No, I did not run naked down the glorious lawn at my beloved UVA or across our neighborhood, which would have probably resulted in me writing this from the warmth of a jail cell. I decided to take Runner’s World up on their challenge to start a running streak, which requires one to run at least one mile per day starting on Thanksgiving and ending on New Year’s Day. That is 36 days straight of running. Sounded like something I could do.
And I did. Today I ran a 5k to finish up the streak in style. I’d like to say it was easy, but that would be a lie. Even though I kept my daily mileage to about 2-3 miles per day (with a few one mile days thrown in just to make the day count), I did struggle some days to get it done. Now, I have had times in my past where I worked out 5-6 days a week, during track season or at the height of crew training, and my days were much harder than a one mile run, but (1) I was MUCH younger and (2) I still got a day off once in awhile. This streak proved to be a real challenge for me.
Some thoughts on my 36 days on the road:
Day 1: Thanksgiving day. Never a bad idea to run a few miles before eating a big meal. We didn’t travel this year so finding time to run was easier than it might have been.
Day 5: Had to try the treadmill during a nasty cold snap in the area. I truly, deeply, passionately hate the treadmill. Really. But we have one in our basement so downstairs I went. I guess the poor thing hadn’t been used in awhile (like, since last winter) and it is getting old (over 12 years now) so it was a little rusty. I ended up completing a fartlek run as the stupid machine kept speeding up and slowing down without warning. I got a good arm workout, however, as I kept my tense hands poised just above the handrails to grab on quickly and not get shot off the back as it sped up. Run complete!
Day 7: A tough day for scheduling the run. I teach at two different colleges and I had classes all day (from 8:00 am until 9:30 pm) without a break at home or near a place where I could clean up easily. Still, I managed with one of my one-mile days. I brought my sneakers and a change of shirt and became one of “those” people who goes out running in jeans. Fortunately, it was a cold day so I didn’t sweat too much and thus did not require significant “touch ups” to look presentable for my last class. Not that I am any sort of glamour queen, but…
Days 15-17: Hit the wall here. Legs felt heavy and I really wanted to not run. But I had promised myself that I would do this and so I did. I never really advertised my streak – it was something between me, myself, and I, just to see if I could do it through mainly internal motivation. I like to run alone and this running streak was something I wanted to do on my own. These few days were a test.
Day 18: Ugh.
Day 19: Got the confirmation email that we are in again for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in DC in April. Guess I know what I’ll be doing after this running streak ends. Running more.
Day 20: Probably the lowest point so far. Cold, rainy day, not much motivation, and absolutely NO way I could face our treadmill (have I noted how much I DESPISE that thing?). So, I put on my rain gear (I did buy this stuff for some reason) and hit the road. After a few minutes, I felt okay, except for the rain pelting my face and the hood of my jacket rubbing awkwardly against my face as I kept cinching it down to keep the rain out. Run complete.
Day 22: Legs back. Enjoying my runs again.
Day 27: Travelled to visit family up north for the holiday. Faithfully packed my gear because I knew that after a long drive home that day, I would not be able to make myself run. Got out in the misty drizzle and ran the only route I am familiar with around there. Found out they built a new soccer complex at the park. Guess it’s been awhile since I ran around there.
Day 32: Ran with our dog. Our little Chihuahua/terrier mutt. Did I mention it was raining and I had a post-holiday cold going at the same time? Another one mile run day. To her credit, she did keep up pretty well on her little legs.
Day 33: A good run kinda day. Still dealing with a chest thing but despite uneven breathing, I managed a decent run. Only 3 days left – I can see the light at the end of tunnel.
Day 36: TODAY! I ran the 5k with a friend and we did just fine. It was cold and a bit windy and the course had some tough gradual uphills, but we kept a decent pace and finished strong. Found out later that we ended up in second place for our age group! Gotta love small races.
So, what have I learned from doing this? One, I can finish what I commit to do, even if that commitment is simply an internal one. Two, running every day, even if only a mile or two, did counterbalance the holiday eating and kept off the pounds. Three, my body could not handle running every day if I did more mileage. I am prone to foot and knee problems that flare up when I up my mileage. They only slightly started to bother me by the end of this streak, but now that I have to increase mileage for the spring race, I will need days off and walking days to make it through injury-free. Four, while it is difficult some days to fit a run in, it is not impossible. Get up a little earlier, plan your day out in advance, accept that a run is going to happen and it does. No excuses.
Will I do this again? Sure. It really wasn’t horrible or beyond my abilities. I could do it again.
After I take a day or two off, that is.