Mention the words ‘running’ and ‘streak’ in conversation with non-runners, and chances are you’ll be meet with blushes. But in the running world, the ‘streak’ takes on a whole new meaning: it simply means to run every day for an amount of time.
There are various challenges that embrace the concept, such as RED January. While the acronym RED is often associated with running (Run Every Day), RED January actually advocates any activity on each day of the month. Its aim is to promote awareness of mental health conditions and how being active can help, in partnership with the charity Mind.
Then you have people like the famous Ron Hill, who ran at least a mile every single day for 52 years and 39 days. There’s also a Streak Runners International, Inc, which lists its members’ streaks from around the world of over a year.
So, if this is all enough to make you curious about trying a run streak, or even if you’ve already started one and need motivation to continue, we have put together our top tips for a successful running streak.
1. Plan rest days
Okay, so a running streak and rest days don’t actually go together very well. But you do need to plan in recovery time to prevent overtraining and injury. What I like to do is plan in my usual runs first – so, for example, five sessions a week. Then on the other two days I run my chosen minimum distance (2 miles) and do it at a really gentle pace. You’re still moving, you’re still running, but you’re also allowing your body to recover.
2. Think ahead
The hardest part of a running streak for many is fitting the runs in. Each Sunday, look at your week ahead and figure out where you are going to get your daily run in. You might have to be a bit creative. I often extend the afternoon school run and leave a bit earlier, turning up in the playground a sweaty mess (much to the older child’s disgust!). Or you could combine a commute with a run, get up at the crack of dawn or run at lunch. At least once, you’ll be lying in bed at night before suddenly remember you haven’t done your run. Those 10pm night runs really are the best…
3. Stay accountable
A running streak is a personal challenge that no one but yourself really cares about. But if you really want to stick to your goal, you need to find a way to be accountable. Put it on Strava, or Garmin Connect, or Instagram, or Facebook. Think of what you’re going to have to write if you miss a day… Or keep a paper running log if you prefer, writing down what you do each day.
4. Be sensible
A running streak is all good and well, unless you’re not good and well. If you’re poorly or injured, really consider whether the streak is doing you any good at all. Sure, you can do a gentle run through the sniffles, but never put your own health or body on the line just because you want a nice round number on your running streak tally.
5. Mix your running streak up
If you want the most boring experience ever, simply run the same route, distance and pace every single day. But if you actually want to enjoy your run streak, then make sure you mix up your terrains and types of sessions. Keep in your usual interval runs, tempo runs, fartlek runs, hilly runs, trail runs, etc (as long as you fit in those rest days). Play little games when the going gets tough. For example, the other night I didn’t want to run and I only had to do a gentle 2-miler (my minimum distance). So I ran a quarter of a mile away from my house and back again, four times, in different directions. I ended up with a pretty Strava cross, stayed very close to home and got it done. There are some more ideas for varying your training here.
6. Set a sensible minimum distance
I’ve done run streaks with a minimum 1 mile and a minimum 5K. I find 1-mile just not worth the effort of getting dressed for, and 5K a day was doable but difficult to fit in on some days. My happy medium is about 2 miles as a minimum, which I will do at least twice a week. Still not really long enough to justify getting my kit on for, but I know it’s achievable and I can fit it in around life. Pick what works for you, your body and your ability.
7. Know when to stop
We’ve already mentioned illness and injury, but there are other reasons to stop your running streak. If you’re not enjoying it, really think about why you’re doing it. If it’s for a charity challenge, then that is motivation enough for many people, especially as it has a definite end date in most cases. For me, I don’t want to do long running streaks. I did a December pre-Christmas running streak, which rolled right into RED January. I do have a fixed end date: 31st January 2020– I’ll have run every day (fingers crossed) for 63 days. But, I have other priorities this year, not least launching well into ultramarathon training. So I’m quite happy to stop there and switch my focus.