I’ve never really been great at following through with a commitment to do something on a daily basis. Well… to clarify, I do have a few daily practices, like showering, making the bed, and brushing my teeth (just in case you were wondering), but beyond personal hygiene and household chores, I don’t typically have a daily practice of anything.
I have tried on many occasions to commit to doing something new every single day. Making the commitment is the easy part, of course; following through is where I tend to have trouble. Trying to keep a daily diary has resulted in a collection of more halfway-filled journals than I care to admit, and then there was that time a few years back when I tried to eat on a dollar a day for a month, just to see if I could do it (I couldn’t.) I stuck to my meager budget for nineteen days until a craving for chocolate got the best of me and I had to break the bank for fun-sized candy bar. It was all downhill from there. And most recently, I tried to write a daily blog post for the month of November, and we know how that turned out.
Running is just about the only thing I have done consistently for any length of time, but even that I don’t do every day. I am a strong believer in rest days, and though I typically run five or six days a week, the rest days are just as important a part of my training plan as the workout days. They aid in recovery and give me a little reprieve to look forward to after a hard workout.
More than 27 years have passed since my aunt and uncle first introduced me to running, during a summer I spent with them in Manhattan, Kansas. Though I didn’t pick it up again with regularity until high school, running has been one of the most important parts of my life for the last two decades. There have been times when my running shoes have collected dust here and there, due either to laziness or injury, but I have always come back to them, and have always built my way back up to running six days a week, with my beloved rest day typically falling on a Monday.
Recently, I read an article in Runner’s World about a growing phenomenon among runners to complete a holiday streak. That is, running every single day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. The purpose is to keep up with training and avoid the typical weight gain during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I have read about people who have streaked, sometimes for years- decades, even, but I never thought I could do it myself. I have come to depend on my rest days, relishing my free pass to sleep in or curl up on the couch once a week when I’d otherwise be running. The holiday streak, forty days of running without a break, sounded feasible, except for three little words: every single day. The rule is that you have to run at least a mile in order for the run to “count”. My problem is that if I go to the trouble of getting dressed and putting my running shoes on, it seems like a waste only to run one mile. On the other hand, what if I run only a mile per day for forty days? That would technically follow the rules of the streak, but it would seem like cheating… and certainly wouldn’t do much in the way of avoiding weight gain. Not at the rate I eat Christmas cookies, anyway.
M. and I decided to give the streak a try, and to run one mile on those days that are normally rest days, or if we just have way too much going on. Today, I completed day thirteen of my running streak. I have run 75.6 miles in the last thirteen days- an average of nearly 6 miles per day, with even the shortest of my runs being longer than a mile. That’s nothing compared to what some of my friends run; some of those folks run 75 miles or more in just one week. But for me, that mileage is pretty good, especially here in Matamoros where the temperature can rise or fall 50 degrees from one day to the next, and where I can count our safe running locations on three fingers (one of those being the treadmill at home). We have increased the intensity of our training as we prepare for the Austin Marathon in just over two months, so between that and the streak, my legs are feeling a bit more tired than usual, but they are hanging in there.
Six years ago on this day, I would never have imagined that today I would have completed the thirteenth day of a running streak, as I was lying in a recovery room with a catheter in my groin, dripping morphine into my veins following an invasive knee surgery that involved severing my kneecap and realigning it with two titanium screws that remain in my tibia today. That operation threatened my future as a runner. And so, as on every December 10th since 2007, I celebrate my surgery anniversary with a run, which today happened to be a 6.4 mile interval workout on a chilly, drizzly, windy morning. I didn’t want to get out of bed, much less go outside and run, but then two words popped into my mind: holiday streak.
Thank you for reading!