It was a pretty miserable late-winter day, even by Chicago standards, when Carla Fowler decided to start her running streak: -5°F and snowing.
“If I can run in this, I can run in anything,” she told herself.
Now, 1,055 days later, Fowler hasn’t missed a day. More specifically, she’s been logging at least one mile a day for two years, 10 months and 18 days (and counting). Throw in three half-marathons on top of that, just for good measure. That’s a lot of running.
After only missing five days of running in the year before she started her streak, she thought she might be onto something and decided to aim for a larger goal.
“I tried for 100 days and did it,” Fowler, 28, recalls. “I tried for 200 days and did that, too. Every 100 days became my new marker.”
As her 500th day neared, news of her accomplishment began circulating at her work, and people began asking her about it, curious whether she would stick with it.
“When my streak really started to take off, the most common question I would get was, ‘Are you going to run tomorrow?’ ” Fowler says. “My answer was always — and will always be — the same: ‘Of course, I’m running tomorrow! Tomorrow is the most important day!’ ”
So she runs — through rain and heat, snow and gusty winds, even on days when her motivation dips.
“I know that if I give myself just 10 minutes each day to get outside and run, I will feel 200% better when I’m done,” Fowler says. “Even if I have a run that feels crappy, it was still another day I added to the streak, and that keeps me going.”
But the streak isn’t the only thing that keeps her running. Last year, when her brother Peter was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, she began to use her running for good. The news came while she was beginning to prepare for the Twin Lights Half Marathon, a race near her home in suburban Boston that she runs every year. She quickly decided she would train to honor her brother and raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“I think about him every time I run,” she says. “I’d be lying if I said I never cried during a run. It’s one of the beautifully therapeutic things about running. Angry, sad, happy … it just feels good.”
Those emotions fuel her motivation, she says. With both her grandmother and brother impacted by muscular dystrophy, Fowler doesn’t want to take anything for granted. Like most runners, there are days she just doesn’t have the drive to get out for a run, but her thoughts always go back to her family and those who aren’t able to run.
“Because I can and while I can, I want to,” she says. “I’m so thankful that I can. I know there are other people who can’t. It keeps me going.”
Where’s the end goal for Fowler’s unstoppable streak? Two thousand days? Five thousand? There isn’t one, she says.
“Everyone jokes around with me that I’m like Forrest Gump because, ‘I just felt like running,’ ” she says. “And like him, I might just stop one day and be done. But right now, I feel stronger, happier, healthier. I just feel better when I run.”
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