Streak: What I learned from running every day for a year

I have run at least a mile every day since December 24, 2016. I have long been fascinated by streaks — when people do something daily for a really long time — and so I decided to try one myself. Running seemed like a good choice because I enjoy it, and I was already doing it 5 days a week. A commitment to run daily would just mean adding another 2 runs per week — possibly only 2 miles, total! — and so that seemed doable. Also, most of the normal excuses for not running don’t apply in my life. I work from home (so I can run in the middle of the day). I own a treadmill (so I can run when it’s rainy/snowy). I have a reasonable quantity of childcare, and in fact at this point the 2-year-old can be entertained by TV long enough that I can theoretically run while I’m home alone with him.

That is not to say that keeping the streak was easy. With a 5-day a week habit, I was already running on most of the really easy days. There have been a few slightly ridiculous 1-mile runs done solely to keep this streak going:

— running laps around the first floor of my house when I was home alone in winter weather with my four kids and had been sick the night before with the stomach flu. The flu didn’t derail me because I’d had the foresight to run before I started vomiting the previous day, and then by the next evening I could run those slow laps.

— running laps in hotel rooms: in NYC when I was with my son and couldn’t really leave him, when I’d forgotten my running shoes once and was in a hotel in Long Island (I never forgot my shoes again!), when we arrived in Hawaii after flying 12 hours and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it in later, in Tremblant (outside Montreal) and in Deerfield, Illinois when I was staying in hotels that theoretically had treadmills, but they were broken or completely booked up. I have a new major pet peeve of people who are running on hotel treadmills right in front of signs limiting them to 20 minutes and clearly have 45 minutes on their counter. Also, hotels where they don’t maintain their exercise rooms.

— very early runs. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. in Palm Beach to run on the hotel treadmill before a day that started in Florida, and would take me to speaking gigs in New Jersey and New York before I returned to Pennsylvania around midnight. I got up around 5 a.m. to run on a day I traveled to/from Nashville in a day — after the 2-year-old had a horrible night and had not gone to bed until after 1 a.m. I also got up to run a mile on the day we drove back from Indiana to Pennsylvania and didn’t get home until 10 p.m. or so.

So there was all that craziness. However, I think the streak encouraged some positive behaviors too.

— I now bring my running gear when traveling overnight anywhere. As I travel more, I can’t just ditch all healthy habits while on the road. In the past, I often decided that bringing my shoes would just add weight to my carry-on bag (and I never check bags) but the truth is they don’t add much. And because I bring my running gear, I’ve run in some fabulous places, like Savannah, Georgia. That was a 1-overnight trip, so pre-streak I wouldn’t have packed my shoes. I did, and it wound up being one of my favorite runs of the year.

— The streak changed the conversation I have with myself. I don’t ask “will I run today?” I ask “when will I run today?” When it’s just a matter of logistics, any day can accommodate a run. This means I have run on days when I don’t feel like it. I tell myself “you only have to run a mile!” A mile is nothing. So I just do it. And then I realize yet again that “I don’t feel like it” almost always means “I don’t feel like running the first few minutes.” Once I get through the first mile (10 minutes or so) I’m almost always willing to keep going.

— I finally bought some more sports bras.

— I have definitely run more this year than ever before. I am pretty sure I crossed 1000 miles at some point in the last few weeks (I don’t know for sure because I didn’t record my mileage until February 12! If I assign myself my lowest weekly mileage that I recorded during the rest of the year for those first 6 weeks of the year, then I hit 1000 a week or so ago. If I hit my average weekly mileage during those 6 weeks, then I hit 1000 well before that).

— Part of running more: I’ve run faster than before. I recorded several mile PRs on the treadmill, and some 5k PRs as well. I feel stronger, and like my form is better as I’m running outside.

— I have run with some fun people! And to shake things up I did several barefoot runs on the beach this summer.

One thing the streak did not do? Keep my weight down. I’ve been hovering in my highest range ever. I’m not sure if that’s the reality of middle age, or if it’s muscle (probably not – though isn’t that fun to think?) My clothes still fit, so I’ve been debating whether I care or not.

Given that the year is close to over, this raises the question: will I continue the streak? I don’t see a real reason not to, though I suspect life itself will cause the streak to end at some point. I did a year (ok, in 2 days! I am not trying to jinx myself by hitting publish early – I just don’t plan to be online this weekend!) and that was the goal, so I will take what comes this year as it comes.

Have you ever tried a streak? (Other than, say, brushing your teeth! Which is a real streak, and I tend to think shows that many people could do other sorts of streaks if they wanted to.)

