Saturday was one of those almost but not quite days for the Campbell County boys soccer team. Top-ranked and consensus favorite to win the Class 4A state soccer tournament, the Camels fell just …
BOISE, Idaho — A busy young attorney with a new baby, Tom Lloyd realized in the summer of 2011 that he'd have a legitimate excuse nearly every day for not exercising.
So he set a simple goal: Run at least a mile a day.
The distance was easy for the Idaho Falls native, a lifelong runner who was on the University of Idaho track team. And it was just 7 to 8 minutes out of the day.
"I didn't want to choose a goal that would be unachievable," said Lloyd, who bumped his minimum daily run time to 20 minutes after he'd completed 365 consecutive days.
The 31-year-old runs about 3 miles every day now.
Every. Day. His streak is alive.
There had been times in Lloyd's life — including when he was a law student in Washington, D.C. — that he went days, or even weeks, without running. He saw his weight balloon from the healthy 160s to more than 200 pounds.
"You fall into this problem: If you don't have the time to get the workout you want in, you just don't work out at all," Lloyd said. "That was the cycle for me."
He's known runners who tried to build up streaks, and most went a month or so before they missed a day. He decided to give it a try, hoping to prevent those miserable getting-back-in-shape cycles.
"He's kind of a Type A (personality). He'll grab hold of an idea and keep going with it," said Lloyd's friend, Adam Smith, who formed the Ten Toes Running group to train with other runners in the winter.
The group meets at 6:40 p.m. Wednesdays at 13th and Alturas streets in Boise's Hyde Park, anyone welcome. Lloyd's 500th consecutive run fell on Dec. 12, meaning his first run of 2013 will mark No. 520.
"We kind of had a little celebration for him — we bought him a pitcher at Hyde Park Pub," Smith said.
Lloyd has a long way to go to catch up with the longest streaks of all time.
Mark Covert, a 61-year-old Lancaster, Calif., resident, has a 16,233-day streak (that's more than 44 years), according to the U.S. Running Streak Association. There are 60 runners who have logged 30 years' worth or more.
Lloyd's streak started Aug. 1, 2011.
A regular running buddy recalled Lloyd first mentioning his streak after he had two or three weeks under his belt.
"I really liked the idea. I'm a big believer that running performance comes from consistency," said Jason Hudson, a 31-year-old Boise political consultant who ran cross country in high school but opted to row crew in college.
"In my head I was thinking, 'How long will thislast?' " he said of Lloyd's streak.
Many serious runners build in rest days as part of their training, giving their bodies a chance to rejuvenate. Hudson said his rest days aren't planned because they happen organically, as needed.
"Some days you get sick or just really don't feel like going out for a run," he said.
Lloyd and Hudson run together two to three times a week, typically 3 to 4 miles. They do longer runs when they're training for races, including Boise's grueling half-marathon, Race to Robie Creek.
Over the past year and a half, Lloyd has found himself running at all hours of the day to maintain his streak — sometimes finishing just before the stroke of midnight.
"There are days, I will not pretend, that are hard to get out for the mile," he said, noting a certain amount of tedium to such a short distance.
"It takes longer to get dressed than to get out and do the mile," he said. "Over the course of that first year, there were times when I struggled to get out the door."
In February, Lloyd struggled through turmoil in his personal life. While having drinks with friends after work, he texted Hudson that he thought his streak might die that day.
"I remember thinking it's not anywhere near midnight; you can't let this thing die," Hudson said. "I was living vicariously through him. I didn't want to see it end."
Five minutes later, he picked up Lloyd and took him to the Boise High School track. In the dark, the pair ran a mile around the track — plus an extra lap for good measure.
"He was wearing dress slacks and wing tips," Hudson said. "I said, 'I cannot be responsible for whatever blisters you develop.' "
Lloyd's competitiveness wasn't hampered by his clothing, Hudson said: Their mile time was faster than 8 minutes.
At a small get-together celebrating Lloyd's 365th day, he credited Hudson for keeping the streak alive.
"Anybody who says, 'Anybody can do that' — I wonder how many have done it?" Hudson said.
Lloyd has logged many of his miles on the cellphone apps Daily Mile and MapMyRun. He often tweets before or after his runs ((at)TJLBoise) and included a photo on Christmas Day.
"You've inspired me to do a running streak in 2013! Thanks for the motivation," Boisean Emily Williams tweeted on Dec. 26.
He told her that the key to success was not about having time, but about making time.
Lloyd believes daily running helped him hit a personal best for the half-marathon.
Some runners might be prone to more injuries without rest days, but Lloyd said he's found the opposite is true for him.
He believes there are mental benefits, too. The daily run is a peaceful time to think and let go of the stress.
How long does he hope to continue the streak?
"People always ask me, 'What's your goal here — what's your end game?' "
At first he wanted to see whether he could keep the streak for at least a year, but there was a larger purpose.
"Living a healthy and active lifestyle," he said. "I wanted to become a good example for my son."
In that way, the streak is a means to an end — not the end goal. He joked that he might be like Forrest Gump, who just felt like running and then one day just decided to quit.
"It may end like that," Lloyd said.
Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com