Should you start a run streak?

[00:00:00] When we’re thinking about running something I talk about very often is consistency, because consistency breeds results. When you’re consistent with your practice, you get better. So what is more consistent than a run streak? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

[00:00:27] Welcome to the channel. If you haven’t been with me here before, I’m Jesse Funk, the founder of Solpri.com and the host of this show Runner’s High where we talk about everything running and endurance related.

[00:00:38] We want to talk about run streaks because I think they really embody the epitome of that ideology I just mentioned,  right?. Consistency. That you are the most consistent of anybody. Now, I have a history of running. There was a number of years. I was running seven days a week. I didn’t keep track of my streak and probably at some point it got broken because I had to take a week off or something before being injured.

[00:01:05] My best streak probably is my Duolingo streak right now, 910 days. Admittedly, Duolingo streaks are probably a little easier than a run streak because it takes more effort and time to go out for a run. That being said, what are the parameters for a run streak? What what constitutes a streak? Do I just need to go out and take a couple of steps? Well, fortunately, there’s actually an organization that keeps track of these things. Now, you don’t have to participate with this organization to have a run streak. If you only keep track of it yourself, go for it. But if you want it to be official, there is the US Run Streak Association.

[00:01:45] Of course I’m talking for my US compatriots here. If you’re around the world there may be something in your nationality. But I’m going to speak to this because this is what I’m familiar with. They keep track of all of the records of active run streaks in the US that can be verified. Now, I don’t know exactly what the verification process is, but I imagine nowadays it probably involves using tracking and Strava and things like that. But they keep an active streak and it involves running at least a mile every single day.

[00:02:19] So if you want to keep an active run streak, you got to go for a mile. So for some of us, maybe that’s 7 minutes, maybe that’s 10 minutes, 12 minutes. Really. It actually counteracts my point because if you spend 5 to 10 minutes on Duolingo, you can probably spend 10 minutes running and keep an active streak alive. The trick is you have to decide what it is you want to do and how important is it to you to have a run streak? Because there are upsides and downsides. 

[00:02:51] Before we get too deep into my opinions on run streaks where they fit into run culture. And should you start one shout out first to John Sutherland from Washington, Utah, who has the current longest run streak started on May 26, 1969. So as of shooting this, he’s at 19,345 days, just shy of 53 years. But by the time this episode comes out, we will have passed the 53 year mark.

[00:03:22] So the continuing congrats on John and the other plus 50 year runners, Jim Pearson, Steve DeBoer, Alex Galbraith. There’s a lot of people on this list, but you can look at the list at the US Run Streak Association. They keep it up on there. And we’re going to talk about a couple of people I saw on the list I think was interesting and worth noting later on in the video. So stay to that.

[00:03:49] But should you start a run streak? This depends on your goals. If, like me, your goal is performance, I would argue generally speaking, no, you shouldn’t start a run streak. And the reason is that because of the intensity of the runs you’re going to be putting in to try to maximize your speed, you are going to need a period of time where you’re taking rest, where you are completely off, or if you don’t, your body may force you to be off by making you injured, which would make a run streak tricky at best.

[00:04:31] Notoriously difficult, possibly painful, and possibly setting you back even more if you try to continue it while being injured. So if your goal is I want to be the best I could possibly be, I don’t necessarily see that being the best method of going about training, saying I have to be on a run streak. Now, I did mention that I was training for seven days a week there for a number of years, starting in my junior year of college going through, I would say three or four years afterwards, I’d have to look at my training logs to be exactly sure.

[00:05:05] So there was four or five years there. I was training seven days a week, but I still had a period of like depending on where we are in my in those years, 2 to 4 weeks a year off completely because training was so intense. So you can’t get up to the point where you’re training solidly. But you break that streak because your body is going to need rest.

[00:05:30] Now, if you are not going to be so focused on that or it’s less important to you, then there’s a couple of conditions where it may make sense to say, Hey, let’s give it a go. I think the first condition where it makes the absolute most sense is where you couldn’t care less about your performance and you aren’t doing it for like huge fitness benefits. Now you will get benefits from completing a run streak because you’re being active every day, right? So you’re going to get some amount of health benefits.

[00:06:09] But we also know that typically, aerobically speaking, you’re going to get more benefit aerobically if you’re out for at least a half-hour. If you’re only running a mile a day, then you’re not going to be getting as much of that benefit. That being said, you obviously could go say three or four miles one day and then only one mile on a rest day and continue a streak.

