Recreation

Putting a fitness goal in perspective

Ogden column: Northeast Iowa runner hasn't missed a day in 32 years

Dean Schultz of Clayton runs in the Prairie du Chien half-marathon in 2001. Schultz has not missed a day of running for 32 years. (J.R. Ogden/The Gazette)
Dean Schultz of Clayton runs in the Prairie du Chien half-marathon in 2001. Schultz has not missed a day of running for 32 years. (J.R. Ogden/The Gazette)

CLAYTON — Being active is important to me.

That’s why each year, I set out to do something every day. Some days, it’s a run, or more than likely, a jog. It’s been a walg (walking-jogging) or, as I say now, a slog (slow jog). This year, at least for the past 19 weeks, it’s also meant an intense workout at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping. Some days, it’s simply a hike up a long, steep hill.

The point is to move each and every day of the year.

The goal is better health and weight management — a better quality of life.

I’ve never made it.

Last year was my best. I missed four days. This year, as we near the halfway point, my “streak” remains alive.

But during my morning jog — or slog — along the Great River Road outside this northeast Iowa community, it occurred to me one man’s goal is another man’s lifestyle.

Dean Schultz, who has lived in or near this “tiny town on the Mighty Mississippi” most of his 70 years, appreciates my goal, my attempt at a “perfect” year.

I’m in awe of his streak.

Schultz, a retired teacher and coach, has run every day since 1986. That’s 32 years. That’s 11,743 consecutive days — not counting this morning’s run.

He doesn’t just run, either. He averages around nine miles a day “when nothing is wrong” and races often, anything from a 5K to a marathon. He won his age-group Saturday at a race in Dubuque.

There have been a few days where something was wrong. He broke his leg many years ago, but continued to run. Last summer, while walking his German shepherd, he got tangled in the leash and hit the ground hard — hard enough to have a bad case of road rash and injure a hip. He continued to run.

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I try to keep my “streak” going because it gives me a sense of accomplishment, but mainly because it makes me feel better.

For Schultz, it’s become like breathing.

“You make it a part of who you are,” he said.

Schultz’s streak started rather innocently. Like a lot of runners, he was training five or six days a week, taking a day or two off around races to recover and stay fresh. Then he got hurt and decided to take a few weeks off.

It didn’t help.

“So I decided not to take any days off,” he said with a laugh.

The “streak” was seldom the goal. Putting on his shorts and running shoes was all he wanted to do.

“After a while there felt like there wasn’t a good reason not to run,” he said. “I was aware of it. I didn’t want it to end.”

Some may think I’m a little obsessed trying to do something every day. I wonder it myself at times.

Is running an obsession for Schultz? He paused for a good minute and pondered the question.

“No more than breathing,” he said with a smile.

Schultz admits there is a ”downside” to running every day.

“It’s too extreme for some people,” he said.

For the record, the longest running streak is just over 52 years by Ron Hill, according to Streak Runners International. It ended a little more than a year ago.

Schultz has no intention of ending his streak anytime soon.

“I haven’t met the day I couldn’t get out the door,” he said.

On that I can relate. And I hope my “streak” last at least another six-plus months.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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