For months I’d been looking forward to this vacation. After a long, cold, rainy spring the sun was finally shining, the trees had blossomed, and my in-laws would be joining us for five days of relaxation along the shores of Lake Lugano, which meant I would have consistent kid-coverage for the first time in months.
Even better, the mysterious illness that had turned even the shortest of springtime runs into a complete battle of will had vanished just as suddenly as it had appeared. For the first time since Christmas I actually felt strong enough to glide along those magazine-quality trails, quaint cobblestone alleyways and forested hillsides above the deep, turquoise waters.
And for the first four days everything played out just the way I’d hoped.
I felt so good in fact, that on the final day I woke up early, rented a bike for my husband, and we set out to film one final run for our website…but just as I stepped outside into the beautiful Italian sun, my hands began to tremble, and within minutes my energy levels plummeted as quickly as my spirits.
Instead of feeling ready to stride along the trails and soak in the moment, I was left sitting on the stone stairs outside our hotel room, lacing up my shoes and wondering how I could ever make it through another run…“Why not just stop?”
After four and half years of streaking, in other words 1,593 consecutive days of running at least one-mile, there was no reason to push on. I had long surpassed the original goal of 365-days and could’ve slipped off my shoes, crawled back into bed and slept my way deeper into that final vacation morning, but I didn’t. For the 1,594th time, the compulsion to run was stronger than the temptation to stop.
As I approach this five-year milestone, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I streak and I’ve realized some of those reasons are really powerful – and I wanted to share them in hopes they may inspire others to push their own boundaries.
So here they are, the top five reasons I’m a streaker, and why I’d love for you to join me (streaker or not) for a fun and achievable challenge in 2019.
Reason 1: Streaking has taught me that I can do more than I ever imagined.
I would love to say that in the past five years we’ve never had a bad day, but like most families we get sick, face insurmountable piles of laundry and struggle to keep up with all our commitments – you know, life. But amidst all the chaos I still find a way to keep the streak alive, and in a weird way that “extra commitment” makes everything else seem more achievable.
Am I a super-hero? Nope. A hyper-organized supermom? Far from it. A super-athlete? Only in my dreams! I have run every day for five years simply because I take this streak one day and one challenge at a time.
And because I’ve always found running to reflect life – with peaks, valleys, storms and sunshine – I take what I’ve learned from streaking as a lesson in confidence – if I can get through a mile in a rainstorm, with a sore throat, an achy ankle or a laundry list of things to do, I can find a way to overcome life’s other challenges too!
Streaking reminds me I’m powerful!
Reason 2: Inspiring others is rewarding.
When I began streaking in 2014 my mom, a “newbie” runner, felt inspired to join, and now she is also an accomplished streaker who just conquered her first 1000-mile year! At 65-years old she is out there everyday spreading inspiration with her grey hair bouncing along to the rhythm of her stride.
In addition, my streaking has been an unexpected inspiration for our children. From little babies being pushed along in a double stroller (major shout-out to B.O.B. who made so much travel and fun possible) to the kids I now chase as they speed away on their bikes, our children already see exercise as a healthy part of everyday life.
When my eight-year old asks to run with me at least once a week, or when my six-year-old daughter asks, “Mom, did you run your mile yet?” I can’t help but smile and treasure the healthy foundation my running streak has created for our family.
Reason 3: Healthy habits are the foundation for wellness.
Some say it takes 21-days to develop a habit, so after five years of running everyday you’d think my running habit is set in stone, but as a busy mom there are definitely days when I feel overwhelmed, overbooked or just simply too tired. On those days taking a break from running seems logical, maybe even healthy, but I know when life gets hectic, days can easily turn into weeks.
Luckily, with my running streak nudging me out the door each and everyday, I stay connected to my healthy habits. Now don’t get me wrong, some days I do little more than shuffle around the block a few times, but as a result of staying connected and adjusting the intensity to how my body feels, every day I’m able to get my heart pumping, breathe in some fresh air, release the tension, and avoid the toughest part of staying active…those first 21-days!
Reason 4: When you take action life is more exciting.
Running has been the catalyst for so many adventures. From the most basic days when I catch a beautiful sunset or simply share a run through the neighborhood with a friend, to moving to Switzerland (partially inspired by all the beautiful running trails), to creating a running and travel themed website with my husband to share our love for exploring epic running routes, there is rarely a day that goes by that running hasn’t added a dash of something interesting to my life.
Do I think you have to run to live an interesting life? Absolutely not, but I do think great things happen when you actively follow the path created by doing the things you love most, and my streak ensures that everyday, if only for ten minutes, I spend time exploring my passion – and the results have been amazing!
Reason 5: Running Communities
For a sport that is fundamentally individual, the sense of community and support I experience as a runner is truly exceptional. And because maintaining my streak has been a major (albeit rewarding) challenge, I’ve relied on online running communities, running neighbors and new friends to keep me going.
In other words, as a mother, wife, daughter, entrepreneur and at least a dozen other labels, it would be easy to wake up each morning and plug through my day in isolation, but my streak, like travel, holidays and beautiful sunsets, inspires me to share the experience with others – and my life is infinitely better because of all the new people I’ve met along the way.
So as the holiday season is upon us, I want to say thank you to all the people who have served as an inspiration…and especially to all my Trail Sisters who inspire, motivate and encourage me to keep putting one foot in front of the other! And if you are motivated to give streaking a try, whether a 30 day experiment or longer, I would love to have you join my 2019 streaking challenge.
PS. I am happy to report the mysterious illness was a major iron and mild vitamin B12 deficiency, which has finally been resolved…so I’m back to being a happy and healthy streaker!
Finally took the time to read this, inspiring! This year I, who live next to wonderful forests, will leave the comfort zone with gravel and asphalt and find the trails more. Last year was surely 80 % asphalt or gravel, but runstreaking for at least 90 days will give opportunities to explore my neighborhood!
Happy new year to all of you!
Anna-Karin – I don’t think you will ever look back!