Mile A Day Challenge and Running My Best Mile

As a run coach, it is hard to get non-runners to run. For most, running is something that isn’t done beyond high school physical education class so the intimidation and trepidation of repeating the mile test leaves many paralyzed. To challenge others and get people to believe the hype, I encourage newbie runners to “Run Their Best Mile,” literally and figuratively. I challenge individuals to run their best mile to get active, but in theory, “running your best mile” means to do what you want to the best of your ability without apprehension from outside influence; “running” is simply the catalyst. Unfortunately, I have not been practicing what I preach. Just three days ago, I decided to begin the mile-a-day challenge and telling anyone made me extremely anxious. As a runner and run coach, you would think anything with running was up my alley and that a “mile-a-day” challenge would be a no brainer… WRONG! The easy part was running, the hard part was the thought of being held accountable, while remaining conscious and deliberate of my actions and lifestyle. To push myself beyond my limits, I knew that I needed to commit to something that scared me, required discipline and why I decided that it was time to start.

If you don’t know about the “mile-a-day” challenge, it’s relatively simple… all you have to do is commit to running at least one mile per day. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, challenged his company and 47 million followers to participate in 2016, which garnered national attention and how it landed on my radar. His challenge involved running 365 miles for one year. Others mile-a-day challenges have no stopping point; If you break your streak you start over; simple as that.

Oddly enough, committing to run a mile a day felt like a horror story. With running being both my business and my brand, taking a day off is not only needed, but wanted. Running a mile a day felt like career suicide — What happens if I fall off the bandwagon? How will my body respond to the stress? If I skip a day, will I become a fraud? If I become injured during my one mile run, how will that affect my earning potential?! These thoughts became so rampant that I contemplated keeping it secret; it seemed easier to keep it quiet, just in case I couldn’t follow through. Day 1 I teased it with “Mile-A-Day?” and Day 2 I posted a definitive “Mile-A-Day” on my IG story; I was trying to commit, yet only comfortable sharing for 24 hours. I didn’t want anyone to take my challenge seriously; I secretly didn’t want to take it seriously myself.

This fear is one that I had been harboring for quite sometime. I have a trainer at the gym who frequently asks “Byron, did you run?,” shouts it across the gym floor, and has no idea how much this one question affects my day. On days that I respond “No” I feel like a failure and somedays I’ll run before getting to the gym solely to appease him. On Day 2 of my challenge he asked and I responded with “Yea, one mile, BUT I sprinted it” — He didn’t know I had committed to running one mile-a-day so I felt the need to add the BUT to mitigate judgement. As I waited for his rebuttal, he shocked me by responding, “Good! Working those fast twitch muscle fibers, I see!” I looked up and proudly said “Yea, I did, huh?” Feeling accomplished I decided to cross-train on the row machine, something I hadn’t done in years outside of demonstrating how to use it, when I typically would’ve hopped on the treadmill to appease the run gods (even on rest days), or head home in shame. Instead, I happily rowed for 40 minutes because I had already ran my best mile.

Day 3, I woke up and was oddly excited about running my one mile, even planning to wait until the afternoon so I can do it under the hot sun, a favorite past time and something I rarely get an opportunity to do. My planned one mile run seemed like a nice treat and a well deserved break from the business of running. While running is now my livelihood, it still is my outlet, my passion and my centering activity — one that can easily trigger anxiety caused by run apps sharing my time, distance and mile splits — “I’m running too slow?” or “I didn’t run far enough,” typically looms in my head. With the “mile-a-day” challenge, I feel no pressure regarding the time or the speed, instead I’m focused on the fact that I completed the daily goal and reminded that running simply brings me joy; what better way to start my day, end my day or take a break from my day than doing just that.

As I embark on running one mile a day, I’m learning two things: one, running is indeed my passion so running one mile a day isn’t only extremely good for my health, but also great for psyche and two, by simply committing to running one mile I‘m at ease and feel better about cross-training, which makes me a better trainer and coach.

I’ve spent the past year, feeling guilty on days that I didn’t run, but now I’m running my best mile, and looking forward to running at least one mile-a-day, everyday.