With the completion of my run on the morning of 14 June, I officially hit 2000 days in my running streak. Just the thought of that still sounds crazy. That’s almost 5½ years of running every single day. The streak started with no thought to go a significant amount of time. Back in January 2011, I saw a Runner’s World challenge on Facebook. The challenge was to run every day in the month of January so I decided to give it a try. I made it about 20 days before I got sick and the streak ended. The next year, one of the members of my running group at that time, The Village Runners, saw the same Runner’s World challenge for January 2012 and suggested we try to complete it as a group. We felt like the accountability of the group would make it easier to stick with it. That is kind of how it started.
Although it was not on my mind at the time, my streak actually started on Christmas Eve of 2011. My wife, Caroline, and I went to Syracuse, New York, for Christmas to spend Christmas with her brother (Donny), sister-in-law (Anica) and niece (Maddie). We flew to Syracuse on Friday, 23 December, and I intended to go for a run when we got there. Donny picked us up at the airport and we began visiting when we got back to the house and I never did run. I did wake up the next morning and go for a run with Caroline to Onondaga Lake Park. It was 22° with snow and ice on the ground.
When 1 January came around and we started the Runner’s World challenge, I had already run for 8 straight days. We made it through the entire month and I was at 39 days. For those that know me, you know I am a numbers geek. I realized that I could reach 50 days in less than two weeks so I decided to go for it. At 50 days, I wondered if I could get to 100. By the time I reached 100, my friends were encouraging me to try to run for the entire year. I did not think I could make it that far, but I decided to go for it and I made it. By that point, I was committed to keeping the streak going. At some point, I had to change my mindset from “I have to go run” to “I get to run every day” to take some of the pressure off of myself. Maintaining a run streak this long was never my plan. It just happened. It is also the reason my blog’s subtitle is “Ramblings of an Accidental Streak Runner”. The ramblings are self explanatory if you ever read any of my blog posts. The accidental part is just a fact.
I used to say that I would keep going until I got hurt or sick. Well, I have been both hurt and sick but I somehow have managed to get a run of at least one mile in every day. I typically run in the morning because I have learned that it is a good way for me to start my day. My run wakes me up and gets my juices flowing.
As I have mentioned in other posts, I am still a relatively new runner having started running only nine years ago. For over half my running career, I have been maintaining this current run streak. It was more challenging in the beginning because I was putting too much pressure on myself to make sure I ran. It was not always fun because I made it more of a chore that I had to do. When I decided to enjoy the runs and to run for the fun of it, the pressure went away for the most part. My running buddies have been a huge factor in helping me to keep the streak going because someone is always willing to run with me. There have not been very many solo runs in the 2000+ days of the streak. For that, I feel very fortunate.
Another thing that I have done is study other runners. I read about them to see what makes them tick and what motivates them to do what they do. These runners have become my heros and role models. I cannot express enough how these people have encouraged me, some personally and others from afar. As a show of gratitude, I want to acknowledge many of those runners here:
- Dick Beardsley – One of the most famous Boston Marathons was run in 1982 where Dick came in right behind Alberto Salazar after running neck and neck the entire race. He was a great marathoner during that era but it is his story since 1982 that makes him an inspiration to me. He overcame some serious demons in his life and is now inspiring people with his story.
- Owen Bradley – As a local Birmingham runner, Owen is one of the best ultrarunners in the country. I am always amazed at what he is able to accomplish. He is also one of the best runners that I personally know.
- Terry Fox – I went all the way to Vancouver to run a half marathon back in 2012 primarily for the opportunity to visit the Terry Fox Plaza and see the tribute to him. His Marathon of Hope inspired Canada back in 1980. Although he did not reach his goal of running across Canada before he was stopped by his cancer, he became a Canadian hero and the Terry Fox Foundation still raises tremendous amounts of money for cancer research.
- Kathleen Hamrick – Another local Birmingham runner that has achieved some crazy things. She and her sister ran the Grand to Grand stage race and then ran a similar event in the Amazon. Just the thought of one of those races blows my mind.
- Danny Haralson – If you have read my blog before, you know Danny has been more influential to my running than anyone else. His Run University is how I started running in a Couch to 5k program back in 2008.
- Dick and Rick Hoyt – I first saw a video of Team Hoyt when our church played it one Sunday morning. I was so impressed with their story that I began reading and watching everything I could find about them. I had to the honor of meeting Dick at the race expo in Boston in 2013 and 2014.
- Dean Karnazes – I became intrigued by Dean when I read his book, 50/50, about his adventures running 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states. Once again, I looked for everything I could find about him because his story was so incredible to me.
- Meb Keflezighi – I had the pleasure of meeting Meb back in 2010 at the expo of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas and became friends over the years. He has always been an inspiration and encouragement to me. Meb is just an incredible runner but an even better person.
- Nadia Ruiz – I became Facebook friends with Nadia a few years ago and have been amazed at all she has accomplished in running. She became the youngest person to complete 100 marathons and most of those have been Boston qualifying times. I had the honor to finally meet her at the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon in 2016.
- Joan Benoit Samuelson – Joan was the Gold Medalist in the first women’s marathon in Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. At a dinner the night before the 2013 Boston Marathon, Meb introduced us to Joan and she was such a nice lady. The next day, she set the course record for women over 50 years old.
- Erica Speegle – Erica is a local runner in Birmingham that is the fastest women in town. I had the pleasure of watching her run in the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles. She is another terrific runner that has always been so encouraging to other runners.
- Michael Wardian – I first read about Michael when he ran two marathons in the same day back in 2013 and actually won one of them. I have followed him since then. I learned that my admiration was warranted when I heard an interview he did on a podcast with my friend, Suman.
- Julie Weiss – Julie is another incredible runner that I first met at the Walt Disney World Marathon when she was nearing the end of her quest to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks while raising awareness and money for pancreatic cancer. I also had the privilege of running in the same marathon where Julie celebrated her 100th marathon in the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon in 2016.
- Prince Whatley – Prince is a local runner in the Birmingham area that ran a run streak for over 11 years before an injury ended it. Besides being a tremendous runner, he has always been such an encouragement to me and other runners in our community.
I am always interested in learning about runners that I think are some of the best. I am interested in learning what makes people do what they do. We all have our own motivations and reasons for running. For me, it is about challenging myself and pushing my boundaries. I have no idea how long I will be able to maintain this current run streak but I plan to see how far it will go. And I will have fun doing it.