Thursday, October 2, 2014

My Take On Running Streaks



I debated actually running this post, mostly because I didn't want to offend anyone.
However, after a little thinking I decided to run this post.
After a few edits, I think I found a way to tactfully touch on this subject with a more educational approach rather than just my full on opinion on the subject:)

Running streaks, what are they?
Depends on who you ask, but the two most common I hear are:
* Run every single day for X amount of days, months, years, never take a day off.
* Run X amount of mileage this year/month and I won't quit or take a day off for anything.

I am all for healthy goals.  I believe the foundation for a healthy life is to make awesome goals, new goals and work on them as fits with your family and life.  I don't believe any goal is too big or small. Goals are healthy for the mind, body and spirit.  Probably one of the best things people can do for themselves.  But one of the keys to healthy goal making is to find goals that will uplift, make your life better or happier or make others lives better.  Not goals that could hurt you or others.




Not all goals are "healthy goals".  I have a strong opinion on running streaks.  Which is why if you can't already tell, I am against the non-stop running streaks!

I think having a goal to build up your mileage, to hit a certain number is completely fine, more than fine, great, incredible and I am all for it!
However, when you put the added stress of running every single day no matter what.  Or forcing yourself to get in more mileage than your body can handle because you told yourself or signed up for a challenge to do so.  You are actually putting yourself into some risky behavior and your increasing your chances of injury significantly and possibly reducing your chances of becoming a lifelong runner.

If you force your body to run every single day, never giving it rest your increasing your chances of injury so significantly, if you don't believe me ask your doctor next time you see them. Or ask a certified running coach their thoughts on the subject.
Our bodies need rest.  Our bodies need easy days just like they need hard days and our bodies need days off!  Our muscles need a break, we need to allow the tiny little fibers that make us do incredible things time to heal.

Evaluating what you really want.
What are your long term goals?  Do you have a race you want to enter?  Maybe you want to attempt your first half or full marathon?  Maybe your goal is just to lose weight with running, stress or depression relievers.  The list of why you want to run could be endless.
What are the most common thing that happens with running streakers?  Something happens and they miss a day, then they feel they have failed.  Or they push themselves too hard and become injured.
A person working on a goal should never have to feel like a failure.
Anyone who has worked on a goal knows failure is pretty much a part of the goal process. Sometimes we have to fail so we can learn how to really succeed.
Before considering a running streak, remember what your ultimate goals are, what are the reason's you do what you do?  Are those reason's worth risking just so you can say you ran every single day for X amount of days/months?



With that said, if you do want to do a Running Streak, or sign up for a challenge.  Consider altering it to fit what will be best and healthiest for you.
I read once that no one should attempt any type of Running Streak challenge unless they have already been running 6-8 months pretty consistently.
I also read that a streak plan should not be more than 5 days a week especially if it is a strenuous activity and yes even proper "streak" plans should allow for rest, just as much as the purpose in them is to build up endurance.

Something else to consider.
Take a look at professional athletes training plans, you'll notice even they take rest days.  Our bodies need them, this is how we can become "injury free" runners, and life long runners!
In fact most people find after a rest day or a short rest period they come back better than before, more focused, more energy...

Yes, its true you'll probably find dozens of runners even into their 60's and 70's who are "Running Streakers" and they have led healthy injury free running lives.
I actually do believe their are people out there who have bodies that have been trained and built up to where; yes they probably can pull running streaks off without injury or problems.
However, they are more rare than you think.

So my point of this post is not really to put down anyone who is participating in a Running Streak goal.  But to educate and give newer runners something to think about before they consider attempting one.  Also, to give a different perspective.

Not that you will ever see me participate in one.  But if in an alternate reality I did I think the word of advice I would give myself is:  Have a goal, but allow for rest when needed and not to put myself down or tell myself I failed if I did take a needed day off.  I think the only failure would be to push myself too hard and not listen to my body.

I know for some this is may be a touchy subject because I know some runners participate or really enjoy doing them, but I welcome your comments even if you totally disagree with me!  So what are your thoughts on running streaks?


I am not a certified trainer, or doctor.  None of the information in my writing should be taken as advice.  It is my opinion and should only be read and considered as my opinion.


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