was due to allergies kicking in post-rain and with the fresh sun.
But I also think part of it was that I needed a break. I didn’t worry too much about it and accepted that the last week of the running 5k every day challenge might be more of a challenge than I had hoped.
The summer heat ramped up the final week, starting around 90 degrees and hanging until the last day. This forced me to change the time of day I was running 5k everyday, as midday was too hot and costing me run time.
I also had to break out my favorite running sunglasses, as the sun got intense during the day.
My run time spiked up to 10’12” on the week’s hottest day. It was the best I could manage in that heat.
I took what I had learned about my running form and pacing and used that heading into my last week of the running 5k everyday challenge. And I needed it.
During the first half of the week, my body kept pushing me into smaller strides, as it seemed more of a relief to my tired body, but I forced the longer strides, making the runs faster and more enjoyable.
I could only muster one day under the 9-minute mark on the final week, which I saw coming already, so there wasn’t much disappointment there.
The other times were generally respectable, with five days under 9’35” per mile.
Mother nature gave me a break on my final day and dropped midday temperatures into the low 80s. It was the perfect way to wrap up the running 5k everyday challenge.
My Running 5k Everyday Challenge Results
My Run Pacing
My body wanted me to start slowly and gradually increase speed on every run. I believe part of this was out of comfort, but it was also due to not properly warming up before each run.
I spent more time during the challenge before and after each run with my foam roller for myofascial release, general stretching, and a few other ways to help my body prepare for and recover from the run, which helped steady my pacing.
Proper pacing didn’t come to fruition until the 3rd week, but all the work leading up to it was necessary, especially in week 2.
By this point, I could keep solid pacing as long as I was paying attention, and by week 4, I was pacing myself with little to no mental check-in needed.
My Run Time
During the 30 days, I had a high run time of 10 minutes and 51 seconds and a low of 8 minutes and 42 seconds.
My best daily run times came in the third week when I hit my stride.
That is also where I stopped losing weight, so losing the extra weight over the first 2.5 weeks helped with my better times going into week 3.
Something that I noticed while I was running each day. I would have days where I felt like I would have a great run time and that the run felt effortless.
But I was always surprised at the end when my time would end up not being even close to my best time.
I realized that I am not pushing hard enough if a run feels like it’s going too easy. That “best times” are not accomplished with ease.
Beating my run times is hard work; if it feels like anything less, I am not working hard enough.
My Goal To Lose Weight
Regarding weight, I’ve been around long enough to know that for 30 days, you can’t expect significant improvements.
I saw a high of 234 pounds on day one and a spike down to 224 during the last week. I’m pretty happy with a 10-pound change.
Of course, I can’t give running all the credit. Following a meal plan based on calorie counting was just as important, if not more so, in losing weight.
I would average around 500-530 calories burned each run for the day, a bit more calories than I expected. Indeed, it helped create a daily caloric deficit to work alongside my calorie counting.
To put those calories burned into context, when I do a 35-minute high-intensity interval training or some other regular exercise, I can expect to burn 300 to 350 calories for that same time.
So for the time spent running 5k everyday, I am burning more calories in a shorter time than other longer workouts I do.
I also feel like I saw some slight improvement in my muscle size, specifically my calf muscles, which got a massive workout each day. I would have liked to have seen more muscle growth in my upper legs, specifically quads, and hamstrings, but for 30 days, it’s hard to expect too much.
So while I didn’t see significant improvements in my quest to lose weight, I feel the 10 pounds over 30 days is right about what I expected for the time allotted.
So did I lose weight like I wanted to? Yes. Was it as much as I hoped? No, but it was as much as I expected, and that’s still a win.
My Running Form
I overcame the issue of the sore shoulders quickly by intentionally driving my elbows towards the ground when I was swinging my arms.
I was also conscious of my leg and feet formations, especially knowing I have an over-pronated form. I never really got comfortable forcing my feet and leg into what is “better,” but I think leg and footwork are something you can’t just improve within 30 days. I am looking forward to improving it over time.
I did spend more time on a few other points of form. For example, I became more aware of the angle I hold my head and the amount of arch I put on my back. I tested a few different ways out and made minor adjustments in those areas.
The stride was quickly my most significant change in form. It saved me extra pain and suffering, but it also helped with my overall time and enjoyment of running 5k everyday.
And for me, enjoying running helps me to stay committed to running. Mental health is an essential key to exercise.
Running is just better when you feel like you are moving swiftly.
A Few Other Things I Learned
I picked up a few other things along the way during this challenge of running 5k every day for a month.
One of the big things I realized was using the tools I learned as a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine to improve my runs. I have a much better understanding of both the body and the food impacts that helped me make necessary adjustments to get through the challenge.
I learned that I must have an incredible cardiovascular system. I never felt like my heart was racing too fast or that I was placing too much stress on it. If anything, I felt great about that.
I hurt every day I ran, especially at the beginning of the run. Those first 5 minutes were tough to get through some days. It made me appreciate my body’s ability to persevere through pain and accomplish the goal, even when it seems impossible.
I had intended to incorporate strength training into my 30-day challenge three times a week, but I felt so tired many days that I didn’t quite get there, so I knocked it back to once a week during the 30 days, which felt like a better routine.
Running 5k everyday for 30 days did improve sleep quality. I found myself falling asleep quicker than usual, which I attribute to just being tired from running 5k everyday.
I wasn’t having trouble sleeping before running the 5k everyday, but I did find that I slept better during the challenge.
My running tools are a must every time I hit the pavement. Here is a list of what I take with me when I go for a run.
Final Thoughts on Running 5k Everyday
I’m always a mix of happy and sad when a challenge ends.
I’m glad to get a change of scenery, but I’m also very aware of the value of structure in my life. I have better overall health with rules.
Running 5k everyday was just as much of a mental challenge as it was a running challenge, weight loss challenge, endurance challenge, etc.
Running 5k everyday isn’t a physical activity that I think I am naturally good at. Running has always been challenging for me, whether long-distance or short. That is from both a physical and a mental standpoint. Sometimes I feel I have better muscular strength than mental strength when running 5k everyday.
But that’s also part of why I decided to do this challenge. A challenge should be precisely that; challenging.
I want to push my limits and see what I am capable of, even if that means tackling something that I think will not be fun or easy.
Whether running 5k every day for 30 days or some other challenge, keep pushing yourself. You will never know what you are capable of until you do.
Note: A few people asked me about the hoodie and hat in the cover photo. The hoodie is the Nike Therma-Fit Hoodie, found here on Amazon. That hat is made by Mammoth Headwear which makes hats for big heads, which I did a full review on here.
Rob is a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. For the past 10 years, Rob has been navigating the health and fitness landscape in a quest to better himself and those around him focusing on tools such as calorie and macro counting, intermittent fasting, and HIIT training techniques.