Running streaks are all the rage. To do it, simply set a timeframe (i.e., one month), and run every single day, usually for a minimum of one mile.
Streaks offer mental and physical benefits. For example, if you’ve struggled to get excited about running, a streak can be a great way to push yourself into the habit. “Just using the word ‘streak’ in your mind provides the motivation to get out there and be consistent, especially if you’re a competitive person,” says Meghan Kennihan, a certified personal trainer and running coach in LaGrange, Illinois.
When done right, a running streak can also help you develop greater endurance and speed or simply build a strong running base. “Having a strong running base sets you up for injury-free training in the future as you increase your distances or add speed training to the mix,” Kennihan says. Plus, you’ll appreciate rest days even more once your running streak is over.
That said, if you’ve never done a run streak before, there are some must-do’s if you want to finish fitter than you started and get through it pain- and injury-free. So, don’t start your streak until you read these expert tips.
If you’re a brand-new runner, you need to build a solid foundation before you attempt a streak. “It’s critical to have this base so that your joints, bones and muscles get used to the impact of running,” Kennihan says. Don’t try a streak until you’ve been running 3–4 days per week for at least four weeks, she says.
Once you’ve built a base, make sure you’re not experiencing any nagging pains or injuries. “If you have an injury or you are just coming back from any injury, then a run streak could exacerbate your pain and make [the injury] worse,” Kennihan says. If you’re prone to running injuries, a running streak may not be for you, she adds.
WATCH THE INTENSITY
The key to keeping a streak going is to be smart about your intensity. “If you monitor your intensity and keep it low for most of your miles, a running streak can be a great way to build fitness and improve endurance,” Kennihan says.
But if you try to beat your time day after day, you’ll likely crash and burn before the streak is over. “You shouldn’t be running hard as if trying to race or break records,” says Jasmine Marcus, DPT, a physical therapist in Ithaca, New York.
Assuming you’re running every day, at least 4–5 of your weekly runs should be done at an easy pace. This means you should be able to hold a conversation with someone running next to you, Kennihan says.
BE SURE TO WARM UP AND COOL DOWN
Perform a dynamic warmup before every run to prevent muscle soreness and injury. “The purpose of a dynamic warmup is to improve circulation, prepare the body for movement and to loosen any stiffness in the joints prior to beginning the run,” says Amanda Olson, DPT, a certified running coach.
Meanwhile, a post-run cooldown helps keep circulation going strong, which may prevent post-run soreness, she adds.
KEEP IT INTERESTING
Doing the same workout day after day can get stale after a while, making it harder to feel motivated enough to get out the door.
To freshen things up — and score strength benefits — turn your run into a strength circuit 1–2 times a week. Try this routine from Kennihan:
- 1/4-mile jog or run
- 10 pushups
- 10 bodyweight squats
- 10 bodyweight walking lunges (per leg)
- 10 crunches
(Repeat for 4 total rounds.)
Bridges and planks are also good exercises to support your running, Olson says.
Strength training, in general, helps you maintain overall strength in your core and glutes, which is key for injury prevention. “This means strengthening your lower body, including your core, calves, glutes and quads,” Marcus says.
DON’T IGNORE ACHES AND PAINS
Most of us don’t like quitting once we’ve started working toward a goal. But if your daily running routine causes aches and pains that limit your daily activities, it’s time to pause your streak. “Don’t let your ego take over and push through the pain,” Kennihan says. If you don’t address the pain right away, it will only get worse and may eventually turn into a sidelining injury.
In particular, severe pain in the shins, pelvis and/or hips warrants a pause and follow up with a doctor, Olson says.
Whether you want to run your first mile or set a PR, having a plan gets you there faster. Go to the MapMyRun app, tap “Training Plans” — you’ll get a schedule and coaching tips to help you crush it.