Monday, January 28, 2013

Contemplating the Streak

Somewhere near the end of the year (2012) I began a running streak. I'll skip over the har-hars of nekked runner jokes, although I will admit that googling the subject gets a few eye-opening stories pictures. Since I began my streak (every day running) I have ran 31 straight days and covered 234 miles, with my longest being a 27 mile training run and 5 runs that were less than 2 miles. I used to not even bother with running if I could not go at least 3-4 miles, but I have changed my reasoning for this endeavor. There have been a few days when at 11:30 at night, I have headed out the door or hopped on the TREADMILL (ugh) to keep the streak alive.

Streakers love company. My friend Bobby Michaels started his streak at Thanksgiving, and planned to end it at the end of the year--but he has not stopped. My streaking might have been a part of why he is extending his, or it could be the Facebook group called Streak Running.

I have a couple of friends (Ron and Bobbie Ruhs) who have been extending their streak for 247 days now.
These are sick people--Bobbie just ran a 24 hour event on a TREADMILL, and gave that machine a 100 mile beating.
That's averaging 14:24 minute miles--including rest breaks, pee breaks, and feeding frenzies.
Fortunately, since the run started and ended on different days, she got to count it as two, but she hopped on the mill again for another mile the next day to keep it going.

I am training for a 100 mile race on March 23rd--the Prairie Spirit 100. To properly prepare for a 100 miler, long runs in the 30 mile range are a must, and weekend back-to-back long runs are highly recommended. The second day starts out grueling, but after a few miles, you find that yes you can run on tired legs. But one negative thing that running every day has caused-- my energy levels are zapped for that second long run on the weekend. Of course, making yourself DO IT ANYWAY is excellent training, and provided I don't wimp out in the next 5-6 weeks, I'll be ready.

Pros and cons of Streak Running
1.It gives you a great sense of accomplishment. I'm doing something that not every other runner is doing (or wants to!) Having the Facebook page where we check in daily gets a lot of atta-boys and encouragement.
2. Once you have a few days in your streak, the desire to keep it alive is strong. I am far less likely to blow off a midweek run now even if I'm a little tired and work was stressful.
3. It feeds my love of running. Of course, I keep it fed pretty well anyway.
4. For some, running every day would help with weight loss, if that was something they wanted/needed to do. I started a new years resolution-ish diet and with my allotted daily caloric intake, the activity has helped keep me in a slight calorie deficit. So far--12 lbs lost.
5. Misery loves company. I have quite a few friends who have jumped on board and joined the craze and Facebook page AND I have made a few new online friends!! :-)

1. Getting the run in is sometimes tough. I have been on the treadmill at 11:30 at night for a token mile--and I HATE the T-mill.
2. There is a risk of burnout. I always said since I started running--when it quits being fun, I'll probably quit. But so far, it is still fun and enjoyable.
3. The risk of injury. I am very fortunate that I have only had very minor setbacks in my running. I had a few cases of nagging shin splints, a bout of plantar fasciitis, an IT band irritation, and a couple twisted ankles. None of those kept me from running. I run more on trailz than on road, and I believe I do not beat up the same muscles in my leg on the various trail surfaces like I do using the same muscle group while pounding pavement. Still, I suppose there is a slightly greater chance that I could have an overuse injury by running every day and not having "rest days." I, however, consider the occasional 1-2 mile run days a rest day. But truly, if I felt I was slowly grinding myself into the ground by running every day, I'd stop.
4. This con has my attention, and I mentioned it earlier. Running every day may not be the best thing for a runner training for long distances. That could mean the marathon distance, 50K, or longer. This is the only reason that I think I might halt my streak in the coming weeks--so I can rest up between long running weekends and get my proper training done. A well placed rest day here and there might be beneficial to my weekly training regimen.

So what do I do? My answer for now is to run a mile or two on my rest days--and call them cutback days. (You already knew that, didn't you?)

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