I accidentally ran for 45 days. Here’s what I learned.

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I know. How does one accidentally run for 45 consecutive days? 

Well, like most of 2020, it just kind of happened. And the experience was invaluable.

Even though I’m a seasoned runner, it was confirmation that practicing just a small amount of self-discipline will allow any person to access untapped and unlimited potential.

I don’t want this to come across as some lame, superficial attempt to toot my own horn. 

“Hey everyone! I ran for 45 days in a row! Come read about how great I am!”

There are runners who have ran every single day for multiple years. My measly little 45-day streak is a mere drop in the bucket.

I’m nothing special. Any person can run for 45 days in a row. This really isn’t about the running streak, anyway.

Whether you’re an experienced runner, a beginner, or just looking to upgrade your life, what follows may help you no matter where you are in your journey.

Some Context…

Before we proceed, let me tell you a little about myself for context.

If you know me or have read any of my stuff, you know that running is a big part of my life.

I wouldn’t say I’m an expert. Honestly, I don’t think any person could master the art of running. But with a decade of consistent distance running under my belt, it’s safe to say I’ve learned a few things.

I’ve ran thousands of miles and completed hundreds of races of various distances. Running has given me life, almost killed me, and brought me back to life again. 

If you want to know more about my story and how I started running, you can find it here: The Secret to Becoming a Runner.

However, in all my years of running, I had never attempted a “run streak”. 

I’m a firm believer in recovery. 

Many of the running gurus on social media give the impression that you need to be out there pounding the pavement every single day. 

That’s simply not true. In fact, it’s a recipe for an injury. 

With running, less is often more. Recovery is just as important as the act of running. Especially as we age.

I’m proof of this.

The vast majority of my running years have been injury free, and I credit this to my emphasis on rest and recovery. 

I’d rather take a day off and let my body recuperate than overdo it and end up on the disabled list with an injury.

In a normal week, I typically take 2-3 rest days. I rarely run more than 5 days in a week.

But that’s in a normal week.

And 2020 was anything but normal…

Escaping 2020

These days, I mainly run for my mental health.

Running is my escape. 

When the responsibilities and stress of modern life seem almost too much to bear, one quick run can make even the most challenging days seem manageable.

So, as the Great Pandemic descended upon us in the Spring of 2020, I found myself running nearly every single day just to keep my sanity. 

Luckily, I live in a quiet neighborhood with minimal traffic. Just beyond my front door, I have access to subdivided streets that are perfect for running. 

And I took advantage.

So it begins…

My streak unintentionally started in April. 

After a routine 4-miler, I reviewed my workouts and noticed I had ran at least three miles every day for the last ten days.

It suddenly occurred to me that I had never attempted a run streak. 

And this was as good a time as any. I mean, the entire country was shut down, what else was I going to do? 

So I set a goal to run at least three miles every day for an entire month. Physically, I felt great. I knew my body was more than capable of this feat.

But, would I follow through?

Would I be disciplined enough to get out there on those inevitable days when running felt like a chore? 

When my body was exhausted? When I was sleep deprived? When it was no longer convenient, would I still have it in me to keep the streak alive?

I was eager to find out how I would respond.

For the first time in a long time, I became excited to run again. 

Obviously, I love to run. I’ll always love to run. But, if I’m being honest, I’d been just going through the motions for a while. 

Running had become routine and, dare I say, mundane. The excitement was gone. 

Embarking on this new journey provided a much-needed spark. I found myself looking forward to my daily run.

A welcomed escape from the grim reality of 2020.

Physical Effects

I won’t bore you with the details of every single workout. Just like anything in life, there were highs and lows.

Distance-wise, I kept it simple. Most of my runs were 5K’s, but I sprinkled in a 4 or 5-miler occasionally. My longest run during the streak was a 10K (6.2 miles). 

However, the biggest thing I noticed during the course of the streak was the dramatic increase in my speed.

