My friend Stephen told me a story a few months ago, which went basically like this (apologies to Stephen if I’ve gotten some details wrong). He was sitting on a bench in California, at an early adult age, and trying to sort things out about life. There was another person on the bench as well. Somehow they started talking, and the other person suggested the he make a commitment to run every day for one year–not just x numbers per week. Stephen thought it sounded like something worth a shot, and started doing it. As a result, Stephen completed his running each day in some unusual ways, which made great stories to hear, like when he was stuck on a plane for hours on the ground at an African airport.
Then Stephen dropped the bomb–that was 30 years ago, and he is still going.
About 1 month ago, while Steven was preparing to leave Philadelphia, I told him that I would like to take the challenge, so I started in the second week of March. I was a little nervous, because all conventional wisdom says to give your body a rest, such as running every other day, or so. In any event, I’ve been running pretty much every day (missed 1 or 2 days, sorry Stephen). In the process, here are some things I’ve learned by doing this. I set the minimum distance to be 1 mile, though many days I exceed that.
- It’s not really about the running, it’s about doing something on a consistent basis. The next day, you get no credit for running 2 miles or 10 miles the previous days. Often I don’t feel like running, but I go out because I am compelled to. That kind of attitude is important in many other endeavors, since often much of a project or effort is not particularly glamorous work.
- You create some interesting stories. While I’d love to get my running in at the same time of the day, that sometimes doesn’t happen. When I’m traveling, I might go out early in the morning or late at night. One late night in Philadelphia, I went to return a rental car after visiting Walmart to buy some cleaning supplies. I ran back from the rental car place at about 11pm, carrying Pine-Sol. Another night, I was in New York City, and late at night, I was at Fairway’s. I bought some pita bread, and ran back to where I was staying. In both situations, I can only imagine what someone else might have thought seeing this guy in regular clothes running carrying a bottle of Pine-Sol, or a bag of pita bread. Maybe it wouldn’t be so unusual in New York :-).
- My legs don’t hurt so much. I used to run about every 2-3 days, roughly 3-5 miles each time. The following morning, my legs were pretty stiff. Now that I’m running every day, for some reason they don’t hurt anymore, which I have to believe is a good thing — not just that I’ve numbed them into submission.
- Running really does help to clear your mind. People would tell me that about exercise, but I would selectively ignore that advice. The fact is that I do feel better about 10-15 minutes after finishing running, I just have to figure out how to feel better during the run.
All this talk reminds me I haven’t gone out today, so I’d better snap to it!