I just finished running for the 366th day in a row. Every single day for the past (leap) year I have run at least one mile. Oh, and all those miles were run outside because I prefer running through blizzards than running on a treadmill.
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A year ago I saw a post on Facebook about the Runner’s World Run Streak that runs from Memorial Day to the 4th of July. I thought it sounded like a neat idea, run at least one mile, every day for 41 days. I honestly didn’t think I could make it the whole 41 days, but I thought it would be cool to try it for as long as possible. If I could run every day for two weeks I’d be pretty proud of myself. Maybe a miracle would happen and I’d make it the whole 41 days, but probably not, that’s just crazy talk to run that many days without a rest day. I thought for sure I’d get a major injury for trying.
And yet I made it to 41 days, then 50, then 100. When my dad died on day 103 I knew I couldn’t stop my streak. It wasn’t even a question in my mind. You see, my dad wasn’t able to run, he was in an accident that broke his back years before I was born. On every hard run I’ve ever gone on, I’ve been inspired by my dad. I knew how much he wanted to run, how much he missed the freedom and mobility he once had. So when running gets hard, I run harder because of him. Day 103 will forever be etched in my memory. The hardest day ever, but the run was good. I cried tears of joy on that run, knowing my dad is running free in heaven now.
I was nervous going into the winter. I wanted to make it to 200 days, just before Christmas, and then I figured I’d see how long I could make it through the snow and icy conditions. Maybe I’d get a gym membership for a couple months to keep it going through the winter. Somewhere along the way though, I decided to avoid the gym at all costs and do a completely outdoor streak. By the way, I absolutely despise cold, so this was a ridiculous decision.
In January I got strep throat twice. I lost count of how many times I had to run with a fever and the chills in the snow that month. January was not my favorite month. But once you run while you’re that sick, you realize you don’t really have any excuses. So I decided to try and see if I could run every day for a year. And I did.
Lest you think this is a post just to pat myself on the back, it is not. I’m sharing my experience to remind you that we can do hard things. You can do amazing things. And you should. I want to remind you that you have one life, so you should live it well. I want to encourage you to take care of yourself and prioritize your health and wellness because no one else can and no one else will. And you can’t do the things God created you to do if you’re too tired or sick or unwell.
Maybe a run streak is not your cuppa tea. I can absolutely say it is not for everyone. But by giving myself at least ten minutes a day, by choosing to prioritize my health, and stick with a goal that was entirely focused on self-care, I can honestly say that my life has been changed and improved tremendously. I’m not at all perfect. I still have a long way to go. But I’m a better wife, mother, employee, friend, neighbor, child of God, and human because I choose to take care of myself every single day as a priority.
That is the message I so passionately want to share with other women. Do you remember that command from Jesus that says “Love your neighbor as yourself”? The very first step in following that commandment is to actually love yourself. You can’t love your neighbors, you can’t take care of your neighbors, you can’t make a difference in the world if you hate yourself, if you ignore yourself if you put everything and everyone in priority above caring about yourself. You have to love and care for yourself first, then it’s far easier to love and care for everyone else. My running streak has been about so many things, but one of the most vital parts of this streak is that it forces me to take care of me.
I don’t speak of loving and caring for yourself in a narcissistic, self-centered way. We have enough of that going on in our culture. Prioritizing yourself doesn’t mean you are the center of the universe or the most important person in the world, but it does recognize that you are human. We cannot give from a place of emptiness. We cannot love and care for others if we don’t love and care for ourselves first.
Self-care and self-love are not just about relaxing massages and buying yourself flowers. Self-care can be hard. It might look like the hardest thing you’ve ever done. It might take every ounce of strength you have. But what it can give you back in return is a strength you never dreamed possible, a joy you didn’t know existed, and a confidence that fuels you into more amazing things. Exercise and making healthy choices can be brutally hard (trust me, I ran 17 miles a few days ago!), but I believe it is so worth the effort.
All right, so that’s my little soapbox about why I’m so passionate and excited about my #runstreak. Here are some more details about my experience and what’s ahead in case you’re curious.
Starting date: May 25th, 2015, one mile at 9 minutes and 23 seconds (9:23)
Total miles: 790
Most miles run in one day: 17 (May 21, 2016)
Most miles run in one month: August (91.85 miles)
Least miles run in one month: January (42.3, thank you strep throat)
Fastest mile: 7:58 on November 2nd
Slowest mile: 13:23 on June 2nd (I ran this one with my 6-year-old daughter, she fell and got two scraped knees. I helped her up, kissed her wounds, and we kept on running.)
Most painful run: This feels like a tie. Two days after a very hilly and difficult half marathon, I remember holding my hips as I ran because the pain was so intense. There was also a day early in the winter that started out snowy and icy and gradually got warmer. I waited too long and went for my run as the snow and ice was melting. There were at least two inches of icy water covering the surface of the road. My shoes filled with ice water quickly and the first half mile was utterly miserable until my feet finally went numb.
