I never set out to try a running sequence. It all started when the nation and the world began to shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I had just started training for the Covered Bridges Half Marathon in Vermont (the first half marathon I ran, and my favorite race of the year), when suddenly schools closed, businesses closed and life changed. I kept training, trying to make sense of the crazy new information that was coming to us daily. CBHM wasn't until June - it would surely be over by then, right? It seems crazy to have thought this way now, but I was there, hoping that somehow the race would continue!
Of course not, but what happened was that I continued to train for the race. It gave me a purpose, it structured my days and it gave me a little bit of normalcy in a time when no one was definitely normal. And then I "ran"… Alone, on the course, with my family as a support team. Now we runners all know that sometimes after a race or some big event we can get the post-race blues. So after taking a day off, I started running again. And even without a plan to follow, it still gave me that outlet and the feeling that everything was going to be okay.
In mid-July, it occurred to me that I had been running everyday for a while now. I counted my consecutive running days and found I was 27 days away from an accidental running streak.
Well, no more accidental! Hello, new goal… I was going to see how long I could continue this streak. I was worried about sustaining an injury from overuse. To reduce the risk of injury, I incorporated easy running, ran trails and roads, and listened to my body. I had up to 114 days ... not a very nice round number, is it? Well, more on why I had to stop my running streak later. Here's what I learned, however, over my 114 days of racing:
You CAN find the time
The main reason for not running or training? I do not have time. There are certainly people who really can't find the time, I'm sure. But me, a mother of 4 boys, who works full time with a constantly changing schedule? I made it work. Sometimes I would get up early and run before my partner had to leave for work. Sometimes I would go out in the middle of the day when I could take a quick break. It was not my favorite in the middle of a wet summer! Other times, I snuck into an early evening race.
It was a revelation for me. Until then, running was the first thing I gave up if I felt overwhelmed and busy. Because I'm just running for myself, it seemed the most selfless to let go first. Running more and making it work has taught me that you can find time for whatever is important to you. You also learn time management skills that help you in all the other areas of your life where you feel like you are running out of time.
Cross training and strength training are essential
Overuse injuries are no fun. And a running streak can result in such an injury unless you take proper precautions. One of the easiest ways to avoid injury is to incorporate cross training and strength training into your weekly routines. I hike and walk regularly, and started cycling too, like my cross-training. These are great cross-training exercises for runners because they use the same muscles and joint movements as running, but with different intensity.
To make the strength training support my running streak, I focused on adding a few short sessions per week, squats, lunges (side, back, forward, and bow!), Using sliders to mobility of the hip, and upper body and trunk. job.
You don't need to have access to a gym, or a lot of equipment (or even any equipment) to work out effectively. Here are some links and workouts that will help you incorporate weight training to complement your run:
Setting and achieving goals is powerful
Without running to train, it's easy to fall into a rut with running. Set an objectiveWhether it's a weekly or monthly mileage goal, a run streak goal, or a pace goal, can keep you motivated. Once you set this goal for yourself, if you are like most runners your self-competitive spirit will kick in and you will want to beat your best every day.
Besides being a powerful motivator, challenging yourself and meeting it is an amazing way to boost your self-esteem. It taps into your persistence and resilience, and can carry over into other areas of your life. Once you prove to yourself that you can achieve whatever it is you're looking for by running, you realize as well have these skills in career, education and relationships.
Don't ignore your body if you want to keep up with your running streak
Adding extra mileage to your current routine adds stressors to your body. There are some simple things you should focus on in order to compensate for these stressors.
First of all, make sure you get enough sleep. Sleep is when our body not only rests, but repairs itself. Your muscles adapt and get stronger when you rest, not when you run. Next, make sure you are eating properly. More running means more calories needed, and extra protein in your diet will help your recovery as well. Take the time to warm up before your race (here are some dynamic warm-up ideas!) and don't skimp on stretching after running.
If something in your body doesn't feel right while running, take breaks to walk to reduce the intensity. When something hurts you, stop your run. And of course, if you feel any sudden pain, stop! If you want to end your running streak, running through the pain is a quick way to get there.
Race series offers stress relief for victory
I have 4 boys who are in school in person only part-time, a demanding job (running a gym during a pandemic offers all kinds of distinct challenges), and I have faced a lot of extra stress and unexpected in my life during my running streak. It was a huge source of stress relief for me to know that I had this outlet of solo time that I fit into every day. Would I come back from a 100% race and not at all stressed? Rarely. But did I feel better and more balanced than I would have if I hadn't run? Absolutely.
