Power of habits, runstreak and golfstreak

Since giving up playing football (soccer) around the age of 28 I’ve slowly been getting lazier and fatter. Gone are the days of being 72 kg and charging up and down the wing. 4 years after quitting football it got to the point where I needed to decide if I wanted to get fat and embrace obesity, or do something about it and get fit again. I’ve been playing golf since finishing football, but unfortunately that doesn’t keep the weight away. I’m aware I need to address my diet as well as exercise – I’m hoping that getting fitter will help drive healthier eating.

Ken Hughes is a crazy runner, doing ultra marathons and other crazy stuff like that. He introduced me to the idea of #runstreak, a group of people on twitter who run at least a mile each day (often more). Some people I’ve seen have run streaks of over 1,500 days and Ken himself at the time of writing is up to an impressive 184 days. The original idea seems to have come from Ron Hill who has run every day since 1964!!!

Usually when I’ve done running before to try and get fit I would plan something such as 3 runs a week. But when Saturday comes around and I am yet to even do one run I realise my plan has again failed. So I thought I’d give #runstreak a go – and amazingly right now I’m up to day 50. This include:

- 14 days running while on holiday in Mauritius.
- running a mile at 11:30pm at night after too many beers, just to keep my #runstreak going

At first it was pretty hard to motivate myself, and I didn’t expect to get anywhere close to 50 days – but now I actually look forward to my run each day. As someone who works from home it’s a good reason to get out of the house each day and means I have to plan my days out which helps with general productivity. I’ve got a Garmin GPS watch that allows me to track my distance and calories burnt – it’s very motivating trying to beat what you’ve done over the previous 30 days.

With #runstreak going so well, I wondered what other things I could apply this streak thing to. As you may know I do enjoy playing golf, but golf is one of those games you have to practice quite a lot to play well. It’s a vicious circle too, because if you don’t play well you can’t be bothered to practice. The past 18 months I have been on this vicious circle – playing once, playing badly, and then choosing not to play or practice again for the next 3 to 4 weeks. I wondered if #golfstreak could bring back the enjoyment of the game, and enjoyment of practicing again?

Sure enough it has! I am now up to day 27 of #golfstreak and am playing my best golf for nearly 2 years. On top of this I won the club championship at Theale Golf Club – the main competition of the year – and my handicap has come down. Of course I have to put up with the jokes from some of my fellow golfers about never doing any work and always being on the course, and may be you are thinking the same? But #golfstreak doesn’t mean you have to play 18 holes every day. It can be 50 balls down the driving range or 30 minutes practicing my chipping and putting. With longer evenings at the moment and planning ahead it’s not too tricky to get out and practice/play a bit each day.

The best thing of all is not getting nervous for competitions. For the club championship I just kept saying to myself “it’s just another day of #golfstreak” and while everybody else got nervous and shot their worst rounds of the year, I played nice and steady for 2 days. Sweet!

The weight hasn’t been tumbling off yet from #runstreak, but I’m definitely getting fitter and able to run faster and longer. I’ve given up diet coke this week (I was drinking about a litre a day), and chocolate should be next week. I might have to start #fruitstreak. Don’t even mention the house, I might have to start #DIYStreak soon!

I hope to keep #runstreak up as long as I can, but expect #golfstreak to come to an end when I have to travel due to work. Good thing about running is you just need yourself and some trainers, golf needs a bit more equipment unfortunately :)

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