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.