Derrick Spafford - Streaking Since 1989

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Trail Streaking

By Derrick Spafford

I have been running and competing year round since 1982. I can still remember clearly the day of December 25, 1989. I was frustrated at myself following a period of inconsistent training, so I decided that I was going to see how many days I could run in a row without taking a day off. Well, Christmas Day this past week marked the 20th year of my running streak.

I've had a number of people ask me about my streak of daily running and some of the things that have been toughest about it. Aside from everyday time management issues, some of the toughest days physically included...

  • Pneumonia (temp of 104F)
  • Stevens Johnsons Syndrome (a number of severe attacks)
  • Food poisoning
  • Achilles tendonitis (was at the point I thought I would have to take time off, but a last ditch effort with acupuncture cured it)
  • The next day after my first 100 miler (I could hardly walk let alone try to run!)
  • Bad fall during a trail run and a deep cut on my knee that probably should have had stitches
  • Some bad hangovers (when I was young and foolish)
  • After completing a particularly exhausting 50 mile dogsled race
  • Recent knee injury that was very stubborn
  • Broken leg (fibula, 2 inches above my ankle)

 The broken leg was probably the toughest. I really thought the streak was over. Partway through dealing with the first day of fumbling around on crutches I decided that I needed a run. Inspired by Canadian legend Terry Fox, I figured that I could double-hop on my good leg and use the crutch instead of my broken leg. I was happy and this helped me get through some very difficult periods of doubt. I also believe that it helped me to heal quicker too as I was in a much more positive frame of mind. I ended up having some awesome 'tempo crutch runs' and had my HR above 160bpm a number of times. I even completed a 'one mile snowshoe crutch run time trial' where I ran under 15mins in tough snow conditions.

I’m not sure how long I’ll keep the streak going for, but one thing for sure is that I enjoy each and every run and am in a better place when I return from my daily jaunt.

I had another great run today and look forward to getting out again tomorrow, and the next day...

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