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Running 10km every day for 7 days – the Swift Films Vlog
By - Richard - 26th February 2018
Here is the new weekly challenge vlog – ‘Running 10km every day for 7 days’.
This week, filmmaker Richard Nicholls attempts to run 70 kilometres (43.5 miles) in seven days. As someone who merely dabbles with the odd bit of running to keep up his general level of fitness, will he succeed?
This is the third weekly challenge. Last week Richard attempted to conquer his caffeine addiction by going cold turkey.
In the first weekly challenge, Richard tried waking up at 4.30am every day for seven days.
Monday 29th January 2018
Week Three. Run 10km every day for seven days.
I never used to be a fan of running. Generally I used to live by the rule that if I was going to run, I needed to be chasing a ball. As such, I love football, rugby, tennis and squash.
There’s a competitive nature in me and if I’m doing exercise, I like to win! Running long distances never appealed. I just found it boring. And I found it hard.
A few years ago, I met someone at a party who talked about the virtues of bare foot running. This was all new to me, but this chap briefly explained how his running technique was transformed when he learned how to run efficiently and properly.
Most people are ‘heel strikers’ which means they land on the heels of their feet when they run. I was guilty of this. Heel striking slows down your stride – your shoe effectively acts as a brake every time you hit the ground. By landing flat on your foot or – as barefoot runners do – on the front of your foot, your running technique becomes more efficient.
The following day I went out and bought the most expensive (proper) pair of running shoes I had ever bought. I was only running sporadically on a treadmill back then, but the first time I tried out this new technique I shaved 30 seconds off my personal best for 5km. Obviously there was something in this.
Since then I have been running every now and again to keep up my general fitness for playing 5 a side fooball. This is my real passion.
I prefer to run on a treadmill, largely because I can programme it to soften the impact on my joints. As I get older, I really feel it the next day if I’ve been running on the pavement.
I have never run a competitive race and I’m not one of those people who has a burning ambition to run a marathon. I’m a part-timer who dabbles. But when I run, I push myself as hard as possible. No pain, no gain.
My personal best for running 5km is 18 minutes 43 seconds and for 10km it’s 41 minutes 13 seconds. This was a number of years ago when I was leaner and running more often.
The third of my weekly challenges is going to be hard. I will be running 70km (43.5 miles) over seven days. This is partly inspired by my Mum’s nonchalant response to drinking three litres of water every day for seven days. That was a breeze by comparison.
When I do run, I like to give my body time to recover before going again. It’s rare that I will run on consecutive days. For established runners, or those in training, running 70km in a week is nothing special. For me though, it will be the longest I’ve ever run.
Mentally I feel tough. I’m buoyed by having completed two weekly challenges already and I’m ready to give this a go. I’m under no illusions though that this week will be difficult. My main concern is that I get injured or push myself too hard. The new running technique I have adopted puts greater strain on my calves. This is the weakest area of my body and I’m going to have to be super kind to my lower legs every day.
When I run, I normally try to run as hard as I can to give myself the best possible workout. Not this week. This week is all about endurance and getting through it unscathed. That means running at a slower pace and taking it much easier. I’ll be aiming to run each 10k around the 47 minute mark.
The first part of this week I’m in Switzerland. I’m directing a film on Tuesday – flying out on Monday and flying back on Wednesday. Feasibly this means that my first couple of runs will be outside in the dark in Lausanne – a city I’ve never been to before. This makes things more of a challenge. Visually it may help the vlog look a bit more interesting, albeit I’ll be running in the dark. The remaining runs will be done on the treadmill. I know from experience that watching someone run is boring, more so when they’re running on a treadmill.
Making this week’s vlog interesting will be a challenge in itself, fraught as it is with the difficulty of trying to film myself as I run.
As I write, I feel ready to give this challenge a go. I played football yesterday and my calves are already feeling a little bit tight. We shall see how we feel after run number one. Bring it on!
Tuesday 30th January 2018
Run number one is done and I’m feeling a bit tender. Last night was my first proper outdoor run for a few months. I was prepared as I could be. I warmed up by stretching for over 15 minutes and I was wearing my ridiculous compression socks to help protect my calves. All good preparation, but this morning my legs hurt.
