(run)Streaking

By now you all know how much I love, love, love running.
You also know that I love to run by my own rules, my own terms — for me, my way.

I apply that “my way” mindset to not just how I train but how I run and recover from those runs. My body responds best when I run 3-4 times per week…*sometimes* 5 times but that’s a rarity (usually only happens when I’m keeping mileage low, as I have been the past few weeks of un-training time between the last half and full marathon training about to ensue). 

I run my best,  most fresh, most happy when I stick to this run-pace per week.
…there are no junk miles allowed up in here.

So when I started hearing about runners who were streaking left and right, and then heard about Runner’s World hopping on the whole run-streak bandwagon,  I’m not gonna lie — it kind of irked me. And maybe irked isn’t the right word, but I guess I just don’t agree with the whole concept.

The idea of running back-to-back-to-back for days and weeks on end? It’s bound to do way more harm than good. No matter how seasoned of a runner you are. No matter if some of those run-streak days involve “just” a few miles. I just think it sends the wrong message for one, and for two — it’s not very kind on the body and joints.

By wrong message I mean this — why does more have to mean better?
…more “on” run days than off.
…more miles for miles sake vs. happy or fresh or strong miles.
…running to run vs. running with a purpose.

And by un-kind on the body? Well that one seems pretty obvious. While run-streaking, rest days go flying out the window. Sure, I’ve had my moments where I wanted to nix a rest day because I was antsy or whatever. But I’ve learned to quell the antsy pants on a rest day and I fully embrace them now. Not just because “rest days are good” but because rest days are just as important (in my view) as fit days are. Your body needs time to recover after all the work we put it through every day of the week. Without that recovery time, you can’t possibly expect your body to perform at peak capacity now can you? At least for me, that’s way more important than eeking out another workout, sans rest. I’d rather see my body work harder for that next workout because it can work harder, because its optimized for performance. I’d also rather see my body truly WORK for that rest day, truly earning it’s spot on my weekly training schedule.

So I don’t know — I totally feel as though I’m in the extreme minority as a runner when I say this but I am totally anti-run streaking.

But I’d rather honor my body with proper rest and focus on making every single run, every single mile count for something. Earning the rest. Working the work.

 

Am I alone on this one?

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95 thoughts on “(run)Streaking

  1. Great Great post and I could not agree more. It seems as though run streaks could lead to injury and also hinder someone who is entering a a race as their body has not had any rest days!

  2. Very smart argument! I am 100% supportive of this. I am doing the running streak, more as a fun challenge for myself, since I’m not training for a race. But you’re right, if you’re not smart you can get hurt, burned out, etc.

    I am glad you actually took this stance – great read!

    • I’m glad you appreciate the stance…I was hesitant to post it at first, especially knowing that some of my friends (like you!) were doing the runstreak but then figured, you know what? It’s my opinion and I think it’s worth sharing. So I’m glad I did. 🙂 (and I’m glad you’re enjoying the streak and not taking it overly seriously)

  3. Very interesting! I am doing the streak but will stop at any time I don’t feel like continuing. My thoughts are it’s only one mile minimum. On the days that are my “off” days from running I’m using a one mile slow run as a warm up for other activities – not much higher intensity than a walk in my opinion. It’s only been a few days so we’ll see where it leads me.

    • I like your approach to the streak – not overly serious or overly committed, as in – if you need to skip a day, you’re good to do so and aren’t going to beat yourself up for it. I realize that the streak involves running “just” a mile at times but I just know me and know I’d never “just” do a mile. It would snowball quickly (again, this is me…)

    • That’s my thing (and I know you fully agree) — even a super short run could easily turn into a longer run, and even IF super short, why throw the junk miles into the mix? Once I have one junky run, I usually need a day or so before I can run “happy” again so I just don’t see the purpose in the runstreak because I know fully well how it would (negatively) impact my running and running mojo, etc.

  4. I am totally with you. Sorry, I don’t even think doing it with short miles is a good idea. Rest means rest.

    By the way, I totally channeled you on the treadmill today. Thanks for getting me through ti!

