Inspiring people: Dave Field – losing weight one mile at a time
Lose weight without changing your eating plan, no expensive gym or crash diet programs and only 7 – 10 minutes of exercise per day? Possible or Impossible? To answer the question this week we catch up with fellow kiwi Dave Field for a peek at what he has been up to for the last 365+ days
[AXE] Hi Dave, firstly a massive congratulations on reaching your 365 day goal. Can you give us a brief overview of what you have just accomplished?
[DAVE] Thanks Axe! Basically I ran every day for a year. It’s known as Running Streak and the thing is to run a minimum of 1 mile per day for however long you want your Streak to last. My original goal was for a year and I achieved that on 1 Jan 2015.
I didn’t run marathons or anything in getting there, I just focused on my Run Streak. Days when I had more time I would run for longer, other days I would just run the 1 mile. Some were faster than others; some were run hung over…. I would say that 80% of my runs were between 2-4km and started at my front door. I generally went for longer runs in the weekends or if were away somewhere and I wanted to explore a bit more. I mixed up running on the pavement and on local trails.
I think my highlight run was completing a 13.5km skyline run in Wellington (NZ) with my two brothers and sister-in-law (see photo 1). There is a 100m vertical climb hill near to home and it was a highlight running up there the first time, then again when I ran up pushing my daughters baby buggy. Running in Adelaide during a heat wave and near Wilpena Pound, Bluff Hill (NZ), which almost killed me, then the humidity of Singapore and Malaysia on work trips
[AXE] You mean you ran every single day for one year – never missing not even one day? What if you were sick?
[DAVE] That’s right Axe. I never missed a day – even when I had the flu I got out for a trot. There was one run I had to complete in wet work gear and shoes after a minor boating mishap (involving flares, life rafts, at sea rescue, lost car keys, locked out of my house for 18-hours), but that is a different story…So no, never missed a day.
[AXE] What was the motivation for undertaking this and where did you learn about it?
[DAVE] I guess I wanted to be fitter and lose some weight. I wasn’t particularly worried about either but I had been fitter in the past. Also it was a challenge to complete and something that not many other people had done also provided motivation.
I knew about it about it through a friend (Greg Camburn) who was already doing it. We had talked about how he managed it over a few beers, after which he ran home to his place whilst I walked and we had a few more beers back at his. He had made it work and it sounded like fun, or at least something totally different. After having a look online (http://www.runeveryday.com/) there were people who had been doing it for 45+ years! From there I figured it was a bit different and something I wanted to complete.
[AXE] How long did you think about it before you made the decision to commit? What considerations did you take into account?
[DAVE] About 10 minutes! Dee, my wife, was driving me to the airport on 2 January 2014 and I said maybe I should just do what Greg does and run every day…it seemed like a good idea! I had my running gear in my bag so when I arrived in Tauranga at 5pm that night I went for a quick run before heading out for dinner with the work guys. That was the start of it. I told people that’s what I was doing and so was committed I guess..I obviously knew about it before hand but hadn’t made the mental jump to do it. Now I am four months behind Greg and am secretly waiting for him to miss a day!
Considerations, I guess not many given the time I thought about it! I had been doing a bit of running, trying for the typical 4-5km two to three times a week and a longer one in the weekend but to be honest I was not that dedicated to it and each run always felt like a slog. I wasn’t very motivated to do it and I used the excuse that I was busy at work and I couldn’t find the 25-30min to go for a run, so realistically was only doing 2-3 runs per week. I had a busy year ahead at work and was due to become a Dad for the first time so I wanted something achievable. Some may laugh that running everyday doesn’t sound achievable but I guess I broke it down day by day and being achievable meant that I had to run for 10-minutes per day. I am not a natural runner but knew I could run and that if I put my mind to it I could achieve it.
Did I set out to run every day for a year – yes. That was the goal. Did I think I would make it??? Yes and no – I thought I might get injured or sick and not be able to achieve it, but I was committed to finding the time every day. It gets a bit addictive as the numbers start racking up and the thought of having a rest day and having to start again at zero just doesn’t seem worth it.
[AXE] What were the top three positive things you have got out of doing this challenge?
[DAVE] Overall I feel a million times better than when I started. I am fitter, lighter and healthier. This leads to being more active with our daughter Cate. Prior to the running streak I used to get sore knees whilst kneeling down (knee ACL reconstruction in 2001) and couldn’t stay there for long. I also used to suffer from a sore lower back if bending over a lot. So basically the worst things for trying to deal with a baby! The running sorted out my knees and a few sessions of burpee’s and sit-up’s a week sorted out my lower back. So personally I feel a lot lot better and Cate gets a fit and active Dad.
Other people would come for a run with me, not like Forrest Gump style but if I was going I would ask if they wanted to come along. I think if I wasn’t there then they probably wouldn’t have run that day so it was good to motivate them and have someone to run with. I would say to people that I don’t care what pace we run at, I can go as slow as you like or as fast as I can to keep up. For me it was just another run and I enjoyed running with someone else for a change.
Thirdly I feel more positive and outgoing to do things whether that is fitness related or other. I guess I am mentally stronger and know that if I want to achieve something I can.
[AXE] Were there any completely unexpected benefits from doing it?
