In grade school, Stuart Calderwood would run lap after lap around the recess yard while his classmates were playing a ball game. "I'm not sure where this feeling came from, but the sensation of running fast felt more important than being good at ball games, or even smart or strong," Calderwood remembers. Now, as the senior editor of communications for the New York Road Runners, this 53-year-old hasn't hung up his racing shoes. In fact, he's run every single day for the past 25 years! Since we can't imagine a life without rest days, we had to ask Calderwood how he stays motivated and the most important question of all: why?
Did you start your run 25 years ago thinking this would be the beginning of a long streak? Yes. When I was 28, I felt like my running career was coming to an end. I had run cross country and track in high school and won two division II national championships with my track team at the University of California, Irvine. I became a coach and was worried I might not improve my own skills. I noticed I was missing my runs and eliminated that excuse by deciding I'd never miss a day again.
How do you stay motivated to hit the road every day? That's exactly why I have a running streak—so I have a reason. Nothing is big enough now to make me break the streak!
What does a daily workout look like for you? According to the United States Running Streak Association, you have to complete at least one mile non-stop to count as a day in your running streak. I always run at least 1 1/4 miles, to be on the safe side, and have run up to 31 miles in one day during the past 25 years. The average for my streak is 9.2 miles per day, and I do the elliptical and ride the bike to cross train.
Have you struggled with any injuries since you're running so much? I have dealt with calf and hamstring strains since I don't exactly play it safe with my training. The overall goal of the streak is to improve my speed, so I do long runs, sprint workouts and participate in meets. When I'm injured, I take it easy and just get out there and shuffle for a mile and a quarter.
How do you feel about treadmills? While I do most of my runs on the dirt trails in Central Park, I actually kind of like treadmills, and they're perfect for when the paths are iced over. You can see the numbers right in front of you, which can help motivate you to push harder or go faster. I often find myself picking up the pace with the buttons or racing the person on the next machine! Treadmills also allow you to create steep hills at any time.
Do you have any tips for beginning runners and racers? I always tell those new to running to go slower and shorter than you think you can for one month. Many beginners say they feel terrible because they do too much or go too hard at first. Do just a couple miles and finish thinking, "I could do more, but I'll stop feeling good." Push after you've built a base and once running isn't so hard. Before your first race, I suggest running the course as a semi-time trial. Then you'll have a time that means something when you do the race and will know what to do when you reach certain mile markers. Your pace might otherwise get thrown off by factors involved in the race, like the slow mob start or the adrenaline.
What are your goals moving forward? I'm going after the few people who have a longer streak than me. The longest current running streak is 43 years.