100 Days..Done!

Back in May, Runner’s World issued a challenge to run every day from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July, which would be 40 days. The only stipulation was we had to run at least one mile each of those days. I decided I needed some motivation, so I took that 40 Day Running Streak Challenge. I found it to be very motivating, while at the same time rather challenging. The first two weeks my legs screamed that they were tired; they were used to a couple of rest days per week. After those first two weeks, I began to settle in, and my legs began to relent and accept that I was not going to bail on this challenge. 

By the end of the 40 days, I felt that I had accomplished a huge goal. In five years of running, I had never run more than seven or eight days in a row. I felt great, and I wanted others to have that same feeling of pride in knowing they could do something they might not have thought possible (or even wanted to attempt). I didn’t want to limit the 40 days to running, so I put out my own 40 Days of Fitness Challenge. It began the last day of my original challenge, so if I went one day past everyone else, I would have completed 80 days of running. Wow! Once I got to 80 days, I could have stopped. Then I thought 100 is really a nice round number. I bet I could run 100 days straight, which would really be an accomplishment. And so I did. 

Since school began, it hasn’t been as easy to work those runs in. I had gotten so far, that I wasn’t about to make excuses at that point. I also felt like my running had improved, and with some important races on the horizon, I wanted to continue to build my speed and endurance. There were days that my run consisted of a one-mile run with the dogs on our gravel road, but even those runs proved to be enjoyable. Well, they were enjoyable after the first tenth of a mile; that’s when the dogs were all excited about going on a run and they jumped all over me while howling. I’m sure it’s quite a sight! My long runs have been only five or six miles. Without having a true rest day, my legs wear out rather quickly. Now that I will be taking rest days, I am anxious to see if my long runs are easier. I’m running a 10K in Chicago in a few weeks, so that’ll be the true test of what the past 100 days have done for me. 

Today was my 100th day. I planned to run with my friend Debbie this morning because my daughter had a golf match after school. I didn’t even look outside when I got up, so I was surprised to see lightning and feel the brisk wind as I dragged my butt to the car before dawn. Once Debbie and I arrived at the gym and checked out the radar, we decided it would be in our best interest to stick to the treadmills. I guess I’ve been pretty fortunate that in the previous 99 days, I only had to rely upon the treadmill one time, but I certainly didn’t want my defining run to be indoors. Thankfully, we only had to run three miles because I really can’t run on a treadmill much further than that. When I completed my run, I felt that I should’ve earned a medal or some kind of bling. I did something I’d never done before, or even considered for that matter, and there was no finish line, no medal, no shirt, no crowds cheering my through the finish line. Nothing. Just the feeling of accomplishment that comes with meeting a self-imposed goal. I’ll take it! 

I will likely run tomorrow, making my streak 101 days, but that’s only because I teach an early class, and always run after that class. I plan to take a break from running Thursday and Friday, and then go for a long run Saturday morning. Admittedly, it will be difficult to not run. It has become part of my day, and I feel the need to figure out just when I can work a run in. I will abstain, however, because I want to run well in Chicago. It might be the only time I ever run a race in my favorite city; I don’t want to blow it. I am also running that race with my fast-running niece, and I don’t want to be the pitifully slow aunt. 


Why Run?

I follow several fitness and running sites on Facebook, and they often ask why runners run.  It seems that each time they ask, I could give a different answer.  And sometimes I have no idea why I continue to run – those are the days running isn’t going so well.  There are so many reasons to run, or to participate in whatever type of exercise one prefers.  Some reasons are obvious; some are pleasantly surprising.  Since running is my exercise of choice, followed closely by Zumba, I decided to compile a list to not only encourage others to jump in that develop some type of work-out regimine, but also to try to motivate myself to keep on moving.

  • Obviously, running is good for my physical well-being.  It is an excellent cardio workout; it builds muscle; and it increases endurance.  I had proof of this when I had an EKG last year before having surgery.  The technician, upon reading my results, asked if I was a runner.  She said my heartrate is low, which is typical of runners.  Admittedly, I was quite proud that someone could tell I was a runner!
  • Running is excellent for my mental well-being.  I am rarely in a bad mood, and if I am, I can go for a run and return with a whole new outlook.  When I have had a stressful day at school, I know that a run will help relieve my stress.  I feel so refreshed after a run, even if it is just a short run.
  • Running builds confidence.  Knowing that at my age (45) I can run 13.1 miles, helps me believe that I can do anything I put my mind to.  We all suffer from self-doubt at some point, but setting goals and reaching them can encourage a person to press on during those moments of doubt.
  • Running is an efficient way to burn calories.  When I was trying to lose weight a couple years ago, I first tried walking.  I lost nothing.  Once I began to run, I was able to shed those unwanted pounds.  I figure I burn about 100 calories for every mile I run.  If I run an average of 20-25 miles a week, that’s 2000-2500 calories!
  • Running makes me appreciate my surroundings.  We are blessed to live in  a beautiful small town, and often I take that for granted.  When I get out and run, I notice the beauty of our town.  I have watched as Sam repaints the mural on the floodwall; I have enjoyed our greenways; I watch as winter turns to spring and the town seems to come alive.  I get to experience the outdoors during every season when not too long ago I spent much of my time indoors.  I have found that I enjoy each season.  I love running along the Might Ohio River and taking in the vastness of the water.  I smile when I hear students yelling, “Hi, Mrs. Stath!” as I run by their homes, and I hope that my running inspires them to remain active.
  • Running has brought me new friends, and strengthened the relationships I had with old friends.  Runners just understand one another, so we tend to stick together.  We understand the need to run, and how depressing it is when we can’t run.  We don’t mind when our friends are sweaty, smelly, and make-up free.  My running friends don’t get grossed out when I spit; I would never spit in front of my non-running friends.  When we run, we talk about everything, and we know it will never go any further.  We support one another; we push one another; we love one another.
  • Running mirrors life.  We have uphill battles that take every ounce of strength we can muster up, and we have days that we are running downhill and things seem to be going our way.  Some days running is easy and fun; some days it sucks.  There are days I feel amazing after a run, and days I can’t get to the bathroom fast enough.  Life really is a marathon.  We are in it for the long haul if we are lucky.  We have to set goals and work toward making life fulfilling.  I believe that God provides for us and gives us talents and abilities, but I also believe that we have to work our butts off to make those talents and abilities work for us.  Just as I have to constantly work with my abilities at work and in my home, I also have to work with my [limited] abilities when I run.  Running makes me live life better.
  • Running reminds me that I am not always in control.  There are days when I head to town for a run, and I am mentally prepared for a great long run.  Then I start to run, and my body does not cooperate.  My legs feel like I am running in mud, my breathing is labored, and I just can’t run.  While it is completely frustrating, I cannot control it.  Sometimes I can talk my way through those first couple of miles, and sometimes I just have to give in and hope for a better run next time.  We have to accept that not every run – or every day – is going to be perfect, and we have to start fresh the next day.
  • I run because I can.  Sometimes I forget what a blessing it is to be able to run, and then a conversation or a story reminds me that I am extremely fortunate that my legs will carry me through many miles.  Today I had a conversation with a friend whose husband is on the top of the list to receive a lung transplant.  Every day is a struggle.  I am sure that he would give just about anything to be able to get out and walk, let alone run.  Tomorrow when I run, I will be thinking of this couple, and I will appreciate each step I take.

Running has changed my life.  I am healthier, happier, and more productive.  When I begin to question my ability to keep running, someone thanks me for inspiring him or her to run or to get back into running, and I know I can’t give up.  If I can help even one person become healthier, the miles I put in are worth it!  So, why run?  Why not run?