This is going to be a long post, but just roll with it.
Today is a big day. One that felt so far away, as if it would never actually be here. Today is day 365 of my run streak. One year of running every single day. That’s pretty huge if you ask me.
At the start of 2015, my mom mentioned how our friend Amy over at Veggies Save the Day had been doing a run streak and she might do one too. A run streak is simply running at least one mile everyday without missing any days. Back up a little more into September of 2014 and we had both already started running again, so it was a pretty attainable goal. I thought the run streak sounded like it might be fun and decided to participate in the streak with my mom. What I didn’t expect was just how much I would love the run streak and how much it transformed my view of running as well as change my mindset overall.
I ran cross country in high school, practicing everyday and usually running at least once over the weekend, but it definitely wasn’t something I looked forward to or found a huge deal of enjoyment in. Sure, it helped me with stress (literally running away from my problems :P), but other than that I mostly questioned why I tortured myself on a daily basis. Even though I wasn’t competitive at all (which I think drove my mom a bit nuts as I didn’t really care who passed me during races), I got so much enjoyment and excitement out of every new PR. The more I ran, the more I enjoyed it.. errr tolerated it, but during my last season I got really bad shin splints and was out for the season, running my very last race on my birthday (which I limped my way through with my shins all wrapped up because I was determined to finish). I ran every now and then once I got to college, but I started running more with my mom in the summer and fall of 2014. This was mostly an every other day kinda thing though.
Left: after running my fastest 5k to date. Right: One of my first ever cross country races.
We started running everyday on January 1, 2015, but I had to stop a few days in so I could have my wisdom teeth out, along with some other oral surgery. However, I took the time off to recover and started running again on January 24, 2015. I was a little over 20 days behind my mom’s run streak, but that didn’t really bother me much, I mean there’s nothing you can do to magically add days to your streak. We ran through some of the coldest days we’ve had in our area in a long time, the coldest being -4 degrees. Fahrenheit. That was a one mile day :P. We ran in snow, rain, and wind. We even ran on the dreadmill when there was just no way we could run outside.
Now don’t get me wrong, we ran everyday, but we certainly weren’t out there running 10 miles everyday. We were averaging around 10-15 miles a week or so. We kept chugging along for a while until my mom had to end her streak after 85 days due to bad bursitis in her hip. I was super sad to not have anyone to run with anymore (except my main boogie, Rory), but I kept on going with my streak. Some days it was extremely hard to motivate myself to actually get up and run, especially during the cold months. It also didn’t help that it was an oddly cold winter.
As the days got warmer and I’d been running for a while, I noticed I just naturally started upping my mileage without really giving it much thought. By the time I was out of school for summer (fake summer because summer classes, boo), I had gone from running 45 miles a month to 60 miles a month. I kept that average for the whole summer until August, when I ran my longest run up to that point – 10 miles. This was a huge milestone for me because I had previously only run a max of 7 miles and I wasn’t even planning on running that far, I just felt good so I kept on going. That taught me that I am capable of a lot more than I think I am.
Run streak day 100 and 200 (done in the pouring down rain while sick)
A little further down the road I noticed my mileage went up to 70, then 80 miles a month, but that increase wasn’t exactly intentional either. What was happening was I started truly enjoying running and the time I spent running. It became a huge part of me. I started wanting to run further, and in October ran my first (unofficial) half marathon. I was a ball of excitement after that, despite my legs feeling a bit like jello for a day or two. And that’s when I really upped the mileage. That run resulted in October’s mileage totaling out to 100.8 miles. I couldn’t believe I had run 100 miles in 31 days. From there on I decided to maintain the mileage, November ending at 108 miles and December at 104. I’m finishing out the year having run a total of 922 miles!
It wasn’t all perfect though. I had to take weeks of slow miles every now and then to fix certain injuries or because I was sick or feeling a little run down (no pun intended). A hip injury from running with Rory and constantly being off balance due to squirrel chasing, ankle injuries, and IT band injuries all happened over the course of the year. The most important thing I took away from these injuries is to take appropriate time off. Whenever I’m not feeling too hot I just do a slow one mile run, but I find that harder to do for a long period of time. Usually after about a week I’m back at it again, but the most recent ankle injury, which I’m still nursing back to health, put me out for longer than anticipated. I did get it checked though and got to OK to continue running.
Over this year I learned a lot from my run streak and I’m extremely proud of it. I learned to stop comparing myself to others. When I started out I felt very intimidated by others saying they went out for “an easy 15 miler” and as if I wasn’t pushing myself enough or I wasn’t a real runner. That only changed over the summer when I suddenly realized that not everyone is built the same and we can’t all endure that kind of distance. Nor do I want to run for over 2.5 hours. I started taking things at the pace I was comfortable with and that was good enough for me. I learned to take care of myself better. This includes taking rest days (no, not a day where you don’t do anything at all) and just doing one super easy, slow mile to allow my muscles to recover. I learned that I actually enjoy running. In high school I dreaded practice everyday, but I actually really love running now and I get back from every run with a smile on my face (unless it’s miserably cold or done on the treadmill :P). If I didn’t actually enjoy running I definitely don’t think I would’ve made it a whole year running every single day!
I think perhaps the most important thing I learned over this past year is to do at least one thing everyday that makes you happy. For me, that happened to be running. Although there are other things that I make sure I do everyday that make me happy, running is such a huge stress reliever for me and gives me a pretty big sense of accomplishment, even if I only ran 3 miles that day.
Looking on into the future, I definitely want to continue my streak and hope to continue it for as long as possible. With one year of experience I feel fairly confident that I know how to properly approach running everyday and how to take it a bit more seriously.