[00:06:33] The higher your mileage goes, I think the more you play with the balance of potentially being injured because of the lack of rest. That’s something I can’t prescribe for you. Everybody’s a little bit different in their tolerances of mileage. I’ve had a number of guests on the Smart Athlete Podcast show I also do here on this channel, so subscribe. Stick around for that. Talk about run streaks. Talk about how their coaches tried to push them into high mileage and it would break them so they would stay lower mileage and be more consistent.

[00:07:03] Speed and then tolerance for mileage are not necessarily correlated. So it’s something you have to figure out about your own physiology. That being said. It is possible to do a little bit of both. But ultimately, if you want to have this run streak, you have to prioritize it over the performance, right? So if you want to say I absolutely want to perform my best, sometimes that may mean taking a break. 

[00:07:33] But if you’re like, I’d rather just keep the count going. Like that’s more important to me. Kind of like my Duolingo thing. I’m trying to get to 1000. I got messed up at like 730 a couple of years ago and I’ve restarted the count is all that’s important to me. I’m a little less concerned about advancing my language as I am just getting that count done. If that’s the case with you, with running or you’re like the it’s all all that matters, then you can back yourself down off the performance treadmill and say, okay, this is what I’m going to focus on if push comes to shove that’s the thing that’s important to me.

[00:08:13] So in part, it’s just a matter of determining what are your priorities and what do you want to focus on. Now, I want to call out a couple of people on the list in a positive way, not in a negative way. I want to call out a couple of people on the list. I noticed as I was looking through the US Run Association’s list, they’re in the 30 to 35 year category, which are John Wallace Jr. And John Wallace III presumably father and son who started their run streaks on the exact same day, December 31st of 1989.

[00:08:52] I was almost one year old at that point. They are now 71 and 46 respectively, which means that John Wallace III would have started his streak when he was 14. He seems like a father, son, New Year’s Eve or kind of proclamation or I’m forgetting the word you got. Everybody yell at me in the comments for forgetting what this is. Anyway, so they started this streak and it seems like they’ve kept this together. They live in different towns. John Walsh III lives in East Lansing, where Todd Buckingham does, who is a friend of the show. He’s been on the Smart Athlete Podcast a number of times.

[00:09:34] If any of you know John and John, I’d love to talk to them and do a short segment on the run streak and how this came about, because there’s lots of individuals on the list, but this is obviously an easy way to pick out what seems like a father and son duo who started this journey, some might say epic journey 32 years ago, some odd and change.

[00:10:02] So that’s another case where I think it’s probably pretty cool to do a run streak and it’s your priority, right? Like if it’s something you do with a family member or your kid or your father, depending on who you are or mother in this case father and son, if it’s something you do with somebody else and it’s a form of bonding with them, then again, if that’s your priority, then I think, number one, that’s pretty cool and that’s a good way to stay focused on doing the streak as long as it’s both still important to both of you, I guess, is what I want to say, but shout out to them.

[00:10:44] And again, if anybody knows them, please let me know or send me an email contact at Solpri.com. Help me get in touch with them. I’d love to talk with them and see what they’re up to, where this run streak came from, and just do a short, maybe ten, 15-minute segment with them. You’re on here on the channel.

[00:11:04] So one last tip I want to give you about my thoughts on if you’re going to take this endeavor, if you’re going to try to take this path in running and trying to keep a run streak alive.

[00:11:16] And that tip is the same tip that I would give you if you’re running your first 5K, your first 10K, if you’re running a half marathon, if you’re running a marathon, if you’re doing a triathlon, whatever it is, whatever endurance event you’re after, run streaks, it it doesn’t matter. It’s the same tip on every single one of them. And that is take it a mile at a time. There are people like John Sutherland who’ve been running for at this point and as this video’s out 53 years, but I don’t think in a healthy world you go into it, you’re going, “I’m going to break John Sutherland’s record.”

[00:11:58] I think you go, “This is something I want to do. This is part of the lifestyle I want to live. And I’m doing it because it brings me joy.” I don’t think you come at it from the perspective of trying to be competitive. Which is kind of my background. So it’s hedging against my own brain, maybe, maybe not yours. So if you want to do that run streak again, I think take it a bite at a time. One day at a time. Don’t worry about the next day. And then from there, make sure you’re enjoying yourself each and every single day.

[00:12:37] So what questions do you have for me? Leave them down in the comments below? If you want more content like this, subscribe, you can also check it out on our blog Solpri.com/blog. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

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