Why and How to Start a Running Streak
By Emily Stewart, Abe Ankers, Tom Koscher
Regular exercise has been proven to increase overall quality of life for many people, regardless of their age or fitness level. And while variety in exercise matters, running is admittedly one of the easiest and most low-maintenance ways to move. Whether you’re looking for an easy-to-maintain type of exercise, or you’re seeking an exciting workout challenge, going on a running streak might be just the thing you need!
Running Streak Defined
A “running streak” is when you run on consecutive days for a certain period of time. According to the rules of the United States Running Streak Association, a run must be at least one mile (1.6 km) long.(1) The streak ends when you miss a day of running.
Word of caution: Be careful how you discuss your “running streak” with friends! They may mistake the term for “streaking,” which is running naked across a sports pitch. “Streaking” is unlawful and punishable in most countries!
Mental Health Benefits of Running Every Day
Regular exercise has been shown to positively affect stress, anxiety, and depression.(2, 3, 4) Without a doubt, exercise is good for your mental health. In fact, people who exercise regularly even experience running more positively. One study showed significant mood enhancement and feelings of vigor after a run in those who exercised regularly compared to those who didn’t.(5)
Daily habits have immense potential to improve our health, and physical activity is an essential part of a healthy daily routine. Exercise can improve sleep, reduce stress, promote weight loss, and lower the risk of diabetes and cancer.(6) But did you know that these benefits are significantly increased through consistent, regular exercise?
Streak running is a great way to build consistency into your training – and your life!
How to Start a Run Streak
1. Create A Schedule
Running every day can be challenging for any runner. Choose a time of day that suits you, set your intended timeframe, and you’ve got your running schedule.
In order to add variety to your daily running routine, you can mix in different training methods: fartlek, long slow runs, tempo runs, short hill runs, etc.
2. Map and Track Routes
It’s important to find runs in your area that meet the required one-mile mark. Plan and memorize a few simple ones. Then, when you’re strapped for time, you can just throw on your shoes and hit the pavement without having to worry about meeting the running streak rules.
The motivation is usually highest at the beginning. In order to keep this level up, you should start slowly. Streak running is not about breaking a new record every day. Divide your mileage up well, switch between running fast and slowly, shorter and longer distances. This is a great way to develop your running potential.
By starting your training with short and slow runs, you give your body time to adjust to the effects of exercise. You protect your joints, avoid overtraining, and prevent painful injuries.
You can set streak goals on the adidas Running app. Try increasing your streak by one day each time you make an attempt, or try rewarding yourself after each streak.
4. Practice Moderation
Compared to other forms of exercise, running streaks are unique in that they don’t need to be intense to have a profound impact on mental health. Many studies conclude that runners who take relaxed jogs express higher levels of confidence and positive mood than those who run in competitions or run higher-intensity styles (like marathons or sprints).(7)
Furthermore, these mental health benefits became stronger with time. Those who ran regularly for three weeks during a study were happier than those who ran regularly for just two weeks. Therefore, when planning your initial running streak push, set a goal for three weeks of moderate runs.(8)
One study found that runners experienced positive mood changes only after 40 minutes of running. If you’re running to find happiness, consider incorporating 40+ minute runs to your schedule.(9)
5. Plan Recovery Time
Does running every day and recovery sound like a contradiction to you? It doesn’t have to be. Here’s three ways to make sure your body has time to recover:
- Vary intense runs with relaxed, slow runs, during which your muscles experience active recovery.
- Additional stretching relaxes your muscles and with a foam roller you can stimulate your connective tissue and loosen tension and knots.
- If you need a rest but don’t want to break your streak, consider a run in the morning followed by an evening run on the next day.
6. Running Nutrition
Along with proper recovery, the right nutrition will strengthen your performance. When you run every day, you burn more energy. Make sure you drink enough fluids and eat a balanced diet.Eat meals rich in quality carbohydrates like whole grain pasta to keep your body supplied with enough glycogen.
This way you’ll have the energy you need for your daily runs. Healthy fats and protein, which you can find in meat, fish, beans, nuts, and eggs, will refill your energy stores after the run. Fruit and vegetables provide you with additional vitamins and minerals.
7. Listen To Your Body
There is no place for excessive ambition in streak running, like any kind of professional training. Beginner runners should be careful about the goals they set for themselves. Give your body time to get used to running.
The moment you feel that you are overtraining, take a break from your run streak. Typical running problems like shin splints and ankle sprains are nothing to laugh at. Knee problems and back pain resulting from poor running form are common side effects of overtraining. You can prevent problems like this by warming up properly.
Bodyweight training exercises to strengthen your muscles will help improve your running performance.
In summary: know when to stop – especially if you need to recover from illness or injury. Every streak has its last day. You can always start a new one!
8. Run with Friends
Getting your friends and colleagues to join you might not be the easiest task. Here’s a blog post discussing all of the perks to working out with a buddy. Share it with your friends before asking them to go on a run with you.
The Science Behind Running Streaks
While you might chalk a successful running streak up to willpower or good weather, there’s actually complex physiological processes occurring when someone starts running everyday. Here’s what’s happening inside your body and mind when you’re on a running streak.
The Virtuous Circle
Many runners find it easier to stick to their daily run than skip days and start again. That’s because exercise and our ability to control our behavior (like sticking to a training plan) are connected in a virtuous circle. Each day you continue your streak, your brain gets better at resisting the temptation to skip a workout.
Winning the battle of maintaining your streak on a rough day boosts your motivation for life’s other challenges.
There is an established link between regular exercise and the ability to stick to a healthy diet.(13) This phenomenon is known as cognitive transfer. The theory suggests that by deciding to run every day you will improve your ability to make other healthy decisions, like eating a healthier diet. More great news for streak runners.
Most people can form a habit in 10 weeks. Imagine the strength of a habit spanning years! The stories of runners maintaining their streak on wedding days and in times of tragedy are inspiring but the secret is simple; habit formation.
Our brains like to be efficient. That’s why when we get in the car we automatically put on the seat belt. We save effort by responding to a cue (getting in the car). Over time, the decision to run every day can also become automatic, requiring very little effort.(14)
H2. Running Gear Checklist
Now that you understand the mental health benefits to running every day, created a plan for starting your running streak, and educated yourself on the psychological impact, it’s time to gear up! Here’s a list of items that can help you on your running journey.
✓ Shoes: it pays to invest in good running shoes if you want to be a streaker. The right fit will help prevent injuries.
✓ Outfit: get the right clothing for any weather. This includes hi-visibility clothing for nighttime, cold-weather running jackets, lightweight rain jackets, and barely-there shorts for sunny days. You can find all of these items on the adidas Shop app!
✓ Route planner: as mentioned earlier, having an app to track your routes is key. Better yet is having an app that also helps you set goals, connect to other runners, and explore new locations. Download the adidas Running app to your phone for these benefits (and more)!