Category Archives: Run Every Day

Run Streak 2014 Complete!

Mission accomplished, I somehow managed to run at least one mile every day of 2014.  I’ll do a full write-up at some point on the full year (i.e. the #1 thing I learned is not to set fitness goals for the following year while drinking on New Year’s Eve), but for now, here’s a quick look at the year in numbers.

Run Streak 2014 Stats

…and for visual proof, here’s every day of running condensed to about 60 seconds!

Thank You Interurban Trail for Saving My Run Streak

On short notice, I ended up having to fly out to Seattle for work last Friday. I flew out from Chicago on Thursday evening, getting to Seattle a little after 8:00. After getting a car and then grabbing dinner and a beer (ok, two), it was past 11:00 by the time I checked into my hotel for the night…or what was really 1:00 am according to my internal clock. I was flying back home the next day, and would be stuck in a meeting during the day, so I knew my only chance to get my daily run in would be first thing in the morning. I had to leave the hotel by 7:30 am for my meeting, so I set my alarm for 6:30 just planning on getting a short streak keeper run in.

The only problem was the hotel was on a fairly busy road near the airport, with no sidewalk on either side. I figured I would have to just hunt for a nearby road that was more accessible for running…or end up running laps around the parking lot (which I’m not above doing! … that tactic worked out fairly well when I was stuck in a snowstorm in Detroit earlier this year).

The view of the mysterious trail outside my hotel window.

The view of the mysterious trail outside my hotel window.

But that’s when I looked out my window and saw something unusual at the back of the hotel parking lot. A wooden arched garden arbor with what looked like a paved path on the other side. I wasn’t sure where it lead to, but it looked very promising. I quickly pulled up a map on my phone and sure enough – right at the back of the parking lot sits the “Interurban Trail“, which runs 14 miles and connects a few neighboring towns. I could hardly believe my luck – and pushed up my alarm to 6:15 to give me a little more time to explore.

Interurban TrailI hit the trail early the next morning on what was a beautiful sunny Seattle day. I was elated when looking over at the nearby road that I would have been forced to run on had this path not popped up out of nowhere. The path runs along a series of railroad tracks, which were pretty active as several freight trains rumbled through during my run. Trees and bushes separated the path from the tracks in most sections, and I figured I would turn back when I reached the 1.5 mile mark. As I approached my turnaround point, I noticed that a bit farther ahead there was somewhat of a clearing near where a set of tracks crossed over the path, which looked to be a good natural spot to turn around, so I continued on a little further.

View of Mt. Rainier in the distance on Interurban Trail

View of Mt. Rainier in the distance on Interurban Trail

And boy did that ever pay off! As I came into the clearing I glanced up and was greeted by a stunning view of Mount Rainier off in the distance. “The mountain was out” as they say in Seattle on days when clear skies allow for her to be seen. Had I turned around a tenth of a mile sooner, I would never had seen the snow capped mountain as it was hidden behind the brush the rest of the time.

I’ve always had a fascination with Rainier, and attempted to climb it a few years back. Unfortunately my summit dreams were crushed when my body couldn’t handle the altitude. As I found out later this was likely influenced by medication I was on at the time for ulcerative colitis – or as my doctor said when I told her after the fact, “you tried to climb what?!” This turned out to be just 7 months ahead of having surgery to remove my colon, so I wasn’t exactly in tip top shape. But someday I hope to give it another shot, and would like to think that this morning’s greeting was Rainier’s way of saying that she’s ready whenever I am. …or maybe that’s just the jet lag talking!

View of Mt Rainier flying into Seattle

View of Mt Rainier flying into Seattle

So all in all, a fantastic morning run to start the day and keep the run streak alive (day 157!). It’s always great when traveling to find an unexpected path like that, and really makes the run even more enjoyable. Thank you Interurban Trail!

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Month 2 of Run Every Day 2014

Bill Murray perfectly sums up my feelings about this winter with his spot-on forecast in Groundhog Day:

Worst Winter Ever - Chicago Tribune headline February 2014

Worst Winter Ever!

This is where I’m supposed to write about how the cold and snowy winter has made me tougher and more resilient.  Oh sure, I suppose there is some truth to that, but overall I’m just ready for some warmer temps.  I do however feel pretty good about getting outside for a run every day this month, so I haven’t had to succumb to the treadmill yet.  And despite the cold and windy days, there were also a fair number of decent running days.  I’ve learned that single digit temps are really not all that bad if there’s not much wind.  I’ve also learned to obsessively check my weather app every morning to try and strategically time my run for the peak temp.  Should I run at 7 am when it’s 2 degrees with sun, or wait until noon when it warms up to 7 degrees but with wind?  These are the struggles I hope not to deal with much longer (and I promise not to complain in August when I’m debating whether to run when it’s 97 degrees as sunrise or 102 at lunch).

I’m still slowly easing into the mileage, which I think is smart and will hopefully help avoid any early injuries.  I topped out at 48 miles in the 28 days of February.  I plan to start increasing my mileage in March in preparation for an early May half-marathon, the Great Western Half.  I’ve been contemplating a Spring full marathon as well, but haven’t fully convinced myself yet (perhaps just a glimmer of warmer weather in March will push me to sign up – we shall see).

59 days into the run streak.  2 months down, 10 to go!

Winter running

Month 1 of Run Every Day 2014

Winter runningPolar vortex. Chiberia. Worst winter ever.

