Jan 13, 2013

Dear Doubters and Critics

(This post is a follow-up to Yesterday's Post, "My Ankle Injury and the Running Streak")

If you're reading this, perhaps you're a person who has expressed your disapproval to me about running on my ankle. It's unlikely that I've put up much of a response. I might have said something like, "Stupidity got me into this mess, and by golly..", not because I agree with you, but just because an argument can't possibly end well. If you're one of those people, or if you're one of the people who didn't bother to say anything at all out of disgust, then this post is particularly addressed to you.

 For the sake of simplicity, I group critics into two camps, depending on their answer to this question:
Let's say, hypothetically, that my running streak isn't two years. Let's say it's five years. Does your opinion change? What if it's ten years? Fifteen? Twenty? Thirty? Would you be so adamant in your disapproval if I was trying to maintain a forty-year streak?
For some of you, your answer is yes, or perhaps your answer might have been no, but now it is yes since I framed the question in a way that makes your view look inconsistent - that is not my point nor intention, but it is necessary. At any rate, your answer is now "yes", and at that point we'd have to agree to disagree. As Fred points out,
Wisdom from Fred, whose streak is at 31 years and counting.
However, if you are the kind of person who might condone or at least not disapprove of my streak if it was as long as Fred's (who ran through an ankle injury five years ago), then may I suggest that your argument is not a binary, concrete, right or wrong one, as you'd imply? If you believe it's not worth stopping a twenty-year streak, but it is wise to stop a two-year streak, then my point is at some fundamental level, we actually agree- and the only thing we disagree on is at what point is it worth starting over? Your point is merely drawn farther down the road than mine. You can argue all you want that two years is not long enough to make it worth continuing the streak - but you'd at least agree with my basic premise - that a streak is worth preserving if it's long enough. I probably would have rested, healed, and started over if my streak was two months long. But somewhere between two months and two years, I crossed that line.

 That's basically my argument. Have a nice day.

 (but wait, there's more!)

What my streak means to me

Let's go back in history, way back, in fact 746 days back, all the way to December 29, 2010.
Running Streak Day 0001
Pictured is me at a 72-hour multiday race called Across the Years. It was that year at ATY when I, for the first time, completed 100 miles in a single event, no thanks to my training, which consisted of a 60-kilometer ultra about 6 weeks prior, and a grand total of 2 miles of training in the interim.

Clearly, consistency was a problem for me, and it had been for as long as I had been running. My pattern in training was "a couple of months on, a couple of months off." I knew this going into ATY, and had concluded that I would go no farther than where I was without doing something about it. The streak to me was my "brute force" solution to finally injecting some consistency into my training, and boy has it worked. Since starting my streak, I have PR'd in every distance I've run, including a 45-minute PR in the marathon and a 5-minute PR in the 5K, finally completed a traditional 100-mile race, finished an Ironman Triathlon, and - most importantly - have gotten to the point where I can run with others without feeling like I'm slowing them down too much. I can comfortably run 4-5 miles at a 9 minute per mile pace. I owe all of that to my training, and I owe my training to my streak. I tried all sorts of techniques for years - streak-running is what works. I owe everything I've accomplished in the last two years to this running streak. I'm not going to let it go easily.

Maybe that'll give you some understanding on how much the streak means to me, maybe not.