Advent Challenge for Runners

Once upon a time Advent was a countdown to the big day. Nowadays these 24 days are some of the busiest in our year. The planning, presents and associated pressure add an extra load to our already hectic schedules. So why not join us at ForgetTheGym in restoring a little balance to your Advent this year.

Something small each day

You don’t have to run each day, but instead let’s aim for something small that will help your running future. If you are up for the challenge, lets get started and enjoy ticking off each daily task. Will pop up some reminders and update on the main ForgetTheGym facebook page.

Day 1 – Sleep

Set a timer on your phone for 7pm today to remind you to get organised and to bed early. Let’s start the month with a good night sleep.

Day 2 – Make a list

Write down everything you love about running and how it makes you feel. Stick this piece of paper somewhere visible to remind you on the days when you struggle with motivation.

Day 3 – Volunteer

Arrange to volunteer at your local parkrun or charity fun run this December. Pick a date now so it’s in your diary and give back to the running community after a great running year.

Day 4 – Drop a hint

Is there any running kit you need? Why not drop a few hints to those who have you on their Christmas list and receive something practical you know you will use. More gift ideas

Day 5 – Declutter

How many running tshirts do you have? Consider passing on any running gear you have not worn this year that doesn’t hold too much sentimental value to your local charity shop.

Day 6 – Breathe

Try closing your mouth when you are walking or running today. Focus on breathing through your nose only. Aim for nice gentle breaths just into the back of your nose and out.

Day 7 – Get Inspired

Revisit a running book from your collection or go to the library and pick one that interests you. You never know what it might inspire you to take on in the future. You might guess our favourite running book!

Day 8 – Squat

Spend more time in a squat position. If you are not comfortable squatting spend time sitting on a step or low stool to get used to your hips being lower than your knees.

Day 9 – Snack

Boxes of chocolates are everywhere. They are hard to resist, but if you have alternatives available it is slightly easier to resist. Today shop for (or make) a few healthy snacks.

Day 10 – Lie Down

This might sound easy but we hardly ever give ourselves time to do nothing. Set a timer for 10 minutes and lie on the ground and breathe. That’s all.

Day 11 – Go on a date

Is there someone you hope to meet before Christmas who likes to run? Why not decide to catchup over a run and a cuppa rather than a night out. Go today, or arrange today to meet them for our Day 12 task!

Day 12 – Festive Run

Soak up the seasonal atmosphere by running through your local town choose the bright light streets and noticing the decorations, the atmosphere, the lights and the buzz around the place.

Day 13 – Sit on the floor

Watch TV sitting on the floor. Switch your position often. It will make you move, sit and stretch in different ways rather than let the couch support you.

Day 14 – Go Outside

Notice how much fresh air you get on a weekday and make an effort today to increase it. You don’t need to be running, just be outside.

Day 15 – Stretch

As often as practical for you, whenever you pass under a doorway today stretch your arms up and hold onto the door frame for a few seconds. Relax your shoulders. Breathe into your ribs. Doesn’t it feel great.

Day 16 – Look back 

Write down your running highlights of the year. They don’t all need to big milestones. Some of the best bits can often be memories of a great conversation or a scenic view on the way.

Day 17 – Find your rhythm

Revamp your playlist and choose music at 170-180 BPM. If you don’t run to music, try downloading a metronome app on your phone and run to that beat today. Notice how much easier it feels.

Day 18 – Go for it

It’s Saturday. Give 5k your best shot on your own or with a crowd at parkrun. What time can you run 5k in this December morning? Bonus points for a sprint finish.

Day 19 – Roll your feet

After a year of running and the last few weeks on the dancefloor our feet can feel tight. Roll each foot for 5 minutes over a tennis ball or spikey pilates ball. You will notice the difference immediately.

Day 20 – Drink

Pay attention to your fluids. With air-conditioning, heating and possibly more alcohol these winter days, it’s very easy to get dehydrated. Water isn’t only for summer days.

Day 21 – Dawn run 

It’s the shortest day of the year. What a morning to get up and out. You won’t even need to set your alarm too early.

Day 22 – Plan ahead 

Find a race, event or a challenge in the spring that excite you. Put it in the diary and get a training plan to help get you there.

Day 23 – Celebrate

Run with a smile on your face. Leave the watch at home and celebrate your running year by being grateful that you can get out and run. Enjoy every minute.

Day 24 – Dress up

Go on, pop on the Santa hat and hit the road – walk or run. Decide to finish this advent challenge in seasonal style. Make the tunes festive or sing carols in your head. Happy Christmas.  

Originally written by Mary for The Irish Times.

Here is what’s on this winter at ForgetTheGym.

Have you ordered your Christmas gift vouchers yet? Or check out this recent piece written also by Mary for The Irish Times on Alternative Running Gifts.