So I’ve started a running streak. Not to be confused with a streaking run. I mean, technically you could combine both into one event, but for fear of chaffing I decided this wasn’t the time nor the place.
So what is it? Well, last week I mentioned about how a few make-believe badges were my motivation to keep running (you can read this post here if you missed it). The badges that I am currently aiming for are earned by running a certain amount of days in a row. The first one is awarded at 5 days, then 10, then 20, then….you get the idea!
So I decided that I would run a minimum of 1 mile (generally regarded as the minimum distance needed to qualify as part of the streak) every day until I earned at least the first badge, and then depending on how I felt I would push onto the 10 day badge. I’d be happy with 10. Previously I’d only managed 4 in a row without feeling like I needed a day off, so 10 would be a big achievement for me.
Today is day 24…
…and this is how I got here:
This was just a standard Tuesday run. There’s a nice 6k(ish) loop that starts and ends directly from my workplace. Half of this is on trails, the other half is back on the road. It was a nice loop to ease back into running after the half-marathon.
This was the day that I decided to start a streak. I’d been reading about Ron Hill hitting 50 years of running every day and decided my target of 5 days was child’s play compared to that.
I found a nice, secluded and (most importantly) flat 1km stretch of path that was on my route home from work. Running this and back again was an almost perfect 2km, which would suffice for my mile and had a few hundred meters extra in case the GPS messed up on my Garmin.
Days 3 to 9:
I kept my Tuesday and Thursday runs as normal and did the 6k loop from work. On what would have normally been my rest days, I ran the 2km route I mentioned earlier.
I actually passed day 5 without really noticing. I still felt ok at that point so decided to push on to day 10.
It was a Thursday so I was due a longer run than just my mile. A couple of days earlier I had ventured up to a local lake and discovered that a couple of laps was a nice 5k, so I decided to do the same again.
It was hell.
After the first lap my legs felt like they were made from lead. They just didn’t want to move. My knees were also taking a battering and each step was incredibly painful. I had noticed this over the last few days, but after icing them when I got back in they were usually good for the following days run.
I eventually managed to drag myself around the second lap to complete my 10 day streak. My legs were far too sore to be pleased with myself.
I remember calling my Dad on the drive home and saying that I was done with the streak. It just seemed to be causing me more and more pain each day.
Instead of just disagreeing with me, he suggested that I take my ‘rest’ day runs a LOT easier and to actually treat them like a rest rather than just another mile-long run.
Previously I had been running these fairly flat out as they were only short. In hindsight this wasn’t my best ever decision as my body wasn’t getting any easy days to rest and repair.
Days 11 to 19:
The next day I still wasn’t certain that I wanted to continue the streak, but without really realising what I was doing, I had already packed my running kit into my work bag. It was at this point that I realised a habit was starting to take hold.
I did as my Dad had suggested and took the next 3-4 days VERY easily. I started pacing myself off my heart rate, rather than trying to hit an arbitrary target.
It seemed to be working as day by day my legs became less sore and I started pushing the distances back up again.
I had planned on making my 20th day of running something memorable so had taken the two days prior as ‘rest day’ runs to prepare.
When Sunday eventually arrived, the weather was beautiful. It was warm and sunny and the skies hardly had a cloud in them. I grabbed my trail running shoes, jumped in the car and drove into the Lake District.
I initially decided to run the length of Ullswater and then get the ferry back to the start, but upon forgetting my wallet, I decided that a 22 mile there-and-back may be a bit much. So instead I arrived in Keswick and started on my 10 mile lap of Derwent Water. I’m not going to go into detail on how much I love the Lake District (I’ll save that for a future post), but suffice to say this was one of my favourite runs of all time. At the end of the 10 miles my legs still felt great. They were a little tired, but nothing out of the ordinary. Considering this was the point at which they had given up in the Great North Run, I was very pleased. Good work legs! I felt like I could have pushed on further but I already had plans to go sport climbing in the afternoon so left if for another day.
Day 21 to 23:
The day after the long run I was pretty stiff. The stairs at my apartment and at my workplace were a lot more effort than normal and I was hobbling through the office with the gait of an 80 year old. What surprised me most though was that as soon as I started running again later that evening, all the pain disappeared. It wasn’t temporary relief either as the following days there was no hint of it returning. Active-recovery really does work it would seem.
And that brings us to today. By the way, I didn’t forget to include the decision process I had about whether to continue after day 20. There wasn’t one. I just went out for a run like normal. I’m not really thinking of it as a streak any more. I’m just running each day because it feels right to do so. I may even decide to stop the streak when I hit 30 days…
Then again, I said the same thing when approaching 20 days…and 10 days…and 5…