It’s the most wonderful time of the year — the days get longer, the weather gets warmer, runners start streaking…
Memorial Day is not only the unofficial kick-off to summer, but it’s also the start of a summer run streak promoted by Runner’s World and embraced by runners all over the globe. Streak Runners International’s website lists almost 6,000 registered streakers from 69 countries, and as of today, the hashtag #RWRunStreak had 285,000 posts on Instagram, while the more generic #runstreak had 670,000 posts, mostly selfies of runners on roads, tracks, trails, and treadmills. Run streaking has gained popularity in the last decade, with some runners taking it up in the early stages of the pandemic in order to create routine and maintain running consistency without any live races.
So what exactly is streaking? A run streak is a string of consistent running days, running at least 1 mile per day. While Runner’s World summer streak runs from Memorial Day to July 4th, some runners choose to go longer–much longer. Streak Runners International, which streakers can join after maintaining a streak of at least 1 year, lists the top male streaker, Jon Sutherland, as having run over 19,000 straight days, or 53 years, and the top female streaker, Lois Bastien, as having run over 15,000 straight days, or just over 42 years. Some people choose to streak for specific time frames, and then pick up streaking again at another time, which follows Runner’s World promoted streaking model. Runner’s World encourages it at times of the year when running may be a lower priority due to busy schedules or the weather.
Now that you know what streaking is, how can you tell if it’s right for you? Here are some pros and cons.
*Helps create consistency. If you want to become a stronger, faster runner, you have to be consistent. Running rewards are cumulative — day after day, week after week, year after year. The accountability of a streak can help maintain that consistency when your motivation is low.
*Challenges you. The cumulative fatigue of running every day can prepare you mentally and physically for those longer races like the marathon. You adapt to pushing through even when you don’t feel like running anymore.
*Community fun! With so many runners streaking at the same time, it can be fun to complete a challenge with a group. Those who struggle with feeling like a “real runner” may finally embrace that identity. Runners struggling with motivation can find a renewed enjoyment by engaging with other runners who share the same struggle.
*Biases decision making. Streaking can cause you to make some unhealthy choices. Whereas you normally may have taken a rest day when that knee soreness crept back, you may push through the pain to maintain your streak, doing more harm than good. The body gets stronger from stress + rest. Too much stress and not enough rest can lead to burnout and/or injury.
*Interferes with your training. If you have some serious time goals in the near future, you’re going to have to put in some serious workouts. Streaking every day may leave you too fatigued for speedwork. Again, your body has to adapt to the training stimulus you give it, and recovery is where the magic happens.
*Mindset considerations. When running becomes something you have to do, it can start to feel like an obligation instead of a stress reliever. Streaking can also become addictive. Be honest about the type of person you are and how you could handle an unexpected end to your streak.
If you’re going to try streaking, summer is the time to do it: more daylight, less laundry, and no ice (at least for now…? #globalwarming ). As always, be smart and keep your long-term goals in mind. The pros may run every day, but they don’t streak. One of Keira D’Amato’s “secrets” to breaking the USA women’s marathon record this year was that she wasn’t afraid of taking a rest day when she needed it.
There’s something for everyone in the sport of running, and maybe streaking will be your something :). And if it’s not, that’s just fine, too.