Friday, February 6, 2015

What I Learned During My 101 Day Running Streak

Last week Wednesday, January 27th I woke up at 3:30 am, some thirty minutes earlier than usual, made me a strong cup of coffee, checked the weather ~ mostly because I have learned not to trust the forecast in our area ~ strapped on my heart rate monitor, put on my Garmin, laced up my shoes and along with my wife, drove to meet our 4:30 crew for a run. This would be my 100th consecutive day running. Today on the agenda was a 4 mile tempo run. And as it turns out, there would be one more day after this one, simply because you never stop at the finish line. Total streak: 101 Days.

It all started very innocently back on October 20, 2014. And the next time I took a day off was on Thursday, January 29, 2015. I say innocently because I really had no intention of doing this, and I'm not sure why it happened. I just know it did. Okay, maybe that's not the whole truth.

I'm always motivated by a good challenge, and after lunch with two friends, I felt compelled to try something different, so the idea of a running streak, of unknown time and distance, was born.


Total Consecutive Days: 101
Total Miles Ran: 551.8
Average Run: 5.5 miles
Earliest Run: 3:30 am
Latest Run: 6:30 pm
Shortest Run: 1 mile
Longest Run: 26.2 miles
Shortest Weekly Volume: 27.1 miles
Longest Weekly Volume: 57.3

Number of Marathons During Streak: 2 (The Flying Monkey and WDW Marathon)
Number of Half Marathons During Streak: 2 (Memphis St. Jude's Half and WDW Half Marathon)

I ran on flat, I ran the hills, I ran in the park, the big park, the greenway, the roads and sidewalks. I chased "The Monkey" and ran with "Mickey". I was a little "Goofy", somewhat "Dopey". At times I was cold, and once it was hot. I even got lost. I ran the treadmill a time or two.

I ran for Jerry's Kids, I ran with my wife, I ran with my daughters. I ran with my friends. I wish I had ran with my brother. I ran solo at times. I shared my story a time or two.


Rule #1). Run at least one mile per calendar day, at any pace, anywhere.
Rule #2). There were no other rules.

I have always been a fan of rest. Rest days are very important to me. The high volume of Ironman training has taught me to respect my rest days. So what did I expect to get out of this?

I went in with no real expectations and not a real number of days in mind. I did not start out saying "I will run 100 days straight". I started out saying "Lets start this and see what happens".

Two weeks prior to the start, I had done the Chicago Marathon, and two weeks before that, Ironman Chattanooga. I was tired and spent. I needed a break.

I did not tell anyone I was trying to streak. I went on my merry business. I didn't start posting my daily updates on facebook until much later into the streak. However, some time in the first couple of weeks my wife and daughters asked me what I was up to. I had no answer. I did not really know.

It was hard at first, those initial two weeks were tough; my body was used to resting every-so-often and now it wasn't. On those days that I should have been resting, I did my run(s) at a very easy pace. And as I did this, I began to realize something...

The easier I ran, the longer I could run. The more often I was able to run without feeling drained and the more enjoyable running become. It was fun.

Curiosity spiked. Could I be doing some damage to my running? Was what I was doing helping my running? So I started researching. This is when I came across the book 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald. This book explained perfectly why and how I was able to do this. I encourage each and everyone of you interested in running better and longer to read this book.

As my volume increased, my pace improved. I was able to run distances at speeds never seen before. All of the sudden I found myself running an 8:30 min/mile for distances I never had before.

As the days added up, I felt more at ease with the runs. I looked forward to them. Not sure if because I could add one more to the tally or because my body was getting used to the daily run. I would soon find out. The most miserable day of the streak was the day after the streak ended.

My first goal was to make it to 30 days. When that came and went, the next goal was 50 days. I remember that being a special day. I wasn't questioning, at this point how long I could keep going, just kept going. The days kept adding up and all of the sudden 100 days was within reach.

I learned discipline. Not that I didn't have any before, but this elevated my discipline level to a new level.

I learned to remove limitations. Most often these are self-imposed limitations. The idea of running 101 days straight, or a 57.3 mile week with a half marathon and a full marathon in it, was unheard of. I could never do that. I was too old, too fat, too tired, too everything.

I learned that it was easy to re-light the fire. I fell in love with running again.

I learned that the best runs come to you unexpected.

I learned that running every day can make you a better person. The daily sessions of short(er) runs can do wonders for your nerves

I learned that daily running can be very addictive.

I learned short(er) runs are a great way to start off your day.

I learned that there's always room for improvement and if you focus you can improve quickly.

I learned that there really is time enough in any day to go for a run.

I learned that it's really all about the journey, not so much about the destination.

I truly learned to appreciate my abilities.

I learned that you're never too old to push yourself outside your comfort zone.

I learned that I'm stronger than I thought I was.

I learned that bad days are followed by good ones.

I learned that it really is all mental.

I learned that I'm still able to dream bigger and bigger.

I learned that bad weather is not an excuse.

I learned that the beginning is always the toughest part. Sticking to it Changes Everything.

I didn't know how I would feel the day the streak ended. I was dreading it. All I knew is that I would not stop running. I ran the day after my goal of 100 because stopping at that point would be like stopping at the finish line, and we don't do that. We never stop at the finish line.

I will not streak again anytime in the immediate future, but I cannot tell you that I will never streak again. When the time comes again, when it feels right, when the body and mind tell me that it's time, we will do it again.

I do know one thing though. Next time I do this, I will take someone with me on each and every run. I will ask a couple of friends (or more) to join me on day one. I will ask the same friends to join me on my last run. Wish I had thought of this before. You in?