Petestack Blog

3 January 2017


Filed under: Running — admin @ 5:23 pm

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…


  1. Well done Peter! Enjoy your non-running day tomorrow!

    Comment by John Kynaston — 3 January 2017 @ 5:52 pm

  2. Nice one Pete – enjoy the feet up – you could taper for a while now before getting back into the long stuff !

    Comment by Keith — 3 January 2017 @ 9:42 pm

  3. That’s some achievement Peter – well done. After 372 days I wonder how you would perform today in a race versus your optimal (perfect training plan) expected time at your current age? And would the time gap be smaller for some distances /terrain than others?

    Comment by Ian Minty — 3 January 2017 @ 10:17 pm

  4. Think I’d perform terribly in a race (any race), Ian! But how much because of the 372 days, general slowing down or both I don’t know…

    Comment by admin — 3 January 2017 @ 10:27 pm

  5. It’s funny but, as today ticks away, I’m acutely aware that I’ve not yet had any more ‘rest’ than on many days of the past year where I’ve run late. So definitely not running tomorrow either (not that I was ever planning to) and maybe not Friday, because I’m hoping to notice some (more fluid, less fatigued?) difference when I do, and still have some concerns about that hopefully positive experience just feeling like 373!

    Comment by admin — 4 January 2017 @ 9:01 pm

  6. Interesting piece – hope you enjoyed your “rest” day. The 366 aspect is similar to the “calendar round” idea that a few people have done – or are doing – re hill ascents. Two basic ways to do this – the same-hill calendar round which works well for people happy to go up and down the same thing a lot, and the category calendar round where the idea is to climb anything in the category – a Munro, say, or a Wainwright – on each of the 366 days. Same-year continuous rounds of either sort are rare almost to the point of impossibility given that normal life gets in the way (although in the US Larry Davis managed an amazing – but possibly pig-headed – 2850 consecutive days to the top of Mount Monadnock), so longer-term efforts are more the thing.

    Alan Douglas has managed five calendar rounds on Ben Lomond as part of 2800 ascents in total (ending 11/2/99 – I was with him for that – 15/3/03, 25/12/05, 20/1/08 and 29/2/12), which is a much more impressive achievement than my own single round on Ben Cleuch (which needed 869 ascents from the first on 13/3/86 to completion in poor conditions on 31/1/11). I’m also closing in on a Ben Ever calendar round – one of the neighbouring summits to Ben Cleuch (and I’ve never climbed Ever without Cleuch) – and that’s down to just three gaps with 906 ascents overall at present. In theory once I get that wrapped up – perhaps later this year, perhaps not – I’ll switch to The Law, which is the next cab off the rank as it were in terms of Ochil tallies. In category terms, I’m down to 26 any-Munro gaps, but that’ll take a while – quite possibly another decade – as although 29 Feb has been done (Carn a’Chlamain, 29/2/12), there are still six January gaps and four December ones, and there’s never any guarantee of progress especially at that time of year.

    I’ve heard of a few category rounds at least being mooted, and I think Hamish Brown managed one for Munros (and of course Alan Douglas’s efforts count in any-Munro terms too). There’s something pleasant and satisfying about such things, whether category or same-hill, with them being long-term, slow-burn games rather than the standard linear rounds that the vast majority of people seem to being doing.

    Anyway, congrats again and good luck with the next energetic numerical game whatever that might be…

    Comment by Dave Hewitt — 5 January 2017 @ 11:40 am

  7. Interesting and entertaining stuff as always, Dave! ‘Same-year continuous rounds of either sort are rare almost to the point of impossibility’… yikes, yes (!), but you’ve got me Googling Mount Monadnock…

    The 366-day calendar running year is an interesting one in that it seems to me both simultaneously a ‘soft’ challenge (in that you don’t have to do that much per day) and not (in that you’ve still got to do it and even that base mileage running eventually wears you down). So I’m really not sure it’s that congratulation-worthy when so many folk are getting so much more exercise from sundry regular/daily activities, it’s by my own admission a relatively low-mileage year overall and I totally doff my hat to those who’ve achieved (for example) complete Simm or Marilyn rounds, 2,800 ascents of Ben Lomond or 2,850 consecutive days to the top of Mount Monadnock!

    Comment by admin — 5 January 2017 @ 12:19 pm

  8. I interviewed – by email – Larry Davis back in the days when I was writing about this kind of stuff for TGO, and he came across as pretty sane and normal, although personally I definitely wouldn’t want to attempt anywhere near that level of same-hill commitment (and that’s despite me being a same-hill repeater who gets homesick and is largely happy to stick around the local patch). There is a risk of “that way madness lies” with something that occupies several hours every day and ties you down to a fairly small radius.

    Re the running side of things, there’s the very long Ron Hill sequence as I’m sure you know. That’s reckoned to be every day for 50+ years since the back end of 1964, upwards of 10k days in a row. There seems to be some uncertainty about quite how far he runs each day – and what qualifies as running – as the claim of seven miles per day clashes somewhat with one or two hospital spells when it might have been just walking or shuffling at best. But that’s presumably the benchmark for long-running running sequences in the UK at least.

    Incidentally, re the regular daily activity thing, I know what you mean but one contrast with the long deliberate streak or calendar round is that it’s very unlikely that anyone can do something inadvertently for every day for ages, eg a certain amount of at-work mileage. There are almost always gaps – it’s akin, in reverse, to that standard statistical test piece about 50 people in a room and birthdays (it’s something like 99.9% likely that two of them will share a birthday). A good example of the calendar round version of this came last year when my Penrith pal Tony Deall (who has done a lot of stuff generally – BGRs, LDWA 100-milers, Munros/Corbetts/Grahams etc) sat down and worked out how many gaps he had in an any-Wainwright calendar round. His overall Wainwright tally at the time was 7000-odd, although of course the number of Wainwright days would be much lower, perhaps 2000-2500ish (I must ask him). Before he worked it all out alongside a calendar (which took a while…), I said there’d probably be a couple of gaps – and there were exactly two, both in June when he’s habitually up in Wainwright-free Scotland.

    Comment by Dave Hewitt — 5 January 2017 @ 1:04 pm

  9. I thought Ron Hill’s streak was a minimum of one mile per day, so just Googled it and was right:

    The seven miles quoted appears to be an *average* (still hugely impressive if that’s 2,500+ miles *every* year!), and there’s also some info about the injury/hospital spells in that article.

    Comment by admin — 5 January 2017 @ 1:14 pm

  10. Ah yes, sorry – I’d seen that RW piece as well but can’t see it all and had just gone with the headline which has “averaged more than 7 miles a day since December 1964” and extrapolated wrongly from that. One of my sisters lives in Ron Hill’s part of the world and runs in the same races as him sometimes – I’ll ask her what she knows about his sequence. I wonder what kind of long sequences Joss Naylor (two years older than Ron Hill) has had – fair chance he won’t have kept daily notes, however.

    Comment by Dave Hewitt — 5 January 2017 @ 1:31 pm

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