I consider myself an occasional runner. Now and again, I get the urge to get out there and pound the pavement. I generally run 2-3 miles when I do, and I’m not out to set any records. I enjoy a leisurely jog around the block to get my blood pumping and my mind right.
A few months ago, I was reading an article in Runner’s World magazine about streaking. (No, not the kind of streaking you may have seen at a high school football game.) Streaking of the running variety. The article interviewed several runners, from avid enthusiasts to leisure runners, like myself.
Each of the runners had profound insights on how committing to a running streak changed their lives. For some, it was the inspiration of realizing they could stick with a habit. For others, it was unanticipated weight loss. After reading the article, I felt inspired and decided it was time to start a running streak of my own.
What is a Running Streak?
A running streak is a commitment to run every day, often for a minimum of one mile, for a set period, usually 30 days or more. The beauty of a run streak, as with running in general, is that it requires only your favorite running shoes* (I’m obsessed with the Brooks Ghost) and a bit of motivation.
Why I Decided to do a Streak
Everyone who chooses to develop a new habit has their specific reasons for doing so. My reasons for doing a running streak were to:
- Get back in running form: I like being at a place where I can comfortably run 3 miles without stopping or struggling. I felt like I was falling out of that relationship with running, and this seemed like a great way to get it back.
- Prove to myself I could do it: We can all do hard things, and it’s exciting to find new hard things to do. I already love to work out and do some form of physical activity every day, but this seemed more challenging and unique than that.
My First Attempts at Streaking
I went for eight days in June. Then, as life does, I slipped off my paddleboard into a bed of oysters, nicely slicing up the underside of my foot. That was the end of my first attempt. As quickly as it started, I was forced to take a few days off.
On August 16th, I started another attempt at my streak with a two-mile run. Did I mention it was ludicrous to try and create a running streak in Charleston in August? After nine days in, I quite literally couldn’t take the heat and again chose to stop my streak. At this point, I was pretty sure I needed to wait until later in the year until the seasons agreed with my outdoor exercising plans.
Finally, a Successful Running Streak
Fast forward to October 1st, and I was determined. It’s a beautiful time of year weather-wise, and aside from a weekend trip, I was planning to be home for the entire 60 days. I felt extremely confident that I could make it work this go around.
The Struggles Were Real
On day 4, I almost let things slip. I had a hectic day and at 7:30 at night confessed to my husband that I didn’t do my run. Darn if he wasn’t on his bicycle alongside me as I trudged a mile in the dark. He is the sole reason my streak stayed alive. (Thanks, honey. I love you!)
After that little snafu, I felt more motivated than ever. I was breezing through my runs and even building my mileage. I kept a schedule of doing a long run on Saturday mornings, and within five weeks, I was back to running 6 miles on the weekend. It took about a month for my running endurance to get back to a happy place, which was much quicker than I imagined it would!
The only other time I really struggled was a day where we had a complete washout. I’m talking rain from the second you wake up in the morning until into the evening. And since I was running every day, I didn’t want to risk my shoes being so wet that it would be nasty to run the next day. So I improvised and did my first ever indoor mile. It was much more sliding around on hardwood floors and twists and turns than I’m used to, but it got the job done and kept the streak alive!
But it All Worked Out!
I finished the 60th day of my running streak on November 29th. I felt both an immense sense of accomplishment and a bit of sadness. After 60 days, running is something I came to rely on as a constant. Nothing is saying I can’t continue my running streak, but it was a time-consuming endeavor, and I have much more that I plan to do. (Stay tuned for my next 60-day streak, yoga!)
A Running Streak By The Numbers
Over 60 days, I ran a total of 126.15 miles. That breaks down to:
- An average of 2.1 miles per run
- 19 hours and 58 minutes of running (assuming an average 9:30 pace)
- 12,615 calories burned (taking 100 calories burned per mile, that breaks down to roughly 3.6 pounds worth of calories burned)
Secrets of a Successful Running Streak
- Define a set number of days for your goal: To embark on an indefinite running streak would be bold and perhaps a bit daunting. I chose 60 days because it felt manageable. For some people, ten days or 30 days might be better to start. You can always extend the streak if you’re enjoying it, but choosing a reasonable number to start will help you see the light at the end of the tunnel on hard days.
- Choose a seasonally appropriate time to try: My first attempts to streak in the heat of summer were probably not the wisest choices. I believe I was finally successful because I chose a time of year where most of our days are perfect. If you live in an area prone to extreme conditions, try to hit your streak during the spring or fall while the seasons change.
- Make it visible: Mark your runs on a calendar or journal where you’ll see it every day. Once you start to build a few days of consistency, it gets harder mentally to break the streak.
- Plan your runs: Every single day, you need to know where you’ll run, at what time, how far you’ll go, etc. Without planning the run, you might end up running in the dark after dinner when you really don’t want to.
- Just do it: Yes, I went there. The typical Nike cliche. It sucks some days to go out and run if it’s cold or windy or rainy or anything but sunny and 75 degrees. But consider that your streak is a commitment to yourself. And I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to be the one that disappoints me.
5 Lessons Learned After 60 Days
I rediscovered my passion for running.
All of you runners out there know that there’s a certain magic when you hit your stride. Very few things in life can match the runner’s high after you’ve done a long run and feel the exhaustion to your bones that both hurts and also feels so darn indescribably good. This running streak put me back in touch with the things I love most about running. I felt a renewed sense of mental clarity and energy, one of the original things I was seeking.
There is something cleansing about doing uncomfortable things.
On certain days I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to go 15 steps, let alone a full mile. But the ability to push through that discomfort reminded me that I could do things that put me outside of my comfort zone. And if I complain about them, it only prolongs the pain. But sure, as the day is long, the more I didn’t want to go for a run, the more I needed it, and the better I felt afterward.
Running with a podcast is nice, but running with your breath is better.
I used to be a person that wouldn’t run without headphones. I hate to waste time and felt like if I wasn’t getting information through a podcast, I wasn’t doing enough. Through this streak, I rediscovered how much I enjoy running and just listening to my breath and surrounding sounds. And I remembered how much better I felt after clearing the clutter of my mind throughout the run.
Tracking is fun, but getting it done is the real goal.
Running stats like heart rate, distance, pace, etc. are intriguing to me. For most of these runs, I was wearing my Apple watch* and tracked everything. But I also began to feel more comfortable with gauging my pace without my watch. It was also fun to uncover the various one-mile loops out my front door and mix them up on the days where I was doing my shorter runs.
It was totally worth it, and I’ll do another in the future.
I loved the experience of doing a running streak and felt like it was the exact thing I needed at the right time. I would highly recommend a streak to avid runners looking for a new challenge or for beginners or intermediate runners who want to establish a running habit. A streak can also be a great way to get back on track after some time away from exercise. Start slow if you need to and commit to 5 minutes a day for five days. You can always build from there. Just make sure you start!
Have you done a running streak or have questions about how to get started? Tell me about it in the comments!
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