I recently completed the Runner’s World Run Streak. The idea is to run at least one mile per day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. There also seems to be a push to post about the streak on social media (#RWRunStreak). I did not do this at all because I don’t have Twitter, I only use Facebook to see my brother’s engagement pictures, and my Instagram is primarily a carefully curated selection of cat pictures. I also didn’t motivate other streakers via hashtagging because I very purposely didn’t tell anyone I was doing this.
I did this on a whim after I ran a Turkey Trot and decided that I wouldn’t be racing a December half marathon. This may not seem rational but I figured that I’d feel less pressure to keep the streak going if no one knew I was attempting it. I am not a stranger to injury so I really wanted to make sure I’d feel okay quitting partway through if needed and I felt it would be easier to do that if I didn’t tell anyone. (Though I did tell my boyfriend about it 2 or 3 weeks in when he asked why some of my runs seemed so short. More on the short runs later…).
Some pros and cons of the running streak:
- Pro: I ran during my vacation. I was out of town from December 21st-January 1st. Last year I barely ran during the holidays, mostly due to low motivation. This year I was nearly a month into the streak when I left Austin and I ran every day when I was in Philly and NYC. I’d consider that a big improvement over last year.
- Con: I mostly ran junk miles during my vacation. This was primarily due to being away from my usual running spots and not having easy access to a track or treadmill for speedwork. Could I have tried harder to get in some fast miles and a long run? Yes. What got in the way? Low motivation and feeling a bit burned out. Also wine.
- Pro: No rest days. In the past I’ve tended to take one or two rest days per week. Sometimes they will be planned and sometimes they will happen spontaneously due to unforeseen long work days or laziness. During the streak I couldn’t randomly declare Tuesday a rest day and move my planned run to Thursday. No rest days meant I had to run and, with the exception of when I was on vacation, once I put on running clothes and got out the door I was generally able to finish my intended mileage.
- Con: Rest = very short runs. There were a bunch of 1-2 mile runs during these weeks due to being worn out from the previous day’s run or being very short on time. Putting on running clothes to run for less than 20 minutes felt stupid and pointless
- Bonus Con: Increased amounts of dirty laundry
- Pro: Weight loss (?). I don’t weigh myself very often but in late December I noticed that some of my clothes were looser than usual. I finally hopped on the scale today and was down about 6 pounds since the last time I recall weighing myself for a health screening at work in early October. 6 pounds in 3 months is not very dramatic and I tend to lose a little weight around this time of year as I increase my mileage. But I’m listing this as a Pro because I’m back in what I consider my ideal 5 pound weight range where I’m running decent mileage and have energy and can mostly eat whatever I want.
- Pro: I did not get injured. I started to have some soreness in my arches like I did in February but I was able to manage that with the exercises I learned in PT. I’ve been very roughly following these two training plans leading up to the 3M Half Marathon. The rest days in the plans became short, easy runs and then I cut back on some of the other easy runs each week. This kept me from increasing my mileage too dramatically. I’ve also become a lot better about doing most of my runs based on feel. I still have my Garmin or phone with me most of the time because I’m too addicted to having data but I only look at the screen if I’m trying to run fast. This has helped me keep the easy runs easy.
- Con: I still felt very tired sometimes. I nearly threw in the towel between December 6th and 13th when we were moving things out of our old apartment nearly every night. I have a desk job, so I’m not used to being on my feet that much outside of the time I spend running. I was exhausted that week. I managed some faster running– including a 5K— but my legs felt dead most of the time.
- Con: I’m not sure all of this helped me train for a half marathon. Yes, I was much better about running during the holidays than I was last year but I don’t think my workouts improved– if anything, they may have suffered a bit from the aforementioned fatigue. And, for better or worse, my overall mileage each week wasn’t much different than it would have been if I’d taken my usual rest day or two. I think the 10K I’m running this Sunday will be an important indicator of my current fitness. I ran this race in 2014 and 2015, so I’m especially curious to see how my time will compare to previous years (even though the race distance has been different each time I’ve done this “10K”).
And now I’m going to present a list of all of the runs I did during the streak. If you’re not interested in this (though I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be?!), feel free to skip down to the “Closing Thoughts”.
Week of 23-Nov:
Wednesday: 4 miles easy
Thursday: 5 miles total including the Cedar Park Turkey Run 5K in 22:51.
