It didn’t start as a plan to run 372 consecutive days. But salvaging just over 50% mostly ‘token’ running days from a busy final two months of 2015 seemed like pretty poor show, so I set about chasing a January ‘streak’ to make up. Then continued into the start of February for good measure before realising it was a leap year and starting to get further silly ideas…
So how often do you get the chance to run the whole of a calendar leap year? Unless you’re expecting to live through the year 2100, just once every four years, and, if you are, not quite even that! So you’ve been running daily since 29 December and haven’t ‘wasted’ much pre-2016 streak… what could be more natural than targetting the calendar 2016? Except that you also need three days of 2017 to balance the three from 2015, making a total of 3 + 366 + 3 = 372. It’s irrefutable ‘Peter logic’, so don’t argue with it!
The rules? Basically at least three miles and (later) half an hour a day, but I’ve accepted over 25 minutes and under three miles (same as ‘Marcothon’ rules) on some occasions. Personally I’d be looking for at least three miles on the road, but normally only run on roads to get to hills and trails, so have counted some 2.6-to-3.0-milers (less than 1% of the total, and mostly back in January and February) involving steep/rough trail, of which there is plenty round here to slow you down. Most of my runs have met the dual criteria of being at least three miles and at least half an hour, and I’d insist on that if starting again knowing I was going for the year.
What about illnesses or injuries? You just have to keep going! I’ve had to run a few days with leg injury niggles, one with probable food poisoning, a couple with a stinking cough/cold and a couple of weeks with significant upper-body discomfort after I fell over a trestle outside my workshop door in pitch dark! The leg injury niggles were mainly my own fault. Back in March we had one-mile Sport Relief walk/run at the school and I was out supervising. Walked the first half-mile lap of pavement in my regular working clothes (including soft leather shoes), then stupidly ran the second, caught a lot of kids and finished with very tight hams. So might have wrecked the whole thing just two-and-a-half months in, but thought I might as well try my daily run because I’d blown it anyway if I couldn’t, so forced myself to jog one of my shorter courses that evening and managed to run it off over a few (?) days. The food-poisoned and other health-compromised runs weren’t a lot of fun, but I was far enough into the year for all of them not to take no for an answer!
Travel, visitors, busy days, other activities and/or nasty weather? Still no excuse! Had to suss out tiresome logistics like running after (non-running) winter hill days or running first thing before supervising DofE Bronze day 1 and evening after return from day 2. So, with other trips away, courses, meetings, concerts, heavy works in the garden etc., a fair number of runs overall at times (or in states) that weren’t exactly convenient. Likewise the weather… plenty of foul, wet and/or dark runs endured as well as the odd storm (e.g. Barbara and Conor over Christmas 2016) braved. It’s really not practical, this every-day-come-what-may lark, but (while acknowledging that others have achieved far longer streaks that are not for me) good to have done it once!
So how do I feel? Tired. Strong but slow. It’s a completely different challenge than training for and/or completing an ultra run, and goes on even longer! I’ve probably notched up one of my lowest-mileage years through the preponderance of shorter runs in this restless daily programme, but still find myself creaking in a few places and (literally?) miles from my fittest, fastest or lightest shape. Also thought ongoing Achilles and under-heel niggles might be a problem earlier in the year, but curiously seemed to eventually run them off months ago. Does this mean some bits have actually come out stronger despite the daily, no-rest bashing? Dunno, but certainly interested to see how they respond as well as what happens re. general performance/fluidity with the normality of running most days restored after a short break.
Would I recommend it? Well, I’m neither going to say try it nor don’t! Having some concerns even about the 31-day ‘Marcothon’ (which I’ve just completed by accident) as a popular challenge, I’d have to say that pig-headed continuous streaks may do you more harm than good and pig-headed continuous years may do you more harm than pig-headed continuous months. If you’re a regular runner with the experience to classify your own injury niggles as ‘ignore’, ‘take care’ or ‘stop’, I wouldn’t try to stop you any more than I’d want you to try stopping me. But I don’t think you’ll perform at your best on a continuous streak. I really don’t. While I have the undoubted satisfaction of having set a daft target and stuck to it, whether I’ve come out of it (despite current tiredness) with a stronger-than-otherwise base for a more-sensibly-maintainable programme of whatever mileage remains to be seen…