These are not things you want to hear in the first month of a run streak. Chicago winters are notorious for forcing people to give up all their dreams, abandon hope, and move somewhere South – and this winter thus far has lived up to that reputation and then some.  But I did manage to get out and run at least a mile every day this month even while fighting some annoying cold symptoms the first 2 weeks, which at least gives me some confidence for the rest of the year.  January runningBy the numbers:

  • 31 days – 49.1 miles (avg distance 1.58, median 1.62) Not impressive mileage for lots of people, but coming off of a zero base and never run this frequently in my life, I’ll take it. By comparison, from 2011-2013, I ran 6 marathons but only had 3 months with more than 50 miles (3 marathon months).
  • I probably surpassed my former run streak record somewhere around January 4th or 5th, so I got that going for me…which is nice.
  • Average Temp: 19.6°F
  • Average Windchill: 7.7°F
  • Coldest Day: January 6, -17°F, -40° Windchill.  That was fun.
  • Days below zero: 2 (8 with Windchill below zero)
January 2014 Daily Running Temps and Windchill

January 2014 Daily Running Temps and Windchill

…so the story this month was definitely the weather, but I’m encouraged that I made it out every day (and while I could have run on a treadmill, I really wanted to avoid it if I could in the first month).  I even came away with a few positives:

  • Snow footprintsIt was almost always better outside than it looked from the window (well, except for the aforementioned -17° day, that looked and felt bad).  My takeaway – don’t listen to the news or anybody else scaring you into not venturing outside – you’ll probably be ok if you’re dressed for it (-40° windchill not withstanding).
  • There is a very peaceful rhythm to running on a thin layer of crusty snow.  I’ll miss that sound when the weather warms up.
  • Likewise for having the first tracks after a new snowfall.  There’s just something about being the first to run through fresh powder.  Having no tracks except for the occasional rabbit or coyote tracks has a way of really connecting you with nature.

The daily run is also starting to become a bit of a routine – which is good and what I had hoped for and needed. I’ve typically been getting out the door around lunchtime, primarily since it’s a bit warmer by then. Early morning runs would have been more of a challenge not just because of the lower temps but also more ice on the roads and trails at that time of the day.

1 month down, 11 to go!

 

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Day 12: Ice Ice Baby

Ice

Dare I say I’ve gotten somewhat used to the cold?  Ok, it still kinda sucks…but not as bad as the ice.  Combine close to 20″ in cumulative snow with a sudden rise in the temps (even slightly above freezing, hooray!), and you get a lot of wet sidewalks.  All good.  But then when the temps dip at night everything freezes over again until it has a chance to melt with the midday sun.

YaktraxI’ve found that wearing Yaktrax on my shoes does help a bit, and I’ve avoided any falls thus far (well almost, I actually did fall on my driveway walking out to start my run, fortunately landed in a soft snow bank though).  But I think they work better in light snow fall than on sheer ice (at least the ‘Pro’ version I have, perhaps the ones specifically designed for ‘Running‘ might perform better – but I had these Pro ones hanging around so figured I should use them).  My running route has sometimes been a mixture of dry pavement and ice, and on the dry patches the Yaktrax are a bit distracting because they slip a bit when pushing off on dry blacktop (not a falling kind of slip, but just not as good of a push off as with a normal running shoe).  But overall, I think they’re doing the trick.

Yaktrax

Longing for the days when I’ll have dry (or at least non-ice!) footing to run on!  That’s all – now just stop, collaborate and listen.

Day 6: My First 17 Degrees Below Zero Run!

photoWhen I started my daily running streak (a mere six days ago), I knew that there would be days in the coming year when it would be challenging.  What I didn’t know was that day 6 may turn out to be the most challenging – because it was 17º BELOW ZERO (Fahrenheit)!  Windchill was somewhere around -40º.

Now, while I could have schlepped to the gym and run on a treadmill, I would have felt a bit guilty invoking the treadmill rule so early in the streak. C’mon, it’s just the first week – if I can’t get outside and run every day this week what chance would I have of running 365 days straight?  After all, how bad could it be? Well, pretty bad – but I survived.

After layering, and then layering, and layering some more, I headed out into the arctic tundra.  I couldn’t find my ski goggles so I settled on sun glasses to at least block some of the wind – but they didn’t last long since they fogged up.  So I was fully covered except for my eyes.  Surprising, it really wasn’t that bad and didn’t feel that cold.  And yes, I am completely aware of how dumb that sounds, but it’s true.  The only thing that felt cold were my eyes, as I could feel my eyelashes literally freeze – which is an odd sensation.

So I only made it a little over a mile before I decided to save myself from frostbite and live to run another day.  It can only get easier from here, right?  Maybe not, but as long as it’s warmer I’ll take it!

 

I’m Going Streaking!

Pretty similar to Old School, except the streak I’m shooting for is to run at least 1 mile each and every day of 2014 (most of which will likely be clothed). I’m usually not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I guess that’s the best way to describe this challenge. I realize for some hard-core runners this may be a relatively easy endeavor, and running every day (or at least most days) is something they just do, with or without pursuit of a “streak”.  On the farthest end of the hard-core spectrum are runners that have run every day for DECADES, there’s even an official association to keep track of these crazy people.  The longest active current streak will reach 45 years this coming May, and there are dozens of runners with streaks longer than 30 years. And at least one streaker has been able to ensure proper priorities are maintained, like this guy who ran and also drank a beer every day for over 3 years! Alas, I am not one of these hard-core runners, but just an average runner seeking some motivation to get out and run more frequently than I currently do.

So we’ll see what happens – I’m looking forward to the challenge and to see if I can actually make through the whole year…or at least a whole month.  Historically, I’ve been very, very good at finding an excuse not to run.  I’ve run 13 marathons, but have never been as disciplined in my training as I would like to be.  Just how undisciplined you ask? Read more