Now in general I am not a fan of streaking. I’m talking about the kind where you run everyday, not the kind where you get naked…..unless you’re a REALLY adventurous runner and don’t mind the cold.
For those who don’t know the rules of a streak are as follows:
Run everyday (once every 24 hours)
Run under your own power (no rollerskates guys)
Run at least a mile
Streakers are pretty hard core. There are even associations who will certify it for you. I wonder if it counts as UCAS points?
The main issue I have with running everyday is that for performance, running between 3-5 times a week will actually work better. When you work out the muscles rip, to get stronger they then repair these tears with even more actin & myosin fibres, these are the contractile proteins that give them their ‘umph’. Therefore you need your rest days to get the full benefit from any training programme in ANY sport. If Olympians need down days then I’m pretty sure us amateurs do too. Otherwise you might end up down a knee cap or two. Of course there are some super humans who can have a 6 billion year streak and suffer no ill effects. These genetic freaks of nature are the same people who’s grandmother’s probably got away with smoking 90 cigarettes a day for their entire life whilst drinking a quart of asbestos and never got a whiff of cancer. Not all of us are so lucky.
I like my knees. I’m rather attached to them.
Even so I thought what the hell, I’ll give this streak business a go and see if there is anything to it. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
Should I Streak?
Streaking is really only appropriate for a experienced athlete looking for a extra boost during their off season.
If you are a newbie, injured or in race preparation don’t do it.
Newbies generally develop their cardiovascular and respiratory systems quickly, but their muscles take longer. Newbies get cocky when they are no longer puffing and wheezing and push themselves so hard something breaks. This is why injures such as plantar fascitis and compartment syndrome (shin splints) are so common in new runners. Because the legs have not caught up with the lungs. Shoving a newbie runner that would into a regime with little recovery time for their muscles is therefore asking for trouble.
If you are training for a race then you will appreciate the body works in cycles, peaking and then ebbing. The idea is to make your peak at the time of the race. Running everyday makes this impossible, because you have to cram in junk miles for the sake of maintaining the streak. This upsets the rhythm of the training plan. Unless of course you have absolutely no social life. For a half marathon/marathon runner you are also more likely to be injured as your distance increases. Especially since the streaking will cut down on any maintenance work such as core exercises and gym time.
I also wouldn’t recommend it for people prone to burn out. Our mind is our greatest hindrance on the road and if you give it a battering then it could put you off running all together.
Also if you have any kind of injury this really isn’t for you. Wait until its better then start as a lack of recovery time will only make it worse and possibly cause a long term problem. Injuries are funny things and they have to go through each stage. Like the stages of grief. Your ankle is a hysterical exboyfriend you’ve just dumped and it needs to go through anger, despair and drunk dialling phases before he can finally heal. If this is interrupted then you will have a permanent stalker or worse end up getting back together because he is so pathetic. Let your injuries heal and do the rehab!
So I’m not prone to burn out, I’m not a newbie but I’m at the end of my race season and feeling a bit out of shape so I thought I needed a concentrated shot of running in the arm. Hence the streak. I’m currently on day 12.
I flew from London to Glasgow and back in a day. I was up for 24 hours but I took my trainers and kept up the streak. This is damn hard work.
My other reasoning for the run is a mental one. Now I know I don’t exactly like this topic……
Christmas is coming. Its my least favourite time of year. Bah humbug. It’s rubbish.
However I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone because if have, have recovered or are close to someone who has an eating disorder then a holiday based solely around food (and it is, don’t kid yourselves) is hell on earth. Stashes of food in every nook an cranny in the house, the pressure of Christmas Dinner, and the issues that come with the inevitable weight gain……hell just the anticipation of it are enough to make me want to hibernate through the whole thing.
The only thing that chills me out in these stressful times is running. So a streak due finish at New Years Eve seems like an amazing idea.
The Right Way To Streak
So how to do this without getting injured? The rules that every streaker should live by are as follows:
KEEP THE MILAGE LOW! I’m talking over all weekly mileage and daily mileage. Your body is going to take longer to recover on the long runs as you keep sending it out so beware!
GIVE YOUR BODY TIME TO RECOVER run, followed by crossfit, followed by a gym session, followed by a swim…..but it’s all okay because I’ve had a protein shake….. Yeah right you crazy streaker. See you for hip replacement surgery in two years.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT – just because you run everyday does not mean you can eat a McDonalds for every meal, but similarly you need to make sure you are giving your body what it needs to repair and sustain the activity levels. (BMR X PAL)If you are not sure what this is. There is a billion calculators out there. Try this one The Harris Benedict Formula beneath the calculator works out your PAL (physical activity level) and therefore overall calorie consumption.
KNOW WHEN TO MISS A RUN & WHEN TO QUIT if there is absolutely no way on Gods green earth that you can fit a run in, if your wife is giving birth to your first born son, if you’re on a 14 hour flight to a war torn country then don’t beat yourself up about missing a run. Just go out on the next day and start again. These things happen. Similarly if you break your ankle, hurt your back, or come down with noro then step away from your trainers.
PICK AN ENDING a streak should not last forever. I know there are men out there who have been running for most of their natural lives, come on REALLY? Streaks are the running equivalent of the crash diet, our cabbage soup, herbalux, Special K diet. Its a short quick shock to our bodies. Over a long period of time if you’re doing it properly the benefits will tail off as we adapt, if you’re doing it wrong over a long period of time you will get injured. Make sure your time period is realistic and achievable for your body. Don’t try to streak until the England Football Team win a major international championship, you might be dead.
MAKE IT SOCIAL a good streak is a social one. Have fun and support other runners.
If you want to know a bit about sport psychology and the running streak part two of my crazy experiment can be found here