It’s streaking season, people. And no, I don’t mean running through the streets naked, à la Will Ferrell in Old School. When I say streak, I mean stacking up day after day of running.
While a run streak can seem extreme, running day after day is becoming more popular—and for a good reason. A running streak can re-inspire your love of running and get you out the door on cold, dark mornings. And, running every day will likely improve overall fitness. But if you’re not careful, it could also lead to burn-out, injury and unnecessary stress to your your mental state.
Wondering if a running streak is for you? Check out the pros and cons and decide for yourself.
In the spring and summer it’s easy to drum up enthusiasm for running. The days are bright and beautiful and afternoons spent running are pure, easy joys. But motivation often lags once the season changes. The training log app Strava found that 30 percent of runners drop off within 30 days of starting a new running plan. After 50 days, only half of new users still log runs.
A run streak helps get you out the door. With a streak, new runners develop a habitual relationship with running. It can be a great way to motivate yourself to move without feeling like you have to go the distance.
If you’re like me, it can seem pointless to run unless you can fit in a solid workout. But if a packed schedule or lack of motivation has you skipping all your workouts, short, less intense workouts can be valuable. Just 10 minutes of running can clear your head and give you a break from the day’s stressors and encourage health improvements you’d otherwise have missed.
You’ll also be forced to get creative with your running schedule. Morning runners who sleep through their alarm might end up skipping their run and taking a rest day. But the desire to keep up a streak may inspire you to run at unusual times, like after dinner, before the sun rises or during your lunch break. While outside your comfort zone, this will ultimately make running more exciting.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a run goal, but don’t love racing, completing a running streak can give you a non-competitive goal. Instead of comparing PRs, you and your running pals can focus on the most crucial goal of all: Just getting out there.
Stress plus rest equals growth. It’s as simple as that.
In their book Peak Performance, Steve Magness and Brad Stulberg record how coaches and athletes around the world preaching that equation as endurance sports’ gospel. The American College of Sports Medicine endorses training in this manner to increase size and strength. On top of that, a study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology found that the best endurance athletes all have one thing in common: they oscillate between periods of stress and rest.
Although the streak allows easy days, it doesn’t have wiggle room for life stresses that may require a rest day. Whether it’s fighting off the flu or a nagging injury, an entire day of traveling or two feet of snow, some circumstances shouldn’t be run through.
Sometimes you go on a run, and something just feels “off.” While you don’t know if you just tweaked something or suffered a significant injury, the suspicion is enough to make you decide to take a couple days off. Often, you’re better for taking off those days. If you’re committed to a streak, you’ll be more likely to run when your body could actually use the rest.