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 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 benefits to long distance running…but daily running?
- 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
BUT 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:
- 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.
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
So 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.
Have you ever done a running streak?? Results?
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