I Ran For 30 Days Straight And This Is What I Learned


If someone had told me that I would actually enjoy running every day, I would have probably choked on my Oreo, burst into laughter, and then gone back to munching on my fifth, alright, probably my sixth, biscuit.

Why would anyone run for pleasure?

It’s safe to say I have always hated running. I definitely hated it a school. I hated the dreadful cross-country runs where every time you stopped to breathe, the PE teachers would shout at you like they were prison officers. I hated that every time I tried to run, I experienced stitches that left me in agonising pain.

Oh, and let’s not start on the bleep tests we were forced to participate in. The idea of having to run back and forth before each bleep still haunts me to this very day.

I have since discovered that bleep tests are conducted to test the fitness of police officers, so I cannot understand why a group of puberty-stricken teenage girls were made to do them.

My history with running and exercise

It’s probably clear by now that I wasn’t a very sporty teenager. However, everything changed once I hit the sixth form and fell into the depths of an insidious eating disorder, from which I am thankfully now recovered.

Struggling with body issues, I turned to exercise and fitness as a coping mechanism for the stress of my A-Level exams. My desire for being smaller resulted in implementing as much cardio as I possibly could – however, I never thought of running as something enjoyable.

After receiving the support I needed, I slowly began to overcome my obsession with calories and numbers. I finally began to run for fitness-related goals rather than aesthetic ones and that is when running started to feel liberating.

The 30-day running challenge

When browsing TikTok, I stumbled across the ‘30 day running challenge.’ As the name implies, the challenge involves running for 30 consecutive days. I set a minimum time for each of these runs of five to ten minutes per day.

At first, it was really tough. Getting myself out of my warm bed and into the cold outdoors felt impossible. I often found myself sinking into my childhood attitudes towards running and questioning what sane person would force themselves to do such a self-torturous thing. Running once a month was bad enough, so why was I forcing myself to run every day?

But, as the days went on, I found it easier and easier to get my running shoes on and get going. The more I ran, the more I started to learn about myself.

What I learned about myself

Running began to connect me to my body in ways that over-exercising and under-eating never did or could. I started to feel so grateful for the fact that my body allowed me to run.

I began to view running as something I got to do rather than something I had to do, which really put things into perspective and allowed me to appreciate my body on a physical level, rather than just for how it looked.

Another benefit I gained from running, was that it made me far more aware of how I spoke to myself. Running every day became a form of evidence of my determination and commitment to bettering my health. This was extremely helpful during my moments of self-doubt.

A large part of my running was outdoors and I took this opportunity to reconnect with nature. I ran in parks and felt the bright sunshine on my skin, I ran past flowers blossoming and I ran at sunset and watched the daylight exchange with moonlight.

Running also helped me to identify the power of incremental change. Before beginning my running journey, I could only run for about five minutes. But, after slowly building my distance on each run, I can now run for over 20 minutes at a time, even while maintaining a conversation!

I learned that if you practise something every day, whether it be a sport, skill or hobby, at first, you may struggle to see progress. But with some time and determination, you can become more skilled at something.

Running consecutively for 30 days not only made me a better runner, but also a better student, a more consistent writer, a mindful reader, and a more organised, positive person overall. In other words, the discipline I gained from running, permeated through to other important areas of my life – without me even realising.

Overall, running has been great for my mind and one of the best well-being and mental health practices I could have ever implemented into my life. After these 30 days, I will continue to run, not because I have to, but because I get to run.

Words by Nadia Sayed

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