At the end of August, Jo Rickerby posted a running challenge on Challenge Chum: who wanted to join her on a streak? To clarify – a streak refers to running every day for a specified (or non-specified) period. To count as a ‘run,’ Jo recommended a minimum of 1 mile / 1.6km every day in September 2017.

We caught up with Jo to find out where the idea came from, how she juggles running with busy family life, and how goal setting and taken on new challenges has changed her this past year.

Jo running with her family of challengers

Where did it all start?

Admittedly, I’m something of a serial run streaker, although this is my first of 2017. My first streak was inspired back in October 2016 by Ron Hill, who famously ran every day for 52 years and 39 days! Myself and two close friends signed up to try a month, and one of them (Lucy) is still going over a year later!

Since then I’ve undertaken a few streaks, and my running confidence has gone from strength to strength. Before I got into ‘streaking’, I was running around 3 times a week, and covering 40-60 miles a month. I enjoyed running, but found it very hard work, and didn’t feel like a natural runner. I had run a half marathon, but found it physically tough and intimidating running with so many others, so limited myself to 3-6 miles.

Onwards and…onwards

My first streak in 2016 boosted my confidence. I covered 70 miles that month – I felt fitter, stronger, and ran longer and faster with ease. I also got my four kids involved – we all entered a 5k fun run in December and worked towards that. Looking forward to a family run on a dark evening after work was just what I needed to make sure I got out there on the tougher days. It also ensured I ran at a slow pace, allowing me to have ‘active rest days’ while still running every day that month. My children now run parkrun every Saturday, and all very proudly call themselves *runners*!

Since then, I’ve taken on more running challenges. Lucy, who has 5 children, continued her run streak, and inspired me to try again last December – if she could fit runs around a busy family lead-up to Christmas, so could I! I managed 80-90 miles that month, and my comfort zone had been well and truly stretched!

I hit 2017 trying to run 5-6 times a week, increasingly my distances, speed and averaging 100 miles each month. 1000 miles this year is most definitely in my sights, and I’ve lost 2 stone in weight. All because I took up that challenge in October 2016!

So why the September 2017 challenge?

My main motivation has been to drag as many people along for the ride with me because a) It’s fun and b) I’m always trying to get other people to love running as much as I do! By publicising on Facebook, in the Tough Girl Tribe and on Challenge Chum, as well as recruiting some ‘real life’ running friends, I was able to create quite a crew on Strava.

From previous experience I knew I could do the streak, but I wanted to set a personal challenge too – to hit 120 miles in September, doubling a monthly distance of 60 miles which a few years ago seemed almost unattainable! I’ve also discovered the joy of a lunchtime run with a colleague, Gaynor. We fulfilled some of our streak days by running together at lunchtime – as we move into the winter and spend all the daylight hours at our desks, the lunchtime run is something we’re committed to continue. It’s also had the unexpected effect of planting seeds in other colleagues’ minds – maybe our run crew will increase!

So here I am, at 41, and I’ve never felt fitter! This past year has been a real journey – I now frequently go on long runs, and I have longer distances in my sights. I’m really proud of the runners who chose to join me and shared the highs of a monthly run streak. I’ve seen several people take inspiration from it, planning other adventures and challenges on the back of it. And as for my own challenges – let’s see what 2018 brings. Bring it on!

Jo out on another run