My Running Streak – What I Learnt by Running 24 Days in a Row

A runner looks at their sports watch.
sport-3874743_1920‘ by yellowcat on Pixabay.

I’d heard of a running streak, but never considered trying one. But with so many events cancelled this year, I decided to end 2020 with a different type of running challenge – I ran every day of advent.

What’s a Running Streak?

A running streak is running several days in a row. The challenge is either to see how many days you can manage – or to decide the number of days at the outset.

My Advent Challenge

As so many events were cancelled in 2020, chasing a new personal best or tackling a new distance under race conditions was no longer an option.

To end the year on a high and stop my running freezing over this winter, I decided to run every day during advent.

Here are 7 things I learnt from my 24-day running streak:

1. Short is Sweet

To lower the risk of injury, I had reduced my distance to less than 5K a day. As an endurance runner, I’m used to longer distances – even in training. By making shorter distances part of a bigger challenge, my running streak made them interesting again.

2. Recovery is Underrated

After a week, my legs felt heavy and I noticed some aches. Because I’d cut my mileage down to keep injury at bay, I was happy to carry on. However, these aches reminded me how important rest days are as part of a sustainable running habit. I told myself to take recovery more seriously once my challenge was over.

3. Results Show Quickly

Despite muscular aches, I noticed an improvement in my cardiovascular fitness. After two weeks, I felt sprightly, fast-on-my-feet and lacing up and getting out was less of a shock to the system.

4. Novelty is Key

As I’d cut my distance down, I was only running within 5K of my front door. Like an advent calendar, I felt each day should include a little surprise. So, when I was planning my running route, I chose two – each in opposite directions – and ran a different one each day. Sometimes, I added extra loops or explored different streets on the fly. This kept each day fresh and interesting.

5. Life’s a Jigsaw

Finding time to run each day made each day seem like a jigsaw puzzle. I looked for the places running could fit – such as before work, during my lunchbreak or in the evening. I had to plan ahead so my runs would fit around meetings and meal times. Plus, I tried to plan my runs around my usual shower routine to save water.

6. Habits Can Stick

Once I’d decided to run every day of advent, I had no excuses. Even on cold or wet days, when I’d have been tempted to skip a run, I had to get out. I told my friends and family what I was doing too, so they’d hold me to account. This fuelled my motivation to get running and helped me form a habit that stuck – for 24 days, at least.

7. Laundry Becomes Attractive

Running every day means having fresh running clothes ready on a daily basis. I don’t have a horde of kit, mainly just the essential running gear (and some finishers t-shirts I’ve collected over the years). So, staying up-to-date with the laundry was as challenging as the running itself!

New Challenge, New Outlook

After running so many days back-to-back, I expected I’d be ready to put my feet up. Yet the running streak felt like a break anyway – it was a change from my usual running routine.

Sure, with 24 days of running behind me, I welcomed a rest on the 25th December – while I checked under the tree for any running-related gifts.  But the running streak gave me a fresh outlook. After running shorter distances, I was eager to tackle longer routes again – and excited about venturing further from my front door.

Too much of a good thing? No way – my running streak has made me excited to pull on my trainers again in the New Year.

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