Before the streak, my normal 5K time was around 21 minutes. By the end of it, I was routinely and comfortably running 5K’s under 21 minutes. My fastest 5K during the streak was 20:18, a personal record.

Since the day I began running, a major goal of mine has been to run a 5k under 20 minutes. That goal is now well within reach. 

It seemed the run steak was the catapult needed to take me to the next level. I became fitter, faster, and leaner.

Mental Effects

The mental benefits were immediately noticeable as well. 

Prior to the streak, I had fallen into a less than ideal place mentally, as I’m sure many of us did amid the craziness and uncertainty of 2020.

I’ve had struggles with anxiety and depression in the past, and running has always been my go-to remedy.

Once again, running proved vital to my mental well-being. On days when I felt depressed and hopeless, running got me through.

As expected, there were some days when I just didn’t feel like running and basically had to force myself out the door.

On those kinds of days, getting started is always the hardest part. But after a mile or so, the endorphins kick in, and you feel like you can conquer the world.

That’s when running is the most rewarding.

A couple of times I ran late at night because that’s the only time I had to run. Under normal circumstances, I would’ve just skipped it and called it a night.

Yet, I ran. 

By the middle of May, I reached my initial goal of 30 consecutive days of running at least 3 miles. I felt good, so I decided to keep the streak alive until the month was over.

On June 1st, after 45 days of consecutive running, I took a day off.

And it felt really, really weird. I could’ve kept going, but rest was much-needed.

I was exhausted. My body was sore and worn down. My legs were achy and fatigued. And my left ankle was swollen, a remnant of an old basketball injury.

At 39 years of age, I’m no spring chicken. I want to ensure my body is healthy enough to run for many years to come, so I decided it was best to end the streak.

Your potential is limitless

My 45-day run streak was a great learning experience. Other than some soreness, achy legs, and a swollen ankle, there were no ill effects. 

The streak was rejuvenating. It reignited my love for running and propelled me to a new level of fitness. But it also confirmed to me just how important recovery is, especially the older I get.

And perhaps best of all, it was a mental oasis in the desert of 2020.

Will I attempt another run streak in the future? Most likely.

Running every day isn’t necessarily bad, you just have to listen to your body. Err on the side of caution and don’t overdo it. 

In the end, I realized this whole thing wasn’t about the streak at all. It was about what a little bit of discipline and consistency brought out of me.

I tested what I thought were my limits, and I pushed through them easily.

I accomplished things I never thought were possible when I first started running a decade ago. 

When you venture out of your comfort zone just a little bit, you realize what you’re truly capable of, and that’s where true growth happens.

Hindsight is 2020

Fittingly, on the last day of 2020, I ran. 

And on that particular run, I reflected.

2020 hardened us. I think it’s safe to say we all learned a little bit about ourselves this year.

Personally, I set very lofty goals in 2020.

I accomplished some of them. And I came up short with some of them. 

Most importantly though, I learned what I was capable of in 2020, physically and mentally. And I’ve only scratched the surface.

The same can be said for you.

In 2020, I learned willpower is a fallacy. Willpower will only take you so far. Discipline is what will sustain you. In running and in life.

I’ve set even loftier goals for myself in 2021. I’d rather aim high and miss, than aim low and hit. 

Before you lies a new year. A new chapter with blank pages. 

Imagine how your life would change with just a little bit of discipline and consistency. Just imagine what would happen if you refused to quit. If you pushed through your self-perceived limitations.

Would you be able to finish that project you’ve been putting off? Could you create a better life for your family?

Would you be able to advance your career? Could you obtain financial freedom?

Would you be able to lose weight? Could you be healthier? 

Would you be happier?

Just a small amount of discipline will give you the ability to take concrete steps to achieve anything.

To go to a place you’ve never been to before, you have to do things you’ve never done before.

You’re only one decision away from a completely different life.

Decide today.

Think about what you want to achieve. Write it down. And go do it.

The only thing stopping you is you.

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