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What’s a Running Streak?
How many days in a row can you run? Can you push it to a week? A month? A whole season?
I recently learned about the idea of running streaks, and it’s the type of challenge I can totally agree to!
For those who (like me) are new to the idea of running streaks, they’re exactly what they sound like: A period of time where you run every day without fail. It doesn’t have to be far — it could be only a mile or two. But the idea is just dedicating yourself to putting aside your excuses and finding time to do even a short run. It’s a chance to see for yourself what this kind of discipline and dedication can do for your long-term training.
I think the idea of running streaks resonates with me because I have my own running streak going already. I’ve been running every day for a little more than 8 years. People tell me that this is crazy or even unhealthy, and I won’t argue with them on either of those points, at least in theory. After all, rest days are good for you. They help your body recover. I would never discourage a person from taking a rest day.
But here’s the thing: If it doesn’t hurt and your performance is improving (that is, you’re able to go faster or longer compared with last week, last month, or last year), then why not see how many consecutive days you can do? Because that’s all I’m doing. The day I don’t feel like running or I’m in pain, I’ll stop. Until then, I’ll keep on going and keep enjoying it. Knowing that there are other runners out there who are doing the same thing is encouraging!
Why are running streaks a great idea?
Running streaks aren’t for everyone. But if it sounds like the type of challenge you might appreciate, I think there are a few important lessons we can take away from them:
Every run counts.
We get it in our heads that a workout has to check certain boxes in order for it to count. We need to do a certain number of miles, a certain number of minutes, we need to reach a certain heart rate or whatever other arbitrary standards we set for ourselves. Sure, having these benchmarks can be good. After all, health experts tell us we need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. If you’re training for a marathon, you want to be upping your mileage as you get closer to race day.
But if all you have is 10 minutes in your day, then 10 minutes of running is better than none at all. Why not try to go run a mile around your neighborhood to re-energize yourself? It still counts as a run!
Self-accountability is a good thing.
What’s your reason for getting out there and running every day? Sure, exercise makes you feel good. But it can be tempting to forget about how exercise makes you feel when your warm bed is so comfortable and an extra hour of sleep sounds so appealing. Telling yourself you have to be dedicated to a running streak serves as self-imposed accountability. You can’t make excuses.
Attitude is everything.
You can’t control things like blistering heat, pouring rain, heavy snow, or strong wind. All you can control is your attitude about it. If you’re serious about sticking with your running streak, you realize that obstacles like unpleasant weather might be bad, but they’re easily overcome when you stay positive. Once you get running in the rain, you might realize it’s not as unbearable as you thought it was. (The same can be said for overcoming some of life’s other obstacles too!)
Try and try again.
If you break your streak, it’s not the end of the world. You can always start a new one tomorrow or even next week. There’s no sense in beating yourself up over it. It’s important to remember that running shouldn’t be about putting yourself down — it should be about lifting yourself up and realizing that if you don’t do your best, that’s just more incentive to try harder next time.
Ready to try the idea of a running streak?
A streak could be just what you need to recommit yourself to your love of running. That’s especially helpful during these cold winter days when you don’t feel like running. It also gives you a productive, healthy way to fill time when so many other activities are canceled because of the pandemic.
Here’s what I would recommend before you start a streak:
Decide how long it will be.
You can always do what I do and just go for as many consecutive days as you can. But if you’re the type of person who needs a clearly defined goal, why not see whether you can do 100 days? Or you could plan to begin and end your streak on significant dates — for example, you want to run every day from New Year’s until the spring equinox. Or you want to see whether you can do from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Give yourself at least one or two easy days a week.
Remember to respect your body during your streak. If something doesn’t feel great, then stop! And you can avoid overuse injuries like shin splints by reserving one or two days a week for easy days. Go out and do a slow mile and then spend the rest of your designated workout time doing a cross-training activity like yoga or weightlifting.
Nourish to flourish.
You need to eat well if you’re going to perform well. A running streak is not the time to be loading your body up on fast food, sugary snacks, and lots of alcohol. Instead, give yourself the nutrients you need to perform and recover by focusing on whole foods — fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water.
Encouragement from others will help keep you going, and social media is a great place to talk about your journey and inspire others. Be sure to share your streak with your fellow members of the Canaan Valley Running Company community by using the hashtag #CVrunningstreak