Thoughts on running every day for a year

On October 14, 2012  I made this little plan to run every day at least until the end of 2012.  It had to do with participating in a fitness challenge that ultimately didn't work out, but the run every day thing stayed.  Then after the end of 2012, I was all "if I go 14 more days, then that's 3 months solid" and then I was all "I wonder if I can keep going" and by the time I got to six months it was "I have to see if I can make it a year".  On Sunday October 13, 2013, I ran a nice and easy 4-miler in my vibrams to solidify 365 days of running without missing a day.  And I was not sure what to do next.  Like, my goal was to go for a year, now I did that.  Do I deliberately stop?  What do I do?  Dad's only advice was "you'll know the right thing to do".

Imagine my surprise when Monday morning rolled around and I'm out there running a quick 2-miles before work.  What the hell has happened to me?  Today I felt like crap for a number of reasons and was just like "well, a year and a day, that's good, maybe today I should kill the streak?"  Nope.  I did another 2 miles after work.  I already have a running date for tomorrow.  I guess I'm going to keep going for a while.

I talked about what I'd learned after six months of running every day.  Now I'm obviously thinking about all the stuff I've learned over the past year, and I why I want to keep going, at least for now.

Short distances and quick workouts are not junk miles.  Miles add up, even one at a time.  This one I probably learned the quickest and had reinforced the most often.  When I look back at what I did, at least half of my running days were one or two mile days.  Initially there was some physical benefit to these quick runs as it helped change the speed at which I ran.  Perhaps the greatest long term benefit to those runs was the mental benefit, the determination and patience those things teach.  Coming home grumpy and tired, running in the dark or snow or rain was the last thing I wanted.  Actually most of the time.  It takes determination and focus, and sometimes patience to go out for a run feeling like that.  It taught me a lot about sticking with things that seem hard at first because every time I'd end those runs feeling better than when I started.

There was never a time I felt crappy or ashamed for missing a workout, and I never felt ashamed to just do one mile. Looking back at my logs over the years, there's often a stretch of days where I wouldn't work out at all.  Usually it would coincide with getting my period and I would hurt and be sleepy all that time, making it even more awful.  I haven't achieved quite that level of sloth in the past year.  Hey, I worked out at least 10 minutes per day.  It helped my physical health a lot.  My periods are much less painful when I can keep running.  Running keeps my hormones in better balance, and it also makes the pain medication work better.  I don't know why but my doctor says so too.  But more importantly, after those several days of not working out, it would be hard to get started again.  This year, I never felt like that.  I never got super discouraged or too far away from running which was excellent.

I get to run everywhere.  Running on vacations can be a blast.  This was what I thought would be the hardest when I decided to try for this streak.  It's also what I fear will eventually end the streak one day: I'll be on a vacation somewhere I can't run.  For now, it's been the biggest and best surprise.  Running on vacations is freaking awesome.  Running in Florida on a beach in February was a blast.  See the follow up, logistics of exercise on vacation here.  But easily the best vacation for running ever was Running in Washington DC and Virginia

Point of interest, there is a Running Streak Association but I haven't registered with them and not really planning on it at the moment.  When I started this running thing last year, my definitions were a bit looser than the streak's rules, specifically there were a couple days my workouts were on the elliptical and a couple track workouts where I might not have run 1 mile together, although cumulatively was around 4 or 5 miles for the workout.  I'm not quite when I had that corrected, but if I ever register with these guys I'd have to use a slightly different start date, probably around December 1 just to be safe and honest. 

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