Runner’s World has challenges a few times a year that involve a running streak. I fall for it every time- I’ve started the challenge a few times in the past but not completed it. The most recent challenge was to run at least a mile per day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. Since I was already doing a Thanksgiving race, I decided on Thanksgiving that I’d go for it. The days where I wouldn’t normally run were simply filled in with a short, easy run. Here’s what I learned through the process:
- It isn’t as hard as you think it will be. I expected days where going for a run would be the last thing I wanted to do and really didn’t experience that. I enjoyed each and every run.
- You aren’t guaranteed to get hurt. I have never been someone who runs every day. I’m a pretty low mileage runner and have always felt best running 3-4 days/week. I thought my body would rebel when I was running every day. It didn’t. Actually prior to Thanksgiving I took 4 days off exercising completely due to a hip issue I was experiencing. During the first week of the Run Streak, my hip continued to be pretty tight. I began doing some strengthening exercises at home and it has been a non-issue since then. If anything, the daily running has kept aches and pains at bay.
- Involve other people, even if they aren’t “streaking”. Since I was doing the Thanksgiving run with my family, I told them all about the challenge and asked if anyone wanted to do it. The kids both said no, my husband James said yes. He ended up missing some runs in the first, but still ran more than he may have otherwise. Even though no one was doing the streak with me, I had plenty of company on my runs. My daughter and I are training for a half-marathon in January so we had lots of runs together. My husband and I snuck in a few runs together. My son joined me for a number of my “mile days” and we would run through our small town and look at Christmas lights.
In addition to runs with my family, I also had runs with my friends at Runwell, where I run most Wednesdays and Saturdays with a group. I also got in a number of runs with my high school students as they train for a half-marathon in April.
- Every run doesn’t have to be easy effort. Again, I worried about how my body would handle running every day and assumed I would have to do every run at easy effort. I was still able to do a number of long runs, tempo efforts and interval/track workouts. I didn’t feel any more tired from running daily than running 4 days/week.
- Recovery is important though. I can’t imagine and definitely would not recommend doing every run at high intensity. The easy “mile days” were just that. I didn’t care what my pace was, I concentrated on my breathing to make sure that I was keeping those runs at an easy effort. I also took advantage of a few of my favorite Hammer products: Tissue Rejuvenator and Recoverite after hard workouts to keep me fresh for the next day. And don’t forget a foam roller!
- Miles add up. Unfortunately my old training log is no longer available on the site I used for years. However, I’m pretty sure that December 2015 was the first month I broke 100 miles. For many runners this is no big deal and they do it frequently, but again as a low mileage runner, it was pretty exciting for me!
- You are likely going to get stronger and faster. I was in pretty decent running shape at the start of the challenge, but I feel even stronger at the end of it. I don’t feel like I have to put in as much effort to hit a given pace on a run.
- Don’t give up. There was a night in the second week of the challenge where I had waited until after 9PM to get a run in. It was so tempting to just stay on the couch and watch TV after a long day. But realistically, a mile takes less than 10 minutes of my time. I would have been really upset with myself the next morning so I just got the run in. It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be fast, just get the run in.
- You won’t look forward to the end. I really figured by the end of December I would be so excited for January to come where I wouldn’t “have” to run each day. I would be counting down how many days were left because I would be so ready for a break. That didn’t happen either. The one late night run was the most challenging to get out the door. For the most part, I’ve looked forward to the run each day.
- You’ll want to keep going. I totally get it now. I thought the people who would do this for years at a time were crazy. Now that I’ve started, I don’t want to stop and then have to start over. I have no idea how long I’ll continue, but as long as I’m enjoying it, I think I’ll continue streaking!