What I Learned from a 30 Day Run Streak

imageIn 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:

Lesson 1

imageNothing 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.

Lesson 2

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.

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Lesson 3

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.

Lesson 4

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?

I'm a student of law and life. A Jill of all trades, master of none. But I'm hoping to master something, sometime. ;) Preferably a sub-23 5k and a sub-4 marathon!

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11 comments

  1. Awww! I personally think run streaks are generally a bad idea. Being overly rigid can cause one to make some bad decisions. Like running through illness, injury, missing out on important stuff, bla bla bla.

    But! I love that you gave it a try and learned a lot 🙂

  2. Love the post! I have to agree with salty, though, that run streaks are not a great invention. In a way, adhering rigidly to a run streak seems like the opposite of mindful running.

    I do agree that sometimes one or two miles is better than no running at all, but mainly from a sanity/mood boosting perspective!

  3. I have done “100 runs in 100 days” twice – 30 minute minimum, but you can take a day off and double up. While it wasn’t something I would do all the time, it did teach me that I can pretty much always find 30 minutes in my day to fit in a run, and that has made a big difference to my consistency, even though I now take rest days.

  4. I tried a run streak once. I think I made it 3 weeks, This was back when I was running only a few days a week, and I thought it would be a fun challenge. It was fine, but there were definitely times I had to jump on the treadmill at like 10pm to get in at least one mile. ha!

    1. Hahaha I did that one night on vacation. I was on a screwy hotel treadmill at 11pm. I could only manage 20 minutes because the treadmill was literally moving with my legs!

  5. I love this post because it is so honest – run streaks might be a good idea, especially when trying to ramp up knowledge, but NOT when it takes over important things. Sounds like it helped you to reach your ultimate goal of running more – so, to me, it sounds like a win.

    1. I always sorta used my runner status as a confidence booster too. I mean, what freak runs in the mountains on vacation while her family is hanging at the pool? That’d be this girl! This failed run streak definitely got me back on track with my goals and get real with myself!

  6. For me personally, attempting a run streak would be like going on a crash course diet; works for a couple weeks before bombing. It will lead to fatigue, injury, or WORSE; I will lose joy in running! Being able to balance life and running is most important to me so that I can sustain this lifestyle for the long haul.