Jul 16, 2011

Thoughts on day 200 of my running streak

My signature, etched into a snowy track on running streak day 15
"The official definition of a running streak, as adopted by the United States Running Streak Association, Inc., is to run at least one continuous mile within each calendar day under one's own body power (without the utilization of any type of health or mechanical aid other than prosthetic devices).

"Running under one's own body power can occur on either the roads, a track, over hill and dale, or on a treadmill. Running cannot occur through the use of canes, crutches or banisters, or reliance on pools or aquatic devices to create artificial buoyancy."
Today was my 200th day in a row of running.

The other day I found myself telling a coworker, "I run every day. I never miss a day of running."

And frankly, I'm kind of proud of that. Really. It feels good to be able to honestly and truthfully say "I never miss a day. Ever."

It may not be the best way for most people to train, but for me it works. Consistency has always been my weakest trait and, being the kind of guy who likes to tackle my demons head on, running every day forces it. And, after 200 days, I finally feel like I can honestly say I've been very consistent.

And, just maybe - a little manic. For example, if I run in the morning, then by that afternoon it starts to seem like a long time since I've gone on a run. I find myself having mini panic attacks that I didn't run yet today. "Oh wait, I did that 6am thing. Never mind."

Of course, the opposite effect is that if I didn't run early, then I get stressed out as the day goes on while I try to figure out how to squeeze my run into the continuously fewer hours I have remaining. Runs those days tend to be in the 1-2 mile range because that's all I have time for. Sometimes I'll have Alex and Joe in the car, and I'll pull up to a track and have them hang out while I knock out four laps really quick.

I thought that by now I'd have some sort of routine going, but it really hasn't materialized. The closest thing is that since I now work at a facility that has showers and treadmills, I often run at lunch these days - and the main thing that gets me down there (instead of to the cafeteria) is the streak. And when someone invites me to join them for lunch, I won't hesitate to go with them in an instant and just plan to run later. So - no routine.

Still, streaking is not without its issues. 

There was day that I was sick.. really laid up. Called in to work. Honestly thought I'd be giving up the streak that day. But in the afternoon I found the energy to go to Joe's lacrosse game, and while I was there I ran around the field a few times until my garmin registered 1 mile. Probably still had a mild fever at the time. My speed suffered dramatically for a month after that, and even now I don't feel like I'm back to the speed I was at before this little stunt.

Another time I was intentionally fasting and dehydrating myself in the last three days of a weight loss contest. But before the final weigh-in, on a three-day food fast and a 15-hour water fast, I put on long sleeves and ran a mile in the sun just to sweat out a few more ounces before the weigh-in - which coincidentally kept the streak alive. I won the contest, and there was a big prize that made it worth it. But, wow. That wasn't too smart.

I have gotten my mile in the day before ultras. I have gotten it the day after ultras. In an ultra, I make sure to run a continuous mile early in the race before starting a run/walk cycle, just to keep the streak alive. If it goes overnight, I'll make sure to run another continuous mile soon after midnight for that same reason. And, the next day, I run again, regardless of how tight my legs feel, or how blistered my feet are.

These are the kinds of issues that I deal with when maintaining a streak. But, even at 200 days my streak is still minuscule. There is an organization of streak-runners that I can join, but only at the associate level until I reach 365 days. There are members of that organization who's streaks are approaching 45 years. I'm sure that to them, the issues I've dealt with seem rather minor. And they will seem minor to me too, if my streak lasts half that long.

With a little luck, we can look forward to another post like this on December 28th, when my streak reaches 365 days.

If you're interested, please click here to see the run I did on my 200th day. It was 4.59 miles, easy pace, with a 300ft hill climb in the middle. I'm a tiny bit under the weather today and that definitely contributed to the run's difficulty.