Today is day 731 of my #runstreak, which means I have officially gone for a run of at least one mile every single day for the past two years! What started as a rash decision with myself has snow-balled and ballooned into an accomplishment I never thought would be possible. I didn’t think I could do anything every single day for two years when I started, especially not run! What kind of ridiculous person would even want to do something like that?
There are two things that have surprised me the most about my running streak. The first is how inspiring my run streak is to other people. I have lost count of the number of people who have started their own run streak or exercise streak after hearing about mine. I didn’t set out to be some inspiring and motivating super person. I was just tired of being so inconsistent and wanted to challenge myself to actually run on a regular basis. But the response of other people has blown me away. It inspires and encourages me to keep showing up each and every day.
I thought I would annoy people with my constant running posts, and I’m sure I have annoyed some. But overall, the feedback that I continually get is “thank you”. People thank me for inspiring them to prioritize their self-care, to make time for exercise, and to take steps to improve their health. I didn’t expect that. Call me selfish, but initially, my posts were just to keep me accountable and help me stick with my streak goals. But now, I’ve realized that every single post we make on social media and every conversation we have with someone has the potential to literally change a life. My advice to you, be careful what you say and what you post. Be an inspiration, be an encouragement, be real, be a light in this dark world. It really does matter.
The second thing that surprised me about my run streak is how much it has changed my life. From the outside looking in, maybe people can’t see that. I still have the same job, same house, same car as I did when I began two years ago. But my mindset is so different. My confidence is higher. The way I view the world and interact with other people has changed. I’ve learned so much and grown in ways I didn’t even know I should. I’m not perfect and still have so much to learn and improve, but man, my outlook on the world is just not the same.
Where before I saw struggle, I now see a chance to grow. Where before I saw cold and dead, I now find beauty and life. Where before I saw darkness, I now have hope. And I know, it sounds crazy that I’m talking like this about running one mile a day. And maybe no one else has experienced these things from a run streak, but for me, it no longer has much to do with running. My run streak is like my school on life and class is in session every single day.
You know what it takes to run every single day for two years? A choice. You just decide one day that you want to do it and then you put one foot in front of the other, in front of the other, in front of the other, until suddenly two years has come and gone and you have no idea how you got here.
So, here I am, on the other side of two years of running every day. I’ve learned so very much. Today, I want to share a few lessons I’ve learned about self-discipline. Because let’s be real, you need a whole lot of self-discipline to accomplish a feat like this. At least that’s what an expert would say. I think the jury is still out. You see I’m really disciplined about my #runstreak, but I’m not so disciplined in other areas of my life. Like a clean kitchen. Good lord, I’ll never be disciplined in the kitchen. But I guess this goes back to that choice point I just made, I choose to be disciplined in my running and I choose not to be disciplined in my kitchen. We always get a choice.
Now, I will stop rambling and share 5 lessons I’ve learned about self-discipline from this crazy, ridiculous two-year journey. I’m sorry if this gets a little “tough love-ish”, I’ll just warn you now that it might.
1. You Will Never Ever Find Time.
From now until Jesus returns you will always have 24 hours in every single day. What you do with those 24 hours is entirely up to you. You don’t find time, you choose what to do with your time. Do not tell me you don’t have time to run every day or read every day or pray every day or write every day or any other thing that you could possibly do on this green earth. You have the time. You have 24 freaking hours every single day. That is a LOT of time! Every single day you have a million choices to make. If you want to do something, make the choice to do it.
I made the choice to spend at least ten minutes running every single day. I still have 1,430 minutes left of every single day to choose to do other things. Seriously, you have the time. Don’t make excuses, make better choices.
2. There is Not a Magical Well of Motivation You Need to Find.
The word motivation kind of digs me the wrong way (I think I just made that phrase up, but go with me). People are always talking about “finding motivation”. Just as we discussed with time above, you won’t just stumble into finding motivation. You really think I’m motivated to go for a run when it’s 90 degrees outside with 80% humidity? Uh, that would definitely be a no, even after two years. And I’m not jumping for joy about running in a snow storm while I have a fever either. But I’ve done both and lived to tell about it.
Stop looking for motivation. You don’t stumble into it. It’s not going to magically find you. Sure, write down your “why” so you can think about your reasons for doing hard things when times get difficult, but I’ve found that motivation doesn’t come very easily just because I want something bad enough. Motivation actually tends to come with action.
That first step is the hardest. Once I’m out the door, I’m motivated to get my run done so I can go back inside, but I won’t find it staring at my list of reasons for running while sitting on my comfy couch. Because running is hard and couches are easy, my brain and my body always want easy. You don’t need motivation for easy.
You have to do before you feel like doing. And then, you look at how far you’ve come to motivate you to keep going. But you have to start even when you’re not motivated, because at least 8 times out of ten if you’re doing something hard, you will not be motivated when you start. Don’t look for motivation, just start going. Your progress is your motivation.
