I did it. By God’s grace I managed to run at least a mile every day from Thanksgiving, 2014-New Years Eve, 2015. That’s 401 days. I ran 1,516.52 miles. That’s an average of 3.78 miles per day. (If you just look at the 365 days of 2015, I ran 1,387 miles for an average of 3.8 miles/day.) My fitbit recorded 2,631.86 miles of total stepping during the year. That means I ran about as much as I walked. I’m pretty happy with that.
The things I worried about didn’t happen. My number one worry was a stress fracture, but I think I had a good enough base before I began to keep that from happening. I also learned to back off for a few days and either slow down or cut down on mileage if I was having pain at all. I didn’t have any major illnesses. Running has greatly improved my lung function and my asthma symptoms have all but disappeared. The hardest time to keep up the streak was when I was traveling, but that also led to some of my greatest running adventures. Adventures are quite a stretch for me. I’m really rather Hobbit-like in that area, but I am growing to like them more. In fact, as I completed the last few days of the streak I did some thinking and came up with quite a long list of things I have learned.
- A priority is what you do. I’ve heard and repeated a lot of drivel about priorities over the years, but when it comes right down to it, priorities do not exist unless we DO them. I really made running a priority this year and it happened. This convicts me about other areas of my life–other places where I SAY I have priorities but I don’t actually live like it. I want to work on that by God’s grace.
- Keeping records is important. One of the things that kept me motivated was my long list of tweets with the hashtag #lelliesrunstreak. It was great to see it grow throughout the year, encouraging to look back and see the progress, motivating to try to do better than the week or month before. I’ve gotten away from keeping a journal these last few years. I want to get back to that and I have a plan for this year. Real growth happens when I write life down.
- I am a liar–and also very gullible. On mornings when I really didn’t feel like getting up at 5 am to run I would tell myself I only had to do a mile. Then, once the mile was complete, I would almost always go back on my word and force myself into the second mile, and the third, etc.–BUT I STILL BELIEVED MYSELF THE NEXT TIME! Ugh!
- I love the stars (and weather.) My husband teaches astronomy. He has taught me to find a few things in the sky. I have come to love the early mornings when I can get outside and search the skies while I run. I’ve learned to find planets and constellations and I’m learning the phases of the moon. I also enjoy being out in different kinds of weather and though I’m not crazy about running in heat and humidity, I know that running in it makes me stronger. I love the wind. There are many different kinds of wind and breezes and I like them all. I’ve run in mist and light rain and learned that this can be refreshing. My favorite thing is to go for a long cold run, come in and take a hot shower, and then relax by the fire with a book. Perfection!
- Practice and consistency DO yield growth and improvement. I am a naturally impatient person. I like fast results. Running doesn’t work that way. Some days I feel like I’m slogging through wet sand and other days I feel my feet have wings. The old me would have gotten so discouraged on the slogging days that I quit before the wing-foot ones. I hope this lesson is transferring over into the rest of my life. It’s a good one.
- God’s music is the best. This was a hard one to learn. When I first began, I couldn’t run without my iPod. I needed the music for the beat and, more importantly, so that I couldn’t hear my labored breathing. As this year has progressed, however, I’ve learned to go without the tunes when I run outside. I love to hear the birds and the squirrels and the wind in the trees. I still need the music on the treadmill, though–otherwise it’s just too boring.
- Unplugged running is actually restful. I love my TomTom GPS watch. My husband fixed it so that it buzzes intervals for me and I love being able to see the maps of my runs. However, on my regular routes I sometimes go without it and just run by feel. It’s so relaxing! I’ve started doing all my long runs this way and I actually look forward to them now. Who knew?
- People who run are really nice. Over the course of the year I have met many other runners on the trail. There was one man this summer that I often passed as I was running up a particularly difficult hill and he was coming down. He would always smile at me and say, “Good job!” I’ve had folks tell me I was “almost there,” or smile and give me a thumbs up. As old and out of shape as I was when I began, no running friend has ever discouraged me or made light of my efforts. It is a thoroughly encouraging community. I am grateful.
- New routes are a fun adventure. This has been another outside-my-comfort-zone lesson. I tend to like what I know. It took me forever just to run outside without a feeling of absolute panic, but as the year progressed I’ve learned to try new routes and found that running someplace new makes the way seem shorter. One of my goals for this year is to run in a new or out-of-the-routine place at least once a month.
- It’s never too late/It’s worth a try. Never would I have believed that I would set a goal of running a half-marathon in 2016. I never thought I would enjoy shopping for clothes again or like going out in the weather. Learning to run has shown me that life still has lots to offer, that God still has things He expects me to do and life-gifts He wants to give. My dreams are bigger and my willingness is greater. Life is good–bring it on!