Saturday, September 14, 2013

I didn't run.....

...on Tuesday, September 12th. Or September 13th. And I don't plan to run today.

The last day that I didn't run* at least 1 mile was December 28th, 2010. Since then, my husband and I have been "streaking"- running at least 1 mile a day^, every day, no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT. That's 989 days in a row of running at least 1 mile a day. During that time I've completed 7 marathons, 2 half marathons, and 3 triathlons. I carried Zooey for 36 weeks and 5 days and delivered her via c-section. I learned how to swim (hence the triathlons!) and lifted weights. I ran in the snow and rain and 90% humidity after the sun set and well before the sun rose. I ran in the middle of the day and went back to work without showering (oops!). I ran in my Danskos between dinner and drinks in the dead of a Chicago winter with my winter coat on (again, without showering). I ran in at least 12 states (likely more that I can't remember).

(^though my crazy- crazy impressive- husband is running three miles a day in 2013!)

My streak ended as unceremoniously as it began. It started because in December 2010 Adam announced that he was going to run one mile a day in 2011. I thought that sounded like a great idea, and was something I had contemplated doing myself in the past so I decided to join him (I'll admit it, there was some component of me not wanting to be outdone in the fitness arena as well:)). It went so well the first year that neither of us saw any reason to stop. Granted, there were days when it was hard. Certainly, days of illness, travel days, days when running clearly cut directly into sleep time were hard days. Days after the first few marathons were hard, though I do think aided in recovery and by the last few marathons the 1 mile run was no big deal. Some days early pregnancy (nausea) and mid pregnancy (need to pee!) were hard. And my pace definitely slowed late pregnancy. Of course, there were days when the couch called. MANY days when the couch called. But, in all honestly, sitting on a couch for the 10 minutes it takes to run a mile wouldn't result in any meaningful relaxation or rest. I almost always felt better after running whether better meant an improved mood, that last burst of energy to get through the day or just the peace of mind that I continued to prioritize my physical and mental health through exercise. Most days I ran more than a mile (or biked, or swam, etc). But the days I ran only a mile were completely worth it.

Streaking helped prioritize exercise for Adam and I both pre- and post-baby in a way that a non-daily regular exercise routine never would. Let's face it: despite incredible support and help from our family in the past few months (with a special shout out to my mom who moved in with us for 8 weeks!), we are spread very, very thin. And we are people who were already spread very thin. In fact the reason my streak ended is probably in part because I am simply not treating my body the way it needs to be treated- aside from one random night in August I haven't slept more than 4 hours in a row in, well, FIVE MONTHS. And I usually only get 6 hours a night. And I'm a person who needs my 9-10 hours. I'm barely functioning. Adam, I think, is better physically, but mentally stressed from a very hectic job. Bottom line= we have every excuse in the book to forgo exercise "temporarily" or "until things calm down" or "until she sleeps through the night". But because of the streak there has been no question that we need to prioritize and organize such that we each get our runs in. Which has leaked over into making sure I get my other work-outs in as well. From the day after Z's birth, running (*well, walking actually for the first month immediately after she was born), daily has been my 'me' time or sometimes my 'Adam and me' time or even 'family time', but time where I definitely am prioritizing my health and my sanity, which, by the way I think is an excellent example to set for young Zooey.

As I said, my streak ended as unceremoniously as it started. I didn't run on Wednesday because I was too sick to get out of bed. Unfortunately we were on our first vacation as a family of three in Lake Geneva, not the best time or place to get sick. But I was too nauseated and too lightheaded to even walk further than the bathroom. It really wasn't an option, and I didn't even consider running. Same with yesterday. Today I could pull it off, but I'm not going to.

My streak taught me a lot. I'm very strong. I'm very motivated. I'm a bit crazy. I don't mind if other people realize I'm a bit crazy. I am now a faster runner.  My streak strengthened my body. My streak strengthened my marriage. My streak carried me through a pretty easy pregnancy and postpartum recovery that resulted in a wonderful healthy baby girl despite her being a few weeks early.

Will I streak again? Probably. Life can be overwhelming and I'm sure will only be more so in the coming months as I continue the job hunt and then start my practice as an oncologist. Adam, Zooey, and I have a lot of transitions in the coming year and transitions- even when good- can be stressful. I can easily see how exercise might get edged out if (Adam and) I don't continue to fiercely guard our work out time. But I don't know when I will start again. It might be tomorrow. It might be next year. We'll see how I feel. But I know my first streak was great. 989 runs, not all of them great individually, but definitely a great first streak!

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