Longtime readers know that, a few years ago, I decided to embark on a daily running streak. I ran at least a mile, every single day, from December 24, 2016 to December 28, 2019. My fifth child was, not coincidentally, born on the 29th.
I love the concept of streaks, and I do think it was good to show myself that I could choose to do something like that. I could make time to run while traveling. I could make time to run even when life was busy. I could run every single day of a pregnancy! (Not very fast at the end at all…but I did do it). The streak nudged me to take some runs I might not have, like a gorgeous Vancouver harbor sunrise run after some rough travel. I even felt pumped up for life during some ridiculous runs, like one I did at 4 a.m. or so in Oregon before a 6-ish flight (it felt more reasonable since I hadn’t adjusted from eastern time…on the other hand, that was in the first trimester!)
That said, I have not felt tempted to re-start the streak. I’m not sure what the official streak rules are, but I could have given myself a 6-week “streak freeze” (a la Duolingo) and gotten going again. I did not.
There are reasons. I know from my time diary study for I Know How She Does It that women with children under the age of 2 have significantly less time for major leisure categories (exercise, reading, TV) than those with older children. I started my streak when my fourth child was almost two. For the past 22 months, I have had a kid under age 2, with all that entails. I’m needing to find ways to fit a lot into each day, and not needing to find space for a run every single day dials the pressure down a bit. I am absolutely sure I could do it. I’m doing my “rituals” (chapter in W&P, write 100 words, some strength training) daily. But I don’t want to run daily anymore.
So instead I’m making sure running falls in my “three times a week is a habit” rubric. I definitely run at least 3 times per week every week. Usually it’s more like 4 times. (I also have a rule to “create a back-up slot” so if I want to run three times per week, I need to have at least four potential times). This allows me to be a bit more choosy about my runs. I avoid bad weather. I go when I can go run on the trails near my house, which I definitely prefer to the treadmill or even loops around the neighborhood. I ran on a hotel treadmill this morning (I’m traveling to give a speech) and it was fine, especially since I have quite a bit of time this morning (hello time change and mid-day speech). But it’s not exactly something to write home about. It’s nice not to automatically need to find hotel treadmills.
The one downside is that one of exercise’s best benefits is mood elevation. I definitely am in a better mood when I run than when I don’t. But to get at least some of the upsides of activity, I’m trying to “move by 3 p.m.” (another TBT rule!) every day in some way, shape, or form. It can be far easier to walk briskly for 10 minutes at some point in the day than to run for 10-12 minutes (my usual pace). Park a little farther from the store. Walk around the new house yard when I’m visiting for construction supervision. It’s not quite the same, but it is something. And right now, that’s fine.
Photo: From a sunrise, on-the-beach run in Cape May last week. That was a run worth doing!