As a running coach, I never encourage my athletes to run every day as I do believe in the value of a rest day. However, many runners take pride in very long runstreaks, and throughout the year, you see various challenges encouraging you to run every day, usually for a month at a time. Short runstreaks can be good for boosting endurance, or getting back into a routine, but I’d only personally consider short term ones.
Having tried a long run streak in the past after being inspired by meeting the great Ron Hill, and managing 167 days before I decided to stop for my health, I didn’t think I’d want to do another one, valuing instead my rest days, but since I have completed shorter month-long runstreaks to build endurance back up ahead of ultramarathons.
I thought I’d share my own experiences and advice with you for a successful runstreak.
- Plan in recovery days, perhaps twice a week, but at least once a week where you really slow down – I mean REALLY slow down – and run just a short distance. This way you will avoid burning out, or injuring yourself. A good goal if you have a heart rate monitor is to stay in zone 2 for recovery runs.
- Don’t try to smash every run. This point relates to the former one- but plan in 3-4 runs as you would normally, with a good mix of distance, hills, speed etc – and use the rest as FUN days where you just enjoy yourself. I always take the dogs with me on my recovery days, as they’re usually trail, and they usually likes to stop a few times for a paddle, or a dig somewhere.
- Have a good mix of different types of runs, routes and terrain. Firstly, this will stop you getting bored. It will also prevent injury, and it will actually help your body become stronger as you work lots of different muscles. Run some hill reps. Do a long trail run. Try some downhill work – great fun! Explore a new route. Get lost in the woods for a while. Some days you don’t want to run, but your legs are as tough as your mind.
- Eat well! I don’t mean cake, I mean decent nutritious food. You’ll be surprised how quickly your mileage adds up running every day, so make sure you’re fuelling up properly and replenishing those calories you need.
- Don’t feel like you have to stick to a rigid minimum mileage. I’ve heard tales of runstreakers who make themselves run a certain distance each day – one story I heard was of a chap who dropped his house keys, then ran around in circles until he hit his minimum distance before he allowed himself to stop and pick them up. Don’t allow it to become an obsession, and remember that variety and FUN are key to a successful runstreak (see point 3).
- Your legs will naturally feel tired, but they do get used to it after around 3 weeks. Remember that the more we run, the more efficient we get at running, the fitter we get, and we are after all designed to run. If you take some days easy, and eat well, there’s no reason why you can’t have a successful runstreak. If you’re not sure whether it’ll suit you, why not try setting a 5k time at the start of the month, and then have a rest after you’ve finished your month of running every day, and try another time trial a week later. The results will tell you whether it’s suited to you or not.
- This brings me nicely onto my next point. Listen to your body. If it’s telling you something is painful, or you’re feeling run down, assess why, and have a rest day if you really need one. As a runner, listening to our bodies is a fantastic skill.
- Lastly, dry shampoo is the best invention ever. Stock up.
So if you are considering starting a runstreak, just remember to keep it varied, listen to your body closely to avoid injury and overtraining, and let me know how it goes!