I headed down the hill towards the south of the city by Lake Geneva. The gentle 1km run downhill was a relaxing way to start my first 10k, but I was painfully aware that the end of the run was going to involve coming back up the hill again.
I’m wearing a backpack as I run. This is far from ideal but I need to carry a Go pro camera and stick, my gorilla camera pod, Rode video mic plus and Canon XA25 camera. I throw in a bottle of water as well and the backpack weighs a few pounds. Sporadically I film myself running past camera in order to get a few shots for the vlog and I break out the Go pro on its selfie stick when there’s a bit of light next to the road.
I have no idea where I’m going. I didn’t bring my phone and I don’t know the city at all. But I have a good sense of direction and it seems to make sense to run alongside the lake. It’s dark of course, so I can’t see much, but I get the impression that this must be a very beautiful spot.
I find a long flat stretch and keep plodding away. I’m excited that this is the first of my seven 10k runs and I think that adrenaline pushes me through. The first run was always likely to be the easiest. Pulling on the running shoes come Sunday might be a different matter…
The hotel I’m staying is called A La Gare (‘By the station’). It’s an apt name. My single room has barely enough room for a single bed. I’m fine with the size, but it’s on the third floor literally 20 feet away from about 12 train tracks. The freight trains come through the station early, slowly and noisily. After the first train passes at 4.47am they come through regularly every five minutes or so. There’s little to no hope of getting any sleep at this point. Someone has very generously given this hotel three stars. I’m tempted to rinse it on Trip advisor, but think there’s better ways to spend my time.
I hobble to the bathroom shortly after the first train has woken me up. I guess it’s a sign of getting older that the pain I experience after running seems to get worse. Aside from the tight calves, my glutes are stiff and my legs ache all over. From playing five a side football, I know that this pain will subside as the morning progresses and my limbs start to warm up again.
By the time I head to the studio in Lausanne for filming I’m feeling ok again. Fuelled by two strong cups of coffee, a bowl of fruit salad and museli, I’m ready to tackle the shoot head on. Due to a confidentiality agreement with the client, I’m not allowed to say what the film is or who it’s for, but the day goes about as well as can be expected.
Back at the hotel I’m limbering up for 10k number two. I’m feeling quite hungry but it makes sense to get out on the streets as quickly as possible, get the run done and then eat and relax. I head back down the hill towards Lake Geneva. When I reach the water, I head in the opposite direction this time.
I’m carrying my back pack again and it’s not the most comfortable thing to be wearing. I don’t know if I have ever run 10km on two consecutive days outdoors before so I’m wary about how my body may feel tomorrow. I take it gently. Tonight I’ve brought my new Apple AirPods (A Christmas present from my wife) and they are a revelation. I’ve always struggled to find the right headphones to use whilst running, but these are fantastic. I power my music from my watch so I don’t need to take my phone and the lack of wires means there’s no tugging at the ears. Even as I get progressively more hot and sweaty, the headphones remain rooted to my ears. Tonight I’m pounding the Swiss streets of Lausanne listening to one of my favourite albums of the last decade – ‘High Violet’ by the National. By the time ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ kicks in, I’m ready to raise my running pace. I curse myself afterwards remembering that I still need to tackle the steep 1km hill at the end of the run.
Listening to music really does give me an extra edge and tonight the run has been enjoyable. Two 10k runs done. Five to go.
Wednesday 31st January 2018
Ouch. I’m hurting.
My body – in particular the lower half of my body – is sore. Last night I slept in my running compression socks. I pulled a tubigrip up over both of my thighs. It was the kindest thing I could do for my aching limbs.
After my run last night, I stretched out my legs as much as I could. I knew that there was a possibility that I would feel like this, but it’s worse than I thought. Every runner experiences sore muscles, but I’m wondering how severe my pain is and whether, realistically I can continue without making things worse.
My lower back hurts as well – probably a combination of the running on hard asphalt and carrying the backpack. However, my two outdoor runs are done. From now on, I can use the treadmill. From a visual point of view, this is going to make the vlog look a bit dull, but right now it’s all about being as kind to my body as possible.
