Chasing Jason and his 450 day Run Streak

Four Hundred and Fifty Six. Over a year and a half of running which to me is a very long time. I must say I’ve been inspired this past month of March to actually do a run streak, run 31 total days, minimum 10ks and that by far was the hardest thing that I’ve done as a runner. I have a newfound respect for all the dedication, accountability, and most of all determination it takes to keep this up for months and years at a time. This month we traveled to the Detroit area as we had a chance to discuss Jason Banks and his run streak of over 450 days. 

MSM: Welcome to Mid Strike. I prefer to not start with the obvious, but we’ll eventually get there. You’ve been running for close to two years straight. On day one did you ever think you would be running every day for almost 2 years?

Jason: Thank you for the welcome. I originally had no intentions of running this many days consecutively when I started the streak. My initial goal was just to establish a more consistent running routine. In fact, I even had an end date in mind – March 6th, 2020. Life had other plans. When COVID became a more serious issue and everything started shutting down, I just kept running. The gyms closed and I didn’t have a treadmill at home, and since races were getting canceled left and right, I didn’t have anything to train for. This turned out to be the perfect setup for a long run streak.

MSM: Prior to starting your run streak, what was life as a runner like for Jason? Was running something you were always into?

Jason: Not at all. I used to hate running. As a child, my father, who was a marine, would wake me up at the crack of dawn to go out on runs with him. He loved running and would run daily. I would usually lag behind him, complaining the whole time and normally ended up walking midway through the run. Eventually, I grew to enjoy running and started doing it on my own but did not have any normal routines or real goals. As the years passed, I became involved in other activities and running took a backseat to school, career, relationships, and other life moments. After experiencing a traumatic life event in 2018, I was looking for something to keep my mind focused. I decided to start running again. I would just run whenever I had time, and never for long distances. I had never run in an organized race and decided to start training for my first 5K. I observed other runners posting about races they had finished and showcasing their medals. On June 9, 2018, I ran in my first local 5K road race and finished with a time of 27:28. I thought that was good, but I didn’t really care about the finish time, I just knew that I loved the experience, the thrill, the people and I couldn’t wait to do it again; I couldn’t wait to run!       

MSM: We all have different reasons for starting a run streak, I think for me it was more of the challenge of seeing how the body would react running for weeks at a time. What I noticed is that the runs started to become easier within a short period of time. Would I do it again, I’m not sure (lol). What was your reason for starting your run streak?

Jason: I followed the journey of another streak runner on Instagram, Hellah Sidibe, who suggested the #Gymshark66. The idea around it is that if you can maintain a positive activity for 66 days straight, it becomes a habit. I mentioned that my running life was inconsistent, so I wanted to make it more of a consistent habit. This challenge starts at the beginning of the year and the mission is to form a positive and healthy habit by consistently doing something for 66 days. That “something” can be eating healthy, or going to the gym, or even learning to play an instrument. The point is to commit yourself to the goal and hold yourself accountable to by posting about it throughout the challenge. I chose to run for 66 days straight, and the streak was born. 

MSM: From what I’ve seen, your run days aren’t easy when it comes to mileage as you’ve been piling up the mileage on this streak. How have you continued to maintain a healthy body while staying injury free?

Jason: This is cliché, but my very first rule for staying healthy on my streak is listening to my body. A lot of runners have this rule, but it’s even more important when running daily and not taking a traditional rest day. So, when I’m not training for a race, I just run by feel. Some days my body says, “let’s go fifteen miles today, I feel good” while other days it says “we are only laying down one mile today”. One mile is the minimum mileage needed on a run for it to officially count towards a streak. I warm up before every run to make sure my muscles, bones and joints get a chance to loosen up and I cool down to relax my muscles and lower my heart rate. I stretch every day, even if it’s a short routine, and I foam roll serval times a week.

I also maintain a healthy plant-based lifestyle that I credit with helping to improve my recovery time when it comes to endurance running as well as helping to maintain good cardiovascular health to keep me going strong.

So far, I have been very fortunate and blessed not to get injured during this streak. *knocks on wood*.     

MSM: With the heavy mileage I’m sure this allows you to hop right into a training cycle with ease as you’ve been pretty steady with marathons and other races. What are some of the past races that you’ve done while continuing your run streak.

Jason: The world shut down due to COVID three months after starting my streak, so there were not any races to run in or to train for. Combine that with the restrictions that were put in place to stop group activities, meaning no organized run crew meet ups, and you find yourself pretty much all alone on runs. Throughout most of my streak, I ran solo. Running through the pandemic alone was much different than running alone during “normal” times. In the beginning days, there were times where I would run 10+ miles and not see another person or car the entire time, which was both peaceful and a bit creepy. I miss organized runs but was able to participate in a few safe and local in-person 5K’s and an in-person 7.5 miler during the pandemic while also continuing my streak. I did not train much for these races with the distances being so short, but I did have PR goals that I wanted to meet. I also completed a virtual 10 miler in September and my favorite local race, the virtual Detroit Free Press Half Marathon in October.

