I Eliminated Alcohol and Ran a 5K Every Day For a Month; Here’s What Happened

As an avid runner I pride myself on how many miles I run per month. So when my Nike Running app read “0 Miles” at the end of December 2016, needless to say I decided I needed a kick in the ass. As a result I told myself that in January of 2017 I would run a 5K every day for the month. Having run 2 full marathons, a triathlon and many half marathons the 5K distance did not scare me. However to keep that up for 31 straight days? That would be a test of will power. But I was up for the challenge.

Although I still felt that wouldn’t be enough. So I took the plunge and decided I would go alcohol free during that time as well. I pride myself on not having a dependency on alcohol so I did not see this as a challenge. However I do have a passion for craft beer so I knew this would test me as well.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at my beer fridge.

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So January 1st hit and I was off and running (literally and figuratively). 31 days later and I completed my goal. 101.1 miles for the month and alcohol free during that entire time. It was something that tested me physically as well as mentally. Getting up every day knowing I had 3.1 miles to complete before I could lay my head back down to sleep was a daunting task. And going out on the weekends knowing only Diet Cokes would be waiting for me during happy hour was nerve wrecking as well. But here I am with a goal completed.

That month long journey taught me a lot about myself.

1.  I’m Not an Alcoholic. I say this tongue in cheek but up until this time I have never really abstained from alcohol so I didn’t know how that would impact me. The good news is I never found myself craving a drink or becoming irritable because I hadn’t had a drink in a while. Sure I missed the taste of good craft beer, but I discovered the primary reason for my craft beer love is the taste, and not the impact it has on me.

2.  It’s Possible To Still Socialize At The Bar. Going to the bar while not drinking is a big hurdle to overcome. People do not go to a happy hour or meet at a bar to just sit around to talk. Usually it is to get together and have a drink or two. So going to the bar was a big challenge. However at no point during the month did I decline a trip to the bar because of not drinking. Whether it was to watch Penn State in the Rose Bowl, hang out with a friend who was in from out of town or just socialize with old buddies, I was able to continue my social habits without the impact of not drinking.

3.  Small, Repeated Acts Can Lead To Big Things. Up until this point the most miles I ran in one month in my life were 100. And that happened during marathon training where I was regularly running double digit miles. My first 100 mile month I remember being grueling and tiring. In January I surpassed that and ran 101.1 miles, the most ever in my life. While it was a long month it didn’t feel as tough as my first 100 mile month and that is because no single run ever got above 3.4 miles. I learned that putting together small daily acts will lead to great results. In my case, the most miles I have ever run.

4.  Repetition Makes Us Better. The month started very slow for me. That first 5K was sluggish and hurt. By the 31st run I felt like I was flying. Taking off a full month from running didn’t hurt me, but it did have an impact on my running. However repeating a single act every day helped me get to the point where I was significantly better than when I started.

5.  Abstaining From Alcohol Allowed Me To Run Better. When I drink it tends to get in the way of my running. Whether it is canceling a run because I had a few drinks at a party, or being sluggish the day after drinking and not getting off my couch. By staying away from alcohol I was able to control my running. There were times during the month that I left the bar and went for a run. Or Saturday and Sundays where I woke up and was ready to run because I felt refreshed.

6.  Little Things Make a Big Difference. I did not go into this with a goal to lose weight. However I knew that by running every day and eliminating alcohol this would happen. In total I lost 10 pounds for the month. I didn’t really change the way I ate. I still ate what I wanted and had snacks regularly. However doing these two things on a daily basis helped me drop some weight. Had I controlled what I ate a little better this could have been a full fledged diet.

7.  We are Surrounded By An Awesome World. Running so many miles in one month allowed me to explore the world around me. I ran through muddy trails, across a river, in the dark of night, up and down local running paths and anywhere else my two feet would take me. I saw a lot of the world around me and how peaceful it is. Not to sound too philosophical but sometimes I get caught up in technology and other distractions that surround me. It was nice to take some time out of a busy schedule and find peace and solitude.

Some sites from my month:

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