We're going streaking!
By Austin Bonds
I’m ever intrigued with the ways that our minds associate certain words with pop culture, notably film, television, and music. My mind tends to gravitate towards film references, and the word “streaking” is by no means an exception. My thoughts turn to Frank Ricard (Will Ferrell) and his outlandish decision to run down the road without any clothes on in Old School (2003). That hasty decision didn’t go over well with his wife though he seemed undeterred at continuing his quest down the road until he was ordered into the car (which happened to have other passengers too).
Speaking of quest runners understand the word “streak” in a unique way. Streaking points to a quest. Streaking points to repetition. In fact, here’s a quick definition of the word: “a spell or run; an uninterrupted series; to run, go, or work rapidly.” “Uninterrupted” is the word that stands out to me among these, and as it turns out, I met someone earlier this year who has run without interruption (i.e. a missed day) for 14 years now.
I know this number, 14, as my streaker friend, who also happens to be 68 years old, informed me that there is an active, evolving list of streakers who have run the most consecutive days in a row. The United States Running Streak Association maintains this list, and the leader, Jon Sutherland, is at 46 years right now (17,000 days and counting as of this writing). A man from England leads the international list of streakers at over 18,000 days.
So – what do you think about all this? Do you love running enough to do so every day? Would you like to see your name included in the aforementioned list? According to the U.S. Running Streak Association, any person can apply to be part of the list – though there is a noteworthy caveat to consider – the streak must be a minimum of one year in duration. Have I lost you with that time requirement, or is the interest still strong? If so, let’s proceed further.
The Association requires runners to complete at least one mile each day on the road, the track, a treadmill, or “over hill and dale” (trails). Streaking also tends to be popular this particular time of year as Runner’s World invites people to partake of a mini streak from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day (37 days in total). As Runner’s World puts it, “The run streak is designed to keep you running through the holiday season, and to bridge the gap between fall races and training for the spring.”
If this is sounding like immense fun and you wish to start streaking, there are a few cautions to keep in mind. First, if you haven’t exercised in quite some time, check with a doctor first to receive a green light to begin; second, if you start a streak and become injured in the process, make the harder but wiser choice and stop running. Heed the words of Queen Elsa of Frozen (2013) and “let it go.” Put pride aside and let your body heal so you can run strong later. Finally, if you decide to start a streak, think about structuring it as a part of a larger goal, perhaps a race of some kind.
There is also an argument to be made for integrating recovery and rest into your running (which means days off here and there). Needless to say this argument is from the voices of those who would advise against a streak as running day after day exacts a lot of stress on the lower body. A running streak can also become devoid of fun as time passes; left unchecked, the once fun streak can evolve into a tedious chore on a checklist.
As you have gathered, there is a case to be made for and against a running streak. Personally speaking, I believe in a middle ground. The most consecutive days I will run is 7 or 8 – and my lower body feels it in the days that follow this wear and tear. This may be due to the fact that a typical run for me is between 7-10 miles, and multiple days of this kind of mileage can raise the injury risk without adequate recovery time. Accordingly, I usually opt for five days of running each week, along with cross training, stretching, time with the foam roller, and rest. Sleep is also paramount.
In closing, should you become a streaker? There are those who say yes and those who say no. I recommend a few days (2-3) to start with, and then evaluating how your body feels at that point. This brings to mind those two diverging roads that Robert Frost spoke of in his iconic 1916 poem. Which path will you choose? Either road is a good one, that of starting a streak or choosing not to streak. Remember to keep your clothes on, though.
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