Just a little less than three months ago, on August 15, I passed the five-year mark of my daily running streak. Shortly after that date, the director of the United States Running Streak Association wrote to me to ask if I wanted to write something about meeting this milestone for the association’s quarterly magazine.
“When’s the deadline?” I asked. At that moment, I couldn’t think of a single thing to say about hitting the five-year mark.
He told me it was November 15. That sounded far away, a whole season away, the difference between summer vacation and the middle of the fall semester for the kids, the distance between watching the sun set long after an outdoor cookout and commuting home at 5 p.m. in the dark.
But, as so often happens, it was here before I knew it. And I still don’t really have anything.
I’m accustomed to writing on deadline. Weekly articles, monthly newspaper columns, twice-weekly blog posts, regular assignments for a medical website: having to produce copy, whether or not I have anything important to communicate, is truly second nature for me.
Except for this time. Five years of daily running? I just can’t think of a thing to say about it.
I know that may sound improbable. Yes, there’s been some challenging weather, of both the frigid and scorching variety as well as snowstorms and hurricanes. Yes, there have been a couple of migraines and stomach viruses through which I had to run. Early days, late nights, pre-dawn running. High altitude, unfamiliar neighborhoods, hotel parking lots.
But when you run every day, it all kind of blurs together. As I’ve said before, I don’t think about running any more than I think about taking a shower. Which is to say now and then I have to set my alarm extra early or push myself to fit in in, but most of the time, it’s just an inevitable part of my day, one that happens without thinking.
A few weeks ago, I came across this passage on a blog called The Logic of Long Distance. It summarized my feelings about running better than I could.
"Running doesn't offer a coherent plan or life strategy; it doesn't pretend to completeness or offer the secrets to a well-lived life. What it gives us is a way out of the plans and meanings and senses that have begun to seem virtual and hollow. A run gives life no meaning. It simply reminds us that beyond the sense that life makes, there is so much more life."
Yes. Maybe the reason I don’t have anything to say about my five-year running streak anniversary is that there just isn’t really anything to say. It has no special meaning. It’s just….running. For the sake of running. And in a way that I can’t explain, that’s reason enough.