Ok, I’m not talking about that 70s fad. I’m talking about extending a sequence or series of doing something. In our case of course our focus is running.
Anytime the discussion of streaking arises, someone (usually a non-runner) sees “streak” as synonymous with obsession or sickness. I personally know two runners who have run 25-plus years without a day off. They track every step and actually follow others with such streaks and can’t wait for someone up the list to miss one day so they move up. One of them ran with a broken knee cap! The other ran with a cast at one point. I remember this second gentleman telling of a time on a business trip, 11:30 PM in an airport running in the terminal in order not to miss that day of running. These are extremes. There are others however who have similar streaks that are maintained at the expense of other parts of life.
I want to focus on steaks as a healthy strategy to improvement. Everyone is motivated differently. For those who feed off of smaller successes; gain confidence with incremental movement towards a goal; or enjoy numerical iterations and tallies; a streak can be a key motivating strategy.
The down side for competitive people is that we want to break our “records”. If you cannot tell the difference between a healthy streak and listening to your body or other aspects of your life (see examples previously mentioned) then you should not use this strategy. However, if you have difficulty at times keeping going, and you would like to try a strategy that could get you over the hump, through some doldrums or plateaus then this just might be for you.
The most important aspect of streaking is actually tracking them. That is the psychological hook. Tally them, post them… use them for motivation. Use them to remind yourself of the progress you are making. Use them to reinforce the good choices you are making (when faced with options such as TV and the couch).
Here are healthy streaks to contemplate.
- Instead of consecutive days of running, try number of weeks with at “X” number of workouts each week.
- Number of weeks with at least one track workout.
- Number of days, weeks, months injury free. (Think like the signs in various companies that advertizes “Safety First: XX Days Without on the Job Injury”).
- Number of scheduled rest days on your schedule followed.
- Number of months with a 10 mile run or longer.
- Number of 5Ks (or 10Ks or marathons) under a specific time.
- Consecutive times beating a specific competitor(s).
- Number of weeks with at least two cross-training sessions.
Yes, I’ve tallied streaks. I ran 315 straight days without a day off. It ended with an injury. Regardless, it wouldn’t have been much longer. My goal was to try to run everyday for a year. Most consecutive months over 200 miles was 7. In more recent years I’ve had a streak of 10 months of 100 miles or more. This is very modest compared with other runners of similar capabilities and times. I do not aspire to break 30 years of running every day. And here is the punchline. What makes these streaks important is that they are mine. I’m not competing with you or anyone else. And I won’t put the rest of my life on hold for them.
Check here for more information on some streakers.