If you are ever in Detroit and looking for one race to run, the Freep Marathon Series is that race. The course takes you through two countries as you run over the Ambassador Bridge into Canada and back into the United States running one underwater mile through a tunnel that stretches across the Detroit River. Highly Recommended!

MSM: Having such a streak comes with tremendous accountability from within but we still need it from others as well to keep us going. Who are some of the folks that keep Jason going?

Jason: That’s a great question. I think it’s easy to overlook some of the resources needed to keep a running streak of any length alive. No one has found a high level of success on their own accord. To achieve success, there is always someone along the way who helps us, guides us, motivates us. For me, it’s important to have a “running community”, one that is not completely composed of other runners. My running community is made up of family, friends, other runners and even strangers who I have never met who help keep gas in my motivation and encouragement tank every day. Most people see the results, but not the behind the scenes of what it takes to get there. They see the Instagram posts showing an achievement of reaching run streak day 366 or day 400. They see the Strava posts each day and give kudos to me on running another day, something that is greatly appreciated.  

What people don’t see are things like cold winter nights where my wife, after a long day herself, gets in her car and follows behind me at 11:30pm so I can squeeze in a mile or two before the day ends with the safety of car headlights illuminating a trail for me. I would not have made it this far along without her constant support and buy-in on what I wanted to accomplish. People don’t see the calls from non-running friends checking in on me or dropping a random “I see you out there still running. Keep killing it brother” text in the middle of the week. Those types of things add extra motivation needed to keep going. Community is everything, even when it comes to other aspects of life. Building a strong support system is pivotal to reaching and achieving the goals you have set for yourself.     

MSM: Most run streaks we’ve covered are in areas not really known for harsh weather. Winters in Detroit are not for the faint of heart at times it looks to be unbearable. How have you managed to stay consistent through those Detroit winters?

Jason: Yes, we definitely have some harsh Michigan winters. To me, it’s not really about how cold they are, it’s how long they last that frustrates me. When the sun has not come out from behind the clouds and there is snow everywhere, days can feel like weeks and months can seem even longer. I have come to find that it’s really only cold if I don’t dress correctly for the occasion. Some of the things that I have a great appreciation of now are a good pair of warm socks, a warm hat, gloves and thermal lined tops and bottoms. As long as I layer up correctly, I’m good to go for a winter run.

Throughout the streak, I have probably experienced just about every type of weather event. But I prefer running in cold weather as opposed to the heat of summer. My performance is much better in cooler temperatures and I know that it’s only cold in the beginning. As I run, my body is going to naturally warm up. I also would rather run while it is snowing than while it is raining. The feeling of being cold and wet from rain is just not a feeling that I can appreciate at all. 

MSM: As a person that just completed a run streak I feel like it’s a must to get out and run with your fellow run brothers or sisters a few times simply for the push and words of encouragement as it goes a long way. You’re a part of the We Run 313 crew, one of Detroit’s premiere run clubs. How did you find and link up with the run crew and how have they been cheering you on during this streak?

Jason: I have always been sort of a lone wolf when it comes to running. I started out running solo. Having that time to myself to unwind and relax is something I really appreciate. I knew about other run groups that were in the Detroit area and had run with some of them on group runs occasionally. But I never felt comfortable enough to “settle down” with any one group. When I first heard about WeRun313, I did not immediately join in on any runs. I first saw them pop up on social media and I watched from afar for a while first and noticed that they appeared to be different than other run crews. They just had this great energy that made you want to be a part of the team, and everyone was very inviting and very friendly. I came to a few runs and met the founders, Lance Woods and Joe Robinson. I liked that they were very authentic and appreciated how they treated everyone the same, like family, regardless of if you were a day one runner with little experience or had been running for years. I also loved the values that they advertised for the club; Connect, Run, Build. They encouraged attendees to Come out to CONNECT with new people, RUN, and BUILD relationships to help create a healthier and happier community!

It’s amazing and satisfying to see runners who could initially not run half a block before joining the team, now running half marathons. People return week after week to run 5K’s and 10K’s, go on long runs. Running may bring them out initially, but it’s the culture and the people which keep people coming back.

The club has cheered me on from the start. Throughout the streak they have been supportive and motivating. Many members have run with me along the way. On day 366, the whole team surprised me with a meet-up to usher me in on my one-year mark. I was led to believe that I would just be running with Lance on that day, but most of the crew took part and cheered me in as I crossed the one-year finish line. It’s selfless acts like that which set this group apart from other groups and why WeRun313 is Detroit’s Premier Run Club.  

