Jaywalking: Streaking for fitness

Monday, October 09, 2017

How many straight days could you run a mile?

A week would be possible. Even a month would not be terrible. But every day for sixth months? Nine? A year? That would take some serious dedication. So, what about three years and counting?

Kriste Joy knows what running a mile every day for more than three years is like. She has not missed a day since she began her streak on Aug. 15, 2014. Two other members of her family — husband Jason and daughter Olivia — joined in with streaks of their own shortly after.

Sound just a little crazy? Let me explain.

Just over three years ago, Kriste Joy was in California visiting brother Shawn Chamberlin, who had been running a mile every day going on a year. He was part of the United States Running Streak Association and Joy decided to go out one day for a run with him.

That was Aug. 15, 2014. When Joy returned home, she continued running.

“I honestly thought I would give it a month,” she said.

But one month turned into two and two turned into three and suddenly Joy had a mini-streak. It was nowhere near the best on the U.S. Running Streak Association, but then again, the 45-year-old Joy is not even old enough to have a shot at the top current streak. That belongs to John Sutherland of West Hills, Calif., a 66-year-old who has run a mile every day since May 26, 1969, a streak of 48-plus years or exactly 17,669 days. There are 60 people in the country who currently have streaks of more than 30 years, according to the website www.runeveryday.com.

Joy has a long way to go to get to that streak, although her streak of 1,152 days does put her 545th on the list.

“You hear some of the stories and it’s amazing,” Joy said. “We’ve run through sprained ankles, colds, stomach aches, fevers and snow, sleet and freezing rain.”

Joy said that finding the time to go for the run is not usually an issue, but rather it’s a mental thing. She said there are days when she doesn’t feel like running, but the thought of having the streak come to an end keeps her going.

“Nobody can understand why we do what we do, it’s just something that is in your head,” she said. “It’s your own little private challenge. No one is checking in on you. You have to have it in your head that it’s just something that you do. Kind of like brushing your teeth.”

Joy said that most days she wakes up at 5 a.m. and gets her daily run out of the way. She averages between one and three miles per day. But it’s not always that easy, such as when the family travels or goes on vacation. She said that she tries to factor in her need to run wherever she goes, but it’s not always that easy.

Joy said her streak has been in jeopardy several times. It came closest to ending back in April 2016 when the family vacationed in Spain. Joy said that the family arrived at their hotel and with the time change, she had less than an hour to get in her run. When the area was too unknown and a bit sketchy for her to run in the street, she asked the front desk clerk, who told her she was in luck because there was a nearby gym.

“I was their last customer of the day,” she said. “Spain was the closest it has ever come to ending. The traveling and the time difference made it tough.

Runners can run outside or on a treadmill to complete their daily mile, the only condition is that if the runner stops for any reason during the mile, they must start from scratch.

There have been other times when the streak has come close to ending. When she was around Day 50, she tripped going down the front steps and had to tape her ankle in order to get the run in. Another time the streak nearly ended was two years ago when she was on her way to see Olivia pitch a softball game for Greenfield High School. Joy’s vehicle was struck by someone and her car was turned upside down. Her daughter threw a no-hitter that day, and Joy said despite her entire body aching, she still managed to get the run in that night.

Joy said she has now run her mile in at least 10 to 12 different states, as well as Spain and Germany. And it’s become contagious in her household. Husband Jason Joy has a three-year streak going, and daughter Olivia Joy, the star field hockey and softball pitcher at GHS, is nearing her three-year mark. Olivia started on Nov. 4, 2014.

“I thought it was pretty cool so I just decided to try it,” she explained. “Why not? It was something different. I thought I was going to last a week, if that.”

Olivia has plenty of challenges to work around in her life to get her run in. School and sports takes a lot of time out of her day, so sometimes she does not get a run in until late at night.

“If I have a night field hockey game, I don’t get home until 10, so I have to run after my game,” she said. “If I want to hang out with my friends, I make sure to get my run in first. Some of my friends will go to the track with me late at night so I can run my mile.”

Olivia said that some of her friends have attempted to start streaks of their own, but they have not been able to stick to it.

“They think it’s different, because who wants to run a mile every day,” she joked. “But they are supportive and help me keep it going.”

Her coaches have been supportive as well. Joy said that at field hockey practice if the team is doing, say, a warm-up run, the coaches will tell her to do one more lap so she can count it as her daily mile.

Olivia’s streak has never been in real jeopardy, although one day she was running with her dog when the pooch got loose and she had to chase down the dog and return it home, which meant she had to restart her mile. Other than that, her own streak has no end in sight.

“There is really no reason to stop it,” she said. “I’m just going to keep going.”

And when to stop the streak is really the big question. Think about it. There are two ways the streak ends, either inadvertently or on purpose. Say she tripped on the stairs again and broke her foot. Then she would be unable to continue. Would that be better or worse than having the power to stop the streak on your own terms? Kriste Joy said that is one of the questions discussed the most on the online forum. She said that she thought three years would be a good stopping point, as her son Connor was getting ready to go off to college for his freshman year, but Connor, who Kriste said has no intentions of starting a streak himself, had other plans for her.

“He said, ‘Mom, you have to run, you have to do this,’” she began. “Fifteen minutes later I went out. The family support has been great. You don’t always feel like doing it, but it’s 10 minutes that you give yourself every day.

So how will the streak end for Joy?

“Probably when I physically can’t do it,” she said. “I don’t think I could end it. I’m comfortable right now and happy. It’s part of my life, but when it’s done, it’s done.”

Here’s to hoping the streak continues. Either way, it’s already been a good run.

Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is jbutynski@recorder.com. Like him on Facebook and leave your feedback at www.facebook.com/jaybutynski.