Even the postal carrier could learn a thing or two about dedication from these streakers.
They lace up their shoes every day — and we mean every single day — to run. They don’t care if eggs are frying on sidewalks, rain bombs are bursting or hurricanes blowing. It matters not if they’re traveling or nursing a cold.
They can’t not run. And they’ve been doing it for a long time.
Take Bill Schroeder, 53, Austin’s grandpappy of streak running. In 1993 he launched a daily running streak that spanned more than 13 years. That one started after he lost his job with the U.S. Air Force during a reduction of forces. He was crushed.
“I thought, ‘This is something no one can take from me. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world, I’m worth 25 minutes a day,’” he says.
The streak ended, by choice, after 4,810 days. He never suffered an injury, and never got sick enough to skip. He did learn how to plan efficiently.
“International travel, young kids — there’s always something going on. There’s always an excuse. But people always have time to find food, so why not feed your body physically?” he says.
His latest running streak started in October 2011, four days after his mother died. It shows no signs of letting up.
Under official United States Running Streak Association and Streak Runners International rules, streakers must run at least 1 continuous mile within each calendar day. They can run on road, track, trail or treadmill, but they can’t stop, not even for a traffic light.
Schroeder’s streak would qualify, but he uses his own criteria. He’s part of a streak running group on Facebook with members from around the world.
“My feeling is who cares. It’s your streak,” says Schroeder, who works at Dell Inc. and heads No Excuses Running, a local running group that hosts monthly low-cost races. “My minimum is 25 minutes. I don’t look at it as a competitive thing.”
Streak runners love discipline, he says. They learn how to mix up their runs so they’re not running long and hard every day. If they’re not careful, he warns, the streak can take on a mind of its own. That’s when a streaker must decide if he’s running because he wants to run, or for the sake of the streak.
Wing Ho, a computer engineer at Oracle, frequently runs with Schroeder. His streak started about two years ago and has included a run the day after a 50-mile trail race and late-night stints on a hotel treadmill during family vacations. Ironically, he says streak running has simplified his life because he doesn’t have to decide whether or not he’s going to run each day. He’s also more in tune with how he feels.
“I pay a lot more attention to my body and how much it can handle now,” he says. “And if I get sick, a high fever or I can’t breathe normally, I’ll stop. A streak is one thing, my health is another.”
Like Schroeder, marketing consultant Jodi Ondrusek, 39, who also coaches running, started her running streak when she was laid off from a job.
“At first a week was a big deal, because I was used to a day off,” she says. “I kind of joked with my husband — ‘I’m going to streak until I get pregnant and can’t run or get a new job.’ Neither has happened so far.”
In the 14 months since then, running has become just another part of her day, along with brushing her teeth and eating meals. Travel presents the biggest challenge. She didn’t want her running streak to overshadow the adventure of a recent road trip, so she got up at 5 a.m. each day and ran circles in the hotel parking lot while her girlfriend slept.
She also says her streak won’t come at the cost of her health or her family. “I’m going to do it until I can’t, and when I can’t I won’t,” she says. “And then I’ll start again.”
And then there’s Vanessa Antoine, 37, who says she won’t let anything get in the way of her streak.
“There have been times when it’s 11:53 p.m. and I have run in street clothes and dress shoes before to get in that 7-minute mile,” she says. “When I get it I’m all giddy because I know the streak is still alive, it lived to see another day.”
She sticks to the official association rules, and runs in circles if she hits a stoplight to ensure a continuous mile. “No pause, no stoplight, no ducks crossing the road,” she says.
Nothing, she says, is worth breaking the streak. Streak running has made her stronger, faster and happier. Her latest streak spans more than 14 months.
“I never want this to end,” says the former Austin resident who now lives in Dallas, where she coaches runners through her company, PaceFlow Running.
She knows, though, that one day it will sputter to a halt.
“And that’s something that scares me,” she says. “I’d be devastated if I had to end my streak. It’s such a part of my everyday life, and I feel I’ve worked so hard that nothing stops me from going out and giving just a little bit every day.”
Just like a postal carrier.
The United States Running Streak Association specifies that members run at least 1 mile within each calendar day. To be listed on the website at runeveryday.com, a streak must last at least one year.