ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A PHYSICAL GOAL TO ACHIEVE THIS SUMMER? One that doesn’t involve training for a race, because it’s what you do all other months of the year? A challenge that doesn’t require learning complicated workout routines? An activity that won’t strain your exercise budget? A commitment that transforms you from being a ‘sometimes’ walker, jogger, runner, or cyclist, into a disciplined daily exerciser?
Streaking could be the challenge that encourages a summer of regular exercise for you without consuming all available time for fun. Earned Runs suggests you try walking, jogging, HIKING, running, or bicycling 1 mile, without breaks from Memorial to Labor Day, on each day of summer. The distance can be longer, but must not be shorter than a mile.
In 2016, Earned Runs introduced ‘Streak Running’ as the very first Summer Challenge. In researching the topic, we learned there were global organizations that register and keep track of people who have completed at least 1 year of running, 1 mile each day.
The official website of the Streak Runners International, Inc. and US Running Streak Association, Inc., defines a running streak as the running of “at least one mile (1.61 kilometers) within each calendar day. Running may occur on either the roads, a track, over hill and dale, or on a treadmill.”
To become a member of this organization, a runner must have a streak of one year and pay a $20 fee. If you extend the Earned Runs Summer 2019 challenge beyond Labor Day and streak for a full year you are eligible to have your name placed on the SRI/USRSA running streak list. And then on the retired list once you stop. The groups sell singlets and T-shirts through the website link.
The website no longer appears to link to an article by co-founder and member John Strumsky, “Caution: The Dangers of Streak Running”. It defends the activity, provides an opinion on minimum fitness requirements, and offers advice on how to remain a healthy runner despite the absence of running breaks. (The article link can’t be found on the official website, but access it through: http://www.runeveryday.com/news/TheDangersofStreakRunning.htm)
Streak running was one of my summer challenges in 2016,and 2017. I did it to experience what Earned Runs was asking of others the first year. Initially I did not like this daily run at all, and whined about it in blogs. The most difficult aspect was fitting one running mile in on travel days. An early flight could mean leaving for the airport by 3 or 4 am. Upon arrival at my destination it might be late afternoon or evening before a change into running clothes/shoes was possible especially if a meeting was scheduled, and a run managed.
One night, after returning home from a trip, I finished my mile just before the chime of the clock at midnight (we actually have a clock that chimes the hours). Then I immediately started the next day’s run because of a full schedule that day and more travel. It was weird. BUT, when one of those travel days was my undoing and I missed a run, thereby ending my streak weeks before Labor Day 2016, I was terribly disappointed in myself. I had not anticipated receiving a daily boost of pride and a sense of accomplishment when from meeting that single goal. I very much missed it when my personal streak challenge was busted.
In 2017, I again took up the SUMMER CHALLENGE I: STREAK RUNNING, this time resolving at the outset not to complain and to look forward to this activity every day. It started 2 days after the spring/vernal equinox because I wanted to go extra-long, over the entire astrological summer season to the autumnal equinox on September 22. My streak was again busted before my private goal finish, before the official Challenge Labor Day finish on September 5, 2017. It ended on July 11, because of an injury.
In 2018 I resolved to walk rather than a mile each day, but even this was made difficult on a 3-day Amtrak train trip. Counting steps on a walking loop between the railroad dining car and our reserved seat car, and when possible on a few station stops, was the best effort I could make those days.
In early 2019 I started a walking Winter Streak on January 3, determined to “get it done” before Memorial Day. There have been many unsatisfying days when the commitment required a treadmill session. Worse yet there were days I relied upon step-counts. Extreme cold was the reason on several days, but travel situations again presented problems. I have not yet decided whether to end it on May 26 just before Memorial Day, transition the Winter Streak to a Summer Streak, or simply start fresh.
The Atlantic.com ran an article, “People Who Can’t Not Run” by Katherine Dempsey in 2014. Dempsey recounts the experiences of long-term “streakers” and raises the question of whether such a goal is a good thing. She leaves it up to the individual to self-assess.
Streaking for only a defined period of time, like in the Earned Runs Summer Challenge I, doesn’t seem to be likely to drive someone to physical or emotional ruination. But there is a real risk of overuse injury when rest days aren’t an option.
Possibly a safer streak can be undertaken when the 1 mile each day is covered alternately by walking, running, or cycling? The point of the Summer Streak challenge I is to enjoy the season in an active but not excessive way, and to perhaps re-capture the carefree days of our younger years in the process. Not to risk injury.
My previous Summer Streaks were fun and very rewarding in spite of each ending prematurely. Hopefully I’ll do better in the Summer of 2019, if I take on this challenge. For others who are uncertain, a short trial might help with the decision.
RUN AND MOVE HAPPY!
[Updated from 2018]
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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