‘Tis the season for the running streak. The idea behind this phenomenon is to run at least 1 mile every day–and, during this season, the streak lasts from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Are running streaks actually a good idea for you and your body? That’s for you to decide. Personally, I have chosen not to participate.
This holiday run streak imagined by Runner’s World is basically 40 straight days of running with no breaks or downtime. For this runner girl, that is a recipe for disaster. I’ve learned the hard way that my body needs recovery days between runs. When I don’t take days off, I start to feel aches and pains that can lead (and have led) to more serious injuries. No one wants to be sidelined.
This is the season in which many people set new fitness goals and may be tempted to jump on the run streak bandwagon. New runners, older runners or runners prone to injuries may do more harm than good by pushing themselves to run for 40 straight days without rest.
Run streak advocates or those with an all-or-nothing attitude towards fitness can set many up for failure. Instead, why not challenge yourself to run x number of times per week during the holiday season? That way, you can choose a number that is appropriate for you and your fitness level, thus giving you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue running.
I can also easily fall into a “more is better” thought pattern. Once I get dressed and head out for a run, it is unlikely that I will stop after 1 mile. The 1 mile marker is usually when I start settling into my happy pace. Again, this puts me in a situation in which I can easily overdo it and get injured.
Lastly, I love running! I don’t want to feel that running is a chore that I have to do. To me, running when I want to run is a privilege, not a job to complete.
While I am clearly not an advocate of the run streak, I am a big proponent of doing some sort of activity or movement daily during the holiday season. For me, that means running three days each week and cross-training (by cycling, strength training, swimming or doing yoga) on alternating days, with one full rest day included every week.
Is the run streak a good idea for you and your body? Only you know the answer. Hopefully you will consider some of these issues and let us know what you think. Happy holidays!