2010 was by all accounts a great year for me! It started with me getting my first full time job as a coach in the sport I love, at an amazing university, and later in the year I got engaged to my soon-to-be wife. How anyone could look at the year as bad would be difficult to grasp for a lot of people. That said, A LOT of people aren’t runners. The best word I can use to describe my 2010 year of running is inconsistent. In reality, it was beyond that, the lows were low, and the highs didn’t really have much height to them at all.
I never really got into fantastic shape early in the year and in mid-spring I pulled my hamstring trying to rabbit some friends/former teammates in an 800, an event I really have no business running, but was probably too manly to admit. What followed was a series of months that never really strung together. The excuses for not training ranged from valid, IT Band problems stemming from the hamstring injury, to pure laziness. The bottom-line was a lack of consistency was making it more and more difficult to get consistent. It was a double edged sword in a lot of ways.
By December I was definitely far from in shape, while most people may have seen me as a skinny little runner, the reality was packing on an extra 10 pounds from my normal weight range was definitely a significant sign I wasn’t in shape anymore. By Christmas I had decided I was tired of not running, and despite IT Band tendonitis that had been keeping me from running more than 10-20 minutes I was just going to say ‘screw-it’ and run, regardless of what was bothering me.
My new year’s resolution for 2011 was going to be to run every day, period. Initially I didn’t know what that meant, or what I was really getting myself in to. I decided to start telling my buddies about it on facebook and twitter. I realized, the best way to keep myself going was to make sure the guys that would talk trash if I didn’t make it knew about it! Never underestimate the value of accountability. The doubters that said there was no way I could do it are probably the biggest reason I got through some of the early weeks.
I started the ‘streak’ as its been called January 1st, bright and early after a long new years eve at my friend Thomas’ house. I actually chose to spend New Year’s there and run with him the next morning because he was the man I knew with the longest streak, somewhere around 300 days. The morning, as the sun rose, I found my first “WHY” of the year. Why on earth did I decide to do this? Which was immediately followed by the 2nd, WHY are we running so early in the morning???
Thomas, being the great friend that he is, took me and my fiancé to an awesome park in in Escondido, California. It was a nice relaxing run, until the crazy runner in us took over, have hill, will climb, our planned easy 4-miles turned into a quality 7-miles of climbing. At 1,100 feet we got an amazing view of the San Diego area—that was the moment I got my first answer.
Without a doubt deciding to do a streak, or any new years resolution is a lot easier than doing it. What I’ve learned in the last year is that sometimes you have to be a little bit nuts, and you’re going to get your fair share of WHYS along the way.
Why are you doing this? Why are you putting yourself through this? Why do you have to plan runs into your travel!?!? (Read Travel Tips for Runners) There will probably be a lot more questions than answers. If you asked me why I’m doing it throughout the year you probably got a different answer than the last person that asked. Was every step of the way fun, NO, certainly not. I gained a lot from the experience; I changed as a person, and as a runner. In the past, the idea of getting up at 5 in order to get my run in before spending the entire day on a plane was ridiculous to me, I’d rather just take the day off, now, it’s a lot more reasonable.
The toughest days were the ones anyone might expect, arriving in Ohio for coaching at the NAIA Indoor National Championships in March threw one of the hardest early stretches at me. The temperatures were far from the sunny and 70-degree year round weather of Orange Country, and it took considerably more time to get myself out the door to run in freezing rain and snow.
Eventually the consistency of running everyday led to getting myself back on to much better training for competition. During 2011 I hit the most weekly miles I ever have, but it also made the streak harder. After 6 weeks of averaging 100 miles a week my body was pretty ready for a recovery week, and while I trimmed my mileage in more than half, a day off would have been nice at that point.
Without question my two hardest days came in the last two months of the year, the first after a minor car accident, I hadn’t gotten my run in beforehand, and running afterwards wasn’t fun, and more so probably wasn’t very smart. My logic may have been flawed, but I wasn’t about to let someone else’s bad driving (rear ended) stop me from what I was doing with only 50 days left to go!
The next came the day after running at the California International Marathon, I had a rough go at the race, and my body was not happy with me as I pulled out just before 20 miles… needless to say running the day after was not the prettiest my form has ever looked.
With only a handful of days left in the year I’ve learned that while a handful of day’s might have been difficult, the whole process wasn’t really too tough, running became more routine than ever before. There are certainly a few things that can help you along the way, a fiancé that will constantly remind you to get off your butt helps, and friends that are always willing to give you a good natured ribbing doesn’t hurt either.
I don’t think the 365-day resolution is the right one for everyone, but I think adding something unique to your running experience is a great way to liven it up a bit. You never know, but the end of the year you might just find yourself a better runner, or just may get more out of the sport than you knew possible.
As I wind down the year I’m sure people will ask if I’m ready for my day off, or if I’m glad I finally get to stop…. My response may just be, ‘why?’
Here’s to 365 more days of fun!
About the Author: Patrick Boivin was a 4-time Cross Country All-American while at Chico State, and has been coaching at the collegiate level for the last 6 years, beginning at Chico State and now overseeing the cross country and distance programs at Soka University in Orange County, CA. Patrick is still an avid runner, currently representing Chico TC club based out of Northern California.