Friday, March 2, 2018

What I learned in running for 59 days straight.

Yesterday was a shambles day. Nothing is broken. Just a streak.

And so I thought about the streak, and what it meant to me, and how it breaks my heart to end a thing that seemed to be going so well for so long, and then I realized that it had to end. I never realized this when I loved beautiful women with big brown eyes and warm, salty tears whetting my favourite shirt.  I always held on too long; I always got dumped. I've never been good at the end. Yesterday was the end.

I ran 59 days into this year, some days only a mile or even a few steps less, some days more than 20k.  A couple of weeks ago, I ran on a trail in hopes of getting some fun running into the routine, and to start getting an idea of the different pace and movement required to run on trails. I loved it. Even after I turned my ankle four times in less than ten minutes, I loved it. Trails are amazing. And they're at the heart of running, running for the sake of it, and running like humans always have: on dirt, wild, free. Weeks later, my ankle still bothers me. I've been to physio. I've changed and re-changed my shoes. I've gone through rolls of tape. The only thing I did not exhaust this whole time was my denial. I ran 59 days, and almost half of them were on a bum ankle. That is stupid.

So I broke my streak yesterday, and it's been weird ever since. I joked that my body would break out in hives and go into some kind of gross physical withdrawal once it realized it had passed a 24-hour period with no run. My body breaks out in grossness of all kinds anyway, particularly when running all the time, so I haven't found anything new to report since breaking the streak. Except my lower body hurts a lot less. And I'm dying to go for a run.. But in order to deal with the mental withdrawal of not running, I figured I could start writing down a few things I learned during the streak, and then, by breaking it.

Lessons from a 59-Day Running Streak:

  1. People will root for you. 
  2. People will question you for doing it.
  3. People will question you for ending it.
  4. Intelligent people will tell you to stop doing it, and you may or may not listen to them, likely to your own demise.
  5. Durability will increase until it does not.
  6. Consistency works both ways - health will persist in a streak; so will an injury.
  7. Changing shoes can be a great idea.
  8. Blisters do not heal effectively or quickly.
  9. Tape is better than blisters - use liberally.
  10. Sugar is an inflammatory food and should be avoided as much as possible.
  11. Fuelling is important, even if it's just for a mental lift or a goal to finish the last few kilometres to work.
  12. Commuting by run is an excellent way to continue a streak.
  13. Doing intervals throughout a streak is really, really hard. And it's impossible on a crap ankle.
  14. Pre-scheduling physio that is easily-accessible (nearby and after work) supports the working body and prevents injury.
  15. No streak is worth continuing if it's also maintaining a chronic injury.
  16. Run slow.
  17. Don't always run slow; it's not fun to always run slow, and a streak has to be fun sometimes because it can be not fun a lot of the time.
  18. Run with friends. Use the streak as an excuse to get together with people for a run - anyone can run with you during a streak run.
  19. You will get passed by other bald guys wearing Boston jackets; do not pursue them.
  20. Your streak is yours, and it exists in comparison with no one else's, just like your entire damn running career and life. 
  21. When you want to the least is when you have to the most.
  22. A run will fix most any attitude problem you get, unless your ankle is part of the problem.
  23. You will not know when to stop. Your body will know. You must listen to your body.
  24. Not everything can be healed with tape and some physio; some things take time, and it's the most expensive thing you have to pay.
  25. People are watching you and what you do and this will inform what they do; be smart about this.

So now the city is covered in wet, clean snow, and I have a birthday girl in the house, and the cake is made and the laundry is going. It is Friday. And today, I will not run.

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