Parenting

What I learned when I stopped running

Run-at-home mom Jennifer talks about her 21-day running streak and confesses that she's afraid to let readers down

My favourite things about running: my dog and muddy trails

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged here about running. It’s not that I haven’t been running – in fact, it’s the opposite. I’ve been running A LOT. In January 2012 alone I ran 140 kilometers, which is far more than I’ve ever run in a single month in my life. 
 
I owe that awesome mileage to a by-product of running addiction – the running streak.
 
I’d seen streaks happen before. I first saw a running streak in action with fellow running mother Shelly. Now on day #635 of her streak, I followed Shelly’s blog when she started with a goal to have 100 runs in a row. Then run 100 days in a row. Now more than 500 days later, she is still running, with several ultra marathons under her belt with a 100 mile trail run in her sights. And since we are friends on DailyMile as well, I watched her rack up the miles. I was a little jealous, and a lot inspired.
 
Right after my New Years Eve Half-y New Year Run (where I packed water, a few energy gels and hit the trails with our family dog, Murphy, for a 21.1 KM run – equivalent distance to a half marathon), I secretly started my own running streak. 
 
Sharing the day by day totals only on DailyMile and Twitter, I went out every day, most often at night. I ran in some awful conditions, with a night of freezing rain and landing on my butt several times during a 4K being the worst. I ran when it was ridiculously cold. I ran when the footing was terrible. I ran when the dinner dishes were piled high in the sink and when my family would have rather had me at home than climbing over snow drifts and tree trunks out in the woods. In fact, one of my running streak nights included me running laps around my car at 9 o’clock at night with my kids sound asleep in the car after we had been at a friends house. I ran laps around our station wagon until Nike+ told me I’d reached 750 meters. Because before you start a running streak, no one tells you that you’ll partially lose your mind and be THAT committed to running daily.
 
(Truth be told, I laughed the most during that run around the car.)
 
I kept it secret from Today’s Parent blog followers because I was afraid to fail you. Afraid that if one day I had to end my streak, you’d be disappointed. I mean, I’m the Run-at-home mom, not the Bon-bon-at-home mom.
 
And on day 22, I did fail. Our son woke up far too early (5:30 am) and our daughter went to bed far too late (10:00 pm), and my day was non-stop in the middle. I don’t think I even ate. And I went to bed, feeling anxious and guilty. Murphy the dog gave me the stink eye when I put on my pajamas instead of my running gear. And at the end of the following day when I didn’t make it out on my run (again), Murphy sulked at the front door and I sulked in bed, disappointed in myself that I’d let yet another runless day happen.
 
For the days after that I’d log a few kilometers here and there, really hoping to get my running mojo back. I couldn’t help but feel defeated. That is, until I set out last Sunday on an impromptu half marathon again. The longer I ran, the more I was able to shake those negative feelings off. Just because I’d failed at that streak, didn’t mean I was a failed runner. In fact, it was those consecutive short runs that got me through those pain-free 21 kilometers on Sunday with energy to spare. I was a stronger runner for my streak – not just physically, but mentally too. 

And I promise next time to let you in on my streaking secrets—because I know you will be there to cheer me on.