In the spring, I noticed a trend after posting my training logs: immediate and crushing guilt. I could see plainly on the screen, and in the notes that I keep so religiously in my phone, that I wasn’t doing my best. I wasn’t pushing hard enough. In fact, I was barely pushing at all. I read other training logs and compared my own work to everyone else’s. Not in a negative way, but rather, invisible, positive peer pressure. I know I have a long way to go before I get as fast or as mileage-heavy as everyone else. That was not my concern: my concern was that I was only running three-ish days a week when I knew I could do better.
I was making every excuse in the book. I work odd hours. True. I live in an inconvenient location. True. It’s too hot. I’m way too busy. True-ish.
After having a self-intervention and lots of time to think on an 8-hour flight, I decided that the problem was that I made no time for running. Naturally, the only solution was running every day. Running thirty days in a row, in fact. The only remedy was a run streak.
I was reading Ginger’s post on mindful goal setting, and I decided that a run streak would be perfect for me! A run streak is a nice, easy, no-strings-attached goal. I mean, yeah, there is the whole thing about running every single day, but the miles aren’t regulated! Running is running! Who cares if I ran one mile or 17? All I had to do was run once a day for 30 days in a row. Easy, right?
**Spoiler alert! I failed.
We will lovingly refer to the first five days as the honeymoon phase. I was determined to reach my goal, and ran my five days straight while on vacation! But that is where my streak ended … and here are the lessons I took away from my attempt:
Nothing happens at a convenient time, especially running. Convenience doesn’t exist in running. I chose to start this run streak one day before I started a vacation. If I hadn’t started it then, I would have had to start it the weekend of my friend’s wedding in which I was a bridesmaid. If I hadn’t started it then, I would have had to start it the week I instructed at band camp from 9am-8pm every day. If I hadn’t started it then, I would have had to start it at Salty Camp in Cleveland. See what I’m getting at here? There was no good or convenient time to start it, and that’s something I had to accept.
I made time for running every single day I was on vacation, until the very last day when I had to wake up and drive 9 hours total. By the time I made it to my destination, it was 10:30pm, and I was not familiar with the area. I opted out of the run. Okay, so I missed a day. No big deal. There’s always tomorrow.
Welllll… It turns out “tomorrow” was packed too. It was my first time being a bridesmaid, and I was doing my bridesmaidly duties from 7:30am-11pm. Mini-lesson: Weddings are not a joke.
Sometimes running isn’t always #1. It’s not the end of the world that I missed a couple days. I had been doing so well and was so disciplined, that I felt so disappointed that I ruined the streak. Then I realized I was exhausted. I had been running in the heat on vacation with little rest, in addition to doing almost all the driving for my family, and I was getting fatigued. The rest was good for me mentally and physically, even if it was unplanned.
Plus, I realized that had I made time, whether in the morning or evening, to run, it would have taken time away from my wonderful friend and her big day. I’m glad I dedicated 100% of my weekend to her celebration.
I went running that Sunday evening on fresh legs after the wedding festivities and traveling. I made sure to squeeze in some runs the following week when I was working 11-hour days as an instructor. But I had accepted that the “run streak” was over. I was still running mostly every day, even when it was inconvenient, but some days it was not possible due to other obligations. That weekend I went to Salty Camp, where I ran every single day with my Salty family. I sat down to write my final July training log, and for the first time this year, I was happy with the work I had done.
The run streak may have had a “honeymoon phase,” but most importantly, didn’t end up in divorce court. That’s the worst, cheesiest analogy I could think of, but there it is. I realized my goal in committing to the streak was not actually to run every single day, but to regain my discipline and make more time for running. I went from one extreme to the other; running 2-3 days a week when I felt like it, to running 4-5 days in a row with only one day of rest in between.
Running only 1-2 miles is better than taking a whole day off for no reason. Before I attempted the streak, I took whole days off when running wasn’t “convenient” for my schedule. But that’s exactly why running is easy to fit in your schedule. You can squeeze in a decent workout under 20 minutes if you try. When I was on vacation, I had limited time between downtime and a family dinner. I gave up the downtime, and went outside and ran a 7:15 mile instead.
Trying and failing a run streak helped me to reset my priorities and just be straight up realistic with myself. I wasn’t getting anywhere with my half-assed running schedule, and I know I won’t get anywhere by constantly panicking about my schedule either. Going from one extreme to the other helped me to find my happy medium once more.
Have you ever done a run streak? How long did you make it? What did it do for your discipline?