Thursday, May 17, 2007

Taking a break

I posted a few weeks back how I had realized I was about to run for 5 straight days for the first time in lord knows how long. Well, I just noticed last night when filling out my running log that I had run for 7 straight, completely inadvertently. Chances are pretty good I will run again today.

This is hardly even worth noting to some people. Why? Well, I actually am friends with a guy who claims to not have missed a day of running since 1977 or something odd like that. Heck there is even a club for it, called United States Running Streak Association, Inc.

There appears to be very simple criteria to join this club.

1. A running streak is defined by USRSA as running 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).
2. Ownership of a running streak, either active or retired, entitles you to a USRSA membership. Once that streak reaches a year in duration you then qualify for USRSA listing of your streak.

And that's it. Do that and you are in. But why?

I often was asked "but why?" during Fiddy2 last year and I had a litany of answers at hand. Even more so, I understand the "but why?"s most athletes get when they push themselves past the threshold of seeming common sense. Heck, I am running my first 100 mile race in 2 weeks. I also want to run Badwater someday. I plan on completing an Ironaman triathlon in the near future. In addition, I am hoping to compete in lots of events that make people say "But why?"

But I do not get this "streak" thing.

As Fiddy2 developed last year, and I realized that if I was going to stay true blue to the idea of running an actual marathon every weekend (i.e., a certified course) I could not, if push came to shove, simply run on a treadmill, or double up on a race course somewhere. This was the rule I set down and I am proud to say I never wavered from it. (I would like to think that is what earned me some credibility in the running ranks.) This rule came about when I looked at the 2006 running schedule and saw many holes and places where remote or difficult marathons might make me miss a week (e.g., Leadville).

I say this because of the truth factor. Let me clarify. Runners, or at least those I have met, are some of the most truthful when it comes to what they have run. They will bemoan injuries before a race, or complain about conditions during a race to justify a time they do not think is their best, but when it comes to how far they ran or if they actually did run, I do not know many who would lie. (There are exceptions and some scoundrels out there if they spontaneously combusted I wouldn't piss on to put out the flames, but that is neither here nor there.)

That said, I do not get the point of an organization that relies solely on the veracity of their members' statements for inclusion. Perhaps I am too much of a stickler for needing to be able to prove one's claims or maybe I should not be looking to deeply into this club's reason for existing. But, it is my nature and that is what I do.

I guess my main reservation comes from the fact that I do not think that running every single day is good for you. And therefore, the promotion of such streaks is invariably a bad idea. Then again, if all you need to do is keep the streak alive is run one single mile chances are you are not doing much damage to your body anyway.

Apparently, however, none of these people have ever taken a long trip where they could not run because of logistics. (e.g., Once, for work, I was on a plane for 21.5 hours, including an emergency detour to get a sick passenger off the plane where we idled on the tarmac for 90 minutes. That left precious little time to get in that one mile run. And running through customs sometimes sends a very bad signal.)

But I guess the promotion of physical fitness, in whatever form is, good. I simply cringe when I think of things which may IMPEDE us from exercising. Not unlike when I see someone running with awful form or improper footwear, I think that running every day may push someone to the point where they never want to run again. Or, I see it is a by-product of some people who have bulimia or anorexia or are so obsessive with exercise that is it completely detrimental to their overall health and the reason why they should be exercising in the first place.

Me, well, I think breaks are necessary (and I might have just convinced myself to take one tonight.) Perhaps one mile is not too much to do even on a "break" day. And no one said that the miles have to be fast. But I think it is OK to stop every now and again. But kudos to those who have done so. I guess I just won't be impressed. Then again, they probably don't care one lick if I am impressed.

At least I have a reason for trying to cram in a lot of runs in a short period of time. With my 100 mile race quickly approaching, I know I have not trained nearly enough for this race. Actually, I haven't trained at all for THIS race. I have run marathons and done speed work and have a base few people have but I have not targeted this race specifically. I am trying to remedy that. I am trying to run while tired because I sure as heck will be doing so in two weeks. So, I have a reason. I need to crank out some miles. (Which makes me wonder if any of these streakers have ever done an ultra. If so, how fast was that mile the day after a 100 mile race?)


I am currently still deciding which way I fall on the new Reebok slogan "Go Run Easy". Chances are I will come to the same conclusion as above. I am happy people are exercising but "staying fit how you see fit" usually doesn't coincide with "running easy" in my book.


Anne C said...

We're going streaking!


Roderick. said...

Streaking is foolish at best. It goes against the rule of rest. We should take note of the natural laws of the land. If you plant and reap crops in the same spot over time without allowing the land to rest, it becomes useless and unfruitful. The body is the same way. Will we ever learn? Fun fact: muscle growth occurs primarily while we rest.