My alarm went off at 5:30 am this morning and dragging myself out of bed, I laced up my shoes, grabbed the dog’s leash, and went for a run. A few times the thought crossed my mind to stop: that I didn’t have to be doing this to myself and that fifteen minutes extra of sleep would be just as productive… But I have a streak to maintain.
This is my third year completing the Summer Runner’s World Run Streak: a running challenge where you must run a minimum of a mile a day from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July. This year around I have enough miles under my belt to be well acquainted with the challenges that this streak presents: the early mornings and shifting of schedules, the self discipline, the weather, and the physicality. But yet I keep coming back.
Running streaks are a great way to test your grit: to see how strong you can be day after day even after the novelty of the streak has worn off. Many times in my yoga teacher training we would be reminded that consistency is not the same as intensity: brushing your teeth once for an hour will not yield the same results brushing your teeth sixty days for a minute. It is what we do every day, time after time that forms us.
However knowing this is not the same as being in the trenches pushing your way through a running streak. A successful streak takes some strategy and forethought: something I have learned through trial and error over these past few years. I am hoping this experience might help you, and motivate you on your way!
1: Get an Early Start
The morning time is the perfect time to get a run in. We live such busy lives that it is easy to tell yourself that you will sleep in and run later when you have more time. Then you go on with your day, and one thing turns into another, and next thing you know it is 10:00 pm and you still haven’t even moved toward those running shoes. Early morning runs help to prevent that because once your run is done for the day, that’s it. There’s no more thought to it, and you can focus on the pressing tasks and surprises that the day throws at us. Starting the day with an achievement will carry into the rest of the day: increasing productivity, energy, and creativity in the workforce.
2: Stay Organized
Keeping all of your running equipment in one drawer or area of the house makes it easy to get up and go. Many times I will be motivated to get out the door and hit the pavement only to discover I don’t have my watch, or headphones, or (insert any and every piece of equipment here). There is no better run mojo killer than to have to hunt through obscure corners of your house for the offending item. By keeping everything together you know where things always are, making it one less hoop you need to jump through. (Running in the morning? Lay out your outfit the night before!)
3: Focus on the Mile You’re In
Running streaks can seem daunting when you begin one. The brain starts to worry about the upcoming weeks, and the seemingly insurmountable time that the challenge requires, and before you know it you have talked yourself out of something before you even began. In these moments it is important to simply focus on the day at hand. Rather than fret over tomorrow or the day after, practice presence and simply worry about the mile you need to run now. The old saying goes “How do you eat an elephant?” One mile at a time.
4: Find Community
Share the streak with a friend! A running partner brings accountability to your streak as well as a person to relate and share your experiences with. Perhaps it is a virtual partner (social media is fantastic for bringing inspiration and motivation into your streak), or someone you meet and run with every day. Either way a training partner brings energy and support into your streak, and can become one of your greatest resources. Some of my oldest and closest friends have come from running and shared miles.
5: Have an Inspiration
Really think about the reason you want to do this streak, the true purpose. Are you trying to find an inner strength and prove something to yourself? Are you trying to get healthier or train for an event? Maybe you are running for someone who is not able to or there is something in your life that you need to process. Whatever your reason is, at the beginning of your streak write it down, and place it somewhere where you can see it and be reminded of it every time you go for a run (or are tempted to skip it). Recall the purpose often, so that even on the bad days you will be motivated to go out and get things done.
And above all: Have fun! Running is a gift, but like everything else it can be overdone. Respect your body, and take easy days when you need to. Not every mile will be your fastest mile, and that is ok. Consistency over intensity.
Question of the Day:
Have you ever completed a running streak? What were your reasons for doing so? How did you stay motivated throughout?