MSM: Life has a tendency to throw curveballs when we least expect it especially when it comes to running. Have you had any days that almost stopped your streak? What did you do to keep it going.

Jason: My attitude with the streak and with life in general is, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Determination will overcome any obstacle. I find a way to run daily regardless of the circumstances. I can’t say I have had any days that have almost stopped the streak. I have definitely had days where I did not feel like running. When I feel that way, I determine if its just an emotion that I’m feeling because maybe I’m tired or if it’s something more. Another goal of the streak was to improve my mental strength. I wanted to be able to will myself to accomplish tasks. I figured that if I could push myself to run every day, even when I did not feel like it or when I was tired, I could use that same energy to accomplish other goals and tasks in my life that I did not necessarily feel like or have the motivation to do.

One of my favorite life quotes comes from businessman Jim Rohn. It says, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” This streak has helped me to cut out excuses.

MSM: Along with life’s curveballs also comes balance. How do you manage to find balance while running everyday?

Jason: To me, balance is an ongoing process. Because life is unpredictable, balance usually occurs temporarily before something happens to disrupt it. So running helps me to get my mind back in balance when life inevitably happens. Outside of running, I try to maintain a balanced life by prioritizing time with my other passions, family and friends. I also set long term goals at the beginning of each month and short team goals at the beginning of each week, then work to accomplish them, marking them off as I do which helps me to see progress and continue moving forward.

MSM: What inspires Jason and your run streak?

Jason: Running is a reset physically and mentally for me that I get the pleasure to experience each day. There was a time that running was a chore for me. Now, my day is not complete unless I run. What inspires me to run now is inspiring others. I have had so many people reach out to me and tell stories of how they saw me running each day and went out for a run themselves because of it, or even started their own streak. We are all living testimonies and we all have a story to share, no matter how big or small. I encourage people to consider sharing theirs. You never know who is watching you and how your very own story can impact someone else for the better.  

MSM: What advice would you give to runners looking to start their own run streak?

Jason: First, if you’re looking to start a run streak, congratulations! You are about to embark on an amazing journey of self-discovery and insight. One thing I always tell anyone looking to start a streak is, “run your own race”. Do not be influenced by who or what you see on social media or elsewhere that makes you believe you must match your runs with someone else for any reason. Take it easy and start out slow. Increase your milage gradually. Maybe start out running on time rather than miles. For example, one can usually get up to a mile in 20 minutes, so run for 20 minutes. You will still get your mile minimum in and running it for 15 or 20 mins will force you to pace it nice and easy. Also, have an end date in mind at the beginning of your streak, maybe 30 days. This will help you to see a “light at the end of the tunnel” when things start to get tough, and you will be more likely to finish it out. When you get to that point, evaluate yourself and determine if you want to keep the streak alive or end it and be extremely proud of what you just accomplished. Lastly, have fun and enjoy it. Running should be fun. It should be something you enjoy doing. When you don’t enjoy it anymore, it may be time to go back to the drawing board and figure out why.

MSM: For our readers and myself, if we’re ever in the Detroit area where can we link up with the run crew or yourself to get some miles in?

Jason: The best way to link up for a run with myself or Detroit’s Premier Running Club, WeRun313 if you’re ever in the Detroit area is to connect through Instagram. The group running season starts in the spring and runs through late fall to early winter. We have the infamous two-mile Tuesday, 5K/10K Thursdays and a long run on the weekend along with other various activities throughout the year. Founders, Lance and Joe keep the page updated and current with club events. I do miss the group runs and can’t wait to get back to them this season!

MSM: Do you see this streak ending anytime soon?

Jason: I take every run one day at a time. I do have some other goals I want to accomplish, and assuming races return this year, I have a few races lined up including the Detroit Free Press Marathon, hopefully in-person. It’s definitely a challenge maintaining a streak while training for a marathon, but it’s possible. With that being said, I don’t have any plans to end the streak at this time.  

MSM: Any last words you’d like to share with our readers?

Jason: I just want to thank you for giving me a platform to share my story and talk about run streaking to your readers. If you decide to start a streak of your own, find a routine that works for you and have fun with it. Remember, the real lesson is in the journey, rarely in the destination. Run strong!  

MSM: From all of us here at Mid Strike we salute you brother, keep running and stay strong.

Jason: Thank you!

Please drop any social media info below you’d like to share so our readers can keep up with your streak.

I am very active on Instagram. You can connect with me and keep up with my streak on my instagram Chasing Jason

You can connect with WeRun313 on Instagram as well.

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