What You Can Learn From the 31 Days of Running Challenge

Molly Hurford
by Molly Hurford
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What You Can Learn From the 31 Days of Running Challenge

The 31 Days of Running challenge might technically be over, but the lessons learned and communities formed during the July run streak will last forever. Brooklyn-based Ray Hailes and his two running friends started the Resident Runners 31 Days of Running Challenge for July back in 2012, never expecting it to catch on. He figured it would give him and his buddies some motivation to push through the July heat and run at least 3 miles a day — but it grew, and this year, more than 50 people made the commitment to run every day through the month, keeping track of their mileage on the MapMyRun app and egging each other on in the private group.

You might have missed the #31DOR challenge, but you can always challenge your running crew to something similar throughout the year. Of course, a solo run streak has some benefits, but when it’s you plus a crew of runners — a virtual crew or a real life squad — the group enthusiasm makes those ‘I don’t wanna run days’ a little bit easier to get through.

Here’s what Hailes learned from this streak:

IT WELCOMES NEW RUNNERS

“We had ultra-runners and some competitive guys in the group,” he says, “But we mainly had a lot of new runners looking to get into running more seriously.” Something like a 31-day run streak can kickstart a runner’s success, making it easier to rack up those initial — admittedly painful — miles. By the end of July, Hailes says, the newbies were already making huge strides and clearly had fallen in love with running.

IT FORMS HABITS

If you’re a fair-weather runner who wishes he or she had a bit more commitment, a run streak can force you to really make running a daily habit versus that thing you do when you make the time. “It’s been said that it takes something like 27 days to form a habit,” says Hailes. “The 31 Days of Running helps make running something you just do, not something you think about doing.”

IT REVEALS WHAT YOU CAN TOLERATE

“The thing about run streaks is that the weather is always going to be an issue,” says Hailes. July had a wicked heat wave that swept the country, and it wasn’t always easy or pleasant to get out the door. But 3 miles is doable in most temperatures and having that goal really pushed #31DOR runners to get out and log their steps. If you know it’s going to be a month of bad weather or even a month where you know you’ll lack the desire to run but need the release and the workout, starting a streak can push you past those excuses and onto the pavement.

IT FORCES YOU TO RUN AT WEIRD TIMES

Are you a morning person or a night owl? Hailes admits that there were a few times during the month when it would be 11:30 p.m., and he’d have to get out on his run to get his 3 miles for the day. “But then I would just keep running when the clock ticked over to midnight so I could get the next day’s run over at the same time,” he laughs. While that might have been a sneaky way to save his streak, he’s a huge fan of running early in the day versus after work. “That way when you get to the office, you’ve already done more than most of your co-workers,” he adds. But if you’re more of a night-owl runner, embrace that. Not sure? Use this month to experiment with which times of day make your runs feel the most natural, or at least, more doable.

IT HELPS YOU FIND YOUR TRIBE

The #31DOR group on MapMyRun may have only been created to make it through the month, but Hailes says members now follow each other and urge each other on. “They were constantly motivating each other,” he says, and will continue to do so even though the month is technically over. For a lot of runners, that accountability system makes them much more likely to hit their mileage targets, and can motivate them to get out the door even when it’s been a long day. Starting a run streak with a few friends can really help build that group accountability dynamic.

IT MAKES YOU DREAM BIG

“I’ve started thinking about maybe running across the country,” Hailes admits. “That’s something that running every day really brought to mind for me, so it’s something I’ve been seriously starting to consider.” While you may not be thinking about making it from coast to coast, the #31DOR challenge can make you start thinking big about continuing the run streak, signing up for that adventure race you’ve been wanting to do or planning a trip to explore a run-friendly destination.

While it’s too late to join the 31DOR MapMyRun group, you can still use the #31DOR hashtag on social media and stay connected with Resident Runners on their Facebook page so you’re ready when July rolls around next year.

About the Author

Molly Hurford
Molly Hurford

Molly is an outdoor adventurer and professional nomad obsessed with all things running, nutrition, cycling and movement-related. When not outside, she’s writing and podcasting about being outside, training and health. You can follow along with her adventures on Instagram at @mollyjhurford.

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