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I Went Running 5k Everyday For 30 Days; Here’s What Happened

I just completed running 5k every day for 30 days straight, covering an entire month’s distance of just over 3.1 miles a day. That’s about 93 total miles for the month. This challenge taught me a lot about myself and my running abilities. I also learned more about my cardiovascular health and overall fitness.

I’m sharing this experience to encourage you to consider the 5k daily running challenge.

Key Takeaways
  • Establishing rules and structure helps keep a healthy lifestyle and stay motivated through life’s challenges.
  • Running 5k daily can improve pacing, run time, and overall cardiovascular health, contributing to weight loss and improved muscle endurance.
  • Strength training and proper recovery techniques, such as foam rolling and stretching, can enhance performance and enjoyment of running, not to mention keep your body conditioned and loose to keep running.

Why Did I Choose The 5k Running Challenge?

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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 face. This comes in very handy when I feel like quitting.

I completed the 75 Hard Challenge on January 15th and coasted for the next couple of months regarding my fitness. As usual, one too many late-night junk food binges resulted in my scale returning to 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 lose weight, 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 form of exercise, cardiovascular exercise at least), but I usually wouldn’t have considered a challenge involving running 5k a day.

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 ran more than usual through all the track and field conversations with him. I mean more than usual, a few times a week at a leisurely pace. Maybe it made me feel like part of the team, or it became 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 to be based on 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
  • I Wanted To Lose Weight

Now that I knew what I wanted to accomplish, I had to devise the rules.

Several programs and challenges are already out there, but I wanted mine to be unique to me. So, similar to the 75 Hard Challenge program, I sat down and made a list of rules I must follow.

What Are The Rules Of The 5k Everyday Challenge?

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My Running Route

1) Run A 5k Everyday, 7 Days A Week

I supposed this should go without saying, but this is a running 5k every day challenge. I wanted to clarify that this isn’t about running 5k a day for 30 days. It’s about running 5k a day 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

It’s 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 for the challenge.

As the challenge was conceived as running a 5k every day, 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 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 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, I restricted any spot sprinting in my daily 5k run to concentrate on my pacing. This allowed me to focus more on consistent pacing and assess the pace using the final time of the run.

5) Running A 5k Every Day 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 unique challenges 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. It was 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 se, it needed structure. And anytime I do a challenge to lose weight, 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 for running the 5k everyday challenge. 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

Week 1

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The first week of the challenge was consistently windy, affecting my runs. Despite this, my pace remained around a 9’44” mile, similar to my previous average. I aimed for a consistent pace throughout but found myself starting slow and gradually speeding up, identifying this as an area for improvement. I noted discomfort in my shoulders and calves and plan to address these in week two.

Although I didn’t notice improvements in fitness or endurance, struggling each day, I was pleasantly surprised by a slight weight reduction from 234 to 230 pounds.

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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.

Week 2

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In week 2, bad weather and left hip pain introduced new challenges, yet I improved my running form and eliminated shoulder pain by adjusting my arm position. Despite these hurdles, my weight decreased, reaching the 226 range. By focusing on my form and pace, I achieved a sub-9-minute mile, marking significant progress in my 5-k daily running challenge as I approached the halfway point.

Week 3

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In week 3 of the 5k daily challenge, weather improved with less wind and occasional sun, enhancing running conditions. I achieved sub-9-minute runs on five days, meeting my goals. Focusing on longer strides and correcting over-pronation in my footwork, I aimed for efficiency and reduced stress on my body.

Despite these efforts, weight loss plateaued, a common occurrence in my challenges around the third week.

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Towards the end of the week, I noticed that I struggled more with breathing and overall endurance. This was partly 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.

Week 4

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As the summer heat peaked, I adjusted my daily 5k runs to cooler times, using sunglasses for protection against the intensified sun. Despite the heat slowing my pace, I applied lessons from the month on running form and pacing to finish strong.

Though I ran under 9 minutes that week only once, I maintained respectable times. A break in the weather on the last day offered a perfect end to the challenge, with cooler temperatures facilitating a pleasant final run.

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 running a 5k every day 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 of running a 5k every day, 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 my goal to lose weight, I’ve been around long enough to know that for 30 days, you can’t expect significant improvements and lose a ton of body fat.

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 a 5k every day, 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 the 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.

Will running 5k a day help you lose weight? Yes. Was it as much as I had hoped? No, but it was as much as I expected, and that’s still a win. And I’m sure many other benefits were gained along the way.

My Running Form

I quickly overcame the sore shoulders by intentionally driving my elbows toward the ground while swinging my arms.

I was also conscious of my leg and foot formations, especially knowing I have an overpronated 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 held 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 also helped with my overall time and enjoyment of running a 5k. 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, which helped me make the necessary adjustments to get through the challenge.

I learned I must have an incredible cardiovascular system to try running a 5k daily. 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 each 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 every day for 30 days did improve sleep quality. I fell asleep quicker than usual, which I attribute to just being tired from running a 5k every day. I wasn’t having trouble sleeping before running the 5k every day, but I did find that I slept better during the challenge.

The Benefits of Running A 5k Every Day

Running a 5k every day has numerous benefits, both physically and mentally. Incorporating a daily 5k run into your routine can aid in weight loss, improve cardiovascular health, increase muscle strength, help you lose weight, and boost overall endurance. This daily routine can also help improve mental clarity, reduce stress, and improve sleep quality, which are crucial for overall well-being.

In addition to its daily benefits, running a 5k three times a week can also be a great way to improve mental health. This routine can increase energy levels and boost mood, making tackling daily tasks and responsibilities easier.

For those looking to incorporate running a 5k every day into their routine, starting with running 5k three times a week is a great place to start. Over time, you can increase the frequency of your runs to daily if desired.

Running a 5k every day, or even three times a week is an excellent way to improve overall health and well-being. With numerous benefits such as weight loss, improved mental clarity, and increased energy levels, a daily 5k run is a simple but effective way to stay healthy and improve overall well-being.

Final Thoughts on Running 5k A Day

I’m always a mix of happy and sad when a challenge ends, but the benefits of running a 5k every day were well worth the challenge.

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. That’s a lot of the reason I chose running a 5k every day as my challenge.

To run 5k every day was just as much of a mental challenge as it was a running challenge, weight loss challenge, endurance challenge, etc.

Running 5k every day 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 every day. But that’s also part of why I decided to do this run 5k 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 a 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. Now, do I make this my regular running routine, or do I find a new running routine?

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