"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
In December 2009 after being asked a number of times what my New Year’s resolutions were, on the spur of the moment I decided that I would see if I could run at least a mile each day for the month of January.
Despite not being a huge distance for more serious runners, a mile still felt like it was worthwhile. It felt like quite a challenge but a mile also seemed achievable as surely I could squeeze in fifteen minutes each day no matter what my commitments were?
I didn't realise it at the time but my January resolution was the birth of my MAD (mile a day) experiment.
On 31st January 2010, I looked back on completing the experiment and realised that it had been easier than I’d expected. As someone who has often found that setting goals was counterproductive as it added pressure to the task, I was surprised that setting it up as an experiment somehow made it easier.
Each day I’d only concentrated on seeing if I could do it that day only, and once I’d run my mile I had a sense of satisfaction and achievement, and also felt better about myself.
I’ve watched a number of enthusiastic runners push themselves hard to achieve goals and noticed that the majority of these runners seem to keep getting injured, preventing them from running for a while. I was more interested in how running might benefit overall health in a sustainable way.
So I decided to extend the experiment and I set a new open-ended experiment to see how many days I could run at least a mile.
I’ve learned a huge amount about myself, the importance of positive daily habits, how to create new habits and about resilience. I’ve also been surprised to discover that the mental health benefits of my MAD experiment have been even greater than the physical ones, which are also significant.
There is also no failure in the MAD experiment. In March 2015, after 1,909 consecutive days I succumbed to a chest infection and realised that for the first time my daily runs were counterproductive to my philosophy of sustainable health, so I took ten days out from running, and then, once better, I continued.
In November 2015, I was challenged by a fellow runner to create something that shared my MAD experiment with others, and as a result the MAD experiment Facebook group was born.
As a result of starting this group I discovered that not everyone could run a mile each day, but inspired by some of the new joiners to the group I realised that people could get similar benefits whether they are running, walking, cycling or swimming a mile. It’s really all about getting outside every day and moving forwards purposefully in whatever way works for you.
Since I set the new group up, MADers have joined the experiment from all over the UK, from North America, Australia and Africa.
I, and the rest of my fellow MADers, would love you to join us and discover the amazing physical, mental and motivational benefits of your own MAD experiment and come and hear the stories of some of the amazing inspirational people who now share their own MAD experiments with me.
My thanks to:
> Ruth Brown for inspiring me to set up the MAD experiment Facebook group in 2015.
> Georgina Bennett for designing the MAD experiment logo.
> Toby Uffindell-Phillips for designing and creating the MAD experiment website and t-shirts.
> all members of the MAD experiment Facebook group who inspire me on a daily basis with their stories of their MADs.