The 150 Challenge
I once read about ultrarunner Marco Consani’s personal challenge to run 5km a day in November. Marco felt that taking on the challenge had a huge impact on his morale and health during an offseason period of inactivity. He now encourages people to take part in the Marcothon, a 5km (or 25 min) a day challenge each December — the month most people’s health and fitness fare badly.
I liked the sound of the challenge. It seemed to be both accessible as 5km isn’t a huge distance and a great achievement as covering 150km in a single month is epic. December can be cold and gloomy in Scotland; with the anaemic winter sun setting before 4pm, it is easy to go days without seeing light. A goal like this seemed like a good way to stay active and motivated.
One of the tenants of the Marcothon is that you must run everyday. I can see why building a habit is sensible, however running daily just doesn’t appeal to me. I prefer to vary my distance and have rest days. I also often travel during Christmas, making the ‘run everyday’ rule unworkable. Instead, I opted to run a total of 150km over December.
with the anaemic winter sun setting before 4pm, it is easy to go days without seeing light
I have been doing the 150km challenge for the last three years now and I love it. No matter where my fitness is, it gets a guaranteed boost around December each year, just at the time it is most vulnerable. And the best part— come January I am well and truly on the road to fitness so I can skip the whole New Year’s resolution saga.
Fitting these runs in amongst Christmas, family, long haul flights, jet-lag and other holiday plans requires some dedication. Had I not been working towards a concrete goal I don’t imagine I would have run through the Highland mud this year, the scorching Australian heat last year or the crowded streets of Paris the year before that. Some of it was a drag. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself. I loved the views of the snow capped Highlands, the Royal Botanic gardens in Melbourne and running around the Notre Dame in Paris. I’m just glad I had a nudge to keep getting me out there.
So if you’re looking for a challenge you could try an early Marcothon. Or perhaps a distance challenge - pick an easy distance and try to run an average of that per day over a month.