Are you thinking about starting a running streak? FUN! I am currently on a 3.5+ year running streak and I absolutely love it, but it is meant for everyone?
First, what is a run streak? A run streak is when you run at least 1 mile every single day.
Here is the short answer to whether or not you should be a streaker:
I don't think everyone would enjoy having a run streak BUT I 100% feel that all runners can be streakers if they do it right. Problems arise when people don't do it in a smart and healthy way and then they end up getting injured or mentally burnt out from running. That is not the goal with streaking!
Now, the long answer: Having a running streak can be great for some people in some situations. Let’s go through some examples and see if they apply to you:
1. Are you having a hard time staying motivated to run? Starting a streak can be super helpful for some people during times of low motivation because it becomes something you have to do daily no matter what. You don’t have to THINK about running and there is no room for making excuses and saying you will do your training running tomorrow. I have found that some runners find renewed excitement with running by starting a streak because it creates a fun and new relationship with running training.
2. Are you tired of the same old race goals and challenges? Streaking is great for those who are getting bored of their running goals revolving around races and/or PR goals. Streaking can be a new and fun way of challenging yourself!
3. Do you lack social support or accountability with your training? If you feel like you don’t have a whole lot of outside support or accountability with your training, starting a running streak can be helpful to keep YOURSELF accountable with your training. By starting a running streak, it’s harder to make excuses to skip a run and people tend to learn how to problem-solve barriers to training much more effectively since you are forced to do this on a daily basis. Most people have time and energy to run just one mile a day, but we can be really good at making excuses to skip our runs. This is especially true for people who have spent months or years making excuses to skip runs. It is now your natural way of thinking. We want to shift your mindset and rewire your brain so that excuses to not run don’t pop into your head so easily. Instead of, “Do I have time for a run?” or “Where should I run?”, your thoughts shift to, “What time and location work best for my run?” In the end, running just 1 mile a day becomes part of your daily routine and there is very little thought that goes into it.
4. Do you want more fun stories to tell your friends? Having a run steak leads to running in some really funny or new places, along with odd times of the day. I have done my streak miles at 10pm after a long day of driving in our camper van. I have run in parking lots, explored new neighborhoods, run in random parks I would have never explored otherwise, and so much more! It is a great way to give you the nudge you need to run in new places when you are traveling since you have to get a mile in no matter where you go!
Now, let’s talk about when it might not be helpful to have a running streak:
1. Are you a new runner? If you are a newer runner, running everyday will likely lead to overloading your body, which creates too much breakdown of your tissue and doesn’t allow them enough time to recover and heal effectively. Our bodies adapt to running after doing it for many days, weeks, months, and years so we want to respect this slow process of developing stronger and fitter bodies.
2. Are you overwhelmed with how much is going on in your life right now? If your life is just too busy, then don’t create added stress by starting a running streak. This will likely lead to you feeling super stressed out about your running and even resent it. Running is supposed to be fun!
3. Do you have a history of getting chronically injured? If you have a history of chronic injuries, running everyday might not be the best thing for you. Injuries mean that you are overloading/over-stressing your body, so creating the extra stress of running MORE often will likely lead to more injuries.
4. Are you doing it just because other people are?
Runners have a tendency of getting easily sucked into current fads and trends. If the only reason you want to start a running streak is because other people are doing it or because it is the “cool” thing to do right now, then take a moment to pause and consider intrinsically motivating and meaningful reasons why you want to start a streak. If you are wanting to start a streak for purely extrinsically motivating reasons, then you likely will not enjoy it. You also want to consider the overall quality of your life and training if you stop having a rest day. If your OVERALL quality of training will be better by having rest days, then that’s ok! Do what is best for YOUR body and mind. We are all different, so just because some people run daily, does not mean that this way of running is healthy for ALL people.
5. How much do you enjoy running?
On a scale of 0-10, how much do you enjoy running? Be real with yourself when you are answering this question. As a running coach, is has been my experience that some people like the IDEA of running but in reality, don’t enjoy it or they don’t enjoy it enough to train for the specific goal they have set. This is especially true for people running for full and ultra-marathons. If you notice that you complain about your runs, you lack motivation to do them, you don’t feel happy during your run, or is feels like a burden in your life, then it is ok to accept that running in general or running a lot isn’t your thing. If you don’t currently enjoy how much you are running, then running MORE will likely lead to your enjoying it less.
At this point, are you feeling stoked to start a streak and feel it is right for you? Here are 3 tips for streaking in a way that is smart and healthy:
1. Keep your easy miles, including your streak mile, TRULY EASY! As a running coach, I feel like my daily battle is to get runners to slow down during their easy runs. You will not become a faster, fitter, or stronger runner by doing your easy miles at a higher effort. Your easy runs should be done at a 3-4/10 effort, which is a truly conversational pace. A conversational pace means that you can have a FULL CONVERSATION or even SING without feeling breathless during your run. This is SO IMPORTANT if you want to start a streak because you don’t want to over-stress and overload your body on a daily basis. Keeping your easy miles truly easy will help you recover effectively after every run so that your body will be ready to run again the next day.
2. Timing is everything: Be strategic with where you put your streak miles. Having them after a “high load” day, such as speed training or long runs is a good way to go because you are getting your mile in but you are keeping the day super easy so you can recover effectively from the more stress-induced runs.
3. It’s ok to take walking breaks: This tip will depend on the rules you decide to follow. I personally follow the “rule” that my mile must be under a 15 minute per mile pace and I can do as much walking as I want as long as I get under 15 minutes. Other people follow the rule that the time of the mile doesn’t matter but they must run the whole thing. For people who have a history of lower running volume or do a lot of racing during the year, I recommend allowing yourself walking breaks and embracing the walking breaks. The walking breaks will help create significantly less load on your body, which will help you recover faster and reduce the risk of getting injured.
Happy streaking! Or not...Really, it's ok to not be a streaker!