Yes, yes, ‘streak’. Stop sniggering at the back, you know perfectly well what I am referring to. I am of course talking about ‘streak running’, that is, running every day. Streaking of the kind you occasionally see at major sporting events does not particularly appeal, since I have yet to see any man do it in such a way that their penis did not appear to be impossibly minute. Add to that the potential for massive rugby players to piledrive you face first in to the turf, or peeved cricket players to give you a bloody good smack on the arse with a bat and it doesn’t really seem worth the risk or effort. Streak running, on the other hand, has me intrigued.
The United States Running Streak Association (http://runeveryday.com/) defines a running streak as follows:[quote]The official definition of a running streak… is to run at least one continuous
mile (1.61 kilometers) within each calendar day under one’s own body power (without the
utilization of any type of health or mechanical aid other than prosthetic devices). [/quote]
One mile a day. That’s it. When I was recently made aware of this, I was surprised that they had set the required distance at just a mile. But when I thought about it, it made a lot of sense. I mean, you would need to be pretty keen on running already to think about starting something like this, and the point is not the distance covered, it is getting out there every day. And I guess it follows that not many people who undertake a streak run the minimum distance allowed on a regular basis. I view it as kind of like a get out of jail free card, for those days when you don’t have the time for anything more. And going for a one mile run is better than not going at all.
I’ve only ever met one streak runner. Joel, a good friend of mine (and possibly the only regular reader of this blog) recently completed his 500th day, running at least three miles every time out. It’s a hell of an achievement, but even 500 consecutive days of running pales in comparison to some. I am told that one particular member of the Association recently completed 41 years. 41 years. As if that wasn’t enough, he has averaged nine miles per day in that time. Let’s just take a moment to consider those numbers. (And no, I haven’t allowed for leap years because that’s just how I roll.)[slabtext] [slab]41 years equates to 14’965 days[/slab] [slab]averaging nine miles per day, giving[/slab] [slab]134’685 miles[/slab] [/slabtext]
That’s like running from New York to Los Angeles 55 times. It’s like running to the moon and making a start on the journey home. It is, in short, a fucking long way.
As impressive as this is (and it really, really is), it must surely represent the outer limits of what’s possible. I don’t know anything about this man, but I’d be willing to bet he’s got some interesting stories of how he has had to squeeze runs around all the other stuff that tends to happen in life. Like kids, marriage, illness… Does he even get ill?
But what are the pros and cons? According to my friend, running every day is actually easier than going every few days, since it ‘removes any opportunities for excuses’. So, the question is not ‘shall I go for a run today?’. The question is simply when and where to go. He manages to fit it in around a lot of travelling, which makes for interesting and varied runs but (I imagine) some interesting logistical juggling. I’m lucky in that I don’t have that problem, so in theory it should be pretty easy.
As for the physical benefits, I can’t really say until I do it. (If I do it. Still not 100% sure.) Joel says he’s in the best shape of his life and as far as I know, hasn’t had to deal with any major injury problems. But a cursory look at just about any running website or forum will tell you that rest days are absolutely vital. Why? I can understand it if you are a professional athlete, regularly pushing yourself to the limit in order to improve your performance. Or even if you’re training for a sub-3 hour marathon. Of course the body does need time to rest and recuperate, but the point made on the USRSA’s website is that if you alternate your runs in terms of distance, speed and difficulty, it should be possible to jog an easy mile or two and still get the rest your muscles may require.
I talked a little bit about the online running community in my last post. Just as there are some very vociferous people out there that either love barefoot running or think it’s crazy, I’ve no doubt that streak running has its fair share of detractors and followers. The point is, if it was such a terrible idea with overwhelming evidence that running every day was bad for you, nobody would do it. But they do. And why, when you get right down to it, should it be such a bad idea? Look at it this way: can you imagine telling your kids they weren’t allowed to do any running today because they had to rest? My children barely stop running, irrespective of the time, place or instructions at the dinner table. So why should us grown ups tell ourselves that we can’t do it every day?
So I’m thinking I may give it a try. If I do, I’m going to need some new Lunas. Or I might try some New Balance Minimus. One thing I do know for sure is that my regular Mizunos just don’t do it for me. I went out in them the other night in the wet and came home with a pulled muscle in my left calf. This is only happening to me when I wear regular shoes now, and although I’ve been keen not to try and point the blame at them, there comes a time when you have to accept what is working for you and what isn’t. They aren’t.
If at some point in the future this blog starts getting read by a few hundred people a day (as opposed to a few dozen) then I’m hoping to get my streak running friend to write something about his experiences. As for me, I’m still getting used to the idea but I think I’ll do it.
I can’t help feeling I could have crowbarred some more terrible jokes about streaking into this post, so please let me apologise if you feel let down. To make up for it, have a look at the video below. It’s been doing the rounds for a long time now, but remains unrivalled in terms of illustrating the potential dangers of running about in the nude. (Possibly NSFW due to, well, due to it being a man running around with his clackers out. Enjoy!)