Running Every Day For 40 Years

Throughout this blog’s history, I’ve highlighted several inspirational stories. Inspiration has come from different faces and different places. There are those who have overcome adversity, others who defied the odds, and others who have performed at the highest level. We all find inspiration from different sources (and for different reasons). What is inspiring to one may not light the fire for another. I therefore strive for variety within this section.

Today’s story is one that is quite unique. The individual performance of Mark Covert at any given time may not be record setting, but the cumulative total certainly is. Mark Covert has run a mile or more every day for over 40 years. Assuming he continues, he will soon close in on 15,000 consecutive days.

He has run every day of my life. Talk about consistency! Can you imagine running for 15,000 consecutive days? I’m fairly certain we’ve all had bad days.  I’m sure Mark has had his share, yet nothing has stopped him from getting up and heading out the door.

As stated within this article from 2007:

He’s run hours after hemorrhoid surgery and aboard a cruise ship while a tropical storm hit. Then there was the day 20 years ago when he broke his left foot. Although he managed to get home and to the hospital, his foot “was so swollen they couldn’t even put a cast on it,” Covert recalls. “So the next day I wrapped it in an Ace bandage, put on a makeshift boot, and hobbled through. I wasn’t going to miss my run.”

ABC news recently covered Mark’s journey. The full video can be seen below:

And despite the impressiveness of Mark’s streak, he is not alone in his “streaker” quest. There’s actually a United States Running Streak Association that was founded in 2000. Within the association’s web site, a list is maintained for active streakers. There is a long list of runners who have run every day for 30 years or more. The full list can be found below:

Official USA Active Running Streak List

Notice within the list that you’ll find people from all walks of life. It isn’t as if these are aimless runners who don’t have anything to do but run. The great majority of those included are professionals with full time jobs, just like the rest of us. An abbreviated list of included professions includes the following…

Software developer, dentist, attorney, professor, real estate agent, doctor, finance manager, accountant, banker, systems analyst, operations manager, school principal, financial planner, landscaper, etc.

These real life examples have essentially crushed the “I’m too busy” excuse.  As I’ve mentioned before, the busiest people in the world are still dealing with a 24 hour day. No one has the ability to stop time. The clock is always ticking. We are all busy. Get over it…

It’s also nice to see individuals who have defied conventional wisdom. Who would have thought it was possible to run every day for 40 years? What about all the warnings uttered about overtraining, overuse, injury, and soreness? How have so many ordinary folks gone against the grain?

Could it be that we as humans are in fact more capable than most realize? Could it be that YOU are actually capable of doing things that you don’t currently believe?

At the end of the day, no one can tell you what you can do. Everyone is welcome to an opinion, but opinions are not written in stone. As Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) once said in a movie,

“Opinions are like assholes, everyone has got one.”

I myself regularly receive emails from keyboard jocks who tell me I shouldn’t be doing this or that. I love it when a teenager writes in and tells me that what I’m doing is dangerous, and will lead to injury. I honestly can’t remember any significant injury that I’ve ever endured in the gym. The only injuries I ever had were hand problems as a young fighter. I’m now a father of two in my 30’s. I work 6 (often 7) days a week. I sleep less than most and train harder than most. I don’t do it for any other reason than the simple fact that I enjoy it. I wouldn’t be waking up at the crack of dawn to train by myself in an old garage-converted-gym if it wasn’t fun.

And no, I’m not suggesting that you wake up today and run for the rest of your life. The point to this entry is that we as humans are extremely capable, particularly when we become consistent with our efforts. I myself prefer to target my efforts in different, regularly changing directions. I may not run 40 years in a row, but recognizing that it is possible does benefit me in other ways (specific to my own interests and needs).

There is much to be drawn from Mark Covert’s example. As Bruce Lee once said,

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.”

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14 comments:

  1. Great story again. I can’t imagine that someone cannot get inspired by al those story’s, because they absolutely do inspire me. Though I see myself as one of my biggest inspirations.
    The I’m too busy excuse is a bad excuse, because no one should ever be too busy to work on themselves.

  2. amazing words!

    “Could it be that we as humans are in fact more capable than most realize? Could it be that YOU are actually capable of doing things that you don’t currently believe?”

  3. Amazing stuff! One thing that struck me as interesting is the amount of the runners who started their streaks on January 1st. If so many people can start running a mile a day in the middle of winter and keep it up then it pretty much puts paid to the idea that New Year’s resolutions never work.

  4. Man, it would be heroically interesting to study the running styles of the folks on that 30+ year streak list. If they’re remaining either that dedicated and/or that injury-free, it’d be really interesting to see what they all have in common and what they all do differently with their stride, footstrike, breakfast, and sleep.

  5. What an amazing and inspiring story.

    I’ve recently started running again after a few years off and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to be able to fit in a quick 5-mile run every day. Not is it great exercise, but I just feel better all around, emotionally, mentally, physically. I’ve only been back on the trails for a few weeks now, but I try to keep myself going by monitoring the progress I make by tracking my workouts, using a free tracking/networking tool, specifically catering to the health+fitness conscious.. If you’d like more info, let me know and I can pass some tips along!

  6. While I agree and think it’s fairly awesome and inspiring, I think he was crazy for running with ailments such as a broken foot – and running with hemorrhoids must have been everything but comfortable.

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