And when to stop?
When you're so used to running every day - physically, mentally, and emotionally - it's hard to know when to stop your running streak. At one point in my streak, our family went camping and I managed to slit my thumb open while cutting a watermelon (little slippery sucker!) I had to go to the ER to attach a tendon. The first thing I asked the admissions nurse, and the first thing I asked the doctor, was, "Can I still go for a run tomorrow?" 🙂 I could, and I did.
But a little over a week ago I had a fever. Because we are living in a pandemic, I immediately went to a clinic where I could get tested for Covid. Fortunately, it was not Covid, but UNluckily it turned out that I was sick with a tick-borne disease. And it took me outside for several days. I basically slept 36 hours straight, with a few adventures out of bed to eat something.
It was the end of my running streak, but I didn't feel like the end of the world. I was lucky to have caught the disease early so that I could treat it quickly with antibiotics. I made sure to isolate myself in my home during the short time between having a fever and getting a negative Covid result. I stayed away from my loved ones and wore a mask all the time when I couldn't (like when my partner drove me to the hospital clinic). It was horrible. I can't even begin to imagine going through this much longer quarantine period if I had tested positive for Covid.
The rule of thumb is to drop your streak as soon as it interferes with the quality of your life and your running. If you are injured, if you have symptoms of overtraining, if you are ill, or if you are prioritizing more important duties, then it is time to take your number and be proud of the streak you have completed.
I'm finally back to racing, after taking more than a week off. This first return was so good. I felt fresh and it was the most natural thing in the world. Will this turn into another sequence? I do not know yet. 🙂 I am proud of the time and effort it took to keep running for as long as I did, and I know I will do it again at some point.
If you are a runner, would you (or have you) done a running streak?
If you’ve never run before or you’ve had a long break from running, it can feel intimidating to get out there and hit the pavement. But if you get familiar with some basic information about course and follow a beginner’s schedule, you’ll be well on your way to starting a new course habit.
At your visit, share your course plan and goals with your doctor and have him/her assess your plan and any potential health issues. If you have had any previous injuries or issues, make sure your doctor is aware of them, and ask if he or she has any suggestions on how to prevent a recurrence.
Visit a specialty running store to get expert advice on buying the right course shoes. An expert at the store will look at your feet, watch you run, and make recommendations based on your foot type and course style. If you already have running shoes that you like, but you’ve had them for a while, you may still need to get new ones. Running in worn-out running shoes can also lead to injury. You should replace them every 300 to 400 miles.
Beyond course shoes, you don’t need much more than some comfortable exercise clothes to get started. If you’re running outdoors, make sure you follow some basic tips for how to dress for hot weather course and cold weather course, so you stay safe and comfortable.
As your résistance improves and you start running longer, you may want to invest in some technical fabric running clothes and other basic course gear, such as a running belt, good course socks, and a course hat. Some runners also like to have a course watch to track their times and distances.
Before you get started with course, get familiar with how to do the run/walk method. Most beginner runners start out using a run/walk technique because they don’t have the endurance or sport to run for extended periods of time. The run/walk method involves course for a short territoire and then taking a walk break. As you continue with a run/walk program, the goal is to extend the amount of time you’re course and reduce your walking time. Of course, some runners find walk breaks to be so beneficial that they continue taking them even as their endurance and fitness improves.
Before you start any running workout, though, you need to make sure you warm up properly. A good warm-up signals to your body that it will have to start working soon. By slowly raising your heart rate, the warm-up also helps minimize stress on your heart when you start your run. Start your runs with a brisk walk, followed by very easy jogging for a few minutes. You can also do some warm-up exercises. Always end your workout with a slow five-minute jog or walk to cool down. The cool-down allows your heart rate and blood pressure to fall gradually.
Use your breathing as your guide when running. You should be able to carry on a conversation while running, and your breathing shouldn’t be heavy. Don’t worry about your pace per mile—if you can pass the ' talk test ' and speak in complete sentences without gasping for air, then you’re moving at the right speed.
Make sure you’re breathing in through your nose and mouth, and breathing out through your mouth. Proper breathing and taking deep belly breaths will help you avoid annoying side stitches, or cramps in the abdomen area.
Drink water at the end of your workouts to rehydrate. If it’s hot and humid, you should also drink some water ( about four to six ounces ) halfway through your workouts.
Post-run is a great time to stretch and work on improving your flexibility because your groupes de muscles will be warmed up. It’s also a relaxing way to end a workout. Try some of these stretches that target particular areas that frequently get tight during and after course.