Should you run everyday? Do you run everyday? Is a run streak good? These are a few of the most common questions I get on Instagram at the start of the year with things like the Runner’s World streak starting.
Let’s talk about what it takes to run everyday, the pro’s, the con’s and what I think as someone who has coached thousands of runners over the last decade.
What is a Running Streak?
A running streak is defined as a minimum distance of 1 mile (1.61 kilometers), every single day. It can be outside, roads, trails, track or on the treadmill. As soon as you miss a day, the streak is broken.
In general they are self imposed and thus tracked by the individual. For those wanting accountability or going for any kind of record it becomes useful to have a public tool like Strava to share data from a watch.
What Counts as a Running Streak?
Some are just for a specific month, but others encourage running as many days in a row as possible.
- Bare minimum of running 1 mile per calendar day (1.61 KM)
- Usually a minimum of 30 days
- Since the goal is an unbroken chain on consecutive days running, there is no set duration for most people doing a personal challenge
- To join the Streak Runners International you need a minimum of 1 year (see chart below for categories)
- Run walking is FULLY acceptable
For most folks the likelihood of injury or burn out is low at just 1 mile, but is running every day good for you? Can you run every day?
First of all, you certainly can run everyday, which means the actual question is SHOULD you run everyday?
For instance, each time a new fabulous running streak challenge appears, I get the question “Are you streaking?” followed shortly thereafter by questions from those I coach about if they should streak.
And maybe.The beginning of the year, usually brings with it a few running streak challenges.
Why Do People Run Everyday?
Wanting to be fair to all sides, let’s take a look at the reasons why a run streak can be useful.
We know there are massive health benefits to long distance running such as increased bone density and muscle mass, and even improving overall longevity by reducing risk of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease.
But what about the benefits of running every day? Let’s look at some of the top ones:
- Getting in to a consistent routine
- Learning how to shut down negative thoughts while running
- Crushing invalid excuses and mental barriers about time, energy, life
- It can increase motivation
- It leads to other good habits
- More chances to improve your running form, endurance, technique
- No new special equipment needed (like starting a new hobby)
- You’ll learn to adapt to running in different weather (like rain, ice, heat!)
- Personal satisfaction of a goal achieved
- Community feeling with other runners who are taking on the challenge
Well none of that sounds so bad!
Why aren’t I promoting it to my runners or doing it myself?
It’s not in line with my BIG PICTURE goals.
And what I often find to be the real goals of those that I coach: injury free, healthy, long term running, faster, smarter, stronger, weight loss.
Now, I recognize the days where my body needs rest or I feel the days where a long run is going to rejuvenate and I want to flow with that, rather than being tied to a MUST run attitude.Are you a run streaker? Is it really healthy? #runchat #bibchat Click To Tweet
Will Running Everyday Help to Lose Weight?
I believe this is part of what draws many people in to a run streak initially, so let’s talk about it!
Running for weight loss is a process that involves a lot more than just more and more cardio.
Running every day will definitely increase your calorie burn, but may not lead to weight loss for a few reasons:
- Hunger increases with mileage, which is why a lot of first time marathon runners GAIN weight!
- Cortisol increases as we stress our bodies and doing too much leads to weight gain
- Overuse injuries mean we end up sitting out days we could have been working out
- You’re often neglecting the other pieces that lead to weight loss like strength training or meal planning because all your time is devoted to running
If you actually want to run for weight loss, check out my guide or join us in Virtual Run Club. There you’ll get access to multiple strength training programs, nutrition programs and guidance from coaches.
NEVER SKIP the strength training. That’s what will change your body and prevent muscle loss from running a lot.
Ok now all of that being said, of course running can help with weight loss! You need to be smart about it, but that initial kick start of going daily could be a great way to kick things off which encourages you to then remain in the habit long term once the streak is over.
While a 1 mile a day running streak, could be a fantastic way to get yourself into a routine with working out, I have concerns about doing it long term.
That’s not to say there aren’t many awesome people out there who have done it.
But remember, we aren’t all the same!!
Are Running Streaks Bad for You?
A few reasons that it can be an issue depending your body and personality:
Increased risk of injury:
Running every day without proper rest can increase the risk of overuse injuries, such as shin splints, stress fractures, and tendinitis. It is important to listen to your body and incorporate rest days to allow for recovery and minimize the risk of injury.
While running consistently can lead to improvements, running every day may not always yield better results. Your body needs time to adapt and recover to improve performance. Incorporating cross-training activities and varying your workouts can help prevent plateaus and optimize your training.
Overdoing it with daily runs can lead to mental burnout and decreased motivation. Running should be enjoyable, and it’s essential to balance your fitness goals with other aspects of life. Incorporating rest days or engaging in other activities you enjoy can help prevent burnout and keep you motivated in the long run.
Other reasons why it could be an issue include:
- Stress over fitting in a run to the schedule on vacation (yes, I’ve seen friends run at an airport)
- Going from the couch to daily can quickly lead to shin splints
- Running when you’re injured or through sickness and making both worse
- Forgetting that the recipe to success is stress + rest = growth
- It could make running more of a chore, instead of your stress relief
- During endurance training it can lead to extra fatigue and improper recovery
- Missing a day can lead to a feeling of failure, which I’ve seen lead to missing MONTHS
- No longer having time to do the cross training that keeps you injury free
It’s not particularly bad for your knee or joints to run a lot. So the only real reason that running everyday could become an issue is if you are skipping that core work or your form is breaking down due to fatigue.
Factors to Consider When Running Everyday
If you’re considering running every day, here are the three things to consider:
- Fitness level: Your current fitness level plays a crucial role in determining whether running every day is suitable for you. If you’re just starting, it’s recommended to begin with a gradual increase in running frequency and duration to avoid excessive strain on your body.
- Training goals: Consider your training goals. If you’re training for a specific event or looking to achieve a personal record, running every day may be necessary. However, if your goal is general fitness or weight management, incorporating rest days can be beneficial.
- Running injury history: Runners who have had previous running injuries, particularly overuse injuries like runner’s knee, stress fractures, or plantar fasciitis, are particularly susceptible to re-injury. If that sounds like you, then it’s incredibly important to go slow to prevent injuries.
How To Do a Running Streak?
Now your big picture goals might be to get in to healthy habit routine…in which case maybe this streak is exactly what you need!
If that’s the case, I’m here to cheer you on because we know I love seeing anyone and everyone out enjoying a run!
If you’ve decided it does match your goals, take a look at these tips for safely doing a running streak:
- Start only if you are healthy and injury free
- Don’t dramatically increase your overall mileage
- Ensure you are largely doing an easy pace and easy runs
- Use runs as active recovery – that means it could be run/walk, and yes even minutes slower than an easy day pace
- Enjoy the consistency of training and remember the joy of running
- Start incorporating easy win cross training that prevents injuries like the the 30 Day Core, which is only 10 minutes
- Remember 1 extra mile is not freedom to eat junk food
- Know when to call it quits
- Get ready to be a super planner
What is the Longest Running Streak?
The one currently on the books is and still going is for Jon Sutherland at 52.23 years, just edging out Ron Hill who held the title for many years!!
On the women’s side it is Lori Bastien who is till going at 41.55 years.
In fact, there is an entire association dedicated to run streaking…which of course now I want to be a member of because I want to be part of all running things, ha!
You can apply for membership and join a Facebook Group of other runner streakers for support in your own mission to run, run, run. You’ll also find that there are indeed classifications for run streaking from USRSA!
These are YEARS RUNNING
- Hills – 50+ (only 4 total recorded)
- Coverts – 45- 49
- Legends – 40-44
- Masters – 35-39
- Dominators – 30-34
- Highly Skilled – 25-29
- Well Versed – 15-19
- Experienced – 10-14
- Proficient – 5-9
- Neophytes – 1-4
Is Running Everyday Good?
It comes down to your long term goals and a willingness to be a very smart runner!
I’ve certainly done it, but in retrospect wish I’d spend those other days strength training or resting. It would have made me leaner and fitter much faster.