Photo: The two pairs of shoes that took me through most of the year

17 thoughts on “Streak: What I learned from running every day for a year

  1. You’re going to laugh but my vote is to end it!! Then you can mix up the workouts a little and give yourself a break and just be lazy once in a while (as an upholder I love PLANNED rest days!!). I have definitely learned over time that unless training for something specific, I can do exercise most days but not every day and reap the same mental and physical benefits. I actually have a goal of NOT focusing on running this year but doing more other stuff (barre, strength, other gentler cardio) instead – though I will not cut it out altogether!!

  2. I agree, learn from the experience and then once you have gotten everything out of it you can, move on!

    I had to smile about the sports bras though. I recently got more active post-baby (I have a 2 year old.. sigh…) and realized I had become one of those people that needs to be stopped on the street for emergency bra counseling.

    1. @Byrd- oh yes, the situation was sad. It’s really not good to have a mere 2 functional bras when you run daily. I could pretend I did frequent laundry but…I didn’t. But I did eventually buy more!

    1. @Ed – I don’t know. I guess I didn’t run that fast or hard, and I didn’t run that long (1000 miles and change in a year is only about 3 miles a day). On days I ran 10 miles, I’d run 1 mile the day before and 1 the day after, which is really almost like a rest day.

  3. I have completed over 250 marathons (although I certainly never intended to) I never ran everyday until this summer. When reading about your streak and having some other encouragement for a FB group, I have run everyday since Memorial Day…so it has given me an extra few days of running from the 4-5 I always did. I think all my running has certainly stabilized my weight, but I have come to the realization that I can’t outrun my diet! When I cut back on my intake of processed carbs, my weight started to drop slowly without me feeling hungry or empty. 12 pounds came off over two months by just dropping bread and pizza. Running a marathon burns calories, but you can replace it with junk calories pretty fast. The running has really continued to help the creative flow of ideas and is a situation where you have to “unitask”.

    1. @Phil- good for you! My problem here is…I like bread and pizza. And beer. All of which I could eat with no problem at 30, and can’t at 39. This is life, so I probably just need to get over it. Dropping 12 pounds is no joke. Today I was actually 5.5 lbs down from the high that made me gasp a few weeks ago, so maybe I am getting serious. Or I just fluctuate a lot.

  4. That is a very impressive streak! And here I was proud of the 460 miles I ran this year… (Although, no treadmill or gym membership and not wanting my kid to freeze on outdoor runs in the winter…that all doesn’t help…)

    1. @Diana – 460 miles is awesome! No treadmill would definitely have hindered the streak or the mileage for me. I asked for a treadmill for Christmas three years ago and it was a great purchase. I actually use it! This year I heard a rumor that Santa might bring me resistance bands and a kettle ball, so perhaps the weight training will actually happen this year. I cannot seem to get going on that.

  5. I also had a one year running streak and I forced myself to end it on Day 366 or I felt like I would feel the pressure to keep going. It was a great experience but having to break it because I wasn’t able to get a day in would have upset me more than just finishing it after a year. That was a clear cut deadline and gave me no wiggle room! Congratulations–we had very similar experiences–new places to run, early, early morning and late late nights and more hotel treadmills than I prefer to count! Enjoy the next challenge-whenever that may be!

  6. Just curious, how do you know how many miles you ran? Do you use your FitBit’s tally, or the treadmill, etc? I’m thinking about doing the same thing for walking in 2018 but would totally get hung up on how to “count” how much I’ve done…

  7. So inspiring! Loving the idea of a streak. You are motivating me to add “write 500 words every day” as a goal for 2018. A writing streak. Re running, are you injury prone and if so, how do you prevent injury? I love running but my knees suffer and I worry about long-term damage.

    1. @Susan – interesting question on the injury issue. I run rather slow, and I don’t run all that far. I’d run very short on days before and after long runs (so like 1 mile on Friday, 10 on Saturday, 1 on Sunday relatively later in the day so I’d have close to 36 hours off).

  8. I have had a goal to get more of my photos in to scrapbooks. I love scrapbooking but it always got pushed off til everything else was finished which means it rarely happened. I scrap digitally so I can take it with me on trips easily. I participated in a layout a day challenge in May and decided to keep going. I have almost completed 8 months. My rule is I have to complete a layout before I go to bed. That has been after 2 am once and I definitely have gone to bed latter more times than I’d like, but I love the pages I have completed. I have told some stories I might not have normally told because they were easy to do quickly. I can always go back and redo or change a layout but so far I like all I have accomplished, from the simple to the elaborate. I now think about what photos I want to use throughout the day and try to make the page earlier, at least most of it. I have had to let a lot of other things go (mostly household chores) but it has been a good way to allow my family to step up and help out.

    I have taken a photo a day for over 2 years, so I knew I could do it, it was just a matter of sticking with it even after midnight and letting other things fall into place with the leftover time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *