Risky Business

How many times have you stocked your suitcase with running clothes only to return from your trip with a suitcase full of clean running clothes? I have the best intentions to run at least a few days when I travel, but inevitably the schedule would be too full, or I would be too jet lagged, or I would be too hungover from the night before, or the weather would be too not-perfect. The excuses ran high, but not on my last trip.

I recently spent a week in Berkeley, California on a business trip. I knew this would be the most imposing obstacle in my 30 day challenge to run every day, but I was determined to maintain the discipline needed to make it happen. I researched running routes in advance, planned my schedule with great detail, and brought enough running clothes to last all 5 days.

Pro Tip: Save precious suitcase space by getting double duty out of your running shirts. Wear them as your regular day shirt one day, then run in them the next.

My schedule held together for all of one day, then it was time to improvise.  An early flight into Oakland plus a bonus hour for timezone traversal provided plenty of time to get settled in, go for a run, and still have time for a late lunch. So far, so good.

Day two caught up to me. I took the morning off and snagged a run in before heading over to campus. Day three was very similar. I called some audibles in my schedule which opened up some time and still got a short run in. Unwisely, I followed that up with a whole bunch of beer.

After that it became a battle for a slot in the schedule. I did squeeze a couple of runs in after sessions and before dinners. Hungover as I was after that second night, I still managed to log a few miles.

Pro Tip: Feeling hungover after a night of drinking? Eat a banana and go for a short run. I’m not sure about the physiology, but it totally cleared up my headache.

After 5 days on a business trip, I had not broken my streak. To say it wasn’t in jeopardy a few times would be a lie. Thinking back on it, I’m not sure I would have survived without those runs. They got my blood moving, flushed out my pores, and kept my muscles loose, which is helpful when you have a lot of walking and standing to do. Furthermore, running through a new place is a great way to take it in. I found so many interesting places I likely wouldn’t have explored had I not decided to run there.

Finally, it was time to head home. I took a very early flight and arrived back in Denver at 12:30pm. Riding in the passenger seat from the airport to the house started lulling me to sleep. The prior week’s escapades were all taking their revenge. Before I did anything else, though, I needed to eat. Unwisely I had skipped breakfast that morning, save for a banana and a breakfast bar. Laura and I went to get lunch, watch the Broncos game, and catch up on the week we missed with each other. In retrospect, I might have sabotaged myself. 

We got home after the game and I was toast. I needed to rest for a least a few minutes before trying anything. It was dark when I woke up and I still felt beat up. That was the day that the streak broke. I didn’t run.

I felt pretty bad about it that night, and I think it rolled a little into Monday morning. The remorse eventually subsided, because the goal of the 30 day challenge is not black and white. It’s not over once it’s broken. The goal is to learn something about yourself and create better habits. I ran every day for 21 days, and for me, that's one hell of an accomplishment.  I’ve also run every day since the one I missed. I wasn’t going to risk injury or illness just to say I ran all 30 days. My body needed a rest. That was more important than any number.