Saturday’s run totally sucked.
I headed out the door around 1:30 PM, hoping that the weather had warmed up just a little and that the snowplows in the Town of Irondequoit had removed at least some of the 14″ of snow we had received overnight.
Both hopes were dashed within seconds.
Turning west out of the driveway, I ran into a headwind that immediately froze my cheeks and nose (the day’s temperatures were about 14F/-10C with the wind chill at about 0F/-17C — not the coldest I’ve ever run in, but pretty close). Then, it was into the slush and snow. I was running on a skating rink, and my hips and my lower back immediately began to ache as a result.
I wasn’t even a tenth of a mile in.
Somewhere around the mile mark, my stomach began to cramp up and I could no longer feel my face. I decided I’d had enough. I circled back around the neighborhood and called it quits after a couple of miles.
A few minutes later, in the warmth of the shower, I asked myself “why?”After all, I plan on beginning my next sixteen-week marathon program on February 5, which is just a couple of short weeks from now, so there was no real need to run today. During the week, I could have run my customary 20 miles in bigger chunks and fewer days, picking and choosing warmer times to do it. Saturday, I could have stayed in, watched some Netflix, read a little. I could even have gone to the gym and jumped on the dreadmill.
Instead, I tortured my body and mind just for a couple of lousy miles.
Why? Because I wanted to break my run streak.
You see, a crazy notion crossed my mind just before New Year’s Day. It wasn’t a resolution — I don’t believe in them, because I don’t believe you need to wait for the beginning of the year to improve your life.
The notion was to go on a run steak, which, according to Streak Runners International (yes, there is such an organization. Who knew?), is a run of “at least one mile (1.61 kilometers) within each calendar day. Running,” they go on, “may occur on either the roads, a track, over hill and dale, or on a treadmill.”
A quick look through my running log told me that my longest streak was 12 days. October 17-28, 2017, to be precise. So, Saturday marked day 13 of this current streak, and my longest running streak to date.
So, why do it? And, why now?
This piece on Active.com discusses the pros and cons of streaking, mostly motivation and discipline on one hand versus injury and logistics on the other. Essentially, the article says, streak running is great for runners who don’t race.
So, a streak offers nothing more than the mental discipline and physical toughness built in to a good marathon program. And it doesn’t allow for all-important rest days and the benefits they bring to a banged-up body.
For me, then, it’s more about a new and different challenge — something to freshen things up, something to make me push a little more. Plus, I’m curious to see if it has any benefits at all other than the ones already mentioned.
But if it gets in the way of the more important goals I’ve set for myself this year (my first sub-four-hour marathon since 2015, a 1:50 half and a second sub 80 minute Boilermaker, among other things), I’ll stop in a heartbeat.
So, how far can, or should, I take this? To the end of January? To the beginning of my spring marathon training? To April 10 (100 days)? To December 31? To 1,000 days (Saturday, October 10, 2020, I believe)?
Frankly, I don’t think the calendar will have anything to do with it.
I’ll just plan on heading out again today and tomorrow and the next day until, like Saturday, my body tells me I’ve had enough.