  5. I agree with you, I think rest Iis key to the body and I think this applies to running and pretty much all sports.

  6. Obviously, you know I agree with you. For me, any run I do has a purpose and I’m not just going to run a mile. I know myself. Sure, I don’t run long distances anyway, but if I run a mile, I’ll want to do 2, then 3 and more, so the run streak minimum doesn’t even seem like it is something that I (or probably many) would ‘just’ do and that could lead to injury. To each his/her own, of course, but for me? No dice. Not worth it. For what? To say you did? meh.

    • RIGHT. To say “hey youuu, I ran for 50 days straight, nenernenernerrrr” is just not enough motivation for me to do a streak. It’s just not worth it. Sure, it can “just” be a mile, but even a junk MILE isn’t worth it to me. It’s just not. I don’t have any desire to mess with my run mojo, to risk any injury of any kind just to say I was one of the runstreakers from summer 2012.

    • EXACTLY!! It feels so good to NEED NEED NEED that rest day when it rolls around. To know that you worked hard on your active days so that rest day becomes earned and embraced fully. So rewarding!

  7. In general, I definitely agree—you have to be a really high mileage runner with a lot of strategy and supportive activities (like recovery stuff everyday) going on to have streaking be a healthy thing to do. I know Joe does it sometimes….but never for more than a couple weeks, and his “rest days” are just an easy mile (he doesn’t call it streaking though, it’s just an experiment to see the difference between taking days off totally and just taking it super easy).
    It feels kind of like it could be more of an unhealthy mental pattern for many people too—like creating addictive behaviors. That isn’t good, for sure!

    • It sounds like Joe is taking an approach that is working for him and is serving a PURPOSE. That’s a biggie for me – it serves a purpose. Not “just because.”

      And yes, that’s my other issue with RW promoting the streak — it can send the wrong idea that more is better, especially for someone with an addictive/obsessiive personality like me? No bueno.

  8. Good blog! Completely understand where you are coming from. I am doing the runstreak moreso as a challenge and I’m DEFINITELY going to use the 1 mile as a “rest jog” if I need to!

  9. Great argument and I couldn’t agree more. These are just merely junk miles and how much will they actually contribute to your overall fitness, especially if you do not allow your body to recover?

  10. I agree with you 100%. And rest days don’t just apply to running. They apply to training. Period. Rest is part of the training plan. You can’t get better if you don’t allow your muscles to recover. Have you read “Run Less, Run Faster?” The whole theory revolves around 3 run days and 2 cross training days. I find it interesting that the book is also endorsed by Runner’s World. Just sayin’…

    • Agree. Rest is rest is rest – for ANY fit activity.
      And no, I haven’t read that book but it’s on my list!
      (and wow, so interesting that RW endorsed that book…ironic, much?)

  11. I’m participating in the streak, but for different reasons than to just see who can log the most miles or run the fastest days in a row. I’ve seen countless times that people should do some kind of physical activity for 10 min a day at least, and I figure a 10 min mile could work. My first three runs have been a little over a mile, but that was mostly due to crappy feelings and trying to “run it out.” Which brings me to my reason for the streak. I’m battling depression and horrible sleep patterns, and hoping, HOPING the combo of doing 1 mile-ish a day, plus therapy, plus meds (I kind of hate that part of it, but it got THAT bad), will finally get me to a point where I don’t feel out of my mind most days. That all being said, I think your post is totally valid, and great. I can see how people will go overboard with this and try to knock out a ton of miles a day. As I feel with any athlete, you do what works best for you. ❤

    • Wow. Such a personal comment from you, I really appreciate your open and honest response to the runstreak question I’ve been posing here. I absolutely see why this runstreak is important to you on a personal level. I absolutely agree that you do what’s best for you, always. That’s partly why I hesitated to post about this topic to begin with — I never want to tell someone that what works for ME should work for THEM. It’s just not that black and white.

      Stay strong, girl!

  12. Oh man I’m late to the party commenting, but once again, this is further evidence that we were separated at birthday somehow! I HATE run streaks. I think it’s preachy, pretentious and if anything it fosters injuries in beginning runners that just feel they need to belong to some group. Besides, I find Runner’s World to be a very boring and repetitive magazine in my opinion, I cancelled my subscription a long time ago. There, I vented, I feel better! 🙂

  13. If you’re in the minority, I’m right there with you. I agree completely. I don’t think it does anything to benefit training and the body. It wears it down and diminishes results that could come with balanced training and proper rest, all for the sake of saying you ran X days in a row. Why? Why does that matter? I guess people have different goals and know their own bodies best, but I think for the vast majority of people this isn’t the healthiest goal on the body to have and leads to a focus on numbers over quality.

    • I had a feeling you’d agree with me on this one, friend. SO SO SO agree – why does this streak matter? What is the purpose or benefit to your own personal training goals? Will it actually do you any good? I say no, no, no. At least for ME and I’d guess for MOST people, its not going to benefit them much. I suppose there’s a case to be made here and there for a streak, but for the majority of people? I doubt that, highly. And that’s my thing — the fact that RW is promoting it to such a broad audience makes the whole idea of a runstreak seem like such a normal thing that EVERYONE should be doing. And I just don’t believe that to be the case.

      (and YES re: numbers over quality!!)

    • Exactly. Injury waiting to happen. In a lot of ways, running is an injury waiting to happen if you really think about it. Running is HARD on the body no matter what. So to throw a streak into the mix, just feels short-sighted and unsafe. More is most DEFINITELY not always better. Work smarter, NOT harder!

  14. You are not alone! While I think run streaks aren’t all that harmful on the body (a lot of people are just fitting in one mile instead of taking a rest day) I think it’s more harmful on the mind. I personally know that lacing up my running shoes everyday is not something I’d find enjoyable. If I’m taking a rest day, it’s a day to be completely at ease, not feeling external pressure or guilt to get out there. This is also why I’ve backed away from dailymile, it can be motivating to see people doing 70+ miles a week, but the competitor in me starts to feel like less of runner when I see that. I tried Run Less Run Faster for marathon training, and while it didn’t work for me, I know that a balance of running more quality mile and getting time in on the roads is difficult to manage. I just don’t think running everyday is the answer.

    • That’s a great point – the mindset issue. I totally agree – it would steal the joy right out of running for me. Not worth it. I want running to always be joyful (or at least MOST of the time!).

      I also totally agree re: competitor in you. I am so similar that way which is why I no longer openly track my workouts or even share them all that often on the blog (in terms of my weekly workout schedules and things). I just don’t ever want to run into that comparison/competitive trap. We should all be working out for ourselves, not to prove ourselves to other runners or fitness buffs. Do it for you. Bottom line.

  15. Interesting post. I think it all depends. I started a streak in December to keep me motivated during a tough time for running (for me). I kept going when I started feeling stronger and stronger. There were some days that felt like rest days as I ran a mile with my 6-year-old. I was training for a 50K and wanted to get my legs used to performing while fatigued. I ended up running for 90 days in a row and have never been stronger. In fact, I ran a half marathon PR during that time!

    Sometimes junk miles are just junk miles, but some the most enjoyable runs for me have been junk miles. For me, I don’t always have to have a “goal” for my run.

    • I think you’re a unique case where the streak actually DID serve a purpose and wasn’t a “just because” thing, purely. You’re an example of where this can actually work in your favor since you had a very specific endurance goal in mind. Thank you for sharing your personal insight here!

  16. I love a great conversation, debate, back and forth, whatever it is that we are calling it these days. It can be BOTH. You do a great job of presenting how you feel about it without casting judgement on those that are. I agree with what is above, both sides. And yes, I am trying it mostly because I’m curious. I’ve been a 3-5x a week runner for 6 years. I’ve improved and I’ve also injured myself.

    I want to see how my body responds while BEING SMART in listening when too much is too much. Great post.

    • I loved your video/blog on this very topic. Like I said in my comment on your post, I like that you’re taking the approach you are with the streak. while the streak is definitely not for me and I still don’t fully agree with them, I agree with your approach and insight here. Listening and being smart is SO important to training, runstreak or not.

