5 Tips for a Successful Run Streak From a Runner Who Just Ran Across the Country

The irrepressible Hellah Sidibe has run every day for four years and counting.

hellah sidibe runs in downtown easton on friday, may 21 2021
Trevor Raab

Hellah Sidibe’s run streak has been going on for four years—and counting.

His hasn’t been a mile-a-day type of streak, either. In 2017, he was determined to get over his fear of running, by running 10 minutes a day, no matter what. The first day he made it 0.92 miles. By the end of two weeks, he was up to seven miles, and the streak had begun.

Sidibe continued at about seven miles daily for several years, sharing his journey on his YouTube channel (HellahGood) and Instagram. He opens every video with a similar greeting: “What’s up, my beautiful people!”

And then starting in March, he upped that to about 35 to 40 miles per day—as he ran across the country, covering the 3,200 miles from Huntington Beach, California, to the Upper East Side of Manhattan in 84 days. He finished on May 23.

Sidibe’s cross-country run benefited Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization that distributes new and used clothing and shoes around the world. Growing up in Mali, Sidibe, now 31, knew the power of a pair of shoes.

“Living in Africa, if you have one good pair of shoes, you’d better take care of it,” he told Runner’s World. “Otherwise, you don’t get your next pair.”

Sidibe played college soccer at the University of Massachusetts, and had a chance to play professionally, but his uncertain visa situation made it difficult for teams to sign him. (He became a U.S. citizen in February 2020.) Always during soccer training, the running was what he feared most.

“It was a punishment for us,” he said. “Anything we do [wrong], the coach would say, ‘Get on the line.’ You know the pain is coming with it. I can play for 90 minutes, no problem. But a fitness test tomorrow? I couldn’t sleep.”

Since ending his cross-country trek, Sidibe’s been home in Rochelle Park, New Jersey. His streak has continued, but at two miles per day, to let his body, and a sore Achilles tendon, recover. Here, he shares his run-streak tips for Runner’s World readers doing the Run Streak.

hellah sidibe eats a donut in phillipsburg, nj on may 21, 2021
Hellah Sidibe eats a donut from Vegan Treats in Phillipsburg, New Jersey on May 21, 2021.
Trevor Raab

The streak is whatever you’re capable of

“Everyone’s capability is different,” Sidibe said. “There are people who can run for only five minutes without stopping, or two minutes. Eventually they will get there.” Yes, even if you have to take breaks, it counts. “At the end of the day, you’re still running,” he said. “Everyone should get the credit. Because it’s not an easy thing to do.”

Thank your body

Sidibe makes a habit of thanking his legs, his lungs, the roads, whatever else he feels gratitude for. During the first year of running every day, he would say it out loud. “I’m happy and grateful for my legs. I’m happy and grateful for these clothes covering my body. I’m happy and grateful for my shoes, for the sidewalks.” He used to repeat the words through the whole run. “It makes the time pass,” he said. On his cross-country run, he did it again, but rarely spoke out loud. “Thank you, legs, for still having the capability to go this long, to get up this hill. I’m able to feel it without even saying it.”

Don’t wait too late to get your run done

Especially on holidays, like July 4—the last day of the Run Streak. Get up, get it done early, and the rest of the day is yours.

Otherwise, “you’re around people, you’re eating food, you’re getting full,” Sidibe said. “If you do it first thing, you set the tone for the rest of the day.”

hellah sidibe runs with a fan in easton, pa on may 21, 2021
Hellah Sidibe runs with a fan in Easton, Penn. just two days before finishing his cross-country run.
Trevor Raab

Do it pressure-free

Sidibe urges runners to avoid the comparison trap. So what if your friend’s streak is three miles per day at 7:00 pace? Yours doesn’t have to be.

“Don’t worry about what you see on social media,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, it doesn’t matter what pace you’re going, how long you’re going. It’s supposed to be a lifestyle.”

Keep your complaints to yourself

Sidibe reminds himself that no one is making him do a run streak. He signed up for this. He decided to run across the country. “I’m accepting every hardship,” he said. “If we accept what comes with it, it makes it a lot easier.”

Instead of focusing on the pain, or the weariness, instead focus on the strength. “See your capability, see how strong you are,” he said. “We’re much stronger than we think we are.”

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