I love my round numbers and today ended up being doubly round. Over five years ago, I started a streak of running at least one mile every day. At the beginning, my goal was to make it a month. I had read of people who had kept their streaks up for 20-30 years, however I couldn’t think that far ahead. A year also seemed ridiculously long for someone who had really only been running regularly for about three months. When I started, I was concerned about injuries and thought I would eventually be forced to abandon my streak at some point once the niggles got too large. I should also note that when my streak began, I didn’t really enjoy running all that much. I was training with my wife for my first half marathon, but it was a grind and the longer runs of 5-8 miles at the time took so much effort that there was no enjoyment in the act. I was faking it until I could make it.
Well, I reached my goal of one month and a funny thing happened about that time. The first was realizing that running each day was pretty easy. I only had to do a mile after all, which was only taking 10-12 minutes out of my day. Who couldn’t wake up 15 minutes earlier? I had built in the habit and so I just let it continue on. Up a little earlier than before, out the door, and crank out some mile(s). The second thing to happen, and of more importance to my streak, was that I suddenly started enjoying the act of running. I stumbled on the idea that if I started running a little slower, I might have a little more energy left at the end of my runs, which might lead me to having more fun while I ran. And whaddya know. It worked.
And eventually, my running streak moved into the background of my life. It’s not like I get up each day and think “hey, today’s the 867th day of my running streak”. It’s why I typically don’t write much about my streak here on the blog. It’s just another thing I do each day like eating lunch or brushing my teeth (I’m guessing you’re not interested much in either of those). There’s a column in my running spreadsheet that notes which day it is, but I never pay it any attention. So I was surprised to discover earlier this week that today was the 2,000th day. I was then even more surprised to discover that I had already marked down today with a 20 mile long run. What? 20.00 on day 2000? How cool is that!
Cool in theory, dreadful in practice. Yikes what a slog of a run I had to get to my nice round number. It started out with the temperature. It was supposed to go from like 30 degrees at 8am up into the mid-40s by 11am or so, however when I finally dragged myself out of bed it was still only 25 degrees. I don’t mind running in those temperatures too much, but if I had my choice then I’d rather it be 10 degrees warmer. So I procrastinated around my house for an extra 30 minutes waiting for it to warm up a bit. This did not help my mental state so the first couple miles were a little rough. Finally after I got warmed up, I started hitting a decent flow state and the distance just started to melt away behind me.
The course I picked is mostly roads and I was blazing away plus or minus 9 minute pace, which is a tad on the quick side for me considering the length of the run. I hit mile 10 with an average pace of 9:13. I wasn’t targeting any given pace, however this was far too fast and deep down I knew I was going to pay for it. There’s a decent sized hill in mile 12 (maybe 150-200 feet) followed by about 2 miles of trails and the combination of the two ended up wrecking my legs. The last 6 miles was all about not walking. That was now the determining factor of whether this was going to be a successful run or not (it was). The hills were just brutal, but I slowly pulled myself up each one and recovered on the way down. I counted down the miles four . . . three . . . two . . . and then finally it was over.
I ended the run right exactly at mile 20 since it was round number day and all. GPS is fairly accurate, but not to the foot so I was a pleasantly surprised to finish up right at the bottom of my driveway. I walked up to the house, went inside, and promptly plopped into a chair for the next couple hours totally exhausted. This was definitely a hard run (in a good way). Hopefully, I’ll be able to recover well over the next couple days as I’ve got 25 miles scheduled for next weekend.
Hope your training is going well.