18. Reflections on a 1000 day running streak
Just recently I achieved somewhat of a personal running milestone, a 1000 day running streak, every day from 17-Jan-2018 until the milestone day on Monday 12-Oct-2020. 1000 days. 16,315 km (av. 16.3 km/day, min. of 5 km/run). It all kind of just happened...a streak wasn't the goal back when it started. Here are some reflections - and lessons - from that period.
1. I love running.
I'm fortunate that I can do my chosen sport activity for 1000 days in a row. I love that running is flexible, portable, challenging, stimulating, repeatable, takes me places, connects with other people and more. Running has been part of my life for 40 years or so, and reaching a milestone like this is merely an expression of what I enjoy. Although it's been 5+ years since I last ran with someone (except for in races), and the last few months have been a struggle...I still run because I can.
2. I wouldn't do it again.
Once I got into the streak I started to 'protect' it, to my detriment. Some days were really hard...like the morning after marathons...and I just found a way to will my legs through it when a more astute approach would be a non-running day. Then there are little niggles and naggles which almost brought the streak to a halt. And tiredness...oh the tiredness at times. I have been my own worst enemy, aiming for good volume as well as consistency, and my performance has suffered as a result. Being in a routine can easily mean being in a rut. But reaching this goal does have some meaning to me, so kind of worth taking a hit to achieve. But I would not try for a running streak again just for the sake of a streak.
3. Consistency begets consistency.
As I adapted to running every day, so did my body. mind and lifestyle. Like brushing my teeth, I went for a run...it was part of my day. From a physical sense, my body became hardened to the stress of running, and I learned how to take 'rest' days, even while still running...by going very slowly. But it's hard to fully recover and feel fully fresh. Just because you might be able to run every day doesn't mean you should; I think you're better to be consistent over time.
4. The effects of aging are real.
During this running streak I turned, 49, 50 and then 51. In my early-mid 40's I was running career PB's, but things fell off quickly from 45 onwards. Although age is just a number, reality is that it does catch up in all kinds of ways...from how well I recovered, progressing through to simply slowing down. As an aging athlete what was my warm-up pace is getting closer to being my hard pace...ouch!! Age serves up humble pie on a daily basis...although my old brain starts to forget how (well) I used to run...
5. I have a love / hate relationship with early morning runs.
My usual run start time is around 5am, and I need 30-40min from getting up to getting started...you do the maths on my alarm time. I like running in the quiet, dark, solitary morning, and being done by 6:30am, by necessity; running at other times during the day is neither logistically or reasonably feasible within life and family circumstances. That's just how it is. It's hard doing quality training that early, feeling jet-lagged, and dragging my heels just getting it done. But any training is better than the alternative of no training!!
6. I love the process of training.
As I've got older the appeal of racing has waned on me. Perhaps it's coincided with having a young family to focus on, the time a race takes away from home, or just that I'm not feeling as competitive as I used to. Whatever. But I love, love, love training. I love the experience, the endorphins, the experimentation, the routine, the individuality and more. A race - virtual or 'real' - every now and again is good, but I'll just as happily train. If it wasn't running, I'd be doing some other kind of training.
7. The type of training I do changes / changed.
I couldn't count the number of times I planned a session, but woke up feeling crap and canned/changed it; the beauty of coaching yourself!! That said, the types of sessions I planned - or sometimes did(!) - changed over time, mostly in line with age than any philosophical approach. I've had success - and otherwise - from many different types of training, so it's great having a library of sessions I can call upon each day depending on how I felt, which has changed over time from experience and understanding of running. And recently bike some riding has made its way into my training!!
8. I was lucky.
Perhaps most remarkable during the streak is avoiding any sickness beyond a mild sniffle. Not from hiding at home - as a relief school teacher I can be teaching 100s of different (primary school) kids each week, from sniffling Preps to disheveled grade 6's. Plus my own two kids who transitioned from kinder to school during this time...breeding grounds for germs. Maybe those prior years of childcare sicknesses we've had built a level of immunity we're benefiting from now. Then there are other life matters that stayed under control. I was lucky that nothing reared up to take me down. I was lucky.
9. Strength training is really important.
A great investment I made some years ago was into strength equipment, and using it regularly. I am fully invested in "lifting heavy sh*t", which has possibly paid dividends in avoiding injury. It also has side-effects in fatigue, and the challenge of incorporating it into my training consistently. But strength training is here to stay...and one day I want to do a muscle up.
10. I like Strava.
Despite being a 100% solo runner, Strava has been something that's allowed me to connect with hundreds of runners. My peers, my heros, my rivals, my friends, my family, people I coach and more. While I was once sucked into a spiralling comparison vortex on Strava, now it is a way to appreciate everything that other people are achieving, and throw out some hard earned Kudos too...as they do to me. I've made many friends through Strava; what's not to like about it.
11. My favourite shoes
I've worn a lot of different shoes during those 1000 days!! There's one brand (Nike) that has been a long standing favourite, but over the last 12-18 months or so I've expanded into brands I never envisioned myself wearing. Here are some of the main ones I've worn.
> Nike Pegasus - I've been wearing these for 20+ years, and each model gets better. An all round workhorse for anything from speed to long runs. Dozens of these shoes.
> Nike Pegasus Turbo - nice shoes, but I could never decide where they fitted into my rotation for the price$$.
> Nike Zoom Elite - sadly discontinued, but was a fantastic go-to shoe for fast sessions through to races.
> Nike Zoom Fly - the Zoom Fly Flynit didn't suit my feet, but my pair of Zoom Fly 3 have 960km in them, and still going - my first pair of carbon plated shoes.
> New Balance 1080 v9 - these were great, 2 pairs, and started my foray into non-Nike shoes.
> Saucony Triumph 17 - another unexpected brand, as the next step alternative to the NB 1080s.
> ASICS Novablast - when did 'serious' runners start wearing ASICS again? - in 2020!! One of my current faves.
> Reebok Floatride Energy 2.0 - not just aerobics or Crossfit shoes, but they make some really nice running shoes, too. Who knew?!?!
What's next? I'm going to run an extra couple of days just in case I miscalculated day nbr 1000...and then have a non-running day. I'll probably be edgy and tempt myself to go for a run, but (hopefully) won't!! The last 4 months have been a real struggle, and my legs need some love...and less running days. The streak experience has been great, and has helped my appreciation for and understanding of running. But I wouldn't suggest it as an ongoing training strategy. Give it a try...but just for periods of time.