By Calvin W.
Like many people, every year I have trouble managing my weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Instead of just exercising self-control on the caloric-intake side of the balance sheet this year, I decided to improve my chances of coming out even by starting my first run streak: Three miles a day for 36 days.
By any measure of effort this should have been easy. If I did no long-distance runs, 3 miles a day would only amount to 21 miles per week, less even than my typical 30-mile maintenance weeks between marathon training seasons.
Instead this streak has been daunting and relentless. One reason is that I only run 3 days a week when I’m in maintenance mode, Monday (8 miles), Wednesday (8 miles), and Saturday (14 miles). And those days are so much a part of my routine that I hardly have to think about doing them. (For those of you who are actually counting, this is why it wasn’t a 35-day streak, Thanksgiving Thursday to New Year’s Wednesday. I’d already done my usual Wednesday run, adding 1 day for a total of 36.) The other 4 days haven’t been part of any routine and I’ve constantly had to wrestle with where they fit.
The second reason why this streak has been so challenging is that there’ve been many soggy and rainy days that I could otherwise just skip. When I’m maintaining 30 miles per week, it’s no big deal to blow off a day here and there. Sometimes I can make up that day, but other times I can dismiss one without guilt. By definition, though, a running streak has no days off. Day in and day out, regardless of the conditions, the streaker has to get out and deliver. Rain? Get out. More rain? Get out. Monsoon? Get out.
It took me until day 11 to figure it out the third reason, though. From day 7 the streak already seemed relentless. As a marathon runner, I’ve learned to break a 26.2 mile race into quarters and thirds to help gauge my sense of progress. With a mile as the unit of measure, 7 is one quarter down. Nine is one third. Thirteen is a half. But the unit of measure for this streak has been days. At 36, it’s 10 longer than a marathon. You can argue that comparing days and miles is like apples and oranges, but it’s counting either way, and reaching a count of 7 still hadn’t gotten me to a quarter of my goal. That wouldn’t happen for 2 more days, when I reached 9. At a count of 13 when I would be virtually half done with a marathon, I was still shy of half of my streak by 5. At a count of 26 when I would otherwise only have 0.2 miles left to finish a marathon, I will still be 10 shy of the end of my streak. Neverending.
Solutions: (1) Start measuring runs in kilometers, which would put a marathon at 42 units and condition me to work with numbers bigger than 26. (2) Do this streak every year, which would also get me more accustomed to numbers like 36. (3) Never do a supra-26 streak again. Hmm.
-CtCloser (Calvinthe), "Negative split or positive splat"
Text: Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
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