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It’s that time of year again. The good people at Runner’s World have challenged us to a Holiday running “streak”, giving runner’s across the great world wide web something new to argue about (don’t you love the internet?). For those of you who may have never heard of it, the Holiday Run Streak rules are pretty simple: according to Runner’s World, you must run at least one mile per day from Thanksgiving through New Years Day. Walking doesn’t count, the elliptical doesn’t count, it’s 35 days of running. The motivation behind it obviously varies person to person, but the main idea is to stave off the extra holiday weight as well as trying to avoid giving up workout sessions for all of those company holiday parties.
Now, I’m sure that you will never believe it (heh), but the idea of running everyday has a lot of hardcore-amateur-runners up in arms, and they aren’t afraid to tell you so over the internet. Check any running online forum and you will see the streaking naysayers. “What about rest days?” they say, with a valid point, of course. And to an extent, I agree with the naysayers. As you probably know by now, the seven principles of exercise science get my exercise-science-nerdy-self pretty geeked (and I’m not ashamed to admit it.) A running streak of this magnitude has the potential to blow most of those principles out of the water, especially recovery. And for a beginner, any exercise streak, be it running, burpees, or even sit ups, has the potential to create an injury.
But… for those of us well versed in running, as Runner’s World says (and I will reiterate) not every run has to be a hard run. There is a lot to be said for active recovery; the increased blood flow from light exercise can actually aid in recovery by stimulating waste removal and pushing everyone’s favorite molecule, oxygen, to those sore muscles. Simply put, if you are a qualified candidate and you do it right, the streak might not be such a bad idea after all.
So, since I’ve got nothing in the racing queue, I decided I was going to streak. Why? Well…why not. (See aforementioned “I’ve got nothing in the racing queue”). I’ve been really enjoying getting back into a regular running routine lately. So why not enjoy running EVERY SINGLE DAY? That may or may not have been sarcasm, I haven’t decided yet.
I started streaking on November 25th, a Monday, because once I get an idea in my head, I’m pretty impatient. Why wait until Thanksgiving when I could start that day? And today, December 3rd, makes streak day #9. This very well may already be a record for me as far as running streaks go (long live the rest day!) I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about this streaking business, other than the fact that as I approach double digit days (tomorrow) the inner competitive voice that typically convinces me to do ridiculous things probably won’t let me quit this streak until 2014 or a stress fracture, whichever comes first.
Alas, I am not Runner’s World, but I am just a girl with a blog who is streaking because it seemed like a good thing to do at the time. So here’s my
two nine cents, real world tested of course, on these streaking shenanigans in case you have the urge to join in:
Do NOT Streak If:
You are a Non or New Runner. Obvious to many of us, but perhaps not so much to the eager newbie who is overly excited about the challenge placed before them. (It’s OK, I get that way too). According to Runner’s World and the United States Running Streak Association (who knew there was such a thing?) it is recommended that potential streakers should have been running on a regular basis for at least six months.
You are a Runner Prone to Overuse Injuries. Another obvious suggestion, yet another one that may be ignored by the overzealous. If you frequently find yourself with shin splints, ITB issues, plantar fasciitis, etc, as you increase your mileage, than you should skip this challenge.
If You are Training for an “A” Race: If you have a specific training plan laid out before you, with grand hopes of a PR (either in time or distance), you should follow your training plan instead of streaking. It was likely designed by someone who knew what they were doing (or a coach who will roll their eyes at you when you don’t follow their plan), and your rest days were specifically placed at that point during the week to either help you recover from a tough workout, or force you to rest before an upcoming brutal workout. MY CURRENT REALITY is that despite running every day for the last nine days, my mileage has NOT increased. If anything, it might be decreasing, as I find myself squeezing just one or two miles in each day at the gym, simply for the sake of the streak, instead of stopping to plan an actual RUN. Perhaps I should work on this. Regardless, if I was following a specific training plan, I don’t think the running streak would work out for me. My legs are tired.
DO Streak If:
You Need a Kick in the Cold Weather Compression Pants: Winter is cold and dreary and miserable and everything horrible that is NOT SUMMER. And if you are anything like me, winter makes you lazy. A challenge like an every day run streak can be fun (yes, even treadmills can be fun) and motivating. As I mentioned above, I’m 9 days in and completely hooked.
You Want to Increase Running Frequency: Want to run more often? This is the challenge for you. As mentioned above, do not confuse running more often with running more miles, as this may or may not happen. But if you want to train your body to run more often throughout the week, this challenge will help.
You Want to Stay on Track During the Holidays: Just don’t let the extra mileage convince you that you can drink three times as much eggnog.
You are Bored: Simply put, running beats playing Candy Crush.
There are no prizes in this virtual “Streaking” event…so if you need to modify, modify. Sure, Runner’s World says it HAS to be running, but this is my blog, and I’m going to tell you it’s OK to make your own streak. I’ll even make you your own hashtag (the official twitter streaking tag is #RWRunStreak). I think a “physical activity” streak is a fantastic idea for anyone trying to make exercise a regular part of their life. Just be sure to incorporate easy days (gentle yoga, walking, relaxed swimming, etc) in between the harder workouts.
And if you do choose to run everyday, be sure to alternate your harder runs with easy runs. No one wants an injury simply for the sake of twitter hashtag bragging rights. (Trust me, 6-8 weeks is a loooong time when you can’t run).
I’ll update you further as the shenanigans unfold…until then, happy streaking!