You see people posting all the time about their run streaks – they make it a goal to run at least a mile every single day. They tally their running streaks – aiming for 100 days or 1000 days or simply aiming to never break their streak. Now, in a perfect world, this would be fine.
I hate to break it to you, but we don’t live in a perfect world. Life happens. We get sick. We get injured. And you know what you should do when you’re sick or injured? Rest.
And yet people proudly proclaim how even though their knee really hurt or they had a fever of 102 degrees, they still managed to keep up their run streak. This is not something to be proud of. I’ve seen people talking about running through major injury, against doctor’s orders. Just because they want to keep up their streak.
For some, the argument is “If I break my streak, it’s over and I won’t go back out for a run.” And on some level I understand that. But maybe it’s time to find something different to motivate you. Maybe instead of a run streak, you make it a goal to do something active every day. If you have a sick day or an injured day, maybe you do some easy stretching or some very gentle yoga. You’re moving your body but not putting yourself at risk.
On Twitter, you will see the hashtag #restdaybrags. I love this hashtag. It was created to counter the run streak and to emphasize that rest days are good. Resting is good for your body. Recovery is a huge element in training, one I think too many people ignore.
I admit, I don’t love when I miss a workout either because I’m sick or injured or plain exhausted. But listening to my body is a hugely important part of my racing plan.
I’m sure a number of my friends will disagree with this post. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who have seen quality results from run streaking. But there are plenty of people who have run through illness and injury as well.
While I think everyone should take rest days, if you’re absolutely stuck on the run streak, maybe you shorten the interval. Instead of just going for the maximum number of days, how about a 10 day run streak? You aim to accumulate 10 day run streaks. So the 11th day starts a new streak. Or maybe you take a rest day and start over. This way, if on day 4, you’re sick in bed, no big deal, just take a rest day and start the ten day streak over. You can still count the streaks. “I’ve done 50 10 day run streaks!” But you are also allowing yourself to listen to your body.
I think most runners have heard from non-runners “Why do you do that? You’re going to destroy your body.” And we all deny that and talk about how running has made us healthier. But if we don’t listen to our bodies, those non-runners are going to be right.