But first, What is a running streak?
A running streak is when you give yourself a challenge of running every day, for a set number of days and distance that you decide, without fail! The format can get as dramatic, interesting or simple as you want. Common examples are 10kms for ten days, or 21 kms for 21 days. For the love of running, runners have gone up to 5k for 365 days too and there are many crazy and creative ways of doing this.
Key words – You are the master of your plan here!
Base line – You inflicted this challenge upon yourself, now get it done despite all odds.
The big warning I gave myself – It won’t be fun. Also, this is not your profession. Remember it’s a choice you are making.
The big reminder – ONE FOOT AFTER ANOTHER!
In my 6 years of Running, I decided to go for a run streak for the first time last year in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. India was opening up after a strict lockdown and runners were reclaiming the roads.
Why did I do it?
While there are several defining moments in the journey of a runner, getting out on the road every week with unbeatable motivation reveals to herself her own passion as a runner – is an everyday validation and affirmation! I can say that for most recreational runners. And while I was pounding the road thrice a week or more, I felt that I lacked the ‘drive’ (we runners are like that – the bar of motivation, consistency and the ‘want’ to come back on the road must stay high, at all times). I blamed the hot Indian summer the most for it, but inside I knew it was nothing but me!
Co-incidentally, my coach, Alfredo Miranda was beginning a run streak himself and that pushed me to take the plunge. I was intrigued. It also did sound like the perfect way to challenge myself in the heat and humidity! He set us both an online challenge and in two different cities off we went on our 10 day running streak!
But you would question – Is a 10 day streaking anything great by itself? Something to make a whole blog out of? The steeliest around me have gone on for 5 years of everyday running. But I won’t let comparison steal my joy. It was the first time for me and I was excited to say the least.
The morning I left for my first 10k, my excitement reminded me that I am self- motivated. Why else would I then look for ways to bring discipline back into my running? Thanks to the idea of doing a streak, I got rid of my self-doubt.
10k for 10 days is nothing really much for a runner who has been on the road 4-5 mornings a week for 6 years. But I’ll tell you a secret – give it all your energy and you will know the difference between finishing things and doing them with all your heart. I decided to go fast in the second half of each of my 10 runs. You get the drift? Fast or not – whatever gets you out of the comfort zone – Go try … with all your heart.
Every passing day, the streak became more fun as my whole family got involved. After every run, I was interviewed fully by my mother- “how was it? Were you faster than yesterday? I think the spoon of ghee (clarified butter) is doing you good!” Then it was my kids, “how many days left mumma? Will we celebrate once you finish?”
What did I learn? You shine brighter when there is family support.
I could see visible results of Staying well hydrated. I drank 3-4 litres water everyday during the streak. Result….. I felt fresh every morning and definitely more energy. I know the difference because before the lockdown I never drank more than 1 -1.5 litres. It’s ok if you can’t be like water ( for Bruce Lee it was easy) but you can bring in a lot more energy to your summer life by drinking loads of it. (That is not a poor joke, that is a learning).
Whatever is your streak – the everyday pounding does take a toll on you. So I prioritized. It was 15-20 minutes of strength training and mobility drills in the evening. I constantly reminded myself of the dangers of getting injured due to overtraining ( the elusive balance – always finding, but we may not always be striking it). The important question to ask here is – Does a run streak fit in your running plans? Not if you are training for an event. Not if you have niggles waiting to flare into major injuries?
Homemade protein rocks! The run streak set me up to good eating habits. I had to keep my energy levels since I had chosen to run faster than my regular pace. Good fats and protein – got me going on mindful eating day after day! I became my own nutritionist. I am carrying those learnings along with me even after a year of the streak, as I write this blog right.
And with every day of counting the runs a thought stayed – If am not grateful to be able to do what I love doing day after day, for the very opportunity of it, then – I do not deserve it!
Finally, a question was asked of me on my Instagram post – Don’t you find running boring??
My answer – Of course running is boring. Running is about loving to get bored, with or without music, enjoying the thoughts that may never happen to you off the road, and then going so blank in the process that it may bring face to face to the truest you. It is about discovering the miracle in the mundane! And if you are looking for the adrenaline rush, go sky dive, go bull-fight. There’s enough for fulfilling that need ! Running is a philosophy, a different Zen kinda feeling!
My coach, Alfredo Miranda, reminded me to stop if I felt any niggles or pain points coming up – because nothing hurts a runner more than from sitting back due to an injury.
Did I find my ‘drive to run’ back? Not just that, I walked around like the happiest person on this planet in the middle of a pandemic for having finished the run streak in style and confirmed to everyone around when they said – Running is cheaper than therapy!!!