What’s your longest running streak? A “running streak” is defined by the Running Streak Association (RSA) as running, at least, one mile on two consecutive days, and I just completed 30 consecutive days which is a great first milestone especially when you consider many days were around zero Fahrenheit and some were pushing the kids.
Coming off a year of bleak running in 2015 where I only averaged 1.5 miles per week, to non-runners that might sound better than nothing but to runners we realize that is closer to nothing than something.
I DON’T RECOMMEND others start like I did unless you are an experienced runner. I don’t consider myself a very experienced runner with only a couple years under my belt. The RSA suggests that you first run 3-4 days a week for six months before beginning your journey of running every day. I made an exception because I believe I learned a lot about my body while training for my first marathon in 2014 about how to avoid injury. Reading every book I could and taking a health-first approach to running and learned to monitor my HRV as well as other stress indicators.
I have to be honest that my 30 days has not been a substantial effort. Once you set your mind to it, it’s fairly easy, especially if and when you start enjoying it. I ran so slow you literally could have walked alongside me. Walkers do pass me at times, especially up even the smallest hills. My running consisted of 15 minutes a day of “running” with an additional 5 minute walking warm up and cool down before that, 25 minutes from door to door.
Phil Maffetone is a Doctor and in many people’s opinions the best coach and writer on health based endurance training. His motto is health first, fitness second. Consistency is the key to fitness, and you are much more likely to get fit by staying injury free which is what a health first approach can give you. Walking is incredibly healthy. I will go into whole blog posts on the Maffetone approach.
So there are many books like “run less, run faster” I can tell you from reading about many inspired runners, as well as from personal experience, that if you learn to love running, you won’t want to do it less, you will want to do it more. Don’t worry about the faster, focus on increasing the width of your smile. In my experience, you are much more likely to enjoy it if you just slow down. Also, most runners get faster by training slower.
So in this limited test, it seems daily consistency will produce better results than running less consistently but more miles in total. In my limited running economy tests, it seems I made significant gains in only 30 days. In 30 days I went from 0 KM to 30km per week, injury free and I feel great, and I have a bigger smile. I lost about 10 pounds of weight as well without consciously reducing my food intake.
Instead of waiting six months to start running seven days a week, start today. Start today and begin a daily pattern of walking for 25-30 minutes and then introduce a little more and more running. Paying close attention to any aches, pains or anything else that gives you signs that you need to spend more time walking and less running. If you think you might be doing too much too soon, HRV testing can substantiate what you were probably already feeling but trying to ignore, it’s can be your safety net.
The late great New Zealand running coach Arthur Lydiard suggested running for 15 minutes a day seven days a week. Or if you have not been running at all start with 5 minutes a day of run/walk.
One thing to note almost all coaches recommend base building at the beginning. That means go slow, really slow. You should be able to talk with someone without effort, and you should not be breathing hard at all. If you start to notice stronger breathing start walking again.
Steve Jobs wore the same style/color shirt every day so he did not need to think about which shirt he should wear. A benefit of running every day, you don’t have to think “oh I am tired I will run tomorrow.” Additionally, the American Health Association recommends 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day.
It’s early season training now, let’s begin our next 30 days together for a great year of health.
Happy running -alex