30-day challenges have been popularized for quite some time; ranging from 30 days of yoga, eating plant-based, taking 30 days off from drinking alcohol, eating sugar, or participating in juice feasts or water fasts. The possibilities are endless.
I’m a big fan of 30-day challenges. A week or two can feel too little, where 30 days gives you a more thorough view of how a specific activity or habit can fit into your lifestyle. It can help you decide whether you want to keep up with this activity on the regular, keep it in your life sparingly, or ditch it altogether. When I did a 30-day vegan challenge, I only made it to day 20 before making the decision that the diet wasn’t for me (hey, I tried!). But with that being said, I really enjoyed eating plant-based and to this day, still have days where I’ll strictly eat vegan meals. From tackling this 30-day challenge firsthand, I realized that there was too much prep time involved in cooking fresh, healthy meals (I started resorting to processed vegan foods out of convenience) and had limited options at several of my favourite restaurants. After reading Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra and Scott Jurek’s Eat&Run, I was inspired to give the plant-based diet a try for increased energy and better performance. However, as a result, I decided that a partial plant-based diet was a better fit for my lifestyle and more optimal for my current training. There was no downside to the challenge; even though I didn’t complete it, I did learn new recipes, continue to incorporate vegan meals in my diet every once in a while and also learn to exercise empathy when it comes to veganism and the challenges of same – even if it was just for a short period of time.
Why 30 Days?
The obvious answer is that this time frame fits perfectly within a month (sorry February). 30 days provides a clean slate: it’s not too long (a full year) and not too short (a few weeks). For most, it’s a manageable timeline to challenge yourself, push your limits and potentially change your life forever.
Then there’s the topic surrounding habit formation. There’s a lot of misinformation being circulated around on the number of days it takes to form a habit. From two weeks, to 21 days, 30 days, and 60 days…so how long does it actually take to make an action a habit?
Older research claims it takes 30 days to build a successful habit. By this logic, doing an activity every day for 30 days, may help you to build a positive habit into your life.
New research has emerged claiming it does typically take longer, but like all behavioral changes, this is contingent on the individual and takes into account numerous other external factors. In James Clear’s article, How Long Does it Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science), he explains:
On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.
In short, you may not be able to develop a habit within 30 days exactly, but in my personal tried and true opinion, as well as those of many others, it’s a good chunk of time to engage in an activity or build a skill 30 days can really help move the needle in your life.
30 Days of Running
For those that have been following my social media or blog for a while, you’ll be familiar with this story since I’ve wrote about it on numerous occasions. Back in 2017, I set a goal to run 10 kilometers every day in the month of January. In addition to the 30 days of running, I decided to cut alcohol out entirely, and write a blog & social media post every day of the challenge. The goal was to push myself to improve my running, writing, and utilize my social media as a creative outlet (taking photos of my runs for Instagram), all while having a clear, healthy mind. I learned so much about myself over the 30 days and this mini quest, inspired by Chris Guillebeau’s book The Happiness of Pursuit, which spawned much bigger, ostentatious goals.
Before embarking on this challenge, I would run an average of 5-6 kilometers 6 days per week. 10 kilometers a day was definitely a stretch and I had so many self-deprecating thoughts. To hold myself accountable, I announced on social media that I was going to be tackling this challenge and outlined the specifics. Although I knew that most people probably didn’t care, announcing the challenge helped keep me accountable.
As I write this, I’ve now run every day for over 3 years. Running is now an integral and important part of my life; an activity in my every day that I’m not willing to compromise on. I no longer have to battle with myself on whether I’m running or not; the answer is always yes. I can’t even fathom a day going by without running.
What started off as a small challenge turned into a much bigger quest; one that I have difficulty explaining to friends and family. My rigidity can annoy some and I have run in less than ideal situations (vacationing, after endurance races, when I’m ill, just to name a few), but overall, it keeps me healthy both mentally and physically.