Most emotional run: September 19th, I was supposed to run a half marathon with my friends in Indianapolis two weeks after my dad died. I was already an emotional wreck. I decided to run the race in honor of my dad. And then about 3 miles in, the race was black-flagged due to lightning. I was so angry, upset, sad, and just an emotional mess.
Silliest run: A few weeks ago I ran to Dairy Queen, ate a blizzard, and ran back home (just over 5 miles round trip). It was such a silly and fun thing. Sadly, I ate more calories on that run than I burned actually running. Blizzards are apparently heavy on the calories.
Funniest story: That one time my friend and I were getting ready to run a 5k race in a nearby park. She suggested we do a quick warm up mile on the trails nearby while we waited for the start. Side note-I think running to warm up to run is silly, why waste the energy? But I agreed to join her because what else was I going to do? We ended up getting lost in the woods. We kept pulling up our GPS maps on our phone and could not figure out how to get out! When we did finally make it out of the woods, we had already run more than a 5k for our “warm up” and the real 5k had already started without us. Oops! Interestingly, I went back to that park a few months ago and tried to get lost again, and could not figure out how we did it.
June 6th – Sunburst Half Marathon – 2:38:28
June 27th – Mishawaka Summerfest 5k – 28:44
July 25th – Bremen B Strong 5k – 28:16
August 15th – Running Wild 5k – 46:26 (this is the race where we got lost before the start)
September 19th – Indy Women’s Half Marathon attempt – race black-flagged
October 10th – Sandhill Crane Half Marathon – 2:30:26
November 26th – Turkey Stampede – 28:21
December 5th – Spruce Scoot 10k – 1:01:12
January 16th – Niles Frigid 5k – 31:59
March 13th – Rusty’s Run 25k – 2:50:14
April 16th- CAPS Superhero Race 5k – 27:33
May 15th – Granger Paths 5k – 26:00
During this streak, I cut 2:44 seconds off my 5k PR time and 8:02 off my half marathon PR time (I have another half next weekend which will hopefully be even faster).
Early on I pulled a muscle in my groin. I had to wear this groin/thigh sleeve for a while, but lots of slow one miler days and ice fixed it up.
My knee has given me fits every once in a while. I had my husband apply KT Tape for a few days last time and was amazed at how quickly I felt better.
Occasionally my calves get tight, so I always wear my compression sleeves or socks (people love to make fun of these argyle socks I wear, but I love them) at the first sign of soreness or tiredness in my calves.
There is a spot on my foot that occasionally causes me issues. I’ve almost wondered if it’s the start of a stress fracture, but it comes and goes so often, I also wonder if it’s just my imagination. I just ice it up when it hurts and ignore it otherwise. 🙂
Sicknesses: Other than the two rounds of strep throat, I also dealt with a bad case of the stomach flu that ran through our entire family. On the worst day of the stomach flu, I made sure to run at night in the hopes that my neighbors wouldn’t see if I had to puke on the side of the road (I didn’t). I’m also regularly prone to headaches and seasonal allergies, but life goes on, those are easy to push through.
Accountability partners: I will be forever grateful to my friend Janelle who saw that I was attempting a run streak early on and decided to join me. We’ve made it through every single day this year together. I would never have been successful alone.
At various times in my streak, other friends joined in the fun for their own run streaks. At one point I knew of seven other friends who were running every day as well. One of those friends is still streaking. I can’t wait to celebrate with her when she finishes running every day for a year as well.
The hardest season of this streak was in the weeks after my dad died. So many friends ran in honor of me and support of me. It was a huge blessing. One friend, Terry, ran two miles every day during those first couple weeks after, just in case I didn’t have the strength to run one day. He ran one mile for me and one for his own streak. It was such an amazing way to carry me through that time. I was able to keep up my own streak, but I felt so loved by so many people.
Throughout this streak, I have run with a number of friends, my daughter, my nephew, my husband, and my aunts. I usually prefer to run alone, but when you run every day, sometimes you need some company.
Best advice: You won’t find the time and you can’t make time. We all have the same 168 hours of time each week. The only difference between people who work out and people who say they “can’t find the time” is a choice. I made the choice to run every single day, so I just do it. And other than illness and pain, it really hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought it would be.
What about the future?: I honestly don’t know what the future holds for my running streak. There are some people who have running streaks lasting more than 40 years. That blows my mind. For me, I’m just taking it one day at a time. I have no plans to end my streak anytime soon. I don’t think I’ll just randomly decide to stop one day. My biggest fear is that I’ll accidentally forget one day and that will be the depressing end. Most likely it will be something beyond my control, an injury or scheduling emergency that gets in the way. I really hope it doesn’t end anytime soon. I’m still very much in love with my running streak.
More Running Posts
Want to start your own #runstreak or any other kind of daily habit? I have a free 37-day email streak challenge. You’ll get an encouraging and motivating email in your inbox each morning to help you accomplish your own streak. Check it out here.
UPDATE: I’m over two years into my run streak now. I share 5 lessons I’ve learned about Self-Discipline after running every day for 2 years in this post.
I ran a full marathon during my #runstreak. Check out all the details here.