There are various versions of the 1000 mile challenge, but on the whole it means running or walking 1000 miles during the course of a year. That translates to 2.74 miles per day, 19.23 miles per week or 83.33 miles per month. If that sounds a bit much, you could also take on a 500 mile challenge with the aim of doing 41.67 miles per month. Those might sound like big numbers, but it’s actually very achievable. I’ll explain how I managed to fairly easily complete the 1000 mile challenge within nine months from January to September 2020.
Tracking the 1000 mile challenge
There are a few ways to take part in the 1000 mile running challenge. If you’re into bling, you can get a 1000 mile challenge medal by completing the Race the Distance annual event. For support including a regular newsletter, sign up with trail running magazine. Another option with a nice medal is virtual runner. For something a little less formal you could join the 1000 mile challenge group on Strava, or simply use Strava or another activity recording device as a 1000 mile challenge tracker.
If running is not your thing, have a look at the Country Walking “walk 1000 miles” website. They advise that you only have to walk for under an hour a day to get to 1000 miles in a year. It is so achievable and a great challenge for anyone looking to build ongoing fitness. Plus, their event raises money for the Hope for Tomorrow cancer charity.
Personally, I considered signing up for a 1000 mile running challenge in 2020 but talked myself out of it. I chatted to a couple of people who had done it and they were careful to stress how tough it was. Now that I’ve done it, I feel a bit cheated. I would have liked to have done it for charity, but they made it sound too hard. I doubted myself and my ability to run so consistently. As it turned out, it was easier than I could have imagined.
How to run or walk 1000 miles in 12 months
If you start a 1000 mile challenge in January, the weather conditions will make it seem like a difficult, thankless task. It’s going to be cold and probably rainy. There may be ice and running in the ice is really, really hard. For the month of January, getting out and putting one foot in front of the other is an achievement. I would advise trying to run or walk during the daytimes as much as possible. For me, that means weekdays when my children are at school. For many though, it will mean long walks or runs during the weekend. Try to make it enjoyable if you can. Get the ordnance survey map out and go somewhere new. Meet a friend or walk or run as a family. If you can do it in January, the rest of the year is going to be a doddle.
By the time February comes, you’ll be noticing glimmers of hope everywhere. Snowdrops, blossom, a few early flowers here and there. The temperature might pick up and the evenings get slightly lighter. Bashing out the miles becomes a little easier. That’s when you can pick up the mileage. I ran just over 100 miles a month for the first couple of months of the year, then decided that this was a good target to stick to. In the end, I did over 100 miles each month and finished the challenge towards the end of September.
I know it’s not for everybody, but the thing that made the 1000 mile challenge much easier for me was running every day. It changed running from a chore into a habit. It became what I did each day, whatever the weather. Having a dog helped, she needed to go out each day anyway so we ran instead of walking. I aimed for around 3 miles a day and around 100 miles per month. However you break it down, a monthly, weekly or daily distance seems so much more achievable than 1000 miles.
If you are thinking of taking this on, go for it. It is more achievable than you realise. Don’t be put off by people telling you how hard it is, break it into manageable chunks and plan how you are going to fit it into daily life. And when you do it, please don’t be the person who tells someone that it’s too hard for them. Somebody else’s achievement doesn’t detract from yours.