How My Run Streak Helps Me Build Endurance

"Running every day, I can feel myself get fitter from week to week, and my cardiovascular fitness has improved tremendously," Dillon Shije says.

dillon shije run streajk
Stefan Wachs

All of his life, 28-year old New Mexico resident Dillon Shije has been fast. He competed in national races when he was still in high school, easily zipping past competitors in 5000m and 8000m competitions. In 2008, when he was just a junior, he was considered the top Native American runner in the country, and was highlighted in a 2010 documentary, “Run to the East," about his path to collegiate athletics in Colorado.

Shije hit a major block, though, when he developed nerve impingement in his hip flexor. The injury dashed his hopes of becoming a pro athlete. He returned to his reservation, and began to reset his goals. Instead of speed, he would aim for distance gains—and run streaks are helping him stack up the miles.

dillon shije run streak
Shije in Zia Pueblo, New Mexico, in March.
Stefan Wachs

Over the past couple years, Shije has used three-month run streaks done at least twice a year to increase his endurance, and the changes have been profound. "Running every day, I can feel myself get fitter from week to week, and my cardiovascular fitness has improved tremendously," he says. "My running economy just gets better."

He begins a streak with 35 miles a week, increasing his distance by 10 miles each week until he hits 105 miles—a level he stays at for three weeks. His Sunday long run is always 20 percent of his weekly mileage. Also, he says, rather than stick to the same number of miles each of the other six days, he varies them—one day might be four miles, and the next day is seven, for example. “Fluctuating my mileage throughout the week helps my performance and recovery," he says. "I have less muscle soreness when I do that."

In the meantime, he's helping others on the reservation, especially teens, discover their own inner runners—which he believes is an important connection to their indigenous heritage. "What I'm trying to teach, and to demonstrate, is that the more you run, the stronger you can get, in every way," he says. "It creates a mindset for endurance, and for being more resilient."

dillon shije run streak
Shije trains with other runners on the reservation.
Stefan Wachs
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