ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A PHYSICAL GOAL TO ACHEIVE 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, 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, Streak Running was introduced as the very first Earned Runs Summer Challenge. In researching the topic, Earned Runs discovered there are 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 challenge beyond the summer 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 also links 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 cant be found on the official website, but the link takes you to the article!).
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 one that chimes). Then started the next day’s run because of a full schedule 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 so disappointed in myself. I had not anticipated receiving a daily boost of pride, a sense of accomplishment, when that single goal was met. I very much missed it when my personal 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 and even before the official Challenge Labor Day finish on September 5, 2017. It ended on July 11, because of an injury. This year I will walk a mile each day.
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. Whether maintaining the streak rules or enrichers lives. 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 keep in mind there is risk of overuse injury without a rest day. Possibly a safer streak can be undertaken when the 1 mile each day is covered alternately by walking, running, or cycling? The point of this streak challenge is to enjoy summer 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 two Summer Streaks were very fun and rewarding in spite of each ending prematurely. Hopefully I’ll do better in the Summer of 2018 than 2016 and 2017.
RUN AND MOVE HAPPY!
[Updated from 2017]
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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