Yesterday marked my 6th year of consecutive running; that is, running an average of 5 miles/8 kilometres every day for 2,190 days in a row. Rain or shine, sick or healthy, injured or injury-free—doesn’t matter. I laced up and got it done regardless of the circumstances.
My run streak started accidentally in 2017 after the #RUN70 challenge. I set a goal to run 70 half marathon distances in a row, but after my 74th 21.1k, I just kept running. People ask me what the hardest part of that challenge was, and most are surprised when I reply that it wasn’t the actual running, but ending it. I had a mission and purpose each day—it provided my life with meaning.
Admittedly, most of my fitness goals back then were extrinsic; I set outlandish goals for myself because I was insecure. Outward validation made me feel more confident, and my running fed that. I used and abused my running to feed my insatiable need for extrinsic approval.
2017 was a very hard year for me. It was my first year of being self-employed and lemme tell you: the transition was a tough one. The precariousness of income, managing the sudden abundance of free time, and going through a big break-up, made me feel fragile. I partied a lot, drank a lot, I made many questionable life choices—I was a bit of a shit show. The run streak for me back then was an escape; something I could clasp onto. It felt like the only thing in my life I could control.
Reflecting back on the first few years of the steak, I completely changed as a person. I moved away from using it as social capital and part of my identity, as something now entirely for me. It is something I do, not something I am. Running grounds me; it’s my time for creativity + contemplation; it feeds my need for challenge and self-growth; it gets me outside, and most importantly, it makes me feel good.
Reflecting back on the first few years of the steak, my motivation completely changed. I moved away from identifying it—using it as social capital—to something entirely for me. Running is something I do, not something I am. It grounds me; it’s my time for creativity + contemplation; it feeds my need for challenge; and most importantly, it makes me feel good. While a lot of the time I don’t feel like running, 99.9% of the time, I feel better afterwards. Running provides me with intrinsic meaning in my life—that’s why I continue to show up day-after-day.
My biggest lesson out of the past 6 years is simple: to run for me. I’ll never be the fastest runner, or at an elite level. I’ll never try to monetize it. Trying to transcend running for ego-centric means was my biggest folly—it deprived me of the autotelic joy the activity provided in and of itself. It’s helped me build community and connection, and given me an outlet to share what I’ve learned with others.
I’m going to continue running every day for as long as I can, but not because I have to, but because I want to.