How Running Every Day Changed My Life
While some of the obvious benefits to exercising every day include weight loss, improved fitness, and cardiovascular health, I’ve noticed a myriad of other, non-fitness related benefits that running every day continues to bring into my life on an ongoing basis.
One interesting aspect of this potentially lifelong quest is discovering the new ways I continue to fall deeper in love with my running.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten more involved with my meditation practice and even more mindful of the feelings of my body while exercising. As a result, I’m more present during my runs. I’ve been able to give myself the attentional space to work through difficult problems. Running has been an outlet that allows me to unpackage and work through the burden of draining thoughts and emotions. It’s helped me cool down after an argument with a friend, family member or partner; allowing me to really think through my actions and how they impact others. It’s allowed me to explore my creative side by helping me generate ideas for my business, writing, and side projects.
Running is an individual activity and if you open your mind, you too can discover a never-ending stream of benefits. It has helped me develop self-discipline, which applies to all other areas of my life. Whether I feel like it or not, I’m running. Yes, some days are a struggle to get out the door. I can procrastinate almost an entire day before completing my run, but I still get it done.
Even if I don’t feel like I’ve achieved any other goal or important task that day, at least I took a step to take care of myself physically and mentally by working out.
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced athlete, running can bring different benefits at different stages in your life – so long as you continue to look for them and use the activity as a crutch to support you through it.
The #RUN30 Challenge
During my #RUN70 half marathon challenge, I started noticing people devising their own 30-day running challenges. They pushed themselves by setting a challenging daily mileage target and keeping track with a fitness tracker, crossing an ‘X’ off in their calendar, and/or sharing their progress on social media.
I had no idea that a challenge I set for myself would spawn a challenge for so many others on its own. Taking my learnings from my consecutive running challenges, an idea emerged that I couldn’t ignore. Keeping yourself accountable can sometimes be hard, but what if you had a full online community & platform to support and encourage you through your challenge? Enter, The #RUN30 Challenge.
By signing up through a quick and easy form on my website, participants receive a series of emails on how to get started, mental & physical tips on completing their own challenge, accountability tools, success stories, and other resources to help them complete their challenge.
Call to Action
As I write this, hundreds of people from all over the world have signed up and completed their own #RUN30 challenge. In one of my emails, I asked participants if they were interested in sharing the story of their experiences with the challenge.
The results fascinated me. Some people wanted to maintain their running streak after the 30 days. Some felt immensely satisfied making it to day 30, and others claimed they were able to maintain a higher frequency of weekly workouts post-challenge.
Every single one of these people, however, claimed that the challenge changed their life in a positive way. Gaining more confidence, increasing their endurance and stamina, and developing a habit of frequent exercise were among the most popular.
Running consistently also helped people minimize injuries; something I wrote extensively about in my post Is It Okay to Run Every Day.
So, here’s my call to action for you: sign-up for a 30-Day running challenge and see how it impacts your life. Choose a distance that’s challenging, but doable. Whether that be running for 10 minutes a day to 10k per day or more, it’s up to you. The goal is to push yourself out of your comfort zone by making a commitment to yourself to do something challenging every single day for 30 days.
Perhaps running isn’t your favourite? There are numerous other ways to challenge yourself for 30 days; whether that’s through another form of exercise, reading every day, or hey – maybe you’ll have better luck with your veganism journey than I did!
I’m not trying to sell you anything, I promise. The program I created is completely free. If you are interested in embarking on a running quest, you can sign-up here. Make sure to use hashtag #RUN30 when posting on social media so the running community can follow along, support and be inspired by your journey. Any questions in relation to the challenge, feel free to email me anytime.
Remember that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You don’t have to wait until the beginning of each month. Start now. Sign-up and decide for yourself that you will do this. You owe it to yourself to engage in a challenge that will help you grow as a person. I promise you won’t regret it. I wish you the very best in your fitness journey 🙂