How running every day made me a better designer

Jason McCarthy
Aug 19, 2019 · 3 min read
A pair of Adidas Boost trainers
I’ve slipped on my Adidas Boosts every day for 100 days.

Today, I ran for the 100th straight day. As running streaks go, 100 days isn’t anything to write home about — I‘ve read of people doing this for 10 years. But for me, this was much more around committing to a challenge, pushing through mental barriers and hoping this will lead to other good habits.

100 days ago, I decided to commit myself to run every single day. Whilst this proved to be a challenge on occasions, it taught me that if you are absolutely committed to something then you will always find a way.

I set myself a couple of basic ground rules:

  1. Run at least 1 mile every day.
  2. Not to run that 1-mile distance very often. The minimum mileage is there to serve the purpose of a ‘rest day’ or if I physically don’t have the time for a longer run.

What have I learned?

Running is a great teacher; this is what I’ve learned over the past few months of running every day, and how this has translated into my professional life.

  1. I’ve almost never felt demotivated over the past 100 days. For me, running allows me to proactively manage stress and motivation. Don’t get me wrong, there have been good days and bad days, but I’ve had the opportunity to reset, refocus, readjust and restart 100 times.
  2. Having a shower might be one of the biggest life hacks. No more afternoon slumps! Going for a run and a cold(ish) shower at lunch allows me to hit a big reset button on the day — I’ve seen a huge improvement on my afternoons compared to when I wasn’t consistently running. If I stop running for any reason, I’m not ruling out just popping downstairs for a shower at lunch.
  3. I have found this is a perfect time to listen to a podcast with absolutely zero distractions —If I’m listening to podcasts at home, at work, or even on the train I tend to zone out and get distracted by what is going on around me. When I’m running, this is all I have to focus on — especially when I’m running the same 3/4 routes all the time. I’ll list my favorite podcasts to run to below.
  4. One small step at a time. Running every day has really hammered home that a successful career in design (or any career) is a slow grinding marathon; one design, one email, one conversation, one tweak, one presentation, one extra burst of activity, one meeting at a time, and the list goes on. By themselves, these daily tasks all feel insignificant, but when compounded together create a difference.
  5. Being absolutely committed to something, then you will always find a way. If you want to achieve goals in life and be successful, you have to commit and discipline yourself to make progress on a daily basis. Yes, on a daily basis.
  6. The big secret is that there is no secret. You’ve just got to turn up every day and put in the work — as the old saying goes, you don’t get what you wish for, you get what you work for.
My running stats for the past 100 days
The starting point is always now. The end is up to you.

What’s next?

I’m going to keep running and aim for 365 days! Over the past 100 days, I would do anything to make sure I kept my running streak going — after all that running, who wants to go back to 1 day in a row?

If anyone is interested in following along, feel free to head over to Runkeeper, Strava or Endomondo.

If anyone knows of any stable software or services that will track a run streak, slide into my DM’s. I’m currently tracking my run streak with Instagram.

PassThePod

As I touched upon above; unless I’m doing a Parkrun where I try and run as fast as physically possible with the help of some Drum and Bass, I’m usually running along to a podcast. Below are a few of my go-to design-related podcasts:

Product Breakfast Club
Masters of Scale
Layout
Design Better
Design Details
The Honest Designers Show
UI Breakfast

Compare the Market

The people behind comparethemarket.com and the Meerkat App

Compare the Market

The people behind comparethemarket.com and the Meerkat App

Jason McCarthy

Written by

User Experience Designer at Compare the Market. Previously Dock9, FINE+RARE & AXA.

Compare the Market

The people behind comparethemarket.com and the Meerkat App