3. One Step at a Time.
Last October when I ran my marathon in Detroit, Michigan I had no idea where I was going. I had looked at the course map and knew the general idea of where we would be running. We started in downtown, headed for the bridge, ran into Canada and along the river, then back through the tunnel, through some other places, around an island, back through some other places, and ended up finishing back in the downtown area. I don’t live in Detroit so most of the places we were running were entirely foreign to me. I had also never run so far before, but here I was planning to run 26.2 miles in unfamiliar territory.
But you see, I didn’t need to know the entire path. My job was to prepare, to show up and to trust the course. I planned and practiced and packed my supplies. I woke up early and ready and lined myself up in the starting corral. And when the gun was fired, I began by taking that first step, and then the next. I trusted the course. I trusted that the race would be marked to show me my next turn. I trusted that I would find the water and resources needed along the way. My job was not to see the finish line and know at the start exactly how I would get there. I just needed to keep taking that next step. And then step by step by step I followed the path laid before me and finished my race.
My friends, this is also exactly how I’ve completed a two-year run streak. I didn’t plan for two years. I planned for as long as possible. I took things one day, and often one single step at a time. It wasn’t easy. There were many many hard days. And if I would have seen all the hard of the last two years on day one I would have never started. But I wasn’t focused on day 731 at the beginning. All I did was make the decision for day 1 and took that first step. All you have to worry about is the next step, don’t keep looking so far ahead. Trust the course. Trust the God that is leading you and know that at just the right time, in just the right way, He will provide, just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
4. Your Head is Your Worst Enemy.
Our brains are pretty amazing. I’m fascinated with learning about the human body and how it works. God really did some cool stuff when He created human beings. But, He created our brains to strive for survival and efficiency. This is good for a variety of reasons, especially when He first put us on this earth with a crowd of wild animals and food that was sometimes scarce and hard to find.
For the most part, we’ve got the wild animal problem covered and food is plentiful, at least in my area of the world. So, I don’t need survival and efficiency, I need growth and learning. You see, God also gave our brains the capacity to always be growing and learning and persevering. And then, in His Word, He directed us to be renewing our minds, pushing ourselves, being courageous, persevering, and overcoming our doubts. His plan for us is to pursue hard things. Why did He create our brains to look for easy when He wants us to do hard? Because His entire purpose is to be with us. He wants us to trust in Him and rely on Him and His abilities.
Your brain will tell you that it can’t. Your brain will tell you that you are not strong enough. Your brain will tell you that there is no point. Your brain will tell you that you are useless. Your brain will tell you all kinds of things. And maybe they’re true, maybe they’re not. You know what is true? God can. God is strong enough. God is the point. God wants to use you. God makes you worth it. God is not limited by what your brain says because God made your brain.
So stop believing the lies of your brain or the lies of this world and start tuning into the truth that is Jesus, all-powerful King, who lives inside of you. He says that you can. He says that you are able. He says He will be your strength. He says you are more than a conqueror. Stop doubting yourself and start believing that the One who created the Universe actually lives inside of you and will never leave you or forsake you.
Physically, it’s not hard to run a mile a day every day for two years. Physically the only days it’s hard are when I’m sick, injured, or recovering from a long run or another workout from the days before. But once you train your body to be able to run a mile every day, you can easily do that and more every single day. It’s certainly not too much work.
The hardest part is the mental aspect. Your body is way stronger than your mind thinks it is. Your brain will tell you that you’re too tired, too sore, too sick, too busy, and you just need a rest day. And certainly, there are serious injuries and illnesses that might require a rest day, but those times are incredibly rare for most people.
Don’t listen to your brain’s excuses. All things are possible. You just have to show up and do the impossible, even when your brain (and lots of people around you) say you can’t.
5. Accountability is a Big Deal.
Over the past two years, I’ve tried to start a number of other streaks. In normal people terms, these would be known as habits. I’ve worked to develop habits in other areas of my life. I’ve tried to go to bed with a clean kitchen every night, I’ve tried to write for 10 minutes each day, I’ve tried to pray for a specific period of time each morning, I’ve tried to read each day, and many others. Some of them were successful and others were not (sorry kitchen).
But most of these habits I’ve worked on in isolation. I didn’t announce to my family that my goal was to go to bed with a clean kitchen every night. I knew that if I failed at that goal and everyone woke up to a messy kitchen they would all look to me with disappointment (even though we all know I’m not the only capable dish washing person in the house). I didn’t tell my blogging friends that I was trying to write for ten minutes a day and ask them to join me so we could encourage each other in our writing practice. I didn’t want to have to admit to someone else if I failed.
But my running streak has been public knowledge from day one. And the longer I go, the more people know about it, and ask about it, and cheer me on. The most popular post on this very site is my post from this day last year marking my one year run streak anniversary. Thousands upon thousands of people know that I run every day. That feels like a lot of people to disappoint if I were to miss a day. But most importantly, that is a lot of cheerleaders, supporting me and encouraging me to keep going.
