I Actually Ran A Mile Every Day Last Year. Here's Why I Recommend It To Anyone
In December of 2014, I was reflecting about my resolutions for the next year, and I realized I had never been true to any of them in the past. So that year I told myself, either commit or don't. It's that simple. From that moment, I made a vow:
Run at least one mile per day, every day, for the whole year.
To be clear, if I ran three miles on Tuesday, that did not mean I could take Wednesday off. I was committed to running a mile Every. Single. Day. It was the minimum target that I could measure.
I shared this plan on social media so my friends could hold me accountable. Should I fail, I'd lose one thousand dollars, and my friends and family would decide where it goes.
A number of people told me that I should challenge myself more, perhaps make the goal two miles or three miles.
I get it—one mile isn't a lot, but that was intentional. This wasn't about the distance or the run.
The mile was the easy part (it typically took me eight to 12 minutes), and carving out 15 minutes a day for health seemed like a win-win to me. The hard part, I felt, was to stay consistent every day of the year, no matter what was going on in my life.
I ran, rain or shine.
The first day I put in a mile, it was 48 degrees outside, but I was pumped to start. After stretching a little, as soon as I took my first step it began to rain. Chilled and wet, I finished that mile. Day one done, and 364 to go!
Over the course of the year, I had to put in time to my commitment at all sort of hours of the day. I ran in cold temperatures (teens and 20s), in extreme heat (101 degrees and 95 percent humidity).
The goal took me places I never thought to run before. I once ran in circles in parking garages at least 18 times. I once paid for a one-month membership at a gym in Atlanta while traveling for business. I was only there three days, but the hotel gym was being remodeled, and it was the only option I had in cold, rainy Atlanta.
I once ran in jeans. Why? Because I was ready to do my run and that’s all I had on me. In October, I actually ran in the JFK airport in New York City. The TSA staff looked at me with indifference as I passed them for the fifth time in ten minutes.
All these challenges didn’t come without amazing gifts attached. I was able to run in some of the most beautiful places and cities on Earth. The streets of New York City, San Francisco, Nashville, Miami, Paris, Bordeaux, Tokyo, Kyoto, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Reykjavik among others.
Along the way, as I mentioned above, some folks continued to say, a mile is no big deal. Many days, I put in a lot more than a mile—some days, however, I just put in the minimum. No matter how far I ran, as long as I hit that one mile mark, I met my goal.
I'll admit, sometimes committing was hard. Some days I was tired, maybe I met a friend for drinks and now I don't feel like it, I had a cold, I have work, and all that nonsense. But as I told myself in the beginning, either commit or don't—and I was committing.
I completed my 365 day commitment on January 1, 2016 with a 5K run.
I learned in this journey that commitment is all about consistency. Most of it is not very sexy—simply me, alone on the streets where I live, or on a treadmill watching the same reruns of SportsCenter and Seinfeld.
I completed my 365 day commitment on January 1, 2016 with a 5K run on the beach at Kiawah Island (just outside of Charleston, South Carolina). My family was there with me, and my wife ran one mile of the 5K with me. My wife supported me the entire time, always giving me the freedom to reach my goal, even if that meant more work for her.
The experience inspired me to commit to other endeavors.
The greatest impact of this commitment was to challenge myself to consider where else I could commit. I was reinvigorated at work with my team, and I committed to be more present with my kids and wife.
This small commitment to run a mile a day had a dramatic impact on all the peripheral details of my entire life. It has make me keenly aware of commitment (or lack thereof) in myself and others.
Needless to say, in the new year I made even more commitments. I challenge you do to the same, and try to stick with it every day.
Steve is the CEO co-founder of Levelwing and lives in the amazing city of Charleston, South Carolina with his wife Deanna, a former professional dancer with NYC Ballet, and their two children. He is also a frequent traveler for work and play and always happy to share his experiences. Feel free to follow his adventures on instagram @sparkerjr