I love to be physically active, but sometimes I tend towards laziness and fall out of a good routine. Though I love running and have been a runner off and on since junior high, I noticed last fall that I wasn’t making time for it anymore and physically and mentally I wasn’t quite feeling as “wildly healthy” as usual.
A couple years back, challenging myself to a running streak – running at least one mile each and every day – had done the trick to get me back on the roads and trails more regularly, and I ended up “streaking” for 50-something days. Last fall I challenged myself to beat my previous streak to help me get back in shape and stay healthy.
Six months later, I’m still streaking. I’m still not running fast or far, but I’ve learned a few things!
1. I have time to exercise. Period. There are people FAR busier than me who are still much more physically active, yet somehow I’ve managed to use lack of time as an excuse way too much in the past. Knowing that I “have” to run every day puts my excuses of busyness on the backburner. If I woke up too late in the morning, I’d just have to do it in the afternoon. If I wanted happy hour drinks with friends, I had to get up and run in the morning. Only once did I do my run after happy hour – but I still did it! It wasn’t very fun…
2. Exercise makes me feel better (duh). I feel much more positive and energized when I’m physically active. I’d even notice a difference during the day if I hadn’t gotten up in time to run in the morning and had to wait until after work. During stressful times, I have tended in the past to stop making exercise a priority, but with my streak I found I felt more level, even with some stressful events that occurred in the past 6 months. Even doing a short, slow run helped me feel healthier and more grounded. The day after a dental surgery, the day after a little too much wine, the day I had a stomach ache, the morning before a 12 hour workday – I would normally use any of these occasions for a day off, but found that doing a little run really, truly made it better. Who knew? Probably everybody.
3. You don’t build endurance or speed doing the same thing every day. While I feel my streak helped me build a habit (important!), I didn’t get faster and I can’t run much farther, because most weeks I just did a slow, short run every single day. I incorporated some workouts with my local track club when I could, but I need consistent challenge to see change. Many days that I ran over the past 6 months, I felt fine doing just a minimal run because I knew that if it weren’t for the streak, I wouldn’t be running at all. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense from a training perspective to do a short run every. single. day rather than a few quality workouts each week. I’m definitely going to challenge myself to do longer and more challenging runs over the next 6 months. I plan to keep running every day until I’m settled into a training routine I know I’ll stick with.
One thing that I must admit made it really easy to maintain my streak is our amazing desert weather over the winter. Though I did a few of my runs in Colorado over Christmas break, the vast majority of them were done in the beautiful desert sunshine. As it heats up over here, I’m having to get up earlier to get my run in. If you live in a colder climate, I think your opportunity for a streak is coming up now 🙂
How do you motivate yourself to get back in shape? How frequently do you exercise?
Further reading if you are fascinated by the hardcore streakers out there: