Every day since New Year’s Day up until writing this blog post, I’ve ran at least 2 miles each and every day with a daily average of 7.4 miles. Currently, my running streak is at 81 days and I have learnt a lot during this time. In this article, I’ll share my top 15 tips for a successful running streak.
What is a running streak?
In its simplest terms, a running streak means running at least 1 mile (1.61 kilometres) every single day for a set period. Some opt for a monthly stream, others for a week, whilst some go a bit more extreme and target 3 month or even 6-month periods.
The duration of your run streak will be down to personal preference and what your goals are. I’m currently on a running streak to see how many days I can accumulate for the sheer challenge of it. I’d like to think I’m doing well considering I’ve ran through hot weather, storms and a very nasty flu. Since New Year’s Day, my running streak has allowed me to clock up almost 600 miles.
What are the benefits of doing a running streak?
Okay, now we know what this challenge is it’s a good time for us to ask the question. Why bother doing a running streak? What will you benefit? Is it really worth the time and effort? Is it worth all the hassle? Short answer is yes the challenge is extremely beneficial and worth it. Here’s why…
1. Improved endurance
Streaks are popular amongst long distance runners. Running everyday means your body becomes fitter and more used to physical activity. The heart pumps blood around easier, energy is utilised more efficiently and you can handle an uncomfortable spell of running for longer. Simply put, running everyday improves your ability to go the distance and maintain physical exertion for long periods of time.
As somebody who participates in half marathons and marathons regularly, taking on a running streak was a no- brainer because I wanted to build my physical stamina for coping better with long distances. Accumulating a large running streak has given me a notable boost in stamina and endurance during training and races. I feel like I can run harder for longer. Take on a running streak challenge to get the same benefits.
2. Develop self-discipline
Forbes describe self-discipline as ‘the number one trait needed to accomplish goals, lead a healthy lifestyle, and ultimately, be happy.’ Self-discipline is all about controlling your desires and impulses to focus on a task or project that needs to get done for a reward i.e. achieving a goal. Self-discipline usually means sacrificing something in the present for a large return later on.
Running everyday can be difficult and requires self-control. You have to run no matter what. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, snowing, hot or cold, you’ll need to lace up and run. If your favourite TV show is on, a social event is beckoning you, you don’t feel like it, you need to run anyway.
A personal example of developing self-discipline through my current streak is when I ran a half-marathon I had booked with my brother with a horrendous flu. made a commitment to drive us both to the event, run it and then drive us back. I felt disgusting and probably shouldn’t have ran for that far but I had a commitment to fulfil and a streak challenge to maintain.
Needless to say it was difficult and painful, resulting in my worst half-marathon time ever, but I am proud I was self-disciplined to maintain the streak and fulfil my commitment. I’m not saying you have to run 13.1 miles with a flu, 1 mile would do, but this example proves how the challenge can help with self-discipline.
Self-discipline is all about taking ownership and responsibility for your actions. If you’ve committed to a running streak for a month, don’t give up and miss a day because you’re tired or there’s bad weather. Not only will this result in failing the challenge but your self-esteem will also take a huge knock as you have to live with consciously letting yourself down and giving up.
Not ideal by any means. Taking on the challenge and promising you will see it through, regardless of external circumstance, your self-discipline will sky rocket. If you’re successful in clocking up an extended running streak, you’ll develop tremendous self-discipline which will serve you not just in the sport but in all other areas of your life.
3. Callus your mind
Completing a running streak challenge can callus your mind, meaning you won’t shy away from tough challenges and difficult situations in future. You’ll become a hardened individual, more able to deal with life’s challenges both in the running shoes and out of them.
What does it mean to ‘callus your mind?’
The first time I heard the phrase ‘callus your mind’ was from David Goggins. Goggins, often branded the hardest man alive, is an ex-navy seal who is famous for passing hell week 3 times, running 101 miles with zero training and finishing the famous 135 bad water race in 5th place as an unknown rookie. It wasn’t easy, Goggins experienced huge amounts of physical pain and discomfort but became tougher after each difficult achievement. In his book ‘Can’t Hurt Me‘, he refers to overcoming these challenging experiences as ‘callusing your mind’.
A callus is a thickened and hardened part of the skin or soft tissue, especially in an area that has been subjected to friction. Our mind works in the same way. When we’re exposed to the friction of a challenging situation, like maintaining a 6 month daily running streak, our mind becomes tougher and stronger.
The running streak will present problems like sore muscles, being uncomfortable, pain and bad weather to name a few. It’s overcoming these dire circumstances that will callus the mind and make you tougher for the future.
Think of all the benefits of having a callused mind. Taking on more problems at work, going the extra mile with a spouse, pushing yourself to study when you’re tired. As you’ve toughened your mind from the streak you’ll know you’re capable of enduring suffering for longer and will put in the extra effort.
Take on a running streak challenge and callus your mind. It will help to change your life for the better, something I can personally attest to.
A huge benefit to running every day is getting to see new locations. Humans love to explore new places and taking on a streak can be the perfect outlet for the avid adventurer. Exploring is great for mental health, stimulates your mind and gives you greater awareness of your surroundings.
1 month into my run streak, I took a random route to a different side of town and I discovered a beautiful nature reserve tucked away in some woods. I was blown away by the elegance and wonders of the trees, wildlife and calming atmosphere. Travelling through this nature reserve is now a part of my weekly running routine and I look forward to it each time. I’ve also been here for picnics with friends and family, something I would’ve done if it hadn’t been for exploring. Just one example of how beneficial exploration can be during a running streak.
Regardless of where you live, there are always places nearby that you haven’t seen. Whether you live in a village, a town, by the sea or in a busy city, there will always be new locations to discover. Don’t be shy! Awaken your inner adventurer and explore during your running streak.
Without further ado, here’s my top 15 tips for a successful running streak:
1. Know your ‘why’
Taking on a running streak is no easy feat to accomplish. It can be difficult, uncomfortable and sometimes not very fun. To keep you inspired and committed to the challenge, make sure you know your ‘why’.
Simon Sinnek discusses the importance of this in his hit book ‘Start With Why‘. Sinnek says ‘success comes when we wake up everyday in that never-ending pursuit of why we do what we do.’ I completely agree. Having a ‘why’ gives purpose to the streak, motivating you to see it through to completion and thrive in the challenge benefits.
Think, what is your reason for doing a running streak in the first place? Do you want to lose weight, develop endurance, callus your mind, have more energy or explore? Don’t just complete a running streak for the sake of it, this will probably end in failure as you will need a reason to push you through the tough moments.
Before you start (not during or after) work out your ‘why’ and write it down in a journal. Writing it down moves your purpose from your spirit to a material, tangible goal and makes it seem more real. Know your ‘why’ and you will succeed with a running streak.
2. Set a challenging goal
The whole point of doing a run streak is to challenge yourself. Why? So you become a better, tougher and stronger runner! Make sure you set yourself a challenging goal at the start which will push you but not injure you.
For example, if you currently run 3 times a week for 4 miles at a time it might be wise to set a daily target of 2 miles for the first week. After a week, up your mileage to say 3 miles a day and so on. By the end of the challenge, maybe you’ll have a goal to run 40 miles a week which is especially handy for marathon runners. Have a goal which challenges you but is manageable, write it down and then achieve it. This tip is instrumental for success in this challenge.
When I started my running streak, I had a weekly goal of 25 miles with a view of reaching 60 miles by week 10. It was difficult to start but I persevered and stayed true to my target, gradually upping my weekly mileage to edge towards the 60 mile week goal.
Fast forward to now, I have a weekly distance average of 62 miles. I set a challenging goal, pushed myself and held myself accountable to that goal which has arguably been critical to my success in my running streak.
3. Prioritise nutrition
Like a car needs the correct high quality fuel to move, runners require proper nutrition to power performance & fuel recovery. Do not underestimate the importance of a proper diet whilst undertaking a running streak challenge. If you think you can cheat nutrition and eat rubbish food such as takeaways, crisps, donuts and sweets, you will find your runs are harder than normal and your body unable to perform as well as you’d like.
As a rule of thumb, eat wholegrain carbohydrates like brown pasta and bread before a run so your body has enough glycogen to keep you moving. Consume healthy fats and proteins afterwards such as meat, fish, beans, nuts and eggs to aid post-run recovery.
Ensure your diet is complimented with plenty of fruits and vegetables which give huge amounts of minerals and vitamins for healthy bodily function.
Proper nutrition is the key to high performance during a running streak so make sure you prioritise it.
4. Be prepared to replace your running shoes
Doing a daily running streak means clocking up a lot of mileage in a short period of time. Your shoes will experience wear and tear from hitting the pavement or trail, eventually wearing out and being unsuitable for running. You need to be prepared to replace your running shoes when the time comes. If you don’t you can risk injuring yourself, developing aches & pains, and reducing the enjoyment you get out of running. Not ideal.
Some runners don’t like the idea of replacing their running shoes due to cost. Running shoes can cost up from £40 right up to £180 for a high-end pair. Some runners don’t even know they need new shoes and only realise when they start developing aches & pains.
I didn’t know I needed to replace my favoured Asics Gel-Phoenix 8 shoes. I used them to run 750 miles (too far for one pair of shoes) and I started developing aches & pains in my knees, ankle and thighs. At first, I thought I was training too much and dropped my daily streak mileage but the pain continued. I couldn’t work out what was going on, then I looked down at my feet and saw just how worn down and beaten up my shoes were.
It was clearly time to purchase some new ones. I initially resisted due to the price but decided to invest in a decent pair of Asics Gel-Phoenix 9s. As soon as I ran a minute in these shoes, the pain subsided immediately and I knew I’d made the right choice.
If you’re taking on a running streak challenge, be prepared to replace your running shoes.
What are the signs you need to replace your running shoes?
- Running 500 miles with the same pair
- Noticeable wear and tear defects
- Developing sudden aches & pains
- Running becomes more uncomfortable than usual
For more information check out the following blog post:
5. Log your progress
Make sure you have a way of recording your progress throughout the challenge. Some runners document progress in a physical journal and others feel more comfortable via digital means like Microsoft Word or an Excel spreadsheet.
Whatever method you use to document distance, date, location & any thoughts, I would recommend that you download and use the sports app Strava. This free and convenient app records how far you run, where you run (on a map), your overall time, pace per mile (or kilometre) and allows you to connect with other runners in the community via segments and following features. Download Strava and record your progress!
If you haven’t got one already, I also recommend getting yourself a quality GPS running watch. These handy accessories fit on your wrist and accurately measure location, heart rate, splits, distance covered, cadence and so on. After you finish each run, progress can be uploaded to Strava for ease of logging your progress. There are different watches to suit different runner’s needs so it will be worth your while doing some research before making a purchase.
For more information on GPS running watches & Strava, check out the following blog post:
- Why You Should Run Using Strava
- 13 Best GPS Running Watches
- 9 Reasons You Should Buy A GPS Running Watch
6. Embrace the running community
Running every day for an extended time period can be a lonely affair but it doesn’t need to be. If you get involved with the local running community, your running streak will be fun and fulfilling.
Running with others means you’re more motivated to turn up & run, you can enjoy friendly competition, meeting new people, pushing yourself further, learning more about the sport and so on. The benefits of joining in with the running community are endless and it is something I would highly recommend during your running streak.
What are examples of getting involved with the running community?
- Running clubs
- Running groups
- Joining social media groups for runners in your town
For more information on getting involved with the running community, check out the following blog posts:
7. Spice up the streak with trail running
Most of us runners seem to have an affliction for roads. Nice, smooth, paved surfaces which are predictable and offer little resistance. What if I were to suggest you mix up your running streak with trail running? Not only will this keep things fresh and exciting, trail running can build muscle and develop fitness quicker than conventional flat road running.
An added benefit of trail running is getting out and about in nature. Studies have shown exposure to nature promotes relaxation, relieves stress and increases happiness. Exploring locations on a trail can be incredibly rewarding and life changing. I remember how amazed I was at discovering a protected nature reserve when I experimented with trail running during the second month of my streak. Now this reserve is a regular trail part of my weekly running schedule.
To start with, add 1 trail run to each week and when you feel comfortable increase this number to 2 or 3. Your running streak will be much more fun once you add trail routes into the mix.
Check out the following blog post for more information:
8. Listen to an audiobook, podcast or running playlist
Audio can be a game-changer for runners. As the running streak challenge is every single day, the audio can provide you with true value to maximise the benefit you’re getting. So, what are the benefits from listening to each form of audio?
This is a recording of somebody reading a book so you can listen to book content rather than reading it. This is convenient for runners because we can’t read whilst we run. Audiobooks come in fiction & non-fiction format and the benefits you reap depends on which kind you listen to.
Fiction books tend to me made up stories which offer entertainment, expand vocabulary, improve memory and creativity. I’ve recently listened to ‘The Great Gatsby‘ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray‘ by Oscar Wilde and ‘Moby Dick‘ by Herman Merville.
Non-fiction books are educational and teach about a certain topic like history or finance. One of the best things about non-fiction is increasing your knowledge can also improve your earning potential. It’s just like the billionaire Warren Buffet said ‘the more you learn the more you earn.’ I’ve recently listened to Ant Middleton’s ‘First Man In‘, ‘Think and Grow Rich‘ by Napoleon Hill, ‘Money‘ by Rob Moore and ‘The Selfish Gene‘ by Richard Dawkins.
This is an audio show, usually spread across a series of episodes, which can be downloaded from the internet (usually via apps) and listened to on your phone. Podcasts can be on virtually any topic including farming, fishing, finance, business, real estate, music, law, history, gaming & travel. There truly is a podcast for anybody.
Download your favourite podcasts onto your phone and listen to them whilst you run. You’ll be amazed at the information on offer from some of the podcasts and your running streak will be much more fun.
A playlist is a collection of songs usually around a certain genre, style or theme. Playlists can be curated by yourself or another entity like a music store i.e. Spotify. A decent running playlist tends to feature upbeat, lively and energetic songs to get you pumped up and in the mood to workout.
A good running playlist should feature songs with a tempo of over 150 BPM (beats per minute) to encourage a faster and a more worthwhile workout. Listening to a killer running playlist during the streak challenge can up your game and make you more excited to get out and run, especially on days you don’t feel like it.
For more information on running with audio, check out the following blog posts:
- Why You Should Run With Podcasts
- Top 16 Audiobooks To Listen To Whilst Running
- 5 Benefits Of A Killer Running Playlist
- 10 Awesome Rock Songs For Running
9. Mix up training
As the rules of the challenge are simple (run at least 1 mile each day) some runners are tempted to focus on solely distance alone and accumulate as many miles as possible. Whilst this satisfies the rule of the challenge and big distances covered each week will improve physical fitness, it is more effective to train smartly by diversifying your workouts.
Add speed workouts like fartlek and interval training to your running. Try and achieve a negative split during a long run (a quicker second half than the first). Make time for hill repeats, my personal favourite.
Mix up training to make the streak more interesting and beneficial for you as a runner. If you do this, you’ll not only run faster & easier but you will enjoy the sport and get more out of it.
For more information on hill workouts read the following blog post:
10. Prioritise sleep
Any experienced runner knows the importance of decent sleep. Sleep is important because we need it to recover the body, repair muscles, retain information and rejuvenate ourselves for activity. Taking on a running streak challenge means sleep needs to be a priority. This could mean adjusting your schedule to get in a quality 8 hours of sleep so your body repairs itself and is ready to keep performing throughout the challenge.
If sleep isn’t important to you, you will probably feel tired during the day and perform poorly during your run. Not ideal at all. Instead, protect your sleep time and get a healthy dose of shut eye each night. It’s an essential ingredient for success during your running streak.
For better sleep increase bright light exposure during the day, reduce blue light exposure in the evening, limit caffeine consumption after 5:00PM, keep your bedtime routine consistent and don’t use your phone an hour before bed. I personally like to read a physical book 30 minutes before bedtime which gets me relaxed and ready for some quality sleep, ready for next days run.
11. Enjoy a small reward after each run
To keep yourself motivated to commit to the challenge, day in day out, give yourself a small reward after each run. Whilst you will receive the reward of achievement after completing the whole streak, micro-rewards along the way are a nice boost towards your end objective.
Small rewards cause sensations of pleasure and happiness which you will want to repeat. As a result, you will be motivated to run again the next day to experience the pleasant sensation the reward brings. Make sure your reward is sensible
The reward could be virtually anything. Tea, coffee, an episode of a Netflix show, reading a favourite novel for 30 minutes, playing an Xbox game, meeting a friend and so on. Whatever makes you tick, reward yourself with that.
Make sure the reward is sensible and not counterproductive. Rewarding yourself does not mean driving to KFC or McDonald’s and buying one of everything. Keep the reward small, sensible and pleasurable, and you won’t jeopardise the progress you’ve made on the streak.
12. Participate in running events
Taking part in races fun, engaging and can motivate you to stay committed to the streak. Running events take many forms and include half marathons, marathons, 5Ks (like parkrun), 10ks, ultra-marathons, fancy dress runs, fun runs, night runs and so on.
There’s a tonne of different running events available for entry near you. Race organisers can get really creative so whatever your ability level and personal preference, there should be events out there for you!
Make sure you book the event at least a month in advance. With the race looming you’ll be motivated to keep up your daily streak to ensure you’re in the best shape for race day and have a good chance of being successful. Participating in running events can do wonders for your streak and I recommend at least 1 each month during the streak.
13. Do small post run recovery sessions
Make the most of post-workout time by focusing on recovery. Stretch out your body for at least 5 minutes, use a foam roller and if you like wear some compression socks to encourage blood flow. Get into the routine of doing a short post-workout recovery session and your muscles will recover quicker with the bonus of added flexibility.
If you have the time and money try and book in a massage at least once a month to loosen up tight muscles improve relaxation, reduce muscle tension and raise blood circulation.
Get out and explore the local area. If there’s a side of town you’ve never been to, make a point of running through it one day. Go through your local woods, forest or nature reserve. If you’re lucky enough to live by the sea, run as far along the seafront as you can and find something new.
Whatever you do, do not stick to the same route each and every run. This will get boring quickly and may even make you feel uninspired to continue with the challenge. Not ideal, so make exploration a priority. Exploring will keep you interested, stimulated and engaged throughout the running streak so get out and see the world!
15. Stay hydrated
Your body depends on water to survive and perform optimally. Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to work. Running requires more energy than when you’re stationery so you will become dehydrated quicker. If you become dehydrated whilst running you risk fainting, being sick and even feeling dizzy.
If you’re extremely dehydrated you could even risk organ failure. Not ideal by any means, so make sure you’re properly hydrated before, during and after each run on the streak.
10 minutes before each run, drink a pint of filtered water to properly hydrate yourself before physical performance. If you like, bring a bring a small water bottle to drink from during the run.
Some runners hate the idea of holding a bottle but running belts can be purchased to hold them at a small price. After the run is finished, drink water as you cool down with a stretch and foam roll. Your body will tell you how much water you need so listen to it and drink accordingly.
There you have it. My top 15 tips for being successful in your running streak.
It can be hard to maintain and will require great sacrifice but you must not give up. Commit to the challenge, keep going when things get tough and you will succeed in your streak. Best of luck!
If any of these tips have been useful please feel free to share the post with fellow runners. Hopefully it can help them too.