  17. I know I need to take rest days, but I HATE taking them, even when I “earned” them. Today’s supposed to be one but I might sneak in something. I find myself taking “active rest days” instead: usually involving a nice, long pup walk. Makes me feel good to know I’m still moving, even if it’s not as hardcore as other days.

    • I used to hate them too, friend. I now embrace them and use the time I would have used working out to do something else that is “me” worthy. I find that switching my focus on days when I am itching to get a workout in and its supposed to be a rest day, that it totally helps me to re-embrace the rest.

  18. You said what I’ve been thinking for days now!! There is a small part of me that wishes I wasn’t injured so that I could go streaking (okay i really wanted to use that line ;P ) but I promise you — if I wasn’t injured I still wouldn’t have started the RW run streak.

    My body needs rest. My body needs quality runs in order to get better at running, not junk “just running to run” miles. yes – i am in between training for races right now, so quality isn’t AS important – but if I want to be better at my next half than my last, I’m not going to damage my body by running 7 days a week.

    I can certainly see both sides. We’re all friends with some super awesome, I could run a 50 miler in my sleep runners – those people can do this streak with no problem. A mile a day is nothing to them. NOTHING – I applaud them for that. I just know MY body and MY abilities.. I’d hurt myself eventually.

    One thing I like to point out though – and I still say more power to the people who are into a streak or can do it!! But — with that said muscles need REST in order to show improvement or growth. REST is just as important as a workout 😉

    • I LOVE YOUR COMMENT!!! Yes – we ALL have those friends who can knock out ultramarathons or marathon after marathon after marathon like it ain’t no thang. But here’s the thing – the VAST MAJORITY of us will never do those things. And therefore, I believe, the vast majority of us shouldn’t be considering runstreaks ala RW. That’s my beef with the whole thing really.

      And YES YES YES to the rest, just as important to the body as the workout itself is. Africkinmen. 🙂

  19. You are so not alone. When I saw that I was like, “Why?”. To me it just comes across as something more to say you did, another thing to blog about. I run because I want to or because I want to kill my next race and respect my body enough to know that some days it needs time on the couch or an easy yoga class. Great post!

    • YES. “another thing to blog about” or to “say you did.” SO agree. A lot of people (I suspsect) are using that as their main motivation for doing it. But ultimately, WHY do it if its going to do NOTHING for your overall fitness or training goals overall? Not worth it.

  20. The Runner’s World streak is a marketing move for them — by doing it and creating blogs about it (both positive and negative), they have succeeded in getting people to talk about them.

    All that aside, I see both sides of this discussion. While I love a good rest day or two, I don’t see anything wrong with safely doing a streak. That means running just a mile on rest days, sometimes two or three days in a row.

    I did their holiday run streak and it was a lot of fun — I was running at a time that I needed to maintain a solid base, but usually don’t do what I want; I also did a month-long streak of my own a couple of years ago and discovered that I can push myself through a lot. Both experiences have been positive for me.

    • You’re right about the marketing thing — and here I am promoting it for them. Duh. 😉

      But thank you for your thoughts here — like I’ve said, I *can* see both sides too, I just don’t necessarily agree with both sides. Ultimately it comes down to doing what works for YOU not what some magazine tells you is the “cool” thing to do.

  21. I agree with you for the most part. I am participating in the streak but if I feel like my body needs to rest I will. End of story. I plan on keeping my mileage short and if I have to I might walk a mile instead of run. Defeat the purpose? Maybe. For me it’s just a fun challenge but I won’t put my body at risk.

    • You’re looking at this as fun, not as something hardcore that you’re going to commit to, to the nth degree. And that I like a lot. Its a personal challenge for you and that’s it.

  22. I am so with you on this! I had a similar reaction when I saw Runner’s World jumping on the bandwagon. I can understand the challenge of it but I think it’s really important each runner knows what works for them – for me, streaking doesn’t work, I need my rest days!

    • Agree. And honestly, 99.999% of the population needs rest days EVERY week. An elite runner? Maybe not. But I daresay even THEY look forward to that rest day too.

  23. Ditto to what you said! I really thought about doing the streak because I have been lazy on the running front and looked at it as a challenge to get back to my training. Having said that, I thought it through and realized my body doesn’t like that MUCH running and that was asking for an injury …. FOR ME. So I did the first day and that was it 🙂 Like you, I prefer 3-4 days of running with the rest xtraining….seems to work just fine!

    • I’m glad you sat back and really thought about it first before committing. I know my body would hate me if I went for it. It just doesn’t do well running THAT much. So why would I risk injury and a frustratingly long month of sub-par runs just to participate in the streak, you know?

  24. I feel the same way, which is why I have never done a run streak. I love running, and although some days it is a fight to take a rest day, I make sure I do. My body and mind need them.

    • Absolutely — I love running too, but even I (the Type-A-er that I am) have learned to say “no” when my body tries to tell me it wants to run when I KNOW it’d be better off resting.

  25. I’m looking at it as something fun. I won’t cry if I stop 2 weeks later and I’m keeping mileage low. Only 1 mile on rest days. For me it’s more of a fitness thing. I feel like I’m motivated to keep sweating after my runs, so for now I’ll keep doing it until my body signals that it needs rest. I understand your reservations and believe that everyone knows whats best for themselves. To each their own.

  26. This is a really great post Jess. I feel very much the same way. I whole heartedly believe is rest and giving your body the time it needs to recover so that you can become stronger. I guess I kind of don’t believe in a streak of anything because it focuses more on quantity than just quality. But that’s also me and how I know my body responds to training. It’s an interesting conversation though.

    • That’s exactly right — to me, a streak emphasizes the wrong thing. Quantity over quality. I’m all for working hard to get stronger, build up endurance, etc., but I just don’t think more, more, more all the time is the way to go at it, per se.

  27. I agree with you. I won’t streak. Maybe if I were younger or hadn’t been fighting injury for a while, I’d consider it, but I can’t imagine it doing me any good. The last thing I need to do is hit the treadmill at 11:00 at night, just to keep a streak alive.

  28. I’m anti streaking too and I like the question you posed about why more has to equal better. We obviously are a people of excess in everything we do and yet, we still haven’t learned that excess usually comes to negative ends. My body is not fond of back to back running, but when I am consistant and purposeful with my running my body responds well.

    • YES. We are a NATION of excess. More is NOT better. Not at all. I wish this country would see that – no more supersizing, no more bigger, crazier challenges. Do what works for you and is good for your body, not what some magazine tells you to do, and certainly not something that in the back of your mind you know is probably not the best decision to be making, fitness-wise.

  29. youre never alone with these thoughts, and in fact i think they should have made it a “MOVE” streak. Walk, run, cycle, etc. Much better approach. I think it can cause stress and burnout but thats just my opinion

    • I love the idea of a “MOVE” streak — moving doesn’t have to mean something as high-intensity as running. I still believe that a full rest is very important, but also know that for some — doing SOMETHING active every day is good for their mind and soul, and that I’m ok with, for sure.

  30. As I just said on FB, I am in COMPLETE and TOTAL, 110% agreement with this! Loved it! Run Streaks are not for everyone. My body is happy with 4-5 runs a week. I’m still a runner. I’m still worthy. Streaking doesn’t make it so.

  31. So late to the comment game but…I think the “Run Streak” idea for them was more about a marketing tool. First of all, every time I see it, I think they are talking about running naked. Lol. That probably draws a lot of people in. Secondly, RW has to come up with new “stuff” every month so this was just one more thing. I don’t think a streak will hurt you if you are jogging one slow mile but…like someone else said, what’s the point? Do what works for you? There’s no real benefit to this kind of streak. I also agree with Cotter above…”move streak” sounds way better to me. — Ericka @ The Sweet Life (sweetlifeericka.com)

    • Not late to the game at all – I love that you’re weighing in now. I totally agree (esp about the running naked part lol) that this is just another “thing” from RW to keep readership alive…but then to see SO MANY hop on the bandwagon is frustrating to see. I just don’t think there’s a real benefit to the streaking thing and that’s what irks me about RW promoting one so heavily and broadly.

