Ever since Cinco de Mayo 1993, the second most constant, recurring activity in my life has been running. The only other more consistent activity I can think of is my habit of brushing my teeth and using Listerine 2 times per day and flossing every night.
Yes, I started running on May 5, 1993 and diligently started tracking the number of miles I ran each day on an Excel spreadsheet. This same spreadsheet is now over 6,000 rows long as I continue to add to it.
This spreadsheet is nothing too fancy. Basically started out by jotting down how many miles, rounded to the nearest tenth of a mile, I ran each day. There is a column showing cumulative year-to-date mileage and later I added columns to show 7 and 10 day rolling average. There is also a cumulative mileage column along the lines of the odometer on my car.
In late 1998 I started thinking, wouldn't it be interesting to see how much of my life is spent running each year. So I started tracking the number of minutes run each day along with the mileage. Eventually I stopped tracking mileage on a "precise" basis (e.g. driving the course to get an exact tally or wear a device that measures mileage like the Nike+ iPod chip that I quickly grew tired of) and started estimating mileage based on time run and running effort.
The next year, 1999, was my personal record for most mileage run in one year: 3,645 miles. It took me 28,809 minutes, or about 480 hours, not including stretching and showers, to run those miles. I ran a decent 2 hour, 36 minute marathon that year, one minute off my personal best time. That's the last time I ran under 2 hours, 40 minutes in a marathon.
But I 'm not so sad. I had a good string of marathons from 1996 to 1999 (6 sub-2:40 performances). While injuries, aging and life has prevented such performance since then, I have not stopped running.
Through thick and thin, girlfriends, breakups, marriage, kids, job changes, good times, bad times, happy times, stressful times, sadness, frustration and everything else life threw at me, I've continued running.
I write this literally at 1:20 am on a Thursday night. It was 11 pm when I started, but my 4 year old apparently has the stomach flu and I've alternated between keyboard and changing sheets. But I still plan to drag my lifeless body out of bed at 6:30 am to do my daily run.
Running keeps me sane and whole. Without running, I wouldn't feel good. Even when I don't feel good, I go out there and run. Running is "me" time, time that no one can take away. Running is my rock. My good friend that I can turn to when I need to clear my head.