Monday, February 28, 2011

The Running Streak Ends

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
(The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot, 1925)
Tonight at midnight it will be official...my running streak will be over.  I have made it 95 days running each day for a minimum continuous distance of 1 mile.  Unfortunately, testing out my maximum heart rate a couple of weeks ago was a bad choice.  My calf has not gotten better, in fact, this weekend's 1-mile runs were pathetic.  I have renewed respect for those "streak runners" that have gone a full year, or two, or 10, 20, or even 30 years.  I admire them.  Frankly, I'm a bit jealous.  Oh well.  It wasn't in the cards for me.

My streak served me well...and it wasn't the streak that caused my injury--it was stupidity.  Why did I decide to test out my max heart rate?  Why would I run at under 5:30 minute/mile pace when I had no short, fast races in my future?  Arrogance?  Stupidity?  Whatever it was, I'm "healed" of that hubris now.  Injuries humble you.  I didn't even take my running streak into triple digits...it ends at 95.  You'd think the running gods would let me reach 100 days before smacking me down.  Hey, at least it got me through the winter.  It motivated me to run when I didn't want to get out in the dark, the cold, the snow, the ice, the wind.  Spring is almost here, so the streak served its purpose of getting me to run all winter.  Now I need to heal up quickly and be ready for warmer spring weather.  Continuing to force my body through the pain serves no purpose except feeding my ego.  Time to train intelligently.

What did I learn through the last 95 days?  First, I learned that I CAN RUN EVERY DAY.  I don't need a rest day.  It's important to cycle easy days with harder efforts, but it's certainly feasible to run each day.  To be safe, it may be wise to take one day off each week--it'll consolidate gains and allow your body and mind to get ready for the next training push.  I also learned that I need something to motivate me. In the past I would quickly skip runs when I'd rather stay in bed in the morning or eat after work.  Goals motivate and guide your decisions.  Without goals, you stagnate.

Over the last 3 months I've also learned new running routes around my house.  When I didn't really want to go out and run, I'd force myself out the door with no plan and just run.  I'd circle the block, explore the neighborhood, and link up with old familiar routes.  I also re-discovered the local junior high track.  It's only a quarter mile from my front door, yet I rarely went there in the past.  When it was late in the evening, dark and cold, I would promise myself that I would just jog to the track, do 4 loops, and walk home. How hard is that?  Those old cinder tracks are interesting.  They sure turn into mud when the snow melts and rain comes. I hope to do some speed sessions there later this spring and summer.

What was bad about this running streak?  Not much.  Sure, it has delayed my calf from healing...but I believe I'll recover soon now that I'm resting.  The main negative about this streak has been the subtle pressure that it has exerted on me.  Until now, I didn't realize how it's been a yoke around my neck.  I suppose pressure can be motivating, but this streak has slowly transformed into unnecessary and unhealthy pressure.  I feel liberated now that I'm stopping.  I have a fresh spring in my step...with a calf limp!

So this is the way the streak ends.  This is the way it ends.  Not with a major injury, but a nagging pain.  I'm whimpering up and down the halls at work. I'll be back. Thanks go out to Thomas Stearns Eliot...his poem captured my thoughts and feelings quite well.

8 comments:

Kelley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay said...

We're all mortal. I've enjoyed your blog and following your streak. Nice to hear what another runner is attempting and going through. You also offer good info about running in general. Thanks for sharing both the ups and downs. It can be hard to know how hard to push ourselves, but that is part of the fun. I wish you a speedy recovery. -Jay

Chris said...

Thanks Jay. Glad you've enjoyed reading my blog. I still have this desire to head out for a1-mile run tonight to keep the streak alive. Crazy. Hope I don't spring out of bed at 11pm to go for a run!

jeff said...

chris,
interesting with the pressure off to run, you want to run...so, in a psyclogocial way, the streak lives!! If everyday you WANT to run, then you will run most days and the rest days will occur as life comes up, without having to plan them..hope you can still go to LBL.

Jeff

Suza said...

I'm sad that your streak has ended, but I am glad that you've learnt from it! I'm hoping for your speedy recovery :)

Chris said...

Thanks Jeff and Suza,

The calf is already feeling better (not good, but better) after just one day off from running. If it keeps healing like this, I hope to still be at LBL on March 12. May not run the race, but I can hike around and cheer on the runners.

janak said...

Rats! You were my motivation to continue the streak! I am past 75 days and still going. With my barefoot basement running I have no excuse about weather. Yes, on some days even one mile was difficult but I convinced myself that it was the distance and not speed that was important. Now that the weather has improved i should get out more often.

One positive thing about ending your streak is the pressure is off! Even with the injury it must be a mental relief! And finally you did find out your maximum heart rate!

Chris said...

Janak,

Hope your streak continues...as long as that's what you want. I'm looking forward to warmer weather and natural bare running outside. I think only retired professors are allowed to run barefoot in their basements!