A running streak can be a useful, fun, and challenging way to meet more of your running goals. But is a run streak for every runner?
In this article, I want to go into depth on running streaks and answer a series of fundamental questions:
- What is a running streak?
- Is this type of challenge right for any runner?
- What are its main benefits?
- Do run streaks have drawbacks?
- How can we optimally structure a run streak?
First, let’s get our terminology right. What in the world is a running streak anyway?
At its most simplest, a running streak is when you run every day without fail. That string of consecutive running days is your streak.
Many runners establish a certain timeframe for their streak. So, for example, they might set a goal of running every day for 10 days, 30 days, or even an entire year!
While that sounds intimidating, let’s remember that a run streak is a type of challenge. It’s not training to run a certain time in a race distance. And that means the types of runs we can do during a running streak are very different than what we’d normally do during training.
The biggest difference is that most runners set a minimum distance of one-mile to count as an official run. This makes run streaking far more manageable than if you needed a more substantial run every day.
Even if you’re fatigued, sore, or just not interested in running, a single mile is usually doable!
But before you ever attempt a streak, let’s first understand the type of runner best suited for this challenge.
Who is a Run Streak Best For?
Running every day is an advanced thing to do for most runners. And holding yourself to a 7-day-per-week schedule week after week is even more advanced.
That means running streaks are easier for more advanced runners. This is due to a variety of reasons:
- Advanced runners often run every day anyway. Their training is already a run streak!
- With more experience, they really know their bodies and are better able to decipher its messages (i.e., they’ll be less prone to injuries)
- Experienced runners can cover distances in less time at the same effort (and they’re typically more economical), making mileage easier to complete
Because more capable runners are likely already streaking – and have the physical and mental tools to make a streak easier – they’ll thrive with running on consecutive days.
But that doesn’t mean only advanced runners can start a run streak!
In fact, even runners who are currently only running about four days per week can successfully complete a running streak. These may be the runners that benefit the most from a run streak!
- Running frequency is effective at increasing economy or efficiency (you get better with more practice)
- By running every day, runners will learn that it’s entirely possible (often, we run less because of limiting beliefs)
- Running more often will likely increase your weekly running mileage (more miles is almost always beneficial)
So while running streaks are fairly easy for advanced runners, they’re perhaps more impactful for beginners.
As long as they’re properly structured, you’ll thrive.
The Benefits of Running Streaks
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Now that we know what a run streak is and who stands to benefit the most, we can talk about those specific benefits. What is a running streak going to do for your fitness level and capabilities?
I consider running streaks to have 3 major benefits:
- Injury Prevention
Each gives you enormous advantages
Running every day is as consistent as you can get. While a few of your weekly runs may only be a single mile, the consistency you gain from a running streak is very real.
Getting out the door day after day teaches your body to expect and accept running. What becomes routine does indeed become easier.
Just like consistently flossing every day builds the habit, so does running every day.
While a mile isn’t a lot of running, it’s setting Step 1 of running higher mileage. It’s the foundation for you to be able to run more in the future.
If you’re sandwiching each run between a dynamic warm-up and a runner-specific core or strength workout, then you’ve added a powerful injury prevention stimulus to your training.
This practice builds athleticism, better prepares you for running, develops strength, and toughens your connective tissues to better withstand the stress of running. In other words, it’s one of the most effective strategies for staying healthy.
I also consider the warm-up and strength routine to be incredibly low risk (but high value) activities for runners. So adding more of this kind of work is almost always a good thing.
And by running every day, you’re certainly adding more workload of strength and dynamic flexibility.
Not sure where to start? Use the Mattock Warm-up Routine pre-run and the ITB Rehab Routine post-run.
And if you want extra credit, sign up for our complete injury prevention series to learn more about how to stay healthy.
Perhaps the most valuable benefit of a run streak is what it will do to your mental fitness.
If you’re successful, you’ll realize that you’re capable of more than you think. You’ll see that you can run every day.
And by experiencing this growth, you’ll ask more of yourself in the future. If you were previously used to running 3-4 days per week during training for a race, you’ll recognize that you can now train up 5-6 days per week.
This shift in thinking will soon be responsible for your next breakthrough. Because before you have a physical breakthrough, you must first believe you’re capable of one.
The Drawbacks of a Running Streak
Clearly, streaking has major benefits. But like almost any training strategy, it has drawbacks.
The major problem is that a run streak may force you to run when your body should not be running. While a single mile is probably very manageable for most runners even on a day when they’re sore or tired, it can also make injuries (or pre-injuries) worse.
If any area is hurting, or doesn’t feel quite right, going for a run may turn an annoyance into a full blown injury. And it’s this risk that makes running streaks more likely to get you injured.
Combine this with the fact that many runners are type-A personalities who want to complete their daily run no matter what, and a running streak becomes a scenario that almost breeds running injuries. To avoid injury, we need to structure our streak really well (more on this soon).
If you’re run streaking, it’s best to skip your run (and therefore end your streak) if:
- Pain causes you to change your running form to run more comfortably
- Whatever is bothering you becomes more painful as you run
- The discomfort is sharp, stabbing, or severe (rather than dull, achy, or sore)
If one or more of these are true for you, then your niggle is only getting worse with running. You’d be best served to focus on treatment and save a run streak for when you’re healthy and without any pain.
How to Streak Appropriately
If you’ve read this far and you’re keen on starting your own run streak, congratulations! You’re bound to learn a lot about yourself as a runner over the following weeks and months.
We even shot a video with more details on how to set up your running streak:
To ensure as much success as possible, let’s structure your running streak as best as possible.
First, start at a low weekly mileage level. If you’re used to running 30 miles per week, cut your miles to 20 and then fill in the days you wouldn’t normally run with a single mile.
This strategy keeps your overall mileage lower than what you’re used to, while your running frequency higher at 7 days per week. Your volume can build over time depending on how you feel.
Second, skip fast workouts (for now). To help yourself adjust to running every day, keep almost all of your running at an easy effort for a few weeks.
This helps you determine how running more consistently makes your body feel (without the added stress of hard workouts).
Third, prioritize injury prevention. You’re about to embark on something new that you’ve never done before. And the new stress of running 7 days per week must be mitigated by appropriate injury prevention measures:
- Running easy most days of the week
- Completing a dynamic warm-up before each run
- Following each run with a short strength or core routine
- Adequate sleep, time for relaxation, and an effort to reduce stress elsewhere in your life
- (get our complete injury prevention ecourse to help you learn even more best practices)
Follow these “Run Streak Best Practices” and you’ll likely be able to string together an impressive streak of runs on consecutive days.
Just remember that streaking is not training (i.e., training has very different goals than to simply run every day) so if you’re preparing for a race, you’d be better served following a more formal training program.
But if the goal is to run as many days as possible in a row while staying healthy, these best practices will help you join the ranks of the most consistent runners in the world.
Prioritize injury prevention, listen to your body, and have fun out there!