The Streak: Five Years in Motion

Bryon Powell reminisces on the journey as his daily run streak hits five years.

By on December 8, 2021 | Comments

A week ago on December 1, 2021, I went out for an easy morning run along Town Lake in Austin, Texas, ahead of a packed day at The Running Event, a running trade show. It would have been easy to sleep in and skip the run after an exhausting preceding week, which included covering the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Evening plans would have meant this would be a no-run day.

Instead, I enjoyed five miles of fresh air and nice scenery before a day spent in a convention center with appointments every half hour. Undoubtedly, it was worth the early morning. Notably, the run wrapped up five full years of “running” at least a mile every day.

Austin Town Lake

With more than a mile logged along Austin, Texas’s Town Lake earlier this month, I’d completed five years of a daily running streak! All photos: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

No, I’m not going for some decades-long, newspaper-article-inducing run streak. Heck, I honestly have no idea what the accepted standard is for an official run streak. This streak has always been entirely just for me.

Indeed, it started innocently enough in 2016 on a Friday evening in Mill Valley, California, ahead of covering The North Face 50 Mile Championships (RIP) the next morning. That week, work had already brought me on a convoluted travel journey from Moab, Utah, to Mill Valley, to Orlando, Florida, and back to Mill Valley.

It was already an overwhelming week with an even busier weekend ahead. With my own running season over and relative downtime on the horizon, it would have been easy enough to shrug off running like I had so many times before during race coverage weeks, but I wasn’t having it. Not this time.

So, I got out there and slowly ran just over two miles on dirt roads in the Marin Headlands that Friday evening while finishing up some course scouting. And I got out for at least a short run on each of the final days of that trip.

And, then, every day that next week. And, then, through the end of that December. As the start of 2017 approached, I thought, Why not run every day in 2017? And so I did.

Sunset over the Golden Gate bridge

I had no idea what this run in 2016 through the Marin Headlands of California would start.

I won’t argue that the streak’s made me a better runner or necessarily gotten me into better shape at any given time. (Although I suspect it’s done the latter a few times.) Indeed, there are times when a day … or a few days off running could have done my fitness, my body, and my mind some good.

That said, I’m very thankful for my five-year streak. Whether it’s during a hectic week covering UTMB or a stressful period back home in the office, the streak’s gotten me out the door and into the fresh air when I’ve needed it the most.

Yeah, most folks probably see me post a one- or two-mile, jeans-wearing “streakeeper” run on Strava and think, What’s the point? Well, it’s to do something. To move. To be outside. To get out of my chair. To get out of my head. (OK, not always successful there.)

I can’t imagine how many days I would have skipped running not for intentional or purposeful rest, but for just sticking to work if I didn’t have the streak.

Then, as I’ve written about before, occasionally or, maybe, often enough, that one- or two-mile run becomes a three-, five-, seven-, or even 10-mile run. It doesn’t always happen, but it can. And I’m always quite thankful for those runs.

Finally, there’s occasionally beauty in the forced nature, particularly when there are other constraints involved. For me, that’s often travel. I fondly remember a streakeeper when flying from Colorado to China on October 23 to 25, 2019. My second layover was in San Francisco, California. A 12:25 a.m. flight and the impending long-haul flight over the International Date Line meant I’d be losing nearly all of October 24, so … I did the best I could.

Having run earlier on October 23 in Colorado, I didn’t update my watch when traveling into Pacific Time and did laps of San Francisco Airport’s international terminal while wearing a heavy backpack to rack up 1.24 miles before boarding. My watch said October 24 and it was my best good-faith effort.

SFO Airport Mile

Giving it my best shot in San Francisco Airport’s International Terminal.

Then there was a memorable 11:15 p.m. run with Meghan along the sea after arriving in Spain for the 2018 Trail World Championships. Another time, it was a 5 a.m. mile in the rain with Meghan through San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Early morning San Francisco in the rain

Green means go in the morning rain in San Francisco, California.

Early morning run on the Spanish coast

We were as bleary-eyed as this photo after a Transatlantic flight and a four-hour car drive to the Spanish coast.

I am not a morning person, but whether it’s in Silverton or on Madeira, I’ve logged a dozen or more really early runs in the stillness of night. It’s been me and the stars and, often enough, I never saw another person. I wouldn’t have chosen any of these runs on my own, but they’ve been little gifts thanks to my run streak.

Snowy Silverton morning

A snowy (very) early morning in Silverton, Colorado, this past October.

I can’t say if injury or illness will end my streak someday, but so long as I’m working what’s often an all-encompassing job, I’ll keep my commitment to myself and try to keep the streak going. See you out there.

Call for Comments

Have you ever used a run streak of some sort to enhance or stay committed to your running? Leave a comment to share about it.

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.