I’ve long been fascinated by the concept of streaks: doing something every single day. My father, who spent his career as a professor of Old Testament and Hebrew scriptures, has read Hebrew every single day since 1977. In late 2016 — December 24, to be exact — I decided to start a running streak. I would run at least a mile every single day. I wasn’t sure how long the streak would last. But 30 days turned into 60, 90, 100…a year, two years…
Then in May of 2019, I learned I was expecting kid #5. This happy news came with the knowledge that most likely the streak’s days were numbered. In the past, I’ve generally stopped running around 8 months into my pregnancies, and of course delivery itself requires some recovery. I set a goal of making it to 1000 straight days, which would occur in late September.
Then late September came and went and I kept running. My third trimester brought some gorgeous October runs. Even as November came and I slowed more and more, I still generally felt better after a run than I did before. In December, I started mostly confining myself to laps around the house and yard (less boring than the treadmill). I made it to December 24 — three years. I decided to run a little the next day too. On December 28, the weather was so warm I decided to run outside through the neighborhood: just a mile and a half, total, but it was doable.
Then, that night, I went into labor. My baby arrived at 5 a.m. on December 29 and I spent December 29 in my hospital room. So I didn’t run. Honestly, I didn’t think much about the fact that I didn’t run. I’d already built into my mental model of birth that the streak would be over so I didn’t spend too much time marking its passage. Nor did I think about it much over the next week as I recovered at home (both from childbirth and the nasty cold I contracted around the same time!) Frankly, I don’t think I would have been capable of much running during the first bit, largely because of the fatigue of whatever sleep I could get with the newborn being interrupted by coughing, so perhaps best I didn’t think about it.
But by the middle of last week I was starting to feel like myself again. I went for some walks, which felt decent. So on Saturday, I decided to try out my legs. I went for a very short (just about a mile) walk/run.* It went good. On Sunday, another unseasonably warm day, I ran slowly for about 30 minutes. That felt good too.
And so now I am pondering my running goals, which I could start building toward in another month or so. As I felt myself slowing last fall, I decided to sign up for the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2020. I wanted something to motivate myself, to urge myself to take the view that while my body was limited now, in a year I could potentially be in the best shape of my life. I don’t see why not. I’d like to start lifting weights more seriously, and since my one marathon time was pretty slow, barring bad conditions or injury, I could probably get a personal record (PR). In the meantime, I’m signed up for a 5-mile race in late February. I’m signed up for a 10-miler in May, and I will likely try to do a half-marathon as a tune-up in late summer/early fall.
I don’t think I will do a streak again. I do intend to run most days, and while I’m on my semi-maternity leave a streak would likely be doable, but once I’m back to work I don’t really have the appetite for waking at 3:30 a.m. to run on a hotel treadmill before a day of flying. I think I could satisfy myself with averaging, say, 5-6 days per week.
But as I ran on Saturday and Sunday, I couldn’t help but smile. These runs felt like the start of something new. I have felt a lot of gratitude for my body over the past year. I am grateful that it could conceive, carry, and birth a baby at ages 40-41. I am grateful that it could run every single day through that pregnancy. I’ll take things easy for the next month or so. But then it will be time to zoom and — running toward possibility — see what I am capable of.
In other news: The baby had his first non-medical/non-carpool outing this weekend. It was 65 degrees on Saturday so we went to the zoo. He stayed in the Ergo carrier, zonked out, the entire time.
*I am aware that the general guidelines say to wait on exercise until 6 weeks, but a lot depends on your personal fitness level, ease of delivery, etc. I’m definitely still taking it easy — slow, not going far, which I will for a while.