Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, trainer, or fitness professional. This is just what is working for me during my own run streak. Please be smart and listen to your body if you decide to try a run streak.
On January 1 this year, I embarked on a run streak, so I’m currently 29 days in. I had no real goal other than to make running a regular part of my life again post-baby. My first attempt at a run streak in 2015 ended after two weeks, because I was just too busy and stressed out to continue. I decided now would be a good time to try again because I am home full time with Baby V, and I have a treadmill in my basement, so I have much more time and the necessary equipment.
Streaking is definitely not for everyone, and regardless of how fit you are, can lead to over-training and injury. I really wanted to make sure that I did things the right way this time around, so that I could surpass my old record of two weeks. Here are some of my tips for staying healthy during a run streak.
It can be very tempting to skip the warm up when you’re “only” going to do a short run. But taking just a few minutes to do some dynamic stretches always pays dividends for me; I don’t feel as stiff and have an easier time getting going. If nothing else, I usually incorporate a few squats, calf raises, and hip swings before each run to wake up my muscles.
Don’t Skip Recovery
It’s easy to think, “I only ran one mile today, I don’t need to stretch or roll.” But if you’re skipping your recovery efforts every day, it’s all going to build up. Even five minutes of stretching or rolling a day can help keep you from the aches and pains that might stop your streak. Don’t forget about massages, chiropractic, or acupuncture, if they are part of your normal routine.
Alternate Longer Runs and Shorter Runs/Easy and Hard Runs
For me, this is essential. If on a particular day I run any distance longer than one mile, the next day, I will ONLY run one mile. It’s simply not sustainable for me to run all the miles on all the days, or work speed or hills on all days. You’ve got to give your body a break.
Fuel Your Body
Running every single day is more effort than I’ve put out in a while. I need to make sure that I’m eating enough calories and drinking enough water to sustain the extra work. This is doubly true because I am a breastfeeding mother. I absolutely cannot skimp on quality calories that are a mix of protein, carbs, and fat.
Don’t Forget Your Crosstraining
During a run streak, it can feel like you’re already getting “enough” exercise, so it’s easy to lay off weight training, yoga, cycling, or your other interests. But running and ONLY running when you usually mix it up can lead to overuse and injury. If all the running is tiring you out, try just adding a few simple body-weight exercises every day at the end of your run. I love to throw in squats and planks, because they are simple exercises that are very good for runners. I often do hip strength exercises like clam shells and leg lifts while I’m lying on the floor playing with Vera.
Listen to Your Body
As I said above, streaking is not for everyone. The most important thing you can do when attempting a run streak is to be in tune with your body and STOP if you start to feel any warning niggles or pains. I’m proud that I stopped my streak in 2015 because I knew it wasn’t working for me. There is no shame in protecting yourself and doing what’s right for your body.