I have 90 minutes to kill before I need to start making my way back to Geneva airport. The weather forecast for Lausanne was supposed to be sunny, but I’ve woken up and it’s overcast again. I understand that the Cathedral in Lausanne affords one of the most spectacular views of the city. It’s a mile and a half walk up hill from my hotel. This could be the gentle exercise I need to reawaken my body.
I plod up the hill towards the cathedral, through the quaint old town. The tower at the Cathedral doesn’t open until 9.30am. I’m keen to go up, but now I have a race against time. Realistically I need to be heading back to the train station in 20 minutes.
The walk up the tower isn’t too bad. The view from the top is spectacular, but is slightly ruined by thick cloud and mist obscuring the view of France on the other side of Lake Geneva. I take some photos and walk sharply back to the train station.
I’ve been able to walk 3 miles this morning and climb to the top of Lausanne Cathedral. This is a good sign. As I board the train for Geneva, I start researching the idea of wearing compression tights for the whole of my lower body. I might look ridiculous in these, but right now I need to do everything I can to help my weary body. I buy some on Amazon and hope that they get delivered tomorrow. I need them.
I’m flying back to Edinburgh via London. My thoughts are turning to tonight’s run. I’m under no illusion that it’s going to be tough. I can do the distance and I feel mentally strong, but I just don’t want to be in pain and I certainly don’t want to cause myself further injury. The treadmill should help considerably. I have it set to its most springy to soften the impact on my joints. I intend to liberally apply Deep Heat all over my legs before stepping on the treadmill. This won’t make me very popular with the wife, but I see tonight’s run as make or break for the week.
I will be running slowly – probably around a pace that would give me about 50 minutes for 10k. If I can get through this unscathed, then I know that I can do the remaining runs this week. If my legs hurt too much, it only makes sense to stop. I really want to complete this weekly challenge but not at the expense of doing myself injury and taking a long time to heal.
I arrive back in Edinburgh and my legs are still sore. Kirsty has kindly said she will come and pick me up from the airport, but she’s bringing my two wee boys – Jack and Tom – in their pyjamas so she’s slightly delayed. I take the opportunity to do some stretches by the luggage carousel.
I’m doing some serious limbering up in my jeans which elicits some strange looks from other passengers. By squatting on the floor on the toes of my feet, I’m able to stretch out my calves, glutes and hamstrings. It’s sore at first but after sitting like that for a good couple of minutes, my legs are starting to feel like they could be coerced into running again.
Back at home I search for the Deep Heat. I can’t find it anywhere. Annoying! I head down to the basement of the house where the treadmill is housed. We keep it in a small storage room which has no windows. It’s a perfect fit for the treadmill and keeps it out of sight. However, Kirsty has been working downstairs and the thermometer is set to 25 degrees celsius. I notice the heat as soon as walk down the stairs. It’s like walking off an air conditioned plane into the hot humid air of an African country. It’s roasting!
I have a small Dyson fan next to the treadmill, but it’s going to have its work cut out to keep me anywhere near cool this evening. The other issue I have to contend with is keeping the door to the treadmill room shut. Three year old Jack’s bedroom is one floor up and he can’t sleep unless his door is open. Therefore I have to keep the door to the treadmill room firmly shut. This is painful. After 15 minutes, it’s like a sauna in there – a sweatbox beyond comparison.
I start the run at a gentle pace. The cushioned treadmill is a godsend for my knees, glutes and calves. The first kilometre passes at a steady pace and I’m pleased that I’m feeling ok. I step up the pace a wee bit for the second kilometre and I’m feeling good. The aches and pains that I’ve experience in my legs all day seems to be subsiding with every step forward that I take. This is good news.
By the third kilometre, I’m convinced that I can complete tonight’s run. But then the overwhelming heat starts to take its toll. The underfloor heating feels like it’s being absorbed by the treadmill’s conveyer belt and is slowly rising into every fibre of my being. As I start my fourth kilometre I don’t think I’ve ever felt so hot doing exercise. Running outside in Lausanne was a [literal] breeze compared to this. What I would give now to experience the fresh Swiss air where the temperature was barely over freezing.
