I am super excited to celebrate ONE YEAR OF STREAKING! For one year, I have completed a mile (usually more) every single day – no matter what. It has been quite a journey. Although just one mile doesn’t seem like that much, and usually completing the mile is not a big issue, it is the days when I was sick or completely swamped with things to do that made it difficult. Never, ever, getting a break from it is a bit draining.
I spent time going back to the beginning of “the streak” through the eyes of my blog. I learned about “Streak With Us”, the name given to this by Dr. Primack and Dr. Ziltzer at Scottsdale Weight Loss. They were inspired by the idea of “streaking” to help with healthy habit building and had created a small, informal Facebook group. They told us that they had t-shirts for any of us that completed a mile every single day for 30 days and then posted it on their Facebook page. That’s about all of a challenge I needed. It sounded interesting and something pretty do-able. I was already regularly exercising but had, in the past, skipped out for a week or two at a time when my schedule got too busy. I knew this would be a good way to keep some sort of activity consistent. I never dreamed I would make it much past that first month. However, I was pretty impressed by Dr. Ziltzer who, at the time, was over the one year mark at that point. You can read more about the beginning of my streak in my blog post here.
There aren’t really any official “rules” for the streak … at least for the ‘Streak With Us’ crew – they pretty much left it at “A Mile a Day, Every Day”. Since I wear a FitBit pedometer, I am well aware that every single day I cover miles and miles in my house alone doing laundry, dishes, etc. That doesn’t count in my rule book. The point of this is to develop the habit to find time to exercise during the day. Because of this, I only counted an official mile as one I had a) planned ahead of time, b) put on proper footwear for, and c) was a continuous mile in a reasonable amount of time – in other words, I could stop and start on a walk and talk to someone, but I wouldn’t count it if I walked somewhere for 1/2 mile, sat down on a break, then walked home for 1/2 mile. If I ran 8 miles on one day, I didn’t allow that to cover me for any other days. The only exception to this, which I consider “legal” was the night I did a fundraiser at the gym and was on a treadmill for several hours that crossed over midnight – I counted the mile before midnight and then the next day as the mile after midnight….seemed fair. There is actually a United States Running Streak Association, Inc. and according to their rules:
The official definition of a running streak, as adopted by the Streak Runners International, Inc., and United States Running Streak Association, Inc., is to run at least one continuous mile (1.61 kilometers) within each calendar day under one’s own body power (without the utilization of any type of health or mechanical aid other than prosthetic devices).
Running under one’s own body power can occur on either the roads, a track, over hill and dale, or on a treadmill. Running cannot occur through the use of canes, crutches or banisters, or reliance on pools or aquatic devices to create artificial buoyancy.
For $20, I can apply to be a member of the association now that I have reached the one- year mark. I’m not sure if I will do that since I haven’t actually “run” all of those miles. I’m not sure if that matters or not, I can’t tell from what I’ve seen so far. Recently the man with the longest streak (an amazing 45 years!) hung up his tennis shoes and called it ‘done’. There are links to articles, cautionary information, etc. on the website that I’ll have to check out – as well as a Facebook group.
In the beginning I was walking those miles but this was also around the time I started to incorporate some very preliminary running into my exercise routine. As the days stretched into weeks, I was eager to just get the mile done as fast as possible and try to change things up a bit to make it more interesting. This is the first “gift” of streaking – it practically led me straight into running and almost forced me to not give up because I had to get the mile done every day, one way or another. I think of all that I have gained because of running this year – new friends (my Ragnar SoCal teammates!), new experiences, new confidence … and it all started with this commitment.
As far as the exercise portion of my weight maintenance is concerned, I would say “streaking” is responsible for about 75% of my success. Because I had to get the mile done every day, I usually just went ahead and did my other exercise at the same time – whether it was a longer distance run, weight training, elliptical workout, etc. It can get really easy to skip a day or two – and then a whole week – when we get swamped with a project. There are several moments this year that stand out as what I would consider border-line crazy when I was putting the streak ahead of my own well-being probably. The first was after a particularly long night down at the youth theater with my oldest daughter. That was definitely a day where I had exceeded 10,000 (probably 15,000 steps) on my pedometer which is equivalent to 5-7 miles – but it had all been running around my house or the theater setting up the props and sets for the show. We didn’t get home from the rehearsal until after 11pm and it was cold and dark at home – the whole family had already gone to bed. Our treadmill is in our master bedroom and is really loud so I couldn’t even use that. I didn’t like the idea of walking the neighborhoods that late – especially when nobody was awake to tell that I was leaving the house. So, I walked IN the house, out the backyard, around the pool, out the front door, around the front yard … over and over and over. It was pure hell. I was beyond exhausted. But I learned a lesson and the next day I got my mile done earlier in the morning, before the craziness of the day took over. I learned that it is best to wake up and immediately put my work out clothes on before I go downstairs. That way I am ready to go when the kids leave for school. This is something I follow through with 95% of the time. It has changed the flow of my day for the better. Good habits breed more good habits. The other insane “streak save” was last summer when I had my kidney infection (but didn’t know that was what was wrong yet). It was at least 110 degrees out and I was so sick. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong because I didn’t have classic UTI symptoms but I had the craziest fever and insane chills. I could barely be in my house because the air-conditioning had my teeth chattering. I remember one day being so weak and it was getting late in the day. I had not finished the mile. THE only thing that saved it was that I had to go sit outside. I was bored sitting out in our backyard by myself – so I went for a mile-long walk in that crazy heat! There have been other illness, viruses, late-nights, and a few other times I almost forgot – but it always got done, sometimes at the last minute!
I’ve tried to promote “the streak” with limited success. Several of my husband’s cousins found out about it from a Facebook post of mine and they are not too far behind me – it is fun to know someone else is still streaking because of me. They have each achieved great benefits as well so I’m very happy for them. There seems to just be a handful of us at Scottsdale Weight Loss that are still doing it. I understand it is not for everyone and that it can provide just more stress on the weight loss process than necessary. For some unable to commit, I suggest just finding a healthy habit (like drinking X glasses of water every day) and trying to create a streak with that. But, for me, it has been an incredible gift and a giant pain in the ass all in one. I have learned that 99% of excuses to not exercise are really just excuses. We are all very busy and we are all tired – but there is almost always a way to make it work. I really DO get that now. Here is a little article I wrote about my experience that was posted on the Scottsdale Weight Loss Center web-site (the “Streak With Us” portion starts about halfway down the page).
So, the big question… how long do I keep it up? Well, I haven’t really had a chance to put much serious thought into that. I am still sort of on autopilot. For that reason, I am going to keep going for the immediate future. I don’t want to stop something that is working so well. I’m a little nervous that after my half marathon I might slump a little and if I continue the streak, it will keep me and my fitness level in the forefront. For now, the streak will go on…
Have you thought about a streak? If you are doing one or are inspired to try it, please let me know!