I have run twelve days in a row.
When I get my run in yet today, that will be day thirteen. When I complete my 5k race tomorrow, I will have run officially two weeks in a row without a day off.
After about eight days I realized this is the first time in awhile I’ve run more than a week straight. Then I thought it would be a fun challenge to see how many days in a row I can run. I coach boys cross country and a few days ago I posted on our team Facebook page, “Feeling pretty good that I’ve run 8 days in a row…I wonder how long I can keep this streak going? Anyone on the team want to challenge me?” A few kids on the team “liked” my challenge, so we’ll see what happens. Putting my crazy goal out there makes me more accountable and will make me think twice before taking a day off.
I truly feel running everyday is NOT a bad thing, but it’s not for everyone. I require it of my own team. I was raised by a hall-of-fame coach for a father who ingrained in me that if you want to be a competitive runner, such as a varsity cross country athlete or serious marathoner, you run everyday. Some runners don’t have the desire to compete at this level or have the time to train in this manner. If your goal is to become a better runner, and you have racing goals in mind, running everyday is the ultimate way to improve. If you consider yourself purely a recreational runner, missing days is fine.
The problem with taking days off, is you get in the habit of making excuses and skipping your run when you have an “off day.” What if you wake up and feel it is an “off day” on a race day? Are you going to give up before you even start? No. If you get used to running on days where you feel sluggish, tired, or just not in the mood to run, you realize you can still do it, and you can still perform well. Most times you feel better at the end of the run than when you started. The hardest part is the starting.
If you decide to give everyday running a try, make sure to alternate your stress-recovery routine. Never run two hard days in a row. The day after a hard run or speed workout an easy run can help you recover faster than a day off, because it flushes the lactic acid out and loosens up the muscles. Even though I am often tired and sore the day after a hard run, an easy day of running improves my overall physical and mental state. Some days I might only run one or two miles, and that is enough to get my heart rate up, my blood flowing, and my body loosened up for my next harder run.
Running everyday has many benefits:
1. You create a habit of running. It becomes a part of your lifestyle. Therefore, you are more likely to stick with it. I’ve noticed it carries over to other healthy decisions such going to bed at a reasonable time, starting my day earlier, not having that second glass of wine, and eating better.
2. Your body gets stronger by adapting to running through fatigue. For example, marathoners run as many as 20 miles in a single training run. In order to feel fresh, many take the day off before a long training run. Instead of resting, run a six miler the day before. That way your body is slightly fatigued for your long run. Come race day, your body will be more prepared because the twenty miler you ran in preparation will simulate the last twenty miles of the race as opposed to the first twenty. Whatever the race distance, everyday running will allow your body to simply perform better in the latter portion of the race as it gets fatigued.
3. You have a mental edge. My team trains with the attitude that when they step up to the line, they know they worked harder than anyone else there. The late, great Steve Prefontaine said, ”I’m going to work so that it’s a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it.” If you know you’ve put the work in, you will race tougher. The person that trained harder is usually more confident in digging deeper. Distance running is unbelievably mental. After training for many many days in a row, someone else is going to have to work awfully hard to beat me.
I’m not sure how long my running streak will last. At some point I may get injured, sick, have travel plans, or simply be too busy to get in my daily run. I’ll continue to train to be the best runner I can be and set a good example for my team. I won’t beat myself up if I miss a day, but you can bet I will run the next day. Now I’m off to complete day thirteen.