Saturday, December 7, 2013

Running Streak: Week One

It's been around one week since I announced that I would be taking part in the Runner's World 2013 holiday running streak. The goal of the streak is to run at least a mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Those of you who read my post on November 30th know I started out with the 4.8 mile Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving, did a 2 mile run for my "rest day" on Friday, and then did a 1.5 mile run with strength training on Saturday. So what has this week looked like? Dismal.
I got a cold. I think it was all that waiting around in the freezing weather at Manchester. The good news is that I have not broken my streak dispite this setback. Here's what my schedule has looked like.
Sunday: 1 mile. I wasn't quite sick yet on Sunday, but it was pretty cold out. I did an hour of kickboxing and then did a short mile run out to Wenthworth Farm and back.
Monday: 1 mile. Ug, the cold had set in, so I did a mile run only to maintain my streak. I ran up in Echo Hill and made the profound mistake of trying to run up the moderate hill you have to tackle if you head from my condo to anywhere else in Echo Hill. So hard.
Tuesday: 1 mile. Still sick with the cold. This day I played it smart and ran back and forth along the stretch of flat street at the bottom of Echo Hill near my house. Back and forth. Back and forth. Until I reach a mile.
Wednesday: 1.25 miles. Wednesday I took the day off from work to deal with my persistent cold. I spent all day sitting, minus a short run over to Wentworth Farm and back.
Thursday 1 mile. Finally feeling a little bit better. I had a 40 minute weight training class at the gym, but arrived early and did a quick mile run on the treadmill. I managed this in 9:54, which was about 40 seconds per mile faster than the other days of the week.
Friday: 3 miles. So exciting -- my first "real". (Note: I think all runners have a length that they consider their minimum for a run to be "real". For me, that's three miles. Anything under that feels too short to be a real run. I like, in general, to workout for at least thirty minutes to feel that I've done my exercise for the day. A three mile run takes me thirty minutes, hence the marker of three miles being a real run.) I did this run at the gym on the treadmill, and, honestly, it was a bear. I felt super tired. I had done too much on Thursday and my cold was coming back. I went home and slept for 12 hours overnight.
Saturday (aka. today): 1 mile. Not feeling too good again today. I decided to just do a quick run out to Wentworth Farm and back. I ended up feeling okay, but it was very windy, and I didn't want to make my cold worse. I came back and did a half an hour of strength training in the afternoon.
I'm hoping to be all better from my cold soon. Then I can really start tackling the streak in earnest with some longer runs. There will definitely be days when I still do shorter runs because I want to focus on a non-running form of exercise but still maintain the streak.
Even though this week has kind of been a bust, I already have some initial thoughts and impressions:
  • I've redefined what cold means. I used to think anything below 50 degrees was cold. Now I think that going out to run in 30 degree weather feels fine (as long as there is no wind). Anything below 30 is now cold.
  • Keeping up the running streak has definitely made me spend more time outside in the late fall than I normally would. I am very cold-weather adverse. Being forced to go outside is good. I think the fresh air is helpful.
  • The streak also made me do some light exercise while I had a cold. I usually don't exercise when I have a cold. I think that running a mile during my cold was actually a big help. I know this sounds antithetical to common sense, but hear me out. Getting some fresh air in my lungs and running helped clear out my congestion a bit. I had a head cold -- I would never advise running through any chest cold. Also, the weather this week was relatively mild -- in the mid-30s, so it wasn't too chilly for running with a cold.
  • I thought that the streak would require a lot of discipline. What I didn't realize was that, for me, this piece would be easy. I'm very practiced at being disciplined about daily exercise. This feels no different. Knowing I just have to run one mile makes things easy.
  • Running just one mile feels shorter than I think.
  • Running just one mile feels longer than I think.
So the streak is on! I'm 10 days in and feeling good about the whole thing. In a way, I'm waiting for it to start because I've just been doing streak maintainance with short miles while I have my cold. As a result, things have been pretty easy on my muscles, with limited overall exercise-related stress on my body.

I'm eager to see how next week's runs go, with hopes I can do more now that I am starting to feel a little bit later. Wish me luck!

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