A Few Thoughts on my Holiday Running Streak

Day one of 2016 Holiday Run Streak. Thanksgiving morning.  That’s me on the left.

So, my running streak is done. I ran at least a mile every day from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. That’s 39 days and I covered a little over 85 miles. That’s not bad for a guy that five years ago hadn’t covered 85 total miles in all activities combined – cycling, running, hiking, walking, crawling, etc – in the previous year. Or that two years ago was pretty excited to be able to run a whole mile. Or at this time last year ran 35 miles. Obviously, I’m pretty happy with this result. Here are a few thoughts I have on doing this streak.

I liked running the streak and getting to do a lot of shorter runs where I could focus on specific things. Most of them are things that I need to work on anyway, but I was a little more motivated to do them during the streak just to toss in a little variety.  Running the same route, or “just running” would get pretty boring.

Some days were beautiful!

One thing I did was use a metronome on several runs to try to increase my cadence. The experts say that a cadence of 180 steps per minute is a good target, maybe a little higher for shorter legs and a little lower for longer ones. I’m pretty far from 180, but did increase my average cadence over the streak. I started out at 146 during the week of Thanksgiving and finished at 155 on January 1. Still a long way to 180, but more of an increase than I had in the previous six months. It’s surprising to me how difficult it is to consistently raise my cadence when I don’t have the metronome going.  I need to keep working with it.

I did one day at the track and another day or two where I did some intervals. At the track I did 200 meter fast runs (faster than my 1 mile pace) followed by 200 meters of slow running or walking. That’s one lap on the track and I ended up doing that for a little over 3 miles. The other days, I measured with light posts during 2-4 miles runs, but I didn’t do the intervals the whole way. I liked the track better, I seemed to work harder at the sprints for some reason. I haven’t done enough of these to know if they are paying off, but I plan to work a track or interval workout in at least once every other week now. Those experts again, they say that intervals are good for improving form and building endurance. They are also awesome for cramming a good workout into a short amount of time.

Some days were a little cold and snowy.

I also did a couple of runs where I climbed a lot. I’m not sure any of them would be called actual hill workouts or hill repeats, but I did climb enough to get my heart rate maxed out and burn up my legs. Based on my cramping experience at my half marathon, I think I’m going to add more hill work into my runs. Maybe I’ll do these on alternating weeks with the intervals.  I definitely need to keep this up.  It’s frustrating to get into a good running routine and then get out on a trail that I haven’t run in awhile and have my legs fried on the first climb.  I need to find ways to do hill work even when my regular hilly routes aren’t available.

It got so cold I had to put on my Christmas “sweater” and start growing my beard back!

I think what I enjoyed the most about doing the running streak was looking for new places to run. I ran through several parks that I hadn’t been in before. Some I had seen from the street, some I didn’t even know existed. It was fun to look for those new places to run. And it was really easy to find them since I wasn’t trying to work out a 5-10 mile route, just a mile or two.

It was also great for finding some link ups between other routes I use. I also found a couple good gravel routes to ride my bike on this summer. All in all, the running streak  was a good experience. I might even do it again this year!