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Monday, May 23, 2022

‘I ran everyday for 100 days’

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Running is the Marmite of the fitness world – you either love it, or you hate it. And with every fitness influencer under the sun professing their love for HIIT and strength training, it’s taken a huge backseat. But that doesn’t mean it should. Bar a decent pair of running trainers, it can be done without any equipment (or gym membership), and is one of the simplest forms of movement out there. So, is it something you should still include in your regular workout rotation? Fitness blogger, athlete, and workout challenge aficionado Keltie O’Connor set herself the task of running every day for 30 days straight to find out.


Her initial motivations were her ‘mental health, time away from [her] phone, in nature, moving every day and [seeing] what happens.’ Fast forward to now and she’s managed a mammoth 122 day running streak. Round of applause, please. Here’s everything O’Connor learnt during her first 100 days of running.

1. Listen to your body

O’Connor’s first, and probably most important, lesson is to listen to your body. Before embarking on her quest, she admits that she’s been out of the game for a while and hasn’t laced up her running shoes since her college basketball days. Well, she has, but not consistently. With this in mind, she began her challenge in December with no specific time or distance goals, just the intention of building up a habit of running everyday, no matter how far. Sometimes, that looked like a 10k run and on others it looked like ‘a hungover day that was about 200m.’ A 200m run whilst hungover is pretty impressive, TBH.


By Jan, O’Connor was ready to up the ante and followed a 10k training program which included 2 short runs and 1 long run per week. She also threw in four additional days of running that ‘destroyed [her] back.’ Ouch. To allow her body to heal, she switched it up with 1km per day and 1-2 long runs per week – ‘That was a fail,’ she said.

Going back to basics, O’Connor asked herself, ‘What is the most I can run every single day that my body can 100% recover from the next day?,’ and began with 1k per day, working up in 0.5k increments. ‘For me to be able to run further and faster, I actually had to reduce my volume.’

‘I’m listening to my body, I’m not allowing myself to burnout in this challenge, that is a big focal point. This is for mental health and the last thing I want to do is burnout.’


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2. Shin splints are serious business

Every runner’s kryptonite, shin splints are the most common running injury and are painful enough to make any newbie runner hang up their trainers for good. Come day 7, O’Connor got her first taste of them.

To combat the pain, O’Connor’s go-to tips are to ‘stretch your calves, work on hip mobility, strengthen your glutes, and those three-year-old runners that have no grip on them do not constitute as shoes. Throw those out and buy some new ones.’ Way to call us out, O’Connor.

3. Carbs can make it easier

Everyone knows that running works up a serious appetite. And, as a weight training gal, O’Connor was conscious to fuel her body correctly to make sure she didn’t lose weight and maintained muscle mass. How did she do that, I hear you ask? Carbs. She made sure to ‘gradually [increase her food volume] which allowed [her] to keep resistance training.’

As a hybrid athlete, AKA an athlete that excels in both strength and endurance training, O’Connor says the key, ‘is really focusing on carbs in meal prep. You guys have been here a long time, you know I’m not anti-carb. My body responds very well to them.’

We all know that eating well is vital in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and helping us perform optimally, and if we don’t eat enough, or enough of the right things, our bodies take the hit – something O’Connor experienced during her challenge. ‘The reality is, there were times when I really felt my performance diminish as I wasn’t getting in enough carbs. So, I did meal-prep a tonne of rice, and potatoes, and pasta every week just so I had no excuse to add an extra scoop,’ she says. Don’t be afraid of carbs, people.

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4. Find your fire

After 100 days pounding the pavement, O’Connor says that since basketball, she ‘has never had a fuel under [her] ass to train like a mother f–ing athlete again and it feels so good.’ Basically, find a workout that excites you.

‘I have tried literally every challenge on this channel because I’ve been lost. After weightlifting broke me I just took a break from fitness and went on walks. This is the first time I found my thing since sports ended. That thing that makes me want to workout and perform better.’

O’Connor’s main takeaway from her experiment? She found that running was something that makes her want to workout ‘not for an Instagram photo, not for [her] abs, not for looks, but [because she wants] to train harder and better and faster.’

So, to answer our question about whether running is something we should all aim to do, the answer depends on whether you enjoy it. Ground-breaking, we know, but it’s true. If you don’t enjoy it, scrap it, but if you do like to get out for a jog (or a sprint) every now and then, the benefits are unmatched. Just know that while it worked for O’Connor, it may not work for you.

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