Confessions of an amateur athlete: I ran every day for a month and somehow survived

Our rookie runner explores the highs and lows of a month-long running streak challenge.

click to enlarge 5Ks with themes like the Santa Speedo Run are a great way to keep running fun. - Jeremy Hetzel via Wikimedia Commons
Jeremy Hetzel via Wikimedia Commons
5Ks with themes like the Santa Speedo Run are a great way to keep running fun.

You know what’s great about being stubborn as hell? It helps me cross finish lines. It gets me to achieve my goals. It got me to finally graduate from college.

You know what sucks about being stubborn as hell? It makes me do crazy things.

Like missing the deadline for a national running streak challenge, being angry at myself for it and then deciding to make up a running challenge of my own. In December. Voluntarily.

Once the idea of doing my own running streak crosses my mind, I know I am going to do it. I print out a simple calendar and hang it on my fridge, which sounds silly but turns out to be a key factor in keeping me motivated. To be considered a running streak, participants must run a minimum of one mile a day. Pace doesn’t matter, as long as you are running. 

click to enlarge I kept this simple calendar on my fridge to keep me motivated (and it worked surprisingly well). - Resie Waechter
Resie Waechter
I kept this simple calendar on my fridge to keep me motivated (and it worked surprisingly well).

And so I begin. At first, the streak is easy. I’ve had a couple of weeks to fully recover from my half marathon and my body is ready to rock. I run anywhere from three to five miles each day, using my normally scheduled rest days to go for a slow one-mile jog. My sports watch is thrilled with how many steps I’m tracking even on weekends. The miles feel low compared to half marathon training.

But alas, the honeymoon phase isn’t meant to last forever, right? I mean, I did decide to take on this challenge in December, after all. I have to cram for final exams, prepare for graduation (which I have a growing irrational fear I won’t make it to) and decorate the house. Our bathroom is torn to shreds due to a cracked shower pan and though our contractor is amazing, having strangers in and out of our home every single day stresses me out (and this project takes several weeks longer than it’s meant to). Holiday parties mean I get to have fun and blow off some steam, but they also mean I wake up hungover more than once. Running can be good for hangovers — the trouble is gathering the motivation to lace up and do it. Weekend mornings when I prefer to lay in bed with my wife and wake up slowly, I find myself pounding the pavement instead.

Still, I enjoy checking off each day’s miles with my pink highlighter and seeing my progress over the weeks. I start thinking maybe I will try for more than a month. Maybe two or three, and — hell, why not try for a full year?

Then right before Christmas, I get sick with the most godawful cold I’ve had in years. I am relieved to have made it this far in the month without missing a run, but I still have a week to go and am constantly coughing and blowing my nose. Have you ever tried running with a cold? It’s not cute. I drop down to a mile a day but even that is torture. One day in particular desperation I actually run around the yard with my dogs. They are smart enough to stop about halfway through and look at me like I’m crazy — which of course we know is true. I realize the idiocy of running laps around my small yard; even just going around the block several times would be more interesting than this shit. I pray none of my neighbors can see my utter stupidity. Not one of my proudest moments.

As December wraps up, my cold is still in full swing. I can’t go more than a few blocks without coughing up a lung, but I manage to push through at least a mile each day. I curse myself several mornings and wonder how anyone can do this for a full year or more. Must take a special kind of crazy.

At last December 31 arrives. I go for my mile and whether it’s my cold finally easing up or the fact that I know I have completed my challenge and will not have to run the next day or two or howevermanythefuckiwant, I actually feel great afterwards. I take an extra second to cross my 31st consecutive run off the calendar and pause for a picture. It wasn’t pretty — at times it was downright dreadful — but I did it.