Like a great many people during the pandemic, Andrew Lloyd found he was struggling to focus while working from home. “I feel less creative and productive, like a weird fog has rolled into my brain,” he said. “I think it’s from the lack of activity.” In an attempt to jumpstart his energy and concentration, he set himself the challenge of running 5 km every day for a month. He had previously taken up running earlier in 2020, but stopped due to pain in his knee and never started again.
“I’m not trying to lose weight or improve my cardio or anything like that,” he says. “This is much more of a mental challenge.”
One week into the challenge, Lloyd can already see a difference. “I’ve got like 12 different leg aches,” he says, although he adds that the pains and cramps tend to go away while he is actually running. “More importantly, I just feel like I’ve got much better concentration, much better clarity of thought, that fog I was experiencing is starting to thin. I’m finding it easier to concentrate, easier to think, I feel more creative, and just more motivated in general.”
“I think a lot of is to do with the exercise, some of it is to do with the Vitamin D,” he continues. “I think there’s a lot to be said for having a daily task which you achieve, and then on achieving that, you feel motivated. Those small achievements add up, and make you want to achieve more things.”
As the month progresses and his performance on each run improves, Lloyd also starts to notice some physical changes, with visible muscle growth in his calves. “It wasn’t the goal of the experiment,” he says, “but it was nice to feel much stronger in my legs.”
On the final day of the challenge, Lloyd pushes himself to go further and attempt a 10K, and has built up sufficient endurance over the previous 30 days that he actually achieves his first ever 15K.
“I felt like I returned to normal,” he says of the mental benefits. “My brain felt very stagnant for a while… running every day really helped clear it out. It wasn’t automatic or instant, it meant getting up and running every single day, but whether it was in the middle of a run when I felt really good or immediately afterward when I felt motivated to go and do work, it really did help.”
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