I am a runstreaker.
I attempted a runstreak a few years ago and got to 279 days before tearing a calf muscle during a race. That was it. I had given it a go, achieved reasonable success but that was that box ticked, never to be revisited. Until a few years later…
A few friends I had made through Twitter were runstreaking but it was a particular friend who inspired me to have another go. He stated that it was his aim to run every day for a year and then stop. Stopping is the hard part! He succeeded on 27th September 2013. I decided to try the same and so my runstreak started on 28th September 2013 and at the time of writing, I have failed to stop.
So what’s so good and what’s so bad about this sort of behaviour?
I’ll get the obvious good points out of the way first. Exercise is good for you, both physically and mentally. There that didn’t take long. Less obvious benefits include the following:
It takes the decision making process out of one’s hands. There is no dilemma as to whether to run today or not.
It slowly builds up stamina.
Bad points? Er…..struggling here! People ask how I don’t get injured. Don’t your knees hurt? Etc etc. Well actually I think this is a good not bad point. My body is stronger for it and so is less likely to suffer injury. I run 90% off road which I think helps too.
Now some thoughts on my own experience, totally unscientific, totally unproven but very personal.
By running every day, my body has become used to it. My muscles just start to work, my joints to move. Running longer distances (more of which later) have, I am fairly sure, taught my body to burn fat for energy which is more consistent than the sugar high, sugar low experiences I have had in the past. The longer I go, the more my body asks for salty stuff like nuts and the longer I go, the more I gag at the thought of sweets.
Mentally I am delighted to be able to do what I do and for me that is a huge plus. It makes me feel good about myself and having flirted with depression I can tell you for sure that that is important.
And it’s the mental side of the runstreak that interests me most. Aside from the benefit mentioned above, what else goes on in my head?
To start with my objective was to try to run every day for a year. Runstreak rules dictate that the minimum allowed is one mile. I had a good few one mile streaksavers in that first year but by the end of 2014 (including the 95 days in 2013)I had run 2512 miles at an average of 5.46 per day. I had upped my mileage considerably in the latter half of the year to try to run 2014 miles in the year 2014, which I achieved on Christmas eve if I remember correctly.
My runstreak then became a bit aimless in 2015. I had no intention of repeating the calendar year mileage total. Indeed my total for that year was 1626 or 4.46 per day, a drop of one mile per day. The runstreak was the important thing, not the mileage.
2016 changed all that. Having “retired” from marathon and long distance running generally in August 2015, I found myself lured back. I upped my targets and what at one time would have been a high mileage week became the minimum acceptable. 50 miles. But will that not be enough in the future? This is where the lines start to become blurred.
In 2016 I ran over 100 miles in a 7 day period once (if not a true Monday to Sunday week) by running half marathon distance or more each day, I ran an 80 mile week and ran in total 2606 miles for the year or 7.12 per day. Do you see where I am going with this? The targets seem to have to keep going up so is this a downside of the runstreak or the mental fragility of this runstreaker? I suspect it’s the latter.
In the meantime, I’ll keep on running.