Mar 5, 2010

"Maybe you should take a day off"

The wisdom of maintaining this streak has been questioned by People Who Are Smarter and More Experienced Than Me, especially with the hamstring issue I experienced last week. Normally, because they are People Who Are Smarter and More Experienced Than Me, I'd be inclined to take their advice but in this case the streak has taken on a significant amount of meaning to me and my psyche.

While I won't deny that being qualified for membership in the United States Running Streak Association appeals to me, the primary purpose of it has grown out of that rather superficial goal into something larger, and in two ways.

The expected way
I'm 33 years old, and I've come to the conclusion that, no matter what it is, if I do it in moderation, I lose interest and ultimately fail. Don't ask me why, it appears that it's just the way I'm wired. I can give you example after example of how my life is like that.


Moderation didn't get me there

So in the past, I have had a number of 5 and 6 day per week training schedules. None of them worked more than a few days. However, 7 day training schedules, for some reason, always last longer. And the longer the streak lasts, the more incentive there is to not miss a day.


Not a 5-day per week training log

The unexpected way
Every now and then, I get notes like this:
"Steve, way to keep up the streak!!!! Impressive. You've inspired me to start a walking streak. On day 15 of one mile and 3 pullups a day! Thank you!!" (This particular one is from Dusty)
It's so rare that I feel like I'm honestly motivating someone to do something. I'm so happy for those people that I feel responsible to them to keep it up, thus developing a rather unique mutually beneficial dynamic - I motivate them, which motivates me, which motivates them and others, etc. The benefit to maintaining this kind of dynamic should be obvious - when I don't care about the numbers anymore, when I don't care about the results, I still care about the people.

The consequence

There's another aspect to this that's harder to explain. There's an intrinsic feeling of "I'm a runner, that's who I am" that is starting to develop. Without forcing it, "I run, I run every day, nothing stops me" as a self-image is taking root. Does that make sense? Anyway, even if I disregard the practical matter of maintaining a consistent schedule, and even if I disregard the social matter of mutual motivation, I still have this primal need to go out and run, every day. It's like checking email, which I've been doing every day for years. It's gotten to the point where I check email immediately when I wake up, even before going to the bathroom. I feel wrong if go more than an hour without checking it. Running is becoming the same way - and I feel like that's a good thing.

So sorry, People Who Are Smarter and More Experienced Than Me, please don't be offended, I'd love to take your advice, but I have to decline.

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