I’ve been streaking now for
100 118 days. . . (I fully intended to finish this on day 100 but fell asleep while writing. Over two weeks later, I am finally getting back to it.)
Inspired by the Runner’s World Magazine’s challenge (http://www.runnersworld.com/tag/rwrunstreak) to “run at least one mile per day, every day, from Memorial Day to Independence Day” (40 consecutive days of running), I set out on my streak journey on May 26, 2014. Those 40 days flew by, and before I knew it, Independence Day had come and gone. I am not sure when or why, but at some point I made the decision to keep streaking until I could streak no more. Here I am, 118 days later, still going strong.
As I was on my 100th-day run, I reflected upon my streaking journey. Even though I hadn’t thought about it much, I suddenly became very aware that I had grown as a runner over the last few months (for somebody that struggled to run a mile just over two short years ago, this is a pretty big deal) but even more so, I had grown as a person (for somebody that works hard at being a better human, this is even a bigger deal.) Despite the difficulties of this streak, I am so completely grateful for every step, both literally and figuratively, of the journey so far.
Here are a just few of the realizations I’ve had about the last few months. . .
1. I have gained the confidence to run in shorts, in public, in front of people. As a former overweight, eating-disordered person with body image issues, I cannot explain to you in this short blog what this means to me. The funny thing is, I don’t weigh much less than I did last shorts season but the confidence I have gained from running every day has given me the courage to run in shorts and more importantly, to be totally okay with however I look or wherever I jiggle. Perhaps though, most importantly, is the fact that somewhere over those 100 days I finally gave up being concerned about what others might think of my less than perfect, bright white, jiggly legs, and I just run. I just run! For a person like me, this kind of freedom is incredible.
2. Running every day has made me mental rockstar. There are some of you reading this that know EXACTLY what I mean when I say this. Even though there are days that I only run for a mile, the discipline of getting out there–regardless of what is going on in my head or my heart–forces my mental muscles to do work. And we all know what happens when we do work, we get stronger. Some days I use every ounce of mental muscle that I have just to just physically get through my run and other days I use my run time to reflect, plan, create, grieve, pray, give thanks, and gain focus. Then, there are some days when I just let my mind run free and I focus on soaking up every drop of beauty surrounding me. A couple of weeks ago, I even ran through a full-blown, grief-fueled anxiety attack. 4.7 miles later I was feeling fine and was grateful for the ability to overcome. (More on that run at a later date.) Being a mental rockstar doesn’t mean I don’t have struggles–because obviously I do have big ones–but having the mental capacity to deal with them and still thrive is something that I cherish.
3. Running every day has made me physically stronger. I suppose that almost goes without saying right? That moving every day would make a person stronger? I am not the fastest or lightest on my feet but I can move for hours when I need to. Knowing this gives me the confidence to tackle physical challenges that I wouldn’t have previously. Which leads me to the next thing. . .
4. Running every day has given me the confidence to tackle physical challenges that I wouldn’t have had the courage to say yes to previously. Case in point. . .Ragnar. It has been just over a month since I had the amazing experience of being part of a Ragnar team. (In a nutshell, we relay ran 204 miles over two days.) I got the call to join when a last minute vacancy came up on a team of local runners, most of whom I did not know. Even though I was extremely nervous, hadn’t been training for the running I would need to do, and had a desperate need not to let a team full of strangers down, I still knew that I could do it. I had been logging the miles and had the mental strength to complete the challenge which enabled me to muster the courage to say yes. I am happy to report it was one of the very best yesses I have uttered. (More on this awesome, life-changing journey at a later date as well.)
5. Running every day has given me the opportunity to get to know my body well. I have learned when I can keep pushing myself and when I need to back off. I have learned when to step up the miles and when to ease off. I have learned how to hydrate and fuel my body for longer runs and have learned that I won’t die without water on the shorter ones. I have learned that some days my body feels like I’m young and other days, it feels like what I imagine it would feel like to be really old. Some days I feel like it’s my first day running, and other days, my I feel like I could go on forever. Every time I run, I learn something new about my body and its capabilities. Knowing my body’s strengths and weaknesses is empowering.
Although this journey has had many challenges so far, and despite the fact that I can procrastinate a run for hours (for instance, I have been dragging out the writing of this all morning), I have yet to regret a single run. EVER. Besides. . .the benefits have far outweighed the challenges. As of now, I have no plans to stop streaking. I guess I’ll know when the time has come, but until that day is upon me, I plan to make the most of every single mile and give thanks every step of the way. And now, I’m off to run. . .