  32. I’m with you on this! I actually wanted to start the RW streak…I mean, a mile is just a mile, right? Wrong. I wanted to start it just for the sake of being a part of something fun…something so many of our fellow bloggers are participating in. But the more I thought about it…the more it scared me. I’m training for a half marathon. I’m following a plan. Why would I throw “just for the hell of it” miles in there? We all know I’m not the most graceful runner. (This is why I’m backing away from a 5K in two weeks that would be my first trail run. Hi. Rocks. Tree roots. Less-than-graceful runner. Not a good combo.) But I need the rest. Junk miles are a no, and I’m with you. RW knows the importance of rest for the muscles…I’m thinking an “active every day” streak would be a little less…risky.

    • SO glad you took a step back and thought about the impact this streak would have on your training for one, but on your body, more importantly. It’s that “for the hell of it” thing that irks me most — “hell of it miles” is just another way of saying “junk miles” to me. Junk miles are NEVER good. I don’t care how much they “train you” to work harder for every mile you’re in, I just don’t think they are worth it in the long run. I just don’t. And that’s that (LOL, as I stamp my foot for emphasis haha).

  33. I have never done a streak before for those reasons… I prefer 3-4 days of running per week, and that’s where I perform my best and I have little risk of injury. But with no upcoming races on the calendar, I decided to give it a shot. I’m sticking to my usual runs, and adding one very slow mile on my non-running days, and so far, so good! I average 30 miles/week, so this is just 3 extra miles (I wanted to be careful to stay within the 10% increase guideline). It’s kind of silly, really- I know I won’t benefit from those extra runs in terms of speed/endurance, but just something I decided to try for a fun challenge. I’m blogging about it on Monday, so I might link back to your post, if that’s okay. 🙂

    • I’m glad that you are being smart while streaking (even though I don’t agree with the concept in theory) — in your approach, you aren’t overly committed to it from the sounds of it so if you have to change things up partway through, it seems you’re open to that which I dig.

      And yes – feel free to link back to this post if you like, I’d love that! Thank you!

  34. I think it’s a very good argument. With that said, I am also run streaking… but I am doing it to get back into the groove of training. I am really great at listening to my body, so it tells me to stop. Well the streak is up and I’m done. But I refuse to injure myself before my first full marathon

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  36. I actually just finished my 9th day of streaking and I feel better and stronger than ever. HOWEVER, I was coming from a place where I had just trained hard for my first “long” race (the 10-mile Broad Street Run in Philly) and had allowed myself to get really lazy after the race. I was gaining back weight I spent over a year losing and just feeling all sorts of blah. So, I’m using the streak as a way to get myself back on track and build up some good base mileage before I start training for my first half marathon in a couple of weeks. But, with all that said? I LOVED this post and I think it’s fantastic that you posted it. I have actually thought to myself a few times, “Don’t get TOO caught up in this streak and hurt yourself.” But the way I look at it – when things at work or in other areas of my life get crazy, the first thing to go are my runs/workouts and this streak is keeping me accountable. And starting every other day or so with just one easy mile (I consider these my “off days” now) has been so good for my mind and my mood! I’ve had so much more patience and have even been sleeping better!

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  38. Oh my friend you are SO not alone on this one. Sometimes I go to run 3 days in a row, and that hurts enough to say backoff. I can’t imagine days upon days, running just to run, versus like you said quality well thought out runs on fresh legs. It’s pretty silly if you ask me.

  39. I’m doing the running streak since one of my main problems is lack of consistency and motivation. My friends are not really into running, so at times it’s hard to get myself going (though once I’m there, I really enjoy it!). I read about the streak and decided to give it a shot…knowing that I could stop whenever my body told me to do so. It’s been a good experience, because I think it’s helping me create a habit and I’m enjoying it. As some have said, if my body starts feeling tired, I’ll definitely stop. I really liked your insights!

    • I think that’s a good approach to the run-streak – to instill a habit in your days, one that maybe wasn’t there before. Just as long as you continue to listen to your body and stop the streak if need be, I’m all for it. Thanks for stopping by to share!

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