Thursday, March 14, 2019

100-Day Running Streak

I first opined about running streaks 12 years ago.  In that post I talked more about what makes a streak and how we trust those who say they haven't missed a day. Five years ago, I spoke about it again and how streaking can often impede a good running goal. I also gave reasons for when it is good idea to stop your streak. Then today, I hit 100 days in a row where I haven't missed a run.

My previous record was 48 days in 2012. That streak ended when a combination of a cold or illness met up with a long flight and travel day. Heeding my own advice which I would late write above (can you heed something you haven't said yet?) I took the day off. Since that time the longest streak I had came in 2016. This was surprising to me because when I was counting the days earlier this year I was convinced that January was the first time I had ever run every single days in a calendar month. I as wrong. My second full month in Austin, Texas, in the thick of sickening heat, I ran every day in October. (In fact, I ran 35 times in October, and with some in prior September and some in November after my consecutive days streak was 43 days.)

This particular streak started because I did an experiment in December. Even though I fell on consecutive days and cut up my knee, I kept going. I kept going not because of the streak but rather because everything felt good. I had matching ouchies on my knee that looked super weird but that's just cosmetic.

One week in to that experiment I had experienced some slight groin pain which made me think I might need to take some days off. It wasn't that surprising as I was adding distance and adding days. I normally take one day off a week. But the pain abated and I finished 2018 without missing a day. Then I began 2019. For a variety of reason I pulled out of some races in January which is usually when I take a rest day. January continued to have pleasant and cool running weather which helped me continue the streak. The previous January had some very cold days in Austin but they had quickly subsided and gave way to a plethora of 80-degree days. I figured when this happened I would take a break. This year that did not happen.

This nice weather continued into February. Dealing with some personal heartache issues I found myself turning to running again.The weather stayed nice. No legs problems or injuries of any kind cropped up. I figured I might stop my streak at 52 days (52 is somewhat synonymous with me) but that came and went unceremoniously on a day that was also 52 degrees when I ran (because of course it was.) I saw that if I ran all of February, making it two months without a missed date, I would be at 86 days straight. Besides being my football number in high school, it is my favorite number. How can you not like a number which is also a verb?! I had a plan to do something which would take me out of my normal order of sleeping in on Sundays the fiest weekend of March and I thought that perhaps this would be the streak- ender. Then the plans got cancelled on me. So instead I found myself consoling myself with another run.

Meanwhile, the nice weather in Austin continued. Well, nice for me. Everyone else was freezing and complaining. I was scheduling 16-mile runs in the freezing temperatures because it had been years since I had felt these. I noticed I would get to 100 days on Pi day, and if I were to beware the Ides of March on March 15th, perhaps I would end my streak on the 14th. My run on the 13th went pretty crappy. I felt exhausted. I thought perhaps I would show how little streaks mean to me by not running that 100th day. It takes fare more gumption to stop at 99 then it does to push hard to get to 100.  I know this because I had a 9.9 mile route that I ran all the time in Salt Lake City when I lived here that everyone else said they would run that extra .1 to get a round number. I didn't see the point. I mapped out the run, ran it, and it ended up being 9.9 staring and finishing at my door. Adding more would just be ridiculous. leave numbers not on round endings than it does to power through when you are sick or injured. But I woke up today, the weather was warm but dry, and a few steps into the run I knew it was going to be a good day.  No need to stop the streak on this day.

So March 15th has a scheduled 16 miler. It will be my 101st day of running. The next two weeks call for more surprisingly "cool" temperature in Austin. After a summer last year forced me to run on a treadmill more times in a month than I may have the rest of my life, I know that it is the weather which most dictates how I run. As long as I continue to feel good, I am going to keep running.

I am not sure when the streak will end. Part of the streak is undoubtedly tied to the fact that I haven't had a single race since the first weekend of December. I also had some travel plans cancelled and some others fall through. All of those are things which usually make me take a day off. With my next confirmed race not being until the end of April, maybe the streak will go onto to then. Maybe I will find a race which will take my fancy and I will run it before. The aforementioned heartache is abating somewhat so perhaps I won't "need" the run as much anymore. I truly don't know what will cause the first rest day and I am sure it will be at some weird number that has no significance.

That will be perfectly fine with me, too. This streak has had multiple purposes and all were to make me a better runner. The second it no longer serves my desires to help me on my running journey, I will rest.

Until then, long live the run!

Some Stats:
100 runs. (I never did a double.)
Total miles run: 892
Longest Run: 20.5 miles
Shortest Run: 4.65 miles (twice)
Most often run distance: 10.3 miles