[DAVE] When people ask or you tell them what you are doing they look at you as if you are mad. To be honest it feels quite satisfying. I enjoy running. I thought that I might get bored with the whole thing but quite the opposite. Sure there are days when I am not as motivated as others but I still enjoy it. You recover from a hangover quicker! Especially when you run first thing the following morning.
I recently learnt that I had inspired my cousin’s husband to start his Run Streak this year which is pretty cool I think. He thinks it’s a great concept and commented that he went out the other day for a 1-mile run but was feeling good so did 2-miles. And also that if he was trying to do 10 km three times a week he would be much more likely to find an excuse not to and get out of the habit. This is exactly what I found.
[AXE] What was the hardest thing about completing it? Did you ever think about giving up?
[DAVE] The first week or so it’s a novelty, by day 60 I was feeling like it’s a pretty good achievement already, but after 160 days I was thinking there is so long to go and what am I doing….The mental aspect of it was the hardest thing, initially anyway, certainly at times it felt a bit like ground hog day.
To keep it varied I would change my route, add in sprints or hills, stop and do some press-ups etc. During the week I would just run from home, around the streets and a few tracks nearby. During the weekends I would try and go for a longer and more varied run, but it all depended on time available. Sometimes I would run hung over to pick up the car from the night before..
I can’t ever recall thinking about giving up but certainly some days I was more motivated than others! Some days I would just plod around slowly thinking about anything but running.
[AXE] You had a busy year I understand with becoming a father for the first time and work wise. How did you handle it when things got really busy?
[DAVE] Yeah it was a busy year and I am lucky to have a very supportive wife and a flexible job. I found the beauty of the ‘minimum 1-mile’ thing is that if it was busy I would just do that. If I really want to punch it out I can do the run in around 7-minutes….so it takes longer to get ready and stretch before and after (which I did for every run, no matter how long or short). For me, if I did the run in the morning it would only add 10-15 minutes to my day. Get up, go for a run, have breakfast whilst cooling down, shower, off to work. I figured that if I couldn’t find 15-minutes per day there was something wrong.
I would also try to make the run work around what I had to do during the day – drop the car off for a service, run home; run to work instead of the bus or if I didn’t have the car; run home from lunch with friends; run to the hardware store to pick up DIY items rather than driving; drag the boss out for a run at lunch a couple of times a week; or just run in the evening after all the chores were done. My hospital bag for our daughters birth contained a set of running gear in it and I had mapped out a 1-mile route from the front doors of the hospital; luckily I had completed my run earlier in the day and didn’t have to test my wife’s support behind me doing my run during labour!
I also started running with my daughter in the buggy which was good workout and she loved it. We did need to be mindful of Cate’s (my daughter) neck strength though so I didn’t do too much running early on and we used to wedge her in with support. Recently we purchased a second-hand dedicated running buggy and I need to get out with that more often. Running with Cate would also give Dee (my wife) a break as well and I would often go for longer runs which we all benefited from.
[AXE] What advice would you give someone who was thinking about attempting something like this?
[DAVE] Give it a go! It is actually easier than you think. It becomes a routine rather than a chore so your mindset about running changes, well it did for me anyway.
Tackle it day by day and break whatever target you have into bit sized chunks. I would suggest starting slow by just completing the 1-mile run for the first few weeks so your body adjusts and build from there, if you want to. Make sure you have easy runs so your body gets some rest. Don’t worry about looking at your watch, your per km times will eventually fall.
[AXE] Why do you think more people do not do things like this?
[DAVE] I think because they think that such a short run or short session of something doesn’t have any benefit. I am sure I was once told that if you don’t run for more than 20-minutes at a time you may as well not bother, which makes it very easy to say I won’t bother! But there does seem to be more published research/articles recently suggesting that short but frequent runs or training sessions are the way to go.
I certainly found that it worked for me. I lost around 11kg and dropped about 1.5 minutes off my per km time. I generally eat healthy anyway but I didn’t go into a diet or anything, I still ate and drank whatever I wanted. Motivation itself in that.
[AXE] What does your wife/family and friends think about what you are doing and have done?
[DAVE] My wife thinks it’s a great achievement and is very supportive of me continuing with it. My family and friends think I am little bit mad and keep asking if I have missed a day…but think it’s a massive achievement.
[AXE] Where to from here? are you planning to carry on with this?
[DAVE] I don’t want to return to zero! No, I enjoy it and want to continue so as of today (28 Jan) I am on day 392 and 500 is not far away..
This year I am looking to join a running club to meet some new people and explore some new trails. I quite enjoy trail running and am interested in completing some 20+ km runs. I am also looking to complete one of the OXFAM 100km walks with some work people, but recognise this will take a lot of training time, much more than 10min per day so will have to see how this one works out.
[AXE] Awesome work Dave – thanks for taking the time to share your story. You have inspired me to go for a run – see you out there!
This interview features in the Inspiring People section of my website. Not ‘inspiring’ in terms of making billions of dollars from raping the planet and the earth’s resources, but tales from ordinary people who do extraordinary things, who get out and make positive impacts, who send positive messages through the way they live their lives. We all have a part to play in our future. I am very excited to share these stories with you and if at least one of them can touch and inspire you to make positive changes then I will be very happy!