Before running, if you’d have asked me to streak, I’m old enough to only think about Erica Roe, the famous Twickenham streaker of 1982! I’m definitely too old to contemplate a streak like that and Erica, bless her,has a couple of certain assets with which I definitely can’t compete!
To the running community though, a streak is a totally different ball game for which I feel more than eminently qualified. Inspired by Mr. Ron Hill himself and other runners I know, I decided to try ‘a streak’ and take the Ronhill #RunEveryDay challenge for October…..31 days, how hard could it be ?
World Marathon champion Ron Hill ran for at least 7 miles each day for over fifty years….yes, that’s 50 years which equates to a total of 18,250 days. As a world champion marathon runner and professional athlete, I guess it’s almost his job to run every day. I bet if there’s a Mrs.Hill, she’d be expecting it. Still 50 years is unbelievable , how super human can one chap be ? But what about normal mortals with normal jobs and families, who are these everyday streakers ?
I know of two locally, Alex Loach, stalwart super runner of Holme Pierrepont running club has just completed his 1000 day of running, celebrated with an ultra run of 100km during which other club members joined him for various legs of the journey.
And don’t just think it’s the guys who are that crazy, Sarah Horrigan-Fullard, founder of my much mentioned Notts Women Runners, was on day 666 of her streak when she ran this year’s Robin Hood Half Marathon and day 700 fast approaches. What’s amazing is you only ever see her with a smile this big when running….Wonder Woman is clearly most apt.
So all I wanted to do was 31 days but working full time, providing chauffeur service to two teens and not really having the full understanding of other runners in the family, it wasn’t an easy thing to achieve. I didn’t see a minimum, but in my mind I was thinking 5 km. In the end my shortest run was 2 miles, done after pulling my calf to the point that I couldn’t actually put my foot down flat…….I would never have run on it if I hadn’t committed to the challenge. That’s an interesting thing, I have an addictive personality which to date I have put to positive things in my life. I’m fiercely competitive and that goes for challenging myself too, once I’ve said I’m doing something, I’m doing it and there’s got to be one hell of reason before I give in to anything. So really I’m probably enough of a nutter and genetically programmed to suit a streak.
My streak consisted of many 5km plods round the block, three Park Runs, of which two were PBs and two 10km races, one for cheese and one dressed as a skeleton to celebrate the last day of the streak….and both were fast, but not quite PBs. There were no half or full marathons thrown in there, I couldn’t keep going the day after a full mara. So if I summarised my
- If you’ve a busy schedule then you have to plan the runs ahead or they just don’t happen. Any risk to my diary being crashed and I decided to run in the morning at 6am before work. The down side of this is if the 6am run comes after the previous day’s evening run, you feel like you’ve had no rest between sessions.
- With my limited spare hours, it felt too selfish for me at times. Once I explained I was doing the October challenge ( the additional running was noted by the fam on about day 5), heading out before tea or both Saturday and Sunday was tolerated by the hubster and offspring, but if I carried on the streak, how would I manage my birthday, Christmas Day, travelling long haul to go on holiday. I have no idea how I could have run every day on our recent canadian road trip, just too many stops to get your barings in several big cities. To insist on running in some of those circumstances feels a touch too obsessive for me, I can’t let a pleasure become an obsession.
- If you need to be quick, you can get sick of the same 5km route out your front door and back. There were a lot of deja vue moments which can take the joy out of running.
- If you’re really ill, should you run? Are all the aforementioned streakers super healthy or do they take needless risks with their health? As runners we hopefully know the general rule of neck up, OK to run if you feel like it but neck down, perhaps you shouldn’t. Why risk prolonging an illness or worse because you can’t rest a day. I’m actually a really healthy person ( I’ll be ill now I’ve committed that to writing) I think I had a bit of a cold a couple of years ago, so my 31 days were illness free.
- What about injury. Every running bible talks of rest being a vital part of training, allowing your body to recover. My 31 days consisted of only 2 X 10kms and assorted 5kms, but what if I had half or even full marathons in there, can a body (especially one my age) properly recover given not even a 24hour break?
- I pay a fortune for gym membership that hasn’t been used and I do like to cross train, weights, spin, Pilates the odd swim and very relaxing wallows in the jacuzzi, there’s no time for that if it’s all about running. Although two of my runs were 2.5 miles which is running to the gym, I want to have time to enjoy these other things too.
- I tried to win some lovely Ronhill gear with Tweets to promote the challenge. But alas my tweets didn’t hit the witty spot, so no gear for me ! I did ironically end up buying a Ronhill Hi Vis jacket (nicest one at the best price) having seen a scary video on YouTube about the invisibility of runners without reflective gear.
- The most important lesson I’ve learnt is just how many excuses we make not to run, we all do it, too tired, too busy, too cold, too wet, too ill…..shall I go on. Be honest 99% of them were excuses ( really, they were) I went because I told myself I had to. I didn’t want to go out on several of the early mornings but there wasn’t a single run, even when injured, I didn’t feel fab when I got back, not one ! We all need to push ourselves a little bit harder, I could run a lot more than I do and I plan to.
- I lost weight, I wasn’t trying to, but I did ………hoorah !
- I still healed even though I kept running, I just worked round it. Now I’m not sure this is totally sounds advice and any physiotherapists reading this will wholly disagree with the approach but a massive muscle pull on my calf that was agony still mended despite that I kept running. I adjusted of course and ran with the beginners and improvers groups to reduce my pace and distance but I still ran.
- It didn’t slow me down I’ve had 2 park run PBs, the fastest on a hilly course and nearly got a 10km PB without really trying. My pace has been getting quicker all year and the streak didn’t slow it down at all. See, no such thing as tired legs !
- It’s another LCA challenge I’ve achieved making 2015 a really memorable year of running. I remain unafraid to take anything on.
My streak stats are as follows ( you know I’m a geek , what else is a Garmin for !):
119 miles run and 16,543 calories burnt
So give a streak a go, make running a habit,
Sunday, November 1st, I didn’t run. I almost felt I had to break the streak before the addiction kicked in but I didn’t miss it too much. I treated myself to a sports massage. The damaged calf was painfully released but my legs were otherwise in good shape.