Rewinding to Sunday, August 14: Runstreak day 1000 for today’s Flashback Friday special post. I remember like it was yesterday. It was a difficult, challenging pursuit of a goal I didn’t originally seek. My original goal for this runstreak was 100 days. Rewinding further, I began a runstreak on Nov. 19, 2013, starting a little before the Runner’s World Thanksgiving to New Year’s runstreak. I had attempted some shorter streaks and those lasted shorter lengths of time. But I didn’t realize how much this runstreak would change my life.
Many times, little things threatened to derail the streak: travel, fatigue, slight but not serious injuries, not much sickness but a little. Last month in Colorado, struggling with back pain, I almost decided to just pull the plug on the streak. But I didn’t come this far to quit. And after asthma has dominated much of my life, I’ve found that using running intelligently helps me strike back at asthma and has served as a catalyst, a catalytic converter, for many healthy changes in my life: 50 pounds of weight loss, less stress, and more healthy nutrition to power strong, healthy runs.
So how did this happen? It all began with a dream. Chasing a goal that I had never chased before. The 100 day runstreak. It seemed so large a number and I knew that life would tend to interfere with this pursuit. What I didn’t know is that I would go through some of the most stressful times in my life during this streak and be able to lean and rely upon running as a healing transformational salve or ointment that could deflect stress, chaos, and keep me healthy.
Once the 100 days was up, I didn’t want to stop, the endorphins were kicking in. The healthy changes were happening. I felt more happy, positive, and energetic. Something had changed. The old me tending towards laziness with running and running more lukewarm had turned into something stronger, more fiery, more peaceful, more calm.
And so about every 100 days or so, I threw a virtual visual lasso to the next target runstreak magic number. And I climbed. And I struggled. Fatigue and sleeplessness interfered a bit. My nutrition was not ideal until about the fall of 2014. Then big things began to happen. I ran my first 50k. My energy and running mojo ran stronger and hotter than I had ever seen or felt. My fiery self was being used to fuel a trailblazing runner with a wild side for taking on challenges and never say quit.
My asthma seemed to go more dormant, just making occasional returns with pollen season. And I realized that activity was the key to keeping the asthma at bay. Began watching my steps and activity level. Documented all my food and drinks through myfitnesspal. And the weight just dropped. Fast.
The more weight I lost, the more excited I got to run further, faster, slower, longer, and stronger. It has been an amazing healthy journey.
I was inspired by so many family and friends who believed in me, supported me, encouraged me, told me not to give up. And I realized the magical power of momentum. Once you become more active and stay active, the momentum just carries us. We don’t have to try so hard. We can relax a little and lean into the sheer force and velocity of running momentum as it carries us.
Thank you to all of you who have inspired me with your words, your notes, your messages, your posts, your phone calls, and of course, your tweets. I run to inspire and when people spontaneously tell me I’ve inspired them in some way, that fills me with happiness and joy. I’m so blessed to know so many wonderful people around the world who have helped me keep this internal running fire lit and burning bright. Any time the internal flame starts to dim, someone has been there to fan the flames. And so this running torch burns for as far as I can carry this runstreak. Can I reach for 2000 days? Yes. But first, the next target day is the 3-year mark in November, RSD 1096. It won’t be long.
How can people run-streak this long? I’ll give you a couple tips that have worked for me: First, make sure that you set many days aside for running 1 mile and no more. Your body will demand it at times and if you sense an injury, it’s better to rest or fallback to the 1 mile at really slow position. Despite injured ribs after my fall last November, an injured back this summer, and various calf cramps, it seems like falling back to the miler is really important.
Second, prepare to sleep more. You’ll need more rest running a runstreak than you might need without one. Naps are your friend.
Third, optimize your nutrition. Make sure you are getting enough fruits, veggies, and grains. Whole food nutrition.
Fourth, hydrate adequately, ideally with water. Much of the weight I lost came from simply giving up Pepsi and pop entirely.
Fifth, be flexible with your runstreak plan: some days you will feel very strong, some days weaker. If necessary, shorten/bag the run and push when your strength returns. Pay attention to the recovery advisor on your Garmin, your heart rate, your VO2 max, and your general sense of fatigue. If you’re worn out, you need to cut/scale back a little to be able to stretch the streak wisely.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, walk breaks are your friend. I found that when I was struggling either with asthma, fatigue, or injury issues, the more I walked, the better the run went. I recovered faster and near-injuries seemed to heal faster.
Want to try to run-streak? Please let me know. I’d love to help you!
And someday every runstreak ends. Maybe due to injury, asthma, fatigue, or illness. But I am not prepared to let this go just yet. Runstreak on my runfriends!
P.S. On RSD 1000, I ran 10 miles, 1 mile for each 100 days of the streak. Here is a nice mosaic of my favorite shots from that days’ running. Some was with Misty, our dog, and the rest was solo to give me some time to reflect.
P.P.S. Thanks to Jimmy Buffett for inspiring the title of this blogpost with his Cheeseburgers in Paradise song. It just fit so well!