In addition to my official running resoluion, my boyfriend James and I made an unofficial resolution to streak together. No, it wasn’t to see who could run naked the furthest without getting caught, although I guess nudity is an option!
Many streakers claim that they didn’t intend to start a streak, it kind of just happened. Then after a year or so of streaking it became a new challenge to see how long they could go without missing a day of running. My guy already has some street cred in that his longest streak is close to four years, set during the periods of high school and college. As of this writing, my current streak is at 37 days. Prior to that, my longest streak was 36 days.
And since streaking is on my mind, I’d like to share a few tips in case you decide you’d like to challenge the longest current streak in the United States, which is held by one Mark Covert, who has been running every calendar day for:
44.47 years. Yes, nearly 44 and a half years of running at least 1 mile a day!
The parameters of Covert’s and other streaks are set by the United States Running Streak Association (yes, there’s an actual association!), which defines a streak as running at least one continuous mile (1.61 kilometers) within each calendar day under one’s own body power, without the utilization of any type of health or mechanical aid other than prosthetic devices.
As my streak continues, I’m trying to become more aware of how I feel while running and more importantly, how I feel after running. I’ve noticed that there has not been a single run in which afterward, I felt horrible. In fact, even when it was a hard run, I’ve always felt more relaxed and sometimes even able to focus better on other tasks. Once it even cured a headache! Sounds like a magic pill, doesn’t it? Well, consider me sold on theories about running endorphins as a daily medicine. This type of mindset surely makes streaking more possible.
But just as every pill has side effects, so does streaking. Critics argue that running without any rest days can lead to injury and burnout. Word on the message boards is that streakers are obsessive and too extreme. I could see taking things too far if you were on the brink of injury when you started your streak. Let’s say you are 40 days in and are experiencing the symptoms of a stress fracture. Well, the obvious answer would be to stop running. It’s only 40 days. And once you heal, you can start over.
Now, what if you were 40 years in and experiencing the symptoms of a stress fracture? A bit tougher, eh? For Julie Maxwell, the decision to stop was heartbreaking when her 33 year running streak ended after a fall. For the other legends, like Mark Covert, it becomes easier to run through pain when you are on a streak. The key, they say, is easy running. Which leads me to my first tip for holding a running streak.
Just as easy days are the bread and butter of a good training plan, so are they the bread and butter of a running streak. Running easy allows the body to recover from the hard workouts while still buiilding the aerobic system. Typically, easy running is based on feel. When one runs by feel, it ensures that the body will appropriately recover and minimize injury. And if you are on the brink of injury but don’t want to ruin your streak, it helps to run easy until you’re pain free.
According the USRSA, you could run a mile a day for the rest of your life and get on their list. But what would be the fun in that? It’s likely the one mile rule is reserved for those with years long streaks who just got out of hernia surgery. You see, the majority of the streakers have years of training under their belts before their streaks officially began. When you make running a consistent and almost daily routine, you become stronger and build that muscle memory, making it easier to try streaking.
Runner, Know Thyself
With consistency comes the ability to learn how to read aches and pains. The more you run, the more you learn. Many streakers develop a keen sense of body awareness, thus likely experiencing a higher pain tolerance. After three years of pretty consistent running, I’ve noticed a better ability to read what pains are a red flag and what pains can be rubbed out with a foam roller or awesome ART specialist.
Now, I’m no expert, but I know that with only 37 days under my belt, I’m bound to face some challenges. However, this little streaking challenge has helped me better appreciate each and every run so far this year. And as time goes on, I’m sure there will be fine lines drawn between a daily routine and an obsessive compulsive disorder. But keeping in the present moment, I’m enjoying this magic little pill called running.
What’s your longest running streak? What types of situations could potentially ruin your streak?