In 2015, CBC's Metro Morning host Matt Galloway committed to #365daysofrunning — and he succeeded. As the city contemplates New Year's resolutions, we checked in with Matt about his journey, what he thinks about when he's running, and whether he's a better runner, ukulele player or bread baker.
Why did you want to do this?
I like projects and I needed something to do for the year. A couple of years ago I learned to bake bread. Last year I learned how to play the ukulele and also how to make really good pizza dough. I wanted to run more and it seemed like something absurd that I should try and see how long I could do it for. The idea of pushing myself seemed like a good idea at age 45.
I thought, of all of the things that I could do, this would be one of the things where you start off and you feel like you're going to die, and then the more you do it, the easier it gets and the stronger you get. But the other part of it is, it's the one time I can go out and not be reachable and not be on. I don't take anything other than my GPS watch that tells me where I'm going and how fast.
How would you describe the past year of running in a word or two?
Surprisingly enjoyable. I've run in the coldest temperatures, I've run in the desert when it was 30 degrees, and all of that has been amazingly fun. I'm surprised how even when you're tired, even if you're jet-lagged or just slammed with work and you can't think of how you're possibly going to fit it in, you go out and you love it. It's been informative, in that I've learned a lot about my body and how much stronger I am, but also how if I really focus on something and say I have to do it every day, how disciplined I can be about it.
You seem like a fairly disciplined person…
Yeah, but I also get up at 3 o'clock in the morning and it's easy to be tired.
Is it as challenging as you thought it would be?
Much more so. You have to keep pushing yourself because the easier thing would be to sit on my ass and not do anything. To actually get out and make your body work, you have to push yourself.
What were some of your most memorable runs?
Dawn, running down the Las Vegas strip. You wouldn't think that there are a lot of people who are running in Las Vegas, then you actually do see a bunch of people. You see the whole swath of humanity, kind of at its highest and lowest.
I got lost when I was in the Arizona desert ... I panicked for a moment. The reason I started running in the first place was I wondered what people got out of it. It seems really solitary, it can be really painful. And that idea of the runner's high, where you're running and suddenly you don't realize you're running, and your breathing just kind of takes over and it becomes really meditative. That happened there, in the middle of the desert, in these mountains when I really had no clue where I was.
What were some of your harder runs? I imagine it would be hard to run in the cold…?
At the very beginning, I thought I was an idiot. In the middle of January, I thought, 'this is just stupid.' I mean, running in rain is easier than running in ice pellets that hit your face and stuff like that. There was a monsoon this summer it seemed like, and I ran in that, and it was like running through a car wash. That was one of those moments where you think, 'this may be one of the poorest ideas I've had.' But at the end of it, you never regret it.
What do you think about when you're running?
I think everything, all sorts of stuff. I don't run with music, so I listen to what's going on around me. I was running through my neighbourhood and I ended up coming through Wychwood Park in the spring and there was a red-tailed hawk that was building its nest, and there was a baby hawk in the nest. And I could hear the hawk, but I couldn't see where it was. So I ran back up the hill to get a better perspective.
In the best case scenario, my brain empties itself out and then fills itself back up with random things. Someone wrote a great article in the New Yorker about what people think about when they're running, and it's like everything and nothing at the same time.
How has running changed how you see the city?
I see it completely differently. I bike everywhere, so I've seen the city that way, but you're going a lot faster. When you're running you can go anywhere. I feel like people don't go out of the grids that they operate in, so they go to work the same way all the time, and they go home the same way all the time. One of the things I've been trying to do is get into unfamiliar territory and go down different streets. Go left instead of right, north instead of south. And often in doing that, you discover new neighbourhoods, or see a street that's really cool, or find someone's garden you've never seen before.
So now that the year is over, are you a better runner, baker or ukulele player?
I'm a better runner and baker. Ukulele's still terrible.