RED January with CFS – Can I do it? What will people think?

What is RED January?

RED January stands for Run Every Day January – it’s a campaign aimed at beating the January blues, whilst raising funds for mental health charities. This year, RED January decided you didn’t have to “run every day” – you could just do an “activity every day: be it swimming, spinning, walking, rowing, water-sports, or countless other activities. This sounded right up my street.

Why did I want to do it?

My workplace always does RED January – encouraging employees to take part. As a previously (pre-CFS) keen member of the running club at work, I had signed up to do RED January a good while before my CFS diagnosis, as naturally it made sense to sign up to something that would make me feel good both physically and mentally.

The flexibility appealed to me too – if my legs hurt, I could do yoga or an ab workout, rather than have to force myself to run. I also liked the idea of having a goal, I was exercising every day for RED January, rather because I thought I should, or because it’s good for me.

Plus, ‘new year, new me’ and all that rubbish. 

Is RED January right for me?

Post CFS diagnosis, I wondered if RED January was appropriate for me? If I am ‘meant to have CFS’ won’t people wonder how I can possibly take on a month long exercise challenge? Yes, they probably will. Do i care? Yes. Should I care? NO.


What we really should think is ‘this is my illness, and I know how best to deal with it’ – but that is the trouble: with limited information, research, and education about the illness out there, it seems like sometimes we don’t actually know what to do for the best!

I decided that it probably couldn’t hurt. My doctor had recommended graded exercise, so I thought that RED Jan was the perfect time to try it out.

So far (Day 14) I have done a mixture of walking, running and yoga. On my ‘more tired’ days, I have done gentle yoga, following a YouTube video for around 15 minutes. On my slightly more energetic days I have tried a run, keeping it simple and repeating the same run. I thought this was useful, as I can see how I feel each time I try it. Next week, I may make the run a few hundred metres longer – I don’t want to push myself too much and end up in the ‘boom bust cycle’.

What to do after RED January ends?

After RED Jan, I plan to continue the ‘exercise everyday notion’. It has taught me, so far, to listen to how my body feels, and exercise in accordance to that.

If I am super tired, I can do gentle yoga (for a short amount of time), and if I am feeling energetic I can do some runs.

So far I feel that RED has helped me physically, and mentally – and only seems to be a positive thing for me at the moment.

Read more about RED January here.

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