It’s not often I say this, but I am unbelievably proud of myself.
Absolutely over the moon, if I’m honest. For the first time in my life, I have completed a New Year’s resolution and I am so blooming chuffed!
Every other year, I’ve set my goals – usually to do with losing weight or re-joining the gym – and started off with good intentions. However, after a few weeks, I’ve usually misplaced my motivation and slipped back into my old habits.
Not this year, though. No, this year, I have been for a run on every single one of the 365 days in 2022. Just typing that out feels surreal.
It all started back in December 2021. Like most people, my husband Tom and I had had a pretty much rubbish year; with us both getting Covid, the stress of social restrictions, as well as relocating to the other side of the country.
I’d dealt with it all by eating cheese and crackers. A lot of them. Packets a week.
Inevitably, I put on weight. Even more inevitably, as I failed to squeeze into my jeans and noted with horror my newly-acquired cellulite, my mood grew even lower.
‘Why don’t you do a “Run Every Day” January?’ my friend Caroline suggested. She had done it regularly for the last five years and swore by it.
If you haven’t heard of it before, RED January is an initiative designed to get people out of the house walking, jogging or running in the fresh air, in an effort to boost their endorphins and chase away the winter blues.
It took some persuasion but eventually, I agreed to join her. You don’t have to go any particular distance but, between us, we agreed that a minimum of a mile would be a good aim.
That first run, back on January 1, felt good. I was changing things up, doing something for me.
It was the start of a new year and it was going to be a good one. Physically, it was hard – I felt every single pound that I’d gained – but mentally, I felt strong.
By day three, that enthusiasm had already worn off. I felt tired, sore, and January 31 seemed a long way off. If I hadn’t roped in Tom and another friend, Sophie, I’d have given up straight away.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t.
So I ran two miles every day, for the entire month.
At the end, I felt ecstatic. I’d set myself a challenge and stuck to it, for the first time in years. So while Sophie decided to go down to a run every other day, Caroline, Tom and I decided to keep going throughout February.
That first run in February was excruciating. It felt as if my body had made it to the 31 January, like we’d agreed upon, and now it couldn’t understand why we were out again.
By March, Caroline and I were talking about carrying it on for the rest of the year. It was a terrifying thought – a month seemed a long time, let alone 12. ‘But,’ I thought cautiously, ‘I’ve already done two months – that’s a sixth of it already done…’
So that was it. I was committed.
Since then, I’ve run in the snow, the sun, the sleet and the sludge. I’ve set my alarm for 6am when the heatwave hit, so I wasn’t running in the midday sun, and I’ve squeezed in a jog at 10pm at night, after a friend was admitted to hospital.
I’ve run in York, Berwick and Edinburgh on weekends away and I even wore my depressingly practical trainers on a flight to Fuerteventura so I could carry on my resolution during our family holiday.
And after we landed, when it was 5.30pm and cool enough, I did indeed go for a run that very day – as I did every morning that holiday.
I had a rather hairy moment when I got locked in our local park when they closed it early in the winter and I managed to give myself two black eyes after falling over a curb. That was my shortest run, at only 0.3k, but my longest was an impressive, by my standards anyway, 10k.
The only time I nearly missed a run was a day after Tom had had a stomach bug. I felt fine that morning and even went to my friend’s little girl’s party. On the way home though, my tummy started to roll.
I immediately pulled on my trainers when I got home, did a quick mile and indeed, an hour after I returned, I threw up. It only lasted for 24 hours, thankfully, so the next day, I pulled myself out of bed to do another 10 minute run.
It certainly hasn’t been easy but I think removing the choice over whether to run every day and it just being a case of when, rather than if, I was going to run really helped.
And of course, I could never have done it without Caroline, Sophie and Tom. Our almost-daily messages – plus a healthy dose of competitiveness – really spurred me on.
At the start of the year, I used to think about it every day. Picking the perfect moment to head out, usually avoiding the snow or rain back then, consumed me. Now, I just go whenever I have a spare moment. It’s just another part of my day.
Physically, I feel so much better. I may have only lost three pounds but I’ve lost centimetres from my tummy, chest, legs and arms; my cellulite has smoothed out and I feel fitter and more energised.
Mentally, the change is far more significant.
I feel in control of myself, that I’m able to set myself challenges and see them through. Some days, after a particularly good run, the endorphins will fizz around in me and I’ll spend hours in awe at what my body can achieve.
To be honest, I’m quite nervous about stopping next year. In fact, I’ve already decided I’ll be doing RED January again, for the boost in my mental health if nothing else.
Maybe then, by 1 February, I’ll be ready for a rest and enjoy a day indoors. But maybe, just maybe, I won’t be able to find a reason not to go and I’ll head out anyway. I honestly don’t know yet.
I haven’t thought about any New Year’s resolutions for 2023 yet – to be honest, I’ve been too busy concentrating on 2022’s!
But what I do know is that it’s definitely made 2022 a year to remember.
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