I plough onwards past the 5k mark. There’s something satisfying about reaching the half way point. Subconsciously you tell yourself that you’re on the home straight, that you only need to repeat what you’ve just done. Only this time the heat inside the treadmill room is even higher. With the heat that my body is generating trapped in the small room with the door shut, I’m guessing that it must be over 30 degrees. Sweat box!
By the 8th kilometre, sweat drips off me with every thud that my feet make on the treadmill. All I can think about is a freezing shower and an ice cold bottle of water. The last kilometre is painful. As soon as the treadmill tells me that 10 kilometres have been completed, I jump off and swing the door open. Gasping for air, I gulp down a glass of water and collapse on the stairs. That was tough.
The third 10k is done. We’re almost at the half way mark and I can do this!
Thursday 1st February 2018
I wake up on Thursday morning and immediately I can feel the difference that running on the treadmill has made.
My lower back is pain-free and my quads don’t feel nearly as tender.
I’m feeling good; remarkably more fresh than I was feeling 24 hours ago.
I’m bracing myself for the heat of the treadmill room once again during tonight’s run, but this is a small price to pay if the rest of my body can feel this invigorated.
I help get my two boys to bed and then plug in my wireless headphones. These things really help get you in the mood for running. Tonight’s playlist is all upbeat indie music – some New Order, Underworld, Primal Scream Prodigy and Kasabian.
After the first two kilometres I’m feeling remarkably fresh. Last night’s run was all about getting through it, but tonight – unexpectedly – I feel like I can run faster. I ramp up the speed of the treadmill, but I’m wary of going too fast. I don’t want to dial back down the speed after the 5k mark, plus I have another three days of running to come after this.
I sail through the 5k mark (which marks the half way point of this weekly challenge) and I’m feeling strong.
The music propels me forward and I’m enjoying tonight’s run. With one kilometre to go it feels easy. I feel like I could carry on running, and probably would do were it not for the fact that I haven’t seen my wife for ages and I want to spend some time with her tonight. Plus there’s the small issue of having to run an additional 30km over the next three days…
Friday 2nd February 2018
I wake up and the pain I was feeling in my legs just 48 hours ago has all but gone away. It’s a miracle!
Whilst in Switzerland I did some research into running compression tights. For the past couple of years I have always worn compression sleeves on my calves for playing football. I’ve found these to aid the recovery time for my fragile calf muscles so it made sense to go one step further and cover my whole legs for running. I ordered a pair of 2XU Men’s elite Mcs compression tights online and paid for swift delivery.
This was a wise investment. Last night’s run on the treadmill was the first I had undertaken since pulling on the lycra leggings. I quickly got over how ridiculous I looked once I felt their miraculous healing properties. It’s no coincidence that last night I felt like I could run faster and for longer. Not only that, but my legs feel like they have been transformed overnight.
I’m temped to buy two pair of the compression tights – one for running in and one for aiding recovery after running. For now though I’ll make do with the one pair and get them washed and turned around quickly for tonight’s run.
For the sake of the vlog, I want to run outside. Watching someone run is boring at the best of times, but to do this on a treadmill is mindnumbingly dull. But I need to be kind to my body and it deserves another softer cushioned run on the treadmill.
Like last night, tonight’s 10k run feels like a million miles away from the outdoor run in Lausanne just 48 hours earlier. The hard asphalt felt like it was jarring every fibre in my brittle legs, leaving me walking in pain and feeling every one of my 39 years of age. By contrast, the treadmill makes me enjoy the run and powers me through to a strong finish. Thank god for those compression tights.
Saturday 3rd February
It’s late morning and Kirsty has taken the two boys out to see a friend. This gives me the opportunity to get today’s run out of the way.
This is very helpful as I need a relaxing night off from running. However it does mean that I will be completing another 10k a little over 12 hours after completing the last one.
I’m lacking motivation to get today’s run done and dusted. It’s pouring with rain outside and I’m loathe to go back in the sweat box so soon after the last time.
I’m keen to go running outside to make the vlog look a bit more interesting, but the lashing rain would just cause water to smear the camera lens.
Wearily, I tie up the laces on my running shoes. I’m going through the motions and today’s run feels like a chore.
I plug in my headphones and the music gives me an instant boost. My mood is immediately elevated. I’m listening to the most upbeat playlist programmed into my watch and it works wonders. It’s strange how music can have this transformative effect. I’m well into my run now and my body has adjusted.
