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? Well, I ran a grand total of 43 times in 2013 according that pesky Garmin watch that sneakily keeps track of everything I do, totaling 252 miles of pavement pounding for the year (maybe a few miles missing where my watch ran out of batteries or something – hey, I need all the help I can get here!). This includes a few races, including a Spring half-marathon, and 2 Fall marathons. So not exactly impressive mileage by any stretch. Here’s the breakdown by month, which is even less flattering:
For comparison sake, Google ‘Marathon Training Plan’ and the top result that pops up is the famous Hal Higdon plan that many marathon runners (particularly 1st timers) follow. Hal’s Novice 2 plan calls for running four times a week for 18 weeks. This equates to 71 training runs totaling 462 miles (488 miles including the marathon). So yeah, even though I’ve never fully bought into these training plans which call for so much mileage (too much in my humble, lack-of-any-evidence opinion), I’m far from a ‘run every day’ kind of runner. And hence, the challenge – which as you can see will be quite a challenge for me. Here are some of the obstacles I expect during the year:
- Scheduling – I don’t know many people who aren’t busy, so I won’t use that as an excuse. Sure, I feel like I’m fairly busy already juggling a full-time job with all the responsibilities that come along with being a dad to two amazing daughters – so finding a time for hobbies is definitely a challenge. But we’re all busy, right? I just need to find a way to work the run into my day every day.
- I’m not a morning person – I’ve never been one to get up and run before the sun comes up. I typically run in the afternoon or evening. I occasionally will run in the morning, but it’s rare. While running first thing in the morning would probably be ideal for a running streak (get it out of the way before the day takes over), I don’t anticipate that I’ll magically transform into an early AM runner. No sense in being miserable during this streak, right? But I do realize there will be more days when an early morning run will be the best option given what might be scheduled for that day.
- Weather – The Midwest is probably not the ideal locale to run every day in. I’m in the Chicago area, where the Winters can be brutal, and the Summers sometimes aren’t a picnic either with the high humidity (don’t get me wrong, I’ll take running in 90 degree weather over running in zero degree weather any day). I’ve never been much of a Winter runner in the past, but that of course will have to change. Although in accordance with the rules established by the Streak Runners International, Inc., and the United States Running Streak Association, Inc. (see, I told you this was official!), running on a treadmill does count. But for the sake of my own sanity, I’m aiming to do the vast majority of my runs outdoors, and just use the treadmill as a last resort.
- Traveling – I travel occasionally for work, and these may be some of the more challenging days to squeeze a run in because my days are typically pretty full, or I’m in an area where running might not be very easy. Hotels at the airport are sometimes the most difficult since they usually frown upon running on the runways (another instance where the dreadmill might have to be used).
- Injury – I’ll probably be a pretty good candidate for some sort of injury for ramping up my mileage so quickly. I’ve been fairly fortunate the last couple of years with few injuries, but have had some IT band problems in the past. To combat, I’ll definitely start the year off slowly and not kick things off with huge mileage weeks.
- Rest is good – As evidenced by my meager 43 runs all of last year, I’m a big proponent of rest days. After a long run, my legs always feel much stronger the next time out if they’ve had a day or two off (ok, 3 or 4 even). Running every day will change the definition of a rest day from “don’t run at all”, to “run just a mile or two, perhaps at a slower pace.”
- Boredom – When will the novelty wear off? That’s when I’ll be most concerned with staying motivated. The newness of the streak will probably carry me through the first month or two, but my fear is that I’ll simply get bored with it at some point. I certainly don’t want to dread going for a run, because I do enjoy running. I want to be one with the streak, not an enemy of it. My hope is that by establishing a routine and having the daily run become a habit that I’ll minimize the thoughts of “I’m tired of doing this.” But I’m sure I’ll have those days, so I need to try and vary my routes and distances to help keep it fresh.
So I’m really setting myself up for success here, eh? The good news is that I see all of these obstacles as things that can be overcome (at least that’s what I say today, on day zero of the streak!). That’s also one of the primary reasons I decided to blog about this, to help keep me motivated and accountable to more than just myself (but also to the 5 other people that stumble upon this!). So I hope you check in from time to time, or follow my progress on Twitter (@SoarFeatBlog). Here we go…