While many elite athletes put in big mileage, you’ll find few of them going for run streaks. It can be much harder to work on speed or maintain total health if you aren’t smart about your practice.
Define Your Big Picture Goals
For many years, I pulled my sick, tired body out of bed and trudged through another run, knowing that eventually it would feel good again and in the mean time I mentally just needed that sweaty mental release.
As things started to improve, my singular goal was to stay healthy and enjoy my runs. I got my wish and now I am trying to be smart enough to hold on to that feeling!!
It’s not to say that I haven’t ever streaked, oh I have…again it’s just not where I am now. And to be honest, it’s not where I want many of my athletes to be who have bigger race and healthy goals.
— Ellen Degeneres
I want to stay injury free.
I want to run not because I’m required to for a challenge, but because I choose it.
I want to have the right energy available to hit my goals on each run.
I need to cross train to stay healthy and get stronger.
I need to rest to keep my hormones balanced and prevent fatigue.
Alternatives to Running Everyday
Instead of running everyday, here are some activities you can do instead that will help you in the long-run:
1. Rest Days
Incorporating rest days into your week allows your body to recover and prevents overuse injuries. Use these rest days to engage in active recovery, such as gentle stretching or meditation.
Rest days are an essential part of any exercise routine, including running. When you run, your muscles experience micro-tears, and rest days give them time to repair and rebuild. Not only does this help prevent injuries, but it also allows your body to adapt and become stronger.
On rest days, you can still engage in light activities that promote recovery. Gentle stretching can help improve flexibility and prevent muscle tightness, while meditation can help calm the mind and reduce stress levels.
2. Low-Impact Activities
Incorporate low-impact exercises, such as swimming or cycling, into your routine. These activities provide cardiovascular benefits while reducing the strain on your joints.
Low-impact activities are a great way to give your body a break from the high-impact nature of running. Swimming, for example, is a fantastic full-body workout that provides cardiovascular benefits without putting stress on your joints.
Cycling is another excellent option, as it allows you to get your heart rate up while minimizing the impact on your knees and ankles. These activities not only give your body a chance to recover but also help improve your overall fitness and endurance.
3. Interval Training
Instead of running every day, consider incorporating interval training into your routine. Alternating between running and periods of active recovery can provide similar cardiovascular benefits while reducing the overall impact on your body.
Interval training is a highly effective way to improve your cardiovascular fitness while reducing the risk of overuse injuries. By alternating between periods of high-intensity running and active recovery, you can challenge your heart and lungs without putting excessive stress on your joints and muscles.
For example, you can perform a series of sprints followed by a recovery period of walking or jogging. This type of training not only helps improve your running performance but also adds variety to your routine.
Engage in other forms of exercise, such as yoga, Pilates, or strength training, to improve overall fitness and prevent muscle imbalances. Cross-training can enhance your running performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Cross-training is an excellent way to complement your running routine and improve your overall fitness. Activities like yoga and Pilates can help improve flexibility, core strength, and balance, which are all essential for efficient running.
Strength training, on the other hand, can help build stronger muscles and prevent imbalances that can lead to injuries. By incorporating these activities into your routine, you can enhance your running performance and reduce the risk of overuse injuries.
5. Active Lifestyle
Remember that staying fit doesn’t solely rely on running. Leading an active lifestyle that includes walking, hiking, or playing recreational sports can provide excellent health benefits and reduce the need to run every day.
As a running coach and personal trainer I can say for a fact running is undoubtedly a fantastic form of exercise. But it’s important to remember that there are numerous ways to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Walking, for example, is a low-impact activity that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. Hiking allows you to enjoy nature while getting a great workout, and playing recreational sports can provide a fun and social way to stay fit.
By embracing an active lifestyle that goes beyond running, you can enjoy a variety of activities and reduce the need to run every day.
Looking for more training tips:
- Guide to running 2 miles a day
- How Far Did I Run?
- How many steps in a mile running vs walking?
- Best Free Running Apps
- Best Muscle Recovery Tools
Other ways to connect with Amanda
Instagram Daily Fun: RunToTheFinish
Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish
Get more running tips: Pinterest