Run Streaks: Why It’s a Bad Idea

Run streaks are when you run at least a mile everyday potentially forever. They’ve become popular lately and there isn’t anything really, really wrong with them I think you might be doing yourself a disservice by participating. Run streaks have become more popular lately and I get it, especially if like me you post ALL your runs on the gram the temptation is real to streak. You might be on a streak now, or not and maybe you’re training for something else too. If that’s cool with you then great but if you’re not loving the regularity I’m here to tell you that’s more than okay too!

The longest ever run streak was ended at 52 years and 39 days which is a hell of a lot longer than most marriages last! I should confess that I’ve never done a run streak but they don’t sound like a hell of a lot of fun to me. I guess the closest I’ve ever come is a half marathon and olympic triathlon back to back a couple of years ago. That had me training 6 days a week for 6 months and let me tell you I was glad when it was over! Even though run streaks are trendy right now these are some things you should consider before you hop on the bandwagon.

Recovery and rest is actually necessary

Rest days are totally necessary for you to get the most out of your running that’s why even the elites take them. Your body does do more to repair itself and catch up when you’re not actively stressing it by running. Not taking enough rest days is also a huge risk factor for over use injuries. You need rest days to prevent injuries but cross training is even better at injury prevention. If you’re not cross training because you’re running everyday that’s a double whammy. At the first sign of injury taking a few extra days or even a week off from running can be a game changer for how bad it eventually gets.

Running is amazing for your mental health overall, can’t recommend anything better actually, but as a runner rest days are too. There’s something about going to bed knowing you can get some extra sleep in the morning because it’s a rest day that feels oh so decadent! Ditto for eating whatever you want for dinner because there is no evening run right after. Don’t even get me started about hanging out in your pj’s when you’d normally be running! As much as I love running when I’m in heavy training mode some weeks rest days can be the best part. The run after a rest day also feels so much easier right?

There are times you shouldn’t be running

Once we accept that rest days are actually a needed thing it’s time to move onto the various reasons that on some days you just shouldn’t be running. One of those things that should keep you on the couch is the weather. I run year round, outside in Canada so I know all about running in bad weather. Most days with the right gear getting out there is totally safe and totally more comfortable than you think it would be. However there are a few days every year where you shouldn’t be running outside. It might be a snowstorm, hurricane warning or around here very, very thick fog that makes you impossible to see. As a runner I want you to stay safe and as a driver I never, ever want to hit a runner or see anything bad happen to one!

There are also health reasons not to be running besides injury reasons. You can often run when you’re sick or tiered but you might not want to. When I stick to the training schedule with a cold it lasts for weeks instead of days and I’m probably not better off to take a couple of days. Chest colds come to mind right away as does having a fever. You might even have inflammation around the heart after you’re sick and have exercised too soon. Not usually a big deal but definitely not something you want to be pushing through. Even running when really, really tiered is not a good idea. Some of the worst runs I’ve had come after less than 5 hours sleep. Not only are they hard, feel terrible it also makes me super feel like I’m going to be sick. Running like that is not only not fun they have to be putting me at risk for overtraining needlessly too!

There are also lots of personal reasons not to run everyday, lots of them are pretty good. I’ve heard stories of people leaving the hospital while their wives were in labor to keep a streak going. Even if you don’t go that far there are plenty of situations where leaving for a bit to run just isn’t appropriate. A run should always be pushed later or until tomorrow if you have the opportunity to have a great time with a loved one, comfort someone or be present when you’re needed. Ask yourself is your streak negatively affecting your relationships because if it is I’m hard pressed to find the worth in that.

Streaks can keep you from more meaningful goals

Perhaps it takes some maturity but with almost everything in life one realizes that quality trumps quantity. Getting a mile or two in everyday seems meaningless compared to accomplishing something you never thought possible. I would never trade a cute picture and a short run everyday for doing most races especially my big triathlon. Streaks can pull your focus to consistency and away from achieving something bigger. I guess I just have a hard time seeing the value in trading a one mile run and occasional walk for training for something cool and or epic.

Even if racing isn’t your thing, I do think you should try once, a streak may be holding you back from more meaningful ‘alone’ running goals. You may be skipping getting faster in the form of speed work or building your endurance in the form of a weekly long run. I would argue that you might be missing out foregoing those sorts of things. If this is you I urge you to devote some deep thinking time to it and make sure you’re making the right choice for you.

Not exploring other options

Guess what non-running days are great for? Other things besides running. If you’re anything like me you might not have the energy or time to devote to two workouts a day. It’s often hard enough to carve out one non ideal time a day to get moving so if that’s taken up by your run streak then you very well might be done for the day. I love to go cycling and take an an ashtanga yoga class when my schedule and the roads permit. In the summer I love to go paddling in the lake or the beach at the end of our driveway which more often than not turns into a swim too. When I’m training for something specific every once and a while a fun opportunity comes up like a long walk with a friend or a ladies bike ride. I can swap out an easy run for the week and get the workout in while getting to participate in something more fun. Doing something else every once and a while actually helps to keep running fun! I really do think that a run streak limits your availability and flexibility for other fun things, probably unnecessarily.

Here’s the bottom line on run streaks, just because they are trendy doesn’t mean they are a great idea. These are the drawbacks I see in participating but there are obviously some benefits too. If you’re stuck at home and bored starting a run streak right now might just be perfect timing. What is your experience with run streaks and why did it work (or not work) for you? What made you finally let the streak go? Leave it in the comments below!

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