A Run Streaking Experiment

Day 50 came and went. Day 51 and 52, also. Tomorrow will be day 53 of my run streak.

If you haven’t heard about streaking, they’re currently experiencing a bit of a burst in popularity (I’m attributing this to social media). According to Streak Runners International, Inc., a run streak is when you run at least one mile (1.61 kilometers) within each calendar day.

A couple months ago, I saw a few articles about them and noticed a few peers posted about doing them, so of course my curiosity was piqued. Why do people think it’s healthy to run 100, 1,400, or more days in a row when we know the importance of recovery? Why do people run through sickness and injury to maintain an imaginary streak?

I thought the idea of a run streak was wildly stupid.

So I tried it.

My one-month streak started on July 9. The week prior had been rough. I traveled to Florida for a family celebration and quickly realized I was flu-level sick. I spent a week feeling terrible and struggling to walk. When I finally was feeling human again, I was so excited to get back on the run that it felt like a perfect time to give it a go.

Traditionally, Sundays have been my rest day. The first Sunday was day 7 and it was tough to wrap my head around. I recruited my roommate to join me for a slog jog around the neighborhood – 2.25 miles going at whatever pace worked for him. The end of the run felt exhilarating. One week down!

The next few weeks found me completely changing my decade-long schedule. I eliminated most of my elliptical miles (a great way to avoid the sweaty, hot summertime gym) and starting waking up an hour earlier. Lo and behold, I remembered that I’m allowed to run at night, too! Beyond that, with the shorter runs I was doing, I realized it gave me a chance to explore beyond the running radius from my front door. New neighborhoods, new roads, new cities.

When it came to an end, July 9-August 8, my greatest takeaway was how great it was to switch it all up. It made the running incredibly fun and the streaking far easier than I thought it would be. It was crazy how quickly I got to that one-month goal. I didn’t feel ready to end it, so…

I kept going.

The peer who unknowingly inspired me to run streak went 50 so that was my new goal: A 50-day run streak.

…and as I said before, I hit 52 today because, I mean, 50 was a Sunday and I wasn’t going to take a Monday off…I think you can see where this is headed.

Now, I don’t exactly know what running many days in a row can do to a person’s body. I can assume that after a while (more than the mere 50 I’m at), the body breaks down a bit. As of right now, I haven’t noticed any tweaks or injuries. Amazingly, if anything, I feel stronger and on some days, faster. Maybe my body is adjusting to the changes.

Other positives? I’m actually tired at the end of the day, which means I go to sleep earlier and because I need to go to sleep earlier, I’ve finally started to make it a habit to eat dinner earlier (8pm is earlier). I’ve incorporated more Yin (which is my favorite yoga anyway) and I’m starting to work in some NormaTec Compression sessions at US Cryotherapy.

It’s the psychological side of the whole thing that concerns me. When I was reading up on the streaks, I was concerned that it’s overtly encouraged to run through injuries and illness. The quotes I read from streakers shared their deep pride of running through those things to keep their streak alive.

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I’m probably going to take an unpopular position on it and say that streakers are teetering well into addiction.

That’s not to say that a lot of us don’t run obsessively or through injury. Endurance athletes are probably known for that.

It just appears to go to a far deeper and more unhealthy place when a streak is involved. A runner can’t take a day off because if you stop, just for ONE SINGLE calendar day, it will feel like an undoing of a month, a year, a decade, or a lifetime. At a point, there becomes a dependence on the streak. And this is where it gets unhealthy to a level that is concerning.

At least that’s what I’ve noticed in my little experiment. Recognizing how easy it could be to fall into the cycle, I’ll stop this thing in the near future before I let it get too far. Once I get to a certain point I won’t want to – and might not be able to.

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