Tell You Why I Went on a 242-Day Running Streak Before My 30th Birthday



Our group had just done a big hike up the 2,000-foot ascent to Aasgard Pass. As we crested over the top of the mountain and were looking out at the lakes, I started thinking about what a milestone turning 30 would be, and what I wanted to accomplish before I reached my birthday on May 19, 2016. Last fall, on a backpacking trip in the Enchantments, a beautiful string of lakes outside of Seattle, I started to reflect on it being the last year of my twenties.

When I got home, I decided I’d put that inspiration to good use and make a “30 before 30” bucket list. While a lot of people plan theirs a year in advance, I’d only have eight months to read 30 new books, run across the Golden Gate Bridge, learn to sail, take a dance class, and put $2,000 in savings, to name a few of the items on my list. But the most difficult by far would be my goal to begin replicarepsa running streak: Starting on September 21, I wanted to run every single day until the big 3-0. (Looking for your own challenge? Sign up for Women’s Health’s Run 10 Feed 10 race.) 

run everyday run streak Photograph courtesy of Kaitlin Tripi Fisher

Why Make a 30 Before 30 List?
My path through my twenties wasn’t very linear. Like most people I know, I graduated from college, got a job right way, and worked there for a few years. Then, feeling an itch for adventure, my husband, Brian, and I took a yearlong career break and traveled around the world.

When we came back, I was struggling to figure out exactly what my career path should look like. I went to grad school, and then spent a few months at home in New York with my mom after losing my dad. During that time, my husband took a job that moved us from Portland to Seattle, a city I’d never even visited. In the months before that backpacking trip, I had really been struggling to figure out what came next. I hoped that having some non-career-focused goals would help me to navigate those challenges.

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running everyday run streak Photograph courtesy of Kaitlin Tripi Fisher

The Run Streak
I had been into running for about six years, completing a number of half-marathons and various other shorter distances races, but found that I only really motivated myself to keep at it if I was training for something. I decided to see what would happen if I just told myself I was going to run at least two miles outside every day, rain or shine, regardless of whether I was training for a race or not. Would I have the willpower to make it outside during the rainy fall and winter in Seattle? Two miles seemed like it would be long enough to feel like I’d accomplished something every day, but manageable enough to do on even my most busy or tired days. Even at my slowest pace, when would I not have time to spend 20 minutes on the road or trail?

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running everyday run streak Photograph courtesy of Kaitlin Tripi Fisher

Staying Motivated
It turns out, my run streak happened to coincide with the rainiest Seattle winter in recorded history. And running outside made me acutely aware of that. For a while, it was dark before I left for work and dark when I got home. A couple of times I made the mistake of saying “I’ll just run tonight,” only to learn it was even harder to get outside in the dark, rain, and cold after a long day at the office. From there on out, I became an early morning runner.

The accountability aspect of telling my friends and family—and myself—that I had committed to the streak was all that got me out the door some days. Yet I did learn a lot of other tricks for staying the course. For example, there is a quote by Rumi that is a favorite of mine, that says, “The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep!” Seeing that on a sticky note next to my bed reminded me of what I had to look forward to every day. Bill Withers’ song, “Lovely Day,” was my alarm clock. I also made many Spotify playlists, including one of all sunshine-related songs. My husband is an early riser, and my community at November Project Seattle, a weekly morning workout, really helped keep me motivated.

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running everyday run streak Photograph courtesy of Kaitlin Tripi Fisher

Challenges Along the Way
Aside from the rainy days and early mornings, my biggest challenge came during a half-marathon in March. At around mile five, I felt a severe pain. It turned out that I had partially dislocated my hip. Almost instantly, another runner came by, put my hip back into place, and kept running. I don’t know who the man was, but I wish I did. After that, the pain went from being excruciating to more of a dull annoyance. It was a trail run, so I had to get out of the woods, and I was able to make it to mile 11 before I quit.

I had trained pretty hard for that race, and was hoping I’d PR, so not being able to finish was really disappointing. At the time, I was also really worried that it was going to put an end to my run streak. First thing the next morning, I saw a physical therapist. He assured me I didn’t need to completely quit, I just needed to tone it back. For a couple of weeks I just did my minimum two miles at a very, very slow pace, and worked to strengthen my hip. People have asked if running too much is what caused my injury, but my PT says it was more of an issue with my form than frequency.

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running everyday run streak Photograph courtesy of Kaitlin Tripi Fisher

Just Keep Running
During the run streak, I ran in spiked shoes during a huge snowstorm in Leavenworth, Washington; across the Golden Gate Bridge; in Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC; and even went out for a full moon run at 1:30 a.m. once in anticipation of a busy day. I also overcame my injury and completed another half-marathon. My birthday was on day 242 of the streak, and 28 people joined me for a loop around a lake near my apartment that I’d run too many times to count over the last eight months.

My run streak has kept me healthy and vibrant, and given me something that I can do for myself every single day. I started volunteering as a running buddy for my local chapter of the non-profit Girls on the Run, and I’m confident that no matter where my non-linear career path continues to take me, I want to continue to help young people set their own goals.

I had planned on my birthday run being the last hurrah, but I feel so close to finishing a full year that I plan on continuing. It feels satisfying to have really committed to it. There were definitely days that if I had not said, “This is what I’m doing,” I 100 percent would not have run. It feels good to look back and be able to say I set this goal. It wasn’t outrageous, but it wasn’t easy, either.