Good morning, everyone! ☀️ I have to throw myself on the mercy of the court today, as I was not able to get my usual Wednesday newsletter out to you this week. I’m afraid this week has been a hectic one on a number of fronts, and I just wasn’t able to get my mind together in the way I normally do. I hope you can forgive me!
I didn’t want to miss our Friday discussion thread, however, especially as I stumbled across a topic many of us wrestle with: keeping our running habit going, especially when it’s as hot as it has been outside, or when life intervenes.
Running streaks are what I have in mind, as I know a number of us started the Runner’s World running streak around Memorial Day, the one that runs through July. I did a running streak that lasted 31 days back in 2020 — I ran at least a 5K a day — and it was fun, but easier to maintain during the pandemic, when I was home ALL THE TIME. Now, it would be a little tougher.
How do you handle the mental challenge of a running streak? On Twitter the other day, this writer illustrated it this way:
I have to say, I experience that too in some ways. Keeping a streak going — something that starts with excitement and energy at first, but over time can become kind of a burden — is a tough thing mentally to do. When do you give yourself a break? Why keep it going, if you’re burning out?
Of course, this applies to more than just running — it can operate in any area of our lives where we’re trying to adopt a new habit, or live in a different way.
This discussion around streaks reminded me of a time when I was a kid, and my #1 hero in the world was Atlanta Braves outfielder Dale Murphy. In 1986, he had a consecutive game streak of 740 games played — at the time, way ahead of Cal Ripken, who would go on to break Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games.
Murphy’s streak attracted a lot of attention for years. It was a testament to his talent, his hard work, and his dedication to the team. Or so we thought: “It was actually kind of counter productive in some ways,” he told an interviewer then. “The mental part of it will be so good for him,” then-Braves-manager Chuck Tanner said. “It will also be a mental lift for us. He thought it would be a big relief off his mind if this streak could be broken. It will take a lot of pressure off him.”
I think of that sometimes when I think of streaks — they can be so great to kick off a running habit, and get ourselves in gear. But they can become counter-productive.
These are just thoughts running through my head, though. I’d love to hear yours, and how your running is going this summer. What’s new? 😃 — Terrell
Ha, Ha, Terrell! Don't feel bad. Even my Astrologer couldn't find anything to say, so he apologized for not writing and is taking a week off! (He's a good writer, too, and definitely prolific as he was an investigative reporter for years.) Must be time to take time off. . .The Swedes do --and many of the Scandinavian countries--to celebrate Midsummer. You're right on schedule!
Aside from that, no streaks here. I've done challenges and finished them. Sometimes they are streaks because of the number of miles involved. I walk or run almost everyday, but if I don't want to, I don't. No use getting rid of the fun element! If it is going to be a drag, why bother.
I loved rule of 10 in Atomic Habits. Usually, that gets me going. If not, there is always another day.
Sorry, kind of late, Time and chores got in the way. . . you know how it is! :)
Not that it's actual streak running but I have been running the virtual trail distance runs as a way to keep getting out there. I just finished a 353 miles in 81 days and ran a 156 miler earlier in the year. No set distance required daily nor any time so it allows for training runs to get double credit. Tonight is the Cool Run at Midnight in Somerset, Ky and my 26th race of the year. But that's a different story!
I think running streaks have a tendency to lead to a streak of injury recovery days, weeks, or the horror of months 😱. My runs are always more productive, sweeter 🍬, and the running high is higher, when I give my body the time it needs to recover so it can perform at it's best.
A few years back I was a "card carrying member (without the card)" of Streak Runners International. I started on my 58th birthday in 2012 and ended 3 years later due to injury. Running everyday for over 3 years. No problem until it was. There are folks in this group that have run everyday (on the honor system) for over 52 years! Now that's a "streak"! This is more of the fringe streakers - not the norm by any means. For me, I now run between 4-5 miles a day Monday - Friday and "relax" on the weekends - unless there's still the occasional race day event. My current motivation is keeping myself fit and still mobile as I watch my birthdays "streak" by faster and faster. The other is getting our younger dog some much needed exercise as well. But having some type of goal/reward in your head is always helpful when it comes to a "streak" - running or otherwise. Try to have fun with it and don't stress. Eventually, all good things come to an end...
I find a challenge to be helpful as I am a goal-oriented type of person. But I need to set a realistic limit on the # of days that I di a streak. Otherwise, it becomes never ending.
I run daily because I can and because I love to run. Once we put parameters and schedules around what we love to do, something gets lost and I think it's the joy and freedom to just get up and go. That's what motivates me as a runner; not a running streak, unless we are in training for something that requires a daily challenge.
I consciously AVOID a streak. At 68, after 55 years of running, after 2-3 days in a row, I need to do something else. Today, it was an hour in the kayak, the legs got a total rest. I'm looking forward to having a good run tomorrow morning, but I would have been dreading it if my legs were all tired from running too many days in a row. Never more than 5 days a week, and rarely any injury issues. I doubt I have ever run 10 days in a row.
I love a good self-imposed streak of running. At the moment, I'm committed to one run a week, one swim, one bike. In a way the variety of the streak has been helpful. I'm reminded of Roger Bannister and his burning out because of his rigorous routine prepping for the 4-minute mile. He had to change things around to get himself back into the daily training. That all said, James Clear is the best on this. His book ATOMIC HABITS is amazing. Here's what he says about creating positive streaks (which are almost same as habits) -- "The Four Laws of Behavior Change are a simple set of rules we can use to build better habits. They are (1) make it obvious, (2) make it attractive, (3) make it easy, and (4) make it satisfying." And Terrell, no mercy required. We're all human!
Streaks are good to a point but if it becomes a source of stress, obligation or dread then it defeats the purpose. Also it’s important to listen to your body rather than forcing yourself into a rigid routine which can lead to burnout.
The funny thing is, even after I've written what I have above, I still kinda want to start a new running streak today -- because I've been out of the habit for a while, thanks to a minor injury, and want to get back on the train.
As Walt Whitman might say, "Do I contradict myself? Then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes." 😃