Friday: 6.08 miles easy
Saturday: 6.22 miles easy on a hilly route
Sunday: 14.01 miles easy
Week of 30-Nov:
Monday: 2.16 miles easy in new shoes I got on Black Friday. Someday I will get around to writing a proper review of them.
Tuesday: 8 miles total with 4 x 1600m @ 10K pace (7:30, 7:30, 7:24, 7:30)
Wednesday: 2.24 miles easy
Thursday: 5.03 miles easy
Friday: 5 miles total with 800m/1600m/2400m set at 5k/10k/HM pace.
Saturday: 4.24 miles easy
Sunday: Decker Challenge Half Marathon (done at long run effort)
Week of 7-Dec (i.e. the week we were moving stuff almost every day):
Monday: 1.84 miles easy (legs were sore from hills and lifting boxes!)
Tuesday: 4.02 miles easy
Wednesday: 5 miles total with 3 x 1200m @ 5K pace
Thursday: 2 miles easy. Per Daily Mile: “Seriously thought about ending my streak today but I got a bit of a second wind in the early evening and decided to pound out one or two easy miles in the dreaded apartment gym.”
Friday: 3.89 miles easy
Saturday: 8.23 miles easy (but felt hard due to humidity and exhaustion)
Sunday: 6 miles total including Jingle Bell Not-Quite-5K in 22:15
Week of 14-Dec:
Monday: 3.01 miles easy
Tuesday: 6 miles with 3 x 1600m @ 5K-10K pace (7:30, 7:24, 7:19)
Wednesday: 4.7 miles easy
Thursday: 6 miles with 2 x 400m/800m/1200m @ 20 seconds faster than 5K pace/5K pace/HM pace.
Friday: 1 mile easy. This was supposed to be 3-4 miles but I was at the office later than planned and barely had time to run 1 mile before I had to jump in the shower and get ready for my boyfriend’s fancy work holiday party. Never before has 1 easy mile felt so stressful.
Saturday: 3 miles easy
Sunday: 12 miles with 2 x 2 mile at HM pace (7:45-7:50 min/mile)
Week of 21-Dec:
Monday: 2.o5 miles easy. Then I hopped on a plane to Philly.
Tuesday: 3.99 miles easy.
Wednesday: 3.99 miles easy.
Thursday: 4.01 miles easy.
Friday: 9.18 miles easy. I was hoping to do 12+ but I was not prepared for it to be 70 and humid in Pennsylvania on Christmas and headed home when I started to feel dehydrated.
Saturday: 2.94 miles easy
Sunday: 2.89 miles easy. Daily Mile note: “Motivation is waning…”.
Week of 28-Dec:
Monday: 2.47 miles easy before hopping on a bus to NYC
Tuesday: 5 miles (?) easy on a hotel treadmill. I really had every intention of doing some speed work here but the treadmill at the hotel had serious issues– I had to crank up the speed to 10.5-11 mph to feel like I was running moderately hard! Those 800m repeats went by so fast though…
Wednesday: 4.1 miles easy
Thursday: 3.83 miles easy
Friday: 3.06 miles easy in the late afternoon after arriving back in Austin
Saturday: 5.7 miles easy
Sunday: 13 miles with miles 11 and 12 at HM effort (7:49, 7:51)
And then on Monday I took a complete rest day that was very much planned since I had an early work meeting and was predictably at the office late getting caught up after vacation. Around the third week of the streak I started to worry about how I’d feel about ending it. Honestly, it felt so good to not run on my first day back at work following 2 weeks out of the office. Several days later I still have zero regrets about ending the streak when I did.
I think this was helpful for maintaining some amount of running while I was out of town. After we finished moving I felt like I got into a groove where there was no doubt as to whether I’d run every day– it was just a question of how fast and how far. I’ve been very cautious about my mileage and taking adequate rest following my stress fracture in 2014. I think the streak taught me that I can be a bit more aggressive with my training if I am diligent with stretching, strength work, and other injury prevention.
With that said, I don’t think I will do a streak again during this time of year. Aside from when I’m out of town I’m usually running 35-40 miles per week anyway as I train for the bigger fall and winter races in town. It’s hard for me mentally and physically to put 100% of my energy into a race or tough workout if I don’t have any days completely off from running. I might try doing another streak of a month or so during the summer when I’m less likely to be training for something and historically have lacked motivation due to the dreadful Texas heat.
I think this was my longest post ever on this blog! But I hope it is helpful for anyone who is considering a running streak. I know some people have streaks stretching multiple years or even decades. Good for them but I can say with confidence that I will not be attempting that at any point.