Today is a luxury. I can keep the door to the treadmill room open because the kids aren’t sleeping. This makes a world of difference. It still gets hot of course, but not hot to the extent that it feels like I’m in the open air in Dubai…
By lunchtime the run is finished. The end of this challenge is in sight. Only more run – just 10,000 metres separates me from completing this challenge. Regardless of the weather or how I’m feeling, tomorrow I’m running outside again.
Sunday 4th February
9.30am every Sunday is reserved for an hour and a half of five a side football in Broxburn. Not today. I’ve had to forsake today’s game to complete this running challenge.
I toyed with the idea of playing football this morning and completing the final run this evening. It’s unrealistic. I need to get this challenge completed and that means sacrificing my favourite pastime.
I’m running outside today for the first time since pounding the streets of Lausanne. I know what to expect. I’m bracing myself for the harder impact on my joints so I’ve tried to plan a run on softer ground.
I head down through Colinton dell along the old railway line. It’s muddy, but the ground is a bit more forgiving than the pavement. My pace is slow, but I’m carrying the packpack again with the camera and Go Pro.
It’s a refreshing change to be outside again. The fresh air is something I have dearly missed over the past few days. The sun is shining and I’m in a positive mood as I plod past the 5k mark.
I head towards the canal which leads all the way to central Edinburgh. I am not alone. Other Sunday morning joggers adourn the route along with dog walkers, cyclists and the occasional rower. I feel a bit self-conscious running with Go Pro mounted to the selfie stick. I would be questioning why someone is filming themselves running as well. How vain!
I’m heading back home now and starting to reflect on how far I’ve come this week.
I really didn’t know how I was going to feel doing this challenge. but overall I’ve survived and actually really enjoyed it!
Here’s what I’ve learned from seven consecutive days of running 10km:
1) If you’re going to embark on running 70km in seven days then it’s important to have done some training. I thought that my general level of fitness would carry me through, but I wish I had done a lot more running in the lead up to this challenge.
2) Music makes the world of difference when you’re running. Programme your playlist to have uplifting and motivational tunes towards the end of your run so that you receive a timely boost.
Wireless headphones are amazing for running in. I can’t recommend Apple’s wireless AirPods enough. Combined with the Apple watch, the wireless Air Pods allow you to listen to music from your watch which negates the need to carry your phone with you. The Apple Watch will also track your run, heart rate and provide you with a whole host of other data.
3) Treadmills are infinitely more kind to your body. If you suffer from sore joints, leg muscles or back pain after running outdoors, this can be reduced significantly by using a treadmill and adjusting the cushioning effect.
4) Compression tights make the world of difference to your run and to your recovery from running. I’m a huge advocate, although it takes a while to adjust to the fact that you look like a bit of a lycra berk.
5) Running at the same time every day makes a difference. Fit a run into your daily routine whether that’s first thing in the morning or in the evening. This will give you the maximum amount of time to recover from each run.
6) Getting past the half way point in any challenge, whether that’s an individual run or seven runs over seven consecutive days overcomes a huge psychological barrier. Once you’ve completed more than 50% of the challenge, you know that a) you can do this and b) you’re on the home straight now. More power to you!
7) Plan the route for your runs in advance. Variety is key in a challenge like this. I ran 40km of my challenge on a treadmill, because I needed to be kind to my body. Alternating between an indoor and an outdoor run would help to provide some variety. Planning the routes of your outdoor runs allows you to focus on your running. On all three of my outdoor runs, I simply warmed up and ran without having a clue about where I was going. Whilst this is liberating, I spent a good deal of time checking how far I had run and when it was time to start heading home.
8) Don’t expect to lose a huge amount of weight. Running consistently at the same pace day after day is not the most effective way to burn fat and lose weight. I lost more weight by consuming no sugar for a week than I did running 10 kilometres every day for seven days.
9) I have never really been into running. By doing it for seven consecutive days, I soon became aware of the benefits of this pastime, and by the end I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m a convert.
10) For seasoned runners and those in training, running 70km in a week is nothing to write home about. But for those who aren’t used to pounding the pavement, completing a challenge like this will make you feel like you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.