Yesterday in an online discussion group for streak runners, one of the participants, Judy Mick, posted a blog entry titled “Not All Runs Are Great Ones!”
It was good food for thought. As she pointed out, many of us runners rhapsodize publicly about our best runs, our most memorable runs, our most exciting runs, our most challenging runs. Each runner has certain days that stick in his or her memory. I can name a half-dozen or so of my most memorable runs without even stopping to think: the Rio Grande Trail in Aspen after my grandmother’s memorial service; a 5-miler down Connecticut Avenue in D.C. on a Sunday morning last April; a 5-mile road race my son and I did in Bath, Maine, in July of 2008.
But Judy Mick reminded us that we are less inclined to share the not-so-great days. The really awful ones we talk about, of course. The days we run with a fever or stomach virus, or in an ice storm or hurricane, or take a tumble or nearly get clipped by a passing car. I’ve talked or blogged about all of those.
It’s the just not-so-great days that get overlooked, but reminiscing about some of that kind of day reminded us runners of our single common attribute: we persist, no matter what. As streak-runners, we run day after day after day. Snow, rain, heat, gloom of night: like the postal carriers, we cope with all of those. (But unlike postal carriers, we don’t have Sundays off, and we’re not facing the possibility of a second day per week off in the next round of budget cuts either.) So inevitably, some days are not so great for no discernible reason.
And in truth, much of this summer has been like that for me. My long weekend runs, of anywhere from four to twelve miles, have been great, and the half-marathon I ran last month was pure delight. But every weekday morning I head out around 6:30 a.m. for a 2-miler, and those have been just okay this summer. I’ve felt tired and creaky most mornings, and often the bugs have been insistent and the humidity oppressive. Because I don’t bother to eat or caffeinate before my 2-mile runs the way I do for longer ones, I just don’t seem to have any spring in my step. And that’s another thing: I need new running shoes.
So Judy Mick is absolutely right: some days aren’t much fun. And that reality can make streak running all the more challenging; a couple of times this summer I’ve found myself thinking that if this was what running were always like, I wouldn’t bother to do it.
But most of the time I don’t think about it at all. Because that’s the perverse reality of streak-running: once you’ve committed to a daily run, 365 days a year, no questions asked, you stop thinking about whether or not you feel like going running.
And for me, that’s a good thing. Because some days, I don’t. But I don’t even notice that anymore, because I don’t ask myself. I just go. And that’s another day for the streak log. Someday, I’ll decide to stop. But for now, I’ll just put up with the not-so-great days. Or I’ll keep on ignoring them and focus instead on the great days. The memorable days. The days that make the not-so-great days not really matter all that much.