Two hundred and forty days.
That’s where my running streak stands. I believe, though I can’t prove it, it is the longest of my four decades of running that began with high school track to meet a girl. The last zero in the log book was late November. I have run every day this year and if I can keep it up, it will be the first time I have gone a calendar year without missing a day.
Amazingly, even at my age, I’m healthy. Knees? Great. Back? Solid. Hamstrings? Sound. Achilles? Just fine, thank you. A few things have led to this record run. For starters, I’m pretty much just running. I gave up biking and I swim only occasionally. Never really considered myself a triathlete. Even in the days I completed a few Ironmans back home, I wasn’t wild about swimming endless hours in the pool and I disdained long bike rides, particularly when I got caught in rain and snow while miles from home.
What I added, which I believe is key, is a daily morning pre-run routine. Takes about 30 minutes. Lots of squats and planks and lunges and push ups and waving weights around and pretending I can do yoga. I began using a foam roller, too. Since, I’ve been injury free to run.
I love it because running is pretty much my answer to everything.
“Who are you voting for?”
“What do you think of global warming?”
“What should be done for world peace?”
“Are you going to mow the lawn?”
“Dad, can I borrow some money?”
Yeah, I’m going running.
Now, to keep a running streak alive, according to the United States Running Streak Association (I’m not making that up), you must run at least one mile a day, and I have. Most of my runs are in the 5-8 mile range, with longer runs of sixteen or seventeen.
Running streaks require one to be dedicated, singularly focused, a bit lucky and you could say, neurotic, that is, people will think you’re plain weird. My wife is accepting of my addiction. Good thing. Sometimes, I’ve had to run at places where it might seem, well, odd.
Like late at night up and down the street outside our home while our dog watched.
Or along the highway in the dark while talking to sources on the phone trying to chase down a story.
And running in circles while directing cars at the Vidinha Stadium parking lot during Taste of Hawaii.
And heading up Kokee Road for a few miles since I had 20 minutes to the start of Pedal to the Meadow.
And venturing out on ice-covered streets in the snow when we went home for Christmas.
The most unusual might have been at Sea-Tac Airport one morning, having zipped through security much faster than expected, we had 90 minutes to our plane’s departure to return to Kauai.
“Well, I might as well go for a run,” I told my wife.
“Here?” she said.
She had a point. The terminal was crowded. Packed, even. People were walking, standing, sitting, talking on phones and reading newspapers. Besides, security is probably going to stop some guy who is running at the airport. That just sounds suspicious.
No problem. A quick change and I’m ready.
“I’ll just go slow at the start and see what happens.”
And I was off, weaving my way around people, being careful, keeping my distance to not scare anyone. Cut right. Dart left. Zip forward. Toward the other end of the airport, international flights, it was relaxed and open. Matter of fact, I had plenty freedom and picked up the pace. A few people looked up, amused, annoyed, indifferent.
I returned to where my wife was sitting and explained I had just covered a mile and a half, and needed one more lap.
“No one stopped you?” she asked.
“Nope. I have more room than I thought. This is great.”
So once more, out and back, this time, a little faster. What the hell. Might as well let loose. It went well. No collisions. No tripping over a suitcase. No crashing into someone with coffee. Nothing over the loudspeakers about stopping a strange running man.
Really, the only thing that caught my attention on my final stretch was a boy looking at me as I approached. He stared, like kids do when they’re curious, so I gave him a little wave and smiled. He kept staring.
As I drew near I heard him say, “Mommy, that man is running.”
I’d stop, kid, but I don’t know what would happen if I did. And I’m afraid to find out.
Bill Buley is editor of The Garden Island newspaper. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org