Since I have one more post after this that will serve as me wrapping up this crazy year, I’ve decided that, for this post, I’ll try to put into words how it feels to end a year-long running streak. Frankly, I’m not sure I can do it justice.
Running for an entire year has been, well, interesting. I’m a working mom. I have a supportive husband, two great kids and the luxury of having a treadmill in my basement.
Many a mile was spent on that treadmill squeezing in my daily minimum late at night after a long day at work. Before getting on that treadmill there was dinner to cook for my family, kids to shuttle to after-school activities or school functions, then those same little girls needed to be bathed and put to bed. And after all that was when I would get on that treadmill and slog through one mile. It never failed that on those days, I would come up from the basement after running, sigh, and sit down at the computer to write and calculate my distances because I needed to schedule a blog post for the next morning.
Much like what I’m doing now. The daily running and blogging every third day has felt like a chore from time to time.
But the weekends have been a different story. My Saturday alarm is always set early. I don my running clothes, give myself enough time for a cup of coffee, before slapping on my Garmin and heading outside for a long run. I tackle a paved trail in my neighborhood that takes me through woods, tunnels and along the water’s edge.
Those weekend long runs feel like little gifts. I love running early in the morning. It’s quiet and it’s when I decompress from my work week. I shake off any work-related stresses and fall into a rhythm that is my own. It’s a tough, hilly route, but I lose myself out there every time. I absolutely love it.
Those long weekend runs aren’t going anywhere. It’s the mid-week one-milers that need to go. I’ve struggled with the quality vs. quantity aspect of daily running since July, I guess. Those shorties that I feel like I’m slogging through during the week were just happening so I could check the box. They weren’t joyful. They were’t exciting. They weren’t much fun at all.
What’s so fascinating is that today of all days — with two days left — I stumbled upon this article from Runner’s World that ran in July that says as much about run streaking. It’s a brief interview with runner Mark Covert, who owns the world’s second-longest daily running streak. His 45-year running streak came to an end on July 23, 2013. He ran for 16,436 days in a row, running at least 1 mile per day and logged nearly 150,000 miles. His streak ended due to injury — a non-running related injury, I should add.
Here’s the last question they asked him:
What do you say when someone asks if they should start a running streak?
MC: Don’t do it. I get asked quite often, mostly by new runners and by runners on my college teams. Listen, I realize there are better ways to deal with sickness and injury than running every day. I know there were times in my career when I would have bounced back faster if I had taken several days off, probably even a week. As a coach, I understand the benefits of days off, and that’s what I encourage my kids to do when they need it, to take a day off every once in a while.
That said, there are some individuals for whom a daily running streak has an important impact on them every day. They feel better, they’re more productive, they have a better outlook on life. If it works for you, why not?
I love that he flat out says “Don’t do it” in regards to taking on the burden of a running streak. I get it. I would probably say the same thing if asked. It hasn’t been hard on my body — although, I admit, one of my knees now clicks when I go up the stairs. It’s hardest when you’re dog tired. When you have a cold. When you are truly sick and your back’s been strained and it hurts to move anything. Or when you have to wake up at 3:45 a.m. to grab a quick run because there is no other time in your day to get it in, otherwise.
But the second half of his answer is where I fit. It did have an important impact on me. Not really the physical one, but the mental one. It made me feel more productive. It made me carve out time to do something good for myself, even it was only for 10 or 12 minutes. And it definitely gave me a more positive outlook on life. And these are the themes I’ll try to wrap up in my final post…
Until then, in case you’re wondering: Will I run on Jan. 1, 2014? Yes. I think an annual New Year’s Day run is a great ritual that I hope to carry out for many years to come — and one that I hope my family will want to be a part of, as well.
Will I run on Jan. 2? Not a chance in hell.
Gotta run — again!