I have always been intrigued by the idea of a long run streak, but every time I started, I failed after just a few days.
Then recently I heard that Matt Frazier was starting one and my interest was re-sparked. But as soon as the idea came, I realized that just because it sounded cool, that alone would get me out the door every day.
A few days later I happened to go to a yoga event with my fiancé, Katie, where the speaker addressed the topic of a pilgrimage and honoring and discovering yourself through that journey. Something about what he was saying really spoke to me. As a distance runner, what I find most appealing about registering for a new race is the journey and the personal growth while on it.
I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go hike the Ganges anytime soon, so instead I decided to start a simple, daily pilgrimage of running every day. I set off on this daily journey with the hope of continuing up until our wedding day, 441 days after I started.
It’s possible I lost most of you with weird pilgrimage talk, but if you are still reading, I want to say that a run streak can be whatever you want it to be. It doesn’t have to be a personal journey, it could be only a physical challenge, but I guarantee that after 50, 100, or 441 days of running, you will have learned a lot about yourself and your running that you will never learn from a standard training plan.
5 Things From 100 Days
1) Freedom from the Watch: When I first started running seriously, I fell into the same thing most runners do. As soon as I start training for a big race, I get so consumed with tracking miles, times, slips, and everything else, that I forget how inherently simple running really is. For the last two years, I hardly ever went out on a run without my Garmin. I felt like if I didn’t track the workout, it didn’t happen.
When I first started the run streak, the thought of running without a watch didn’t cross my mind. I wanted to track every day’s workout to see how many miles I ran through the streak, but the more running became just running and not training, I found that I would have to force myself to put on the watch. Aside from a long run each week, I haven’t worn the watch at all over the past 6-8 weeks.
It has been incredibly freeing to finally run simple again.
2) The Newest Predawn Runner: I never considered myself a morning person. I’m not as bad as some people I know, but a snooze or two and a cup of joe are just about the only things that get me out of bed in the morning.
When deciding to commit to this run streak, I knew that running every evening after work would not happen. Baseball games, happy hours, date nights, and life in general would keep me from putting in evening miles more than once a week. That meant that by committing to the run streak, I also had to commit to running in the morning.
As it turns out, early morning running isn’t that bad! Sure, morning runs post baseball games, happy hours, and date nights are a little rough, but waking up 30-40 minutes earlier to hit the streets hasn’t been nearly as tough as expected. Just as the mind adjusts, so does the body, and with a little help from sites like Predawn Runner, I can now call myself an early morning runner.
3) New Routes=New Runner: Nothing says fun like running the same route every single day….
No, that isn’t true.
Because I’m not training for anything in particular, I have been able to run for as much or little (as long as I hit my quota) as I like every day. What that meant for the first few weeks was, “let’s go out and run the same route because you aren’t creative and like things lame!” And let me tell you, I succeeded in keeping it lame.
Finally I wised up and decided to branch out. Over the past 100+ days I have run in parts of the city I never thought of running before. I have invented new loops and discovered new trails.
Because I am running so often I have no choice but to keep it fresh. The best way for me to do that was to take on fresh routes.
4) All About the Breath: Because this was meant to be a daily pilgrimage, where I focus inwardly through daily running meditation, breath has been a big part of my run streak. Matt at No Meat Athlete recently wrote a great piece on the subject, which served as a nice guide as I experimented with different breathing techniques. The big thing for me is slowing my breath and breathing mostly through my nostrils. As the saying goes, “Your mouth is for eating, your nose is for breathing.”
The key here is to relax. It is nearly impossible to breathe through your nose if you are sprinting up a hill. By easing into the breath, your heart is working less and your body is able to relax. Running is a very repetitive action, so slow, consistent breaths allows the body to reach a state of moving meditation, which fit perfectly into this daily journey.
5) I Can Run Everyday and It Isn’t a Chore: When in the heart of a training program, running can feel more like a chore than something I enjoy doing. I was afraid that by forcing myself to run every single day, it would become an awful chore that I dreaded completing. I told myself at the beginning that if I really hated it, I would stop so I didn’t start hating running too.
Fortunately, it has been the exact opposite. Of course there are times when I’m tired or it is hot (soon to be cold), and the thought of going out for a run felt incredibly tedious, but for the most part it has been something I look forward to every day. By setting this habit, it feels like I’m just doing something that I do every day and not something that I have to kill myself to make sure I do 4-5 times a week.
The key has been to look at the daily running like I look at making coffee or taking a shower. It is something you are going to do every day because it will make you feel better and be good for you. And yes, I think drinking coffee is good for me (it tastes so good!). Once I started to make that mental switch, it began to feel like something I wanted to do, instead of something I didn’t want to do.
How you can have your own run streak.
Anyone can run for 100 days. Anyone can run for 441 days. What I learned is that you just have to keep the goal obtainable.
When thinking about running for that many days straight, it might feel really daunting. If you set your goal small and break it up, it will no longer feel like this huge task. Start with a minimum of just 10 minutes or 1-1.5 miles a day. You can always run more. In fact, I almost always run more, but by knowing that I don’t have to run more and can still continue the streak, it doesn’t feel as daunting.
You also don’t have to pick an end date. Maybe you just want to see how far you can go, or play around with a run streak while you aren’t training for something else. Either way, start with something that feels in reach and go out there and grab it.
My journey with daily running has been incredibly rewarding and a great way for me to both stay focused mentally and physically while not training for a major race. I am still going and have no plans to stop before that 441st day.
I would encourage anyone who has ever considered trying it to just do it. You won’t regret it.
Have you ever done a run streak? Are you in the middle of one now? Let us know about your experience! We’d love to hear about it.