I learnt something….
One early influence on my running thoughts was Murakami’s “What I think about when I think about running”. I can draw so much from his attitude and perspective, and in particular his “rule” that, he doesn’t have to run everyday, but if he doesn’t run one day, he must run the next. I like the structure yet flexibility this approach brings. I never adopted it though and, running everyday certainly never crossed my mind before.
You only need to spend a few moments on social media to see the abundance of runners completing a run streak. “Run Every Day” (RED) for some cause, for some defined period (run every day till Christmas, run every day January being two recent examples) can be seen in so many posts and pictures. Honestly, I’m not sure I ever got the craze. The why? The challenge? The motivation? And so on. Then you see some of the crazies – those runners who seem super-human like Ron Hill and Jon Sutherland. Mind blown!
I saw these challenges popping up on my daily feeds and my thoughts were always “nah”. Not for me. Then, somehow, I found myself immersed in my own run streak. Wait. What. How did this happen?!
Have a look at my Run With Lydia & Louise – I met these two women who were running every day for 100 days. Nut bags! But, they inspired me. I was mighty impressed. Running with them and getting to know them started to enlighten me a little to those ignorant questions I hadn’t answered. In their case the “Why” was partly to do with charity awareness – FORWARD – check their blog for more info. Also partly for their own sense of achievement and personal reasons. Their companionship though was driving them forward, keeping them running, keeping them motivated. I started to get it, a little bit. I could understand some of the difficulties they’d encountered with raising awareness, getting others to join them on runs etc. I too had seen that. Being the ‘weirdo’ sending messages out on social media to strangers. Most get ignored or never acknowledged. If I’m lucky some strike up a conversation and there is a glimmer of hope for a meet up and run one day. Nevermind enticing your friends out for a run. Most just tell you straight up to do one and jog on (you usually know which friends will actually come out for a run). Anyway, I’ve gone off topic… I was impressed and inspired right. Nothing more. No desires here to do a run streak still. Nope, none at all.
Then I hear that, on day 75 of her run streak, Lydia has gone and got herself injured being an absolute hero and trekking up K2. Nah. She didn’t, that’s not how she got injured. She tried to jump over someone doing the plank or something. Who’s the plank now, doh! Sad though, she’d been forced to end her streak, her time was over, for now.
I can’t really explain why, but, my first response to Lydia was “what if I pick up your last 25 days?”. Classic jumping in with two feet there. I’d not thought this through. But, she was delighted. So I stuck to my word….
Besides the every day part, there was one simple rule. It must be a minimum of one mile. Pah. I eat miles I thought. That’s not even running. What’s the big deal. I’ll be doing what I usually do and running frequently, so it’s not even really 25 days, it’s just the days I wouldn’t normally be running that I need to run. That was how my mind processed it. That’s all I need to do. I’ve got this. So yeah, I’ll do it.
I had one little concern – this was less than two weeks before I would fly out to Oman for the Muscat Marathon. The thought of running before flying, after the marathon and then again when I return to the UK didn’t exactly appeal to me. But it’s just a mile. Whatever. I’ve still got this.
And so it begun. Giving it a little thought and thinking out the days, I’d already run the day before, and the also the day I’d agreed to start, so the first two runs were done. I was underway, even better, mentally I’m starting on day 3.
Day 5 was the first time I couldn’t really be bothered. I didn’t want to run. So I dragged my arse out for that single mile. It felt fake. I didn’t even put my running kit on. There was no real effort involved and I was just going through the motions. Conveniently, leaving the house and looping round the nearby lake was bang on a mile. That will be useful. Another day done. And so the journey continued.
Factoring in runs around work and social life was another challenge, a more obvious one. I’d started attending some community-based workout sessions on Mondays and Tuesdays, I guess I could have recorded the miles covered in those session (about 2 miles each night I think) but that felt wrong to me. So a 6am run before work it would be. These would often also be 1 mile efforts which seemed irrelevant and were very much a tick-box exercise for me. 10 mins running followed by the hour commute on the trusty bike. I don’t think I even sweated on these runs. Certainly my times were slow and I just wanted it done. But, I kept doing them.
Day 8, time to fly to Muscat… the first day was easy, the flight was at night so I’d run at home as usual. The next few days would need a little planning though. With some adventures planned and a few hundred KMs to drive on Thursday, a run at night before bed was going to have to be the way to do it. So, exhausted from a lack of sleep and hours of driving I did a quick 10 mins on the streets of Muscat. Angela joined me to flex the legs following the day’s excursions. Day 9 done.
Friday, Day 10, the run was the main focus this time, it was marathon day. I’d probably covered more time and distance on this day than most of the 25 days combined. Saturday, similar to Thursday would need some planning. This time a mile in the early hours before we left for our trip to Wadi Shab. Another mile and Day 11 done. Sunday, arriving back into the wet gloom of London after a few days of glorious heat was hardly inspiring. Time for yet another single mile around the lake. Yawn. And so it continued. Another week of little runs before work. Occasionally I’d feel motivated to push it to 3 miles or so. Can you tell I wasn’t feeling the token 1 mike runs?
I tried to keep my own plans going, the odd training run, running with Louise again, a few ‘Run With Dai” runs included and some great weekend escapes to trails all helped me run everyday in a more enjoyable sense. The rest of it became a formality.
So here I am, writing this with 25 days done. My run streak complete and the 100 day challenge reached (albeit split over two people) and 101 days for Louise! And what do I feel now?
Different. Empathetic for sure. I’ve learnt something valuable, to me at least, appreciation. I’ve had my eyes opened and I see and respect the challenge now. It’s not time nor distance, pictures nor recognition, kudos nor comments. None of that. It’s something I already knew too well but had blocked out, as I do – the mental challenge of running. The hardest part, finding that motivation. Motivation to push out those negative thoughts. The ones that put a little excuses before you. focusing your mind and saying ‘I’m doing this’. I’ve got this and I enjoy it. To keep going, keeping that streak alive. That challenge is something else. Harder I’ve found that running for hours on end. With long distance there is the benefit of recognising that you have to keep going because the finish might be closer than the alternative. Or something, or someone, is waiting when you do finish. There’s nothing waiting at the end of a streak. Satisfaction and achievement perhaps, but nothing you can touch, nothing that you can easily channel and visualise to turn into that motivation to keep going. I don’t think so anyway. I’ve learn this now and feel I understand it to some degree at least. It only increases my respect for those out there on a run streak of some form. Fair play to you. You’re smashing this.
For me, I’m done. I don’t want to continue. I don’t know where it would stop if I did. I’ve done what I came to do and I’m happy. And I hope it’s helped Lydia and Louise. I hope its contributed in someway. How they did 75 days and 101 days I’ll never know. But my streak is over. 25 days and out.
In the end my run streak saw me cover around 150 miles, make 2 new friends and come away a more enlightened person.