Truth be told, Mark Jimenez started his daily running streak out of frustration.
Fresh off a DNF at a November Ironman event in Tempe, AZ, Jimenez, then a 39-year-old high school mathematics teacher, returned to his Las Vegas home bummed. With the week of Thanksgiving off from school, Jimenez, accustomed to running four or five days per week, pledged to run every day of the week to escape his funk.
He did that, logging a 42-mile week.
Then, he ran every day the following week.
Ditto for the next seven days.
And on and on.
More than four years later, Jimenez’s daily running streak continues. On Dec. 29, Jimenez, co-owner of the two-store Red Rock Running Company in Las Vegas, will reach 1500 consecutive days running.
“About 50 days in, it became a habit,” says Jimenez, a former high school harrier who returned to running as a 240-pound 29-year-old eager to turn his life around. “I told myself lies as my jeans size went up, but I knew I had to make a change or I wasn’t going to live long.”
On Day Seven of “The Streak,” Jimenez started numbering his runs on Strava, simply adding one day at a time to the ongoing tally. He says he only stretched to reach one milestone: the one-year mark, an accomplishment he celebrated alongside runners from Shadow Ridge High School, where Jimenez serves as a cross-country coach. Today, the run is etched in his daily routine, as much a part of his 24-hour cycle as eating and sleeping.
He’s tackled runs the day after completing an Ironman.
He’s run with the sniffles and various aches and ailments.
He ran the day he and his business partner, Joshua Deuermeyer, closed on their purchase of Red Rock Running Company in 2018.
“It’s never really a struggle to get out and go, though I’ve been blessed with good health that’s allowed me to keep at it,” says Jimenez, whose weekly mileage generally hovers in the 40-55 range. In this pandemic-plagued year, he will log more than 2500 miles, favoring neutral footwear and morning runs in which he can relish the sun’s climb over the desert landscape and sights of roaming wildlife.
The streak, Jimenez insists, is not about numbers, but rather a persistent quest for personal happiness and sound mental health. Having long struggled with depression – “It’s a dark shadow following me around,” he confesses. – the father of four girls noticed early on that daily running sparked a more positive demeanor. He felt happier, friendlier and more relaxed. Others noticed as well.
“It’s the best medication I’ve ever had,” he says of the daily run. “It’s my Zen and provides me a peace and calm I didn’t know was possible in turbulent days.”
Owning Red Rock, meanwhile, has allowed Jimenez to promote the beauty and purpose running can inject into one’s life.
“And that’s something I’m happy to do,” says Jimenez, who, though proud of his streak, rarely mentions the achievement himself. “I definitely don’t lead with it and even feel a bit embarrassed when others bring it up.”
He knows – and accepts the reality – that the streak will someday end. For now, though, Jimenez is focused solely on celebrating the present and, quite ironically considering this four-year odyssey’s start, stands wholly uninterested in chasing performance metrics.
“I don’t set out the day with a goal in mind. If I come back upset at myself for not going as fast as I should have or not running as far as I wanted to, then it defeats the purpose of the run,” he says. “I’m lucky to be able to run, to be able to put one foot in front of the other and do something that I love every day. To that end, I don’t fall into the trap of saying, ‘Well, that was a horrible run.’
“Every run is a good run.”