If you want to start a new habit, don’t do it alone. Find a friend, gather a support team, look to others for accountability and encouragement. Use your community. There is strength in numbers. Some people will tell you that you can’t. Some people will tell you that you’re crazy. Some people will laugh at you. Those aren’t your people. Move on and ignore those people.
You find people that believe in you more than you believe in yourself. Find people that understand that there is value in pursuing discomfort and striving for the ridiculous. Those are your people. Use them, inspire and encourage them, tell them all about your experiences and trials and struggles, as well as your victories and successes. Lean on your people. Don’t do hard alone. You were made for community.
Year Two Stats!
Total miles run for year two: 828
Total streak miles to date: 1,618
Average pace for year two: 11:06/mile (marathon training is a slow game).
Most miles run in a single day: 26.2 miles on October 16th at the Detroit marathon.
- June 4th – Sunburst Half Marathon – 2:19:28
- October 16th – Detroit Free Press Marathon – 5:26:30
- November 24th – Turkey Stampede 5k – 27:11
- January 21st – Niles Frigid 5k – 29:38
- February 11th – Frosty 5k – 29:44
- March 18th – Rusty’s Run 25k – 2:52:01
- April 1st – Notre Dame Holy Half – 2:16:14
- April 29th – CAPS Superhero 5k – 27:55
- May 7th – Michigan Shores Mini – 2:19:25
- May 21st – Granger Paths 5k – 26:15
Want to Streak?
This year, I’m hoping to give back and inspire more people to give this crazy streaking thing a try. If you understand that accountability factor I just talked about and want to find your people, then heads up.
Beginning on Memorial Day (Monday, May 29th, 2017) until the 4th of July, I will be hosting a streak challenge! UPDATE: Since these dates have passed, this challenge is now an “evergreen” event. You can join the streak challenge whenever you’d like! This is a “choose your own adventure” kind of streak. If running isn’t your thing, that is not a problem here. You choose your streak. You select one habit you want to implement in your life and you commit to doing it every single day for 37 days. Your habit can be running or exercise related or anything else. I have several examples and ideas in this post but think about every area of your life and brainstorm what would have the most impact in your current season of life.
You’ll sign up and commit to your habit. Each day I’ll send an encouraging email to your inbox to help keep you moving along, one foot in front of the other. We will take things one day at a time. We will not allow excuses or busyness or stress get us down. We commit and we succeed, together. You can invite all your friends, build a team. Find your people and we will have a big crowd of streakers cheering each other on.
I can’t wait!
Check out this post for all the details. Do you want to change your life? Commit. Find your people. And let’s do this thing. Sign up below –
So happy for you, Tracy! Keep up the good work. I love what the Lord is teaching you through all of this. I can’t wait to join your challenge this Memorial Day, even though I haven’t yet decided what my goal is going to be (other than something to do with health – maybe a combo of exercise and a specific eating plan). Cheering you on!
Love reading your blog. I started a run streak last Memorial Day. Thought I would try until July4th, but I’m still going. Today was day 178. I now have a one year goal. Well, one year plus 33 days. Decided I would try to run everyday that I was 42 years old. So far I’m averaging about 3 miles a day…..some longer days some 1 milers. I haven’t run over 7 in one day. Was thinking about training for a marathon, but decided I should quit my streak to do it. Not only am I thinking of a marathon, I’m going big and attempting Boston qualifying. I see that you ran a marathon during your streak. How did you train and keep your streak going without overuse injuries?
Wow, great job on the run streak! I love your goal of running every day of being 42.
I trained for my marathon while doing my run streak and for the most part, it was a great experience. I didn’t have any major injuries. I will say that I had no intentions of qualifying for Boston and I always allow myself the chance to take a walk break during my long runs, so my marathon training was probably quite a bit easier than yours would be trying to BQ. However, I followed a traditional marathon training plan to train. But on “rest days” I still ran the one-mile minimum. In my mind, even if I wasn’t doing a run streak I still move on “rest days”, it’s not like you sit on the couch and veg all day, so running an easy mile around the block isn’t really that much. I would go especially easy and slow on the day or two after the really long training runs to give my body a chance to recover, but I’d still be running.
I actually found that running a slow and easy mile the day after a long run helps with my recovery. It’s difficult and my legs are sore while I’m out there, but once I’m done, the soreness is much better. It also gives me a chance to warm up my muscles so I can stretch them really well to aid in the recovery as well.
My biggest tips for avoiding injuries are to regularly replace your shoes (if I start feeling signs of plantar fasciitis, shin splints, or similar, it is always an indication that I need new shoes), stretch every day, and stop immediately if you feel even a twinge of injury pain. It’s much easier to spend a couple minutes shaking/stretching out a tight muscle during a run than to be sidelined for weeks because you ignored a problem. Also, keep your rest day one milers easy and relaxing. Just go out and enjoy yourself with no pressure to go fast or push yourself. Just run.
Good luck! And let me know how you do.