How to Stick With Your Running Streak (For Real This Time)

These tips from staff and other runstreakers will keep your #RWRunStreak going strong.

running streak
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It’s normal—even healthy—to head into a new season feeling enthusiastic about running. And, joining in the #RWRunStreak is a great way to keep yourself motivated, even as the temps increase.

Streaker Tee

“People often have new goals and expectations at the beginning of a new season,” says Nicole Detling, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Utah, and author of Don't Leave Your Mind Behind: The Mental Side of Performance. “It’s a fresh start.”

However, running at least one mile a day from Thanksgiving Day to January 1st (that’s 38 days of running in 2021!) is no small task. So, if lacing up for even one mile a day—and recovering from daily runs—is starting to become a struggle, we’re here to help.

The tracking service and app Strava crunched numbers on runner retention and discovered some interesting stats: Thirty percent of runners drop off within 30 days of starting a new running plan. Two months later, only half of the people are still hitting the pavement (or, at the very least, logging their runs with Strava).

Brian Cariaga
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If you’re planning to start our winter #RWRunStreak, those numbers don’t look so promising, and you might be having dreams of a rest day. But here’s the good news: Seasonality plays a role, but not in the way you might think. For starters, people who pick up the sport in the winter are most likely to upload runs to Strava a month after starting. Summer and spring runners are most likely to run exclusively on the weekends, and fall runners retire their shoes first.

It’s true. Those who start their running regimen between September and October experience the steepest decline in dedication, according to Strava’s findings. About 60 percent of fall runners call it quits within two months, which—no coincidence here—lands right around daylight savings time and Thanksgiving.

Brian Cariaga
Brian Cariaga

But why are winter runners more likely to stick it out? “It all comes down to your expectations going into the season,” Detling says. “Winter runners expect running to be hard, so they prepare accordingly.”

They buy the right gear, brace themselves for the cold, and psych themselves up for a challenge. On the flip side, it’s easy to think running is ~amazing~ at the start of fall, only to be surprised when it gets colder and darker, and frankly, starts to suck. “If you’re not ready for the level of suck, you’re going to stop and do something different.”

The reality is, running is equal parts amazing and hard, and that’s just as true in the winter as it is in the summer. These tips will help you get through the tough times, remain injury-free, and emerge stronger and faster than ever—365 days a year.

Take control of your schedule

It’s normal for your free time to wax and wane (especially around the holidays), but your commitment shouldn’t. “Committing to something is less about having time and more about setting priorities,” Detling says. As your schedule ramps up, add workouts to your calendar and consider them meetings you can’t cancel.

Be easy on yourself

That said, it’s okay not to be your best running self every day of the year (even athletes have offseasons); the key is making running part of your overall long-term lifestyle. “If a hectic schedule throws you off, call it a rest day (or week) and start again,” Detling says. “An all-or-nothing mindset makes it too easy to give up completely.”

Don’t dismiss shorter distances

Have 10 minutes? That could be enough time to run your fastest mile and head to the shower. “That same ‘all or nothing mindset’ is the reason you skip your run altogether when you don’t have time for a full workout,” Detling says.

That’s where our #RWRunStreak comes in: Commit to logging just one mile a day to make running a real, non-negotiable part of your life. Plus, posting your commitment in a public forum—like on social media—makes you more accountable and less likely to quit, Detling says.

Embrace different types of runs

A note to those warm-weather weekend warriors: Sometimes running means logging a 10-miler in your favorite neighborhood on a beautiful spring day, then heading to Sunday brunch with your friends. But other times, it means dashing out the door to log a quickie before it rains, hoping you have enough time to wash your hair before work. “If you usually run on the weekends, add one weekday run to your schedule a week,” Detling says. It might not feel as good as your blissful Sunday run, but we bet you’ll show up to work feeling like a badass.

Learn from Other Streakers

We did a callout to staff and on Facebook to curate the best tips from other runners who are getting in at least one mile a day all streak long. The consensus: more slow, easy miles, stretching, and foam rolling. Here are their top tips for surviving—and thriving—during the run streak.

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“I know I’m injury-prone, so for me it’s been: a lot more yoga, mobility drills before a run, increased warm-up time, stretching and foot yoga, CBD and nighttime foam rolling, #sexypace, and on most days, I don’t do extra credit.”—Molly Ritterbeck, former Health and Fitness Director

“My go-to is slowing way down sometimes.”—Pat Heine, Video Editor

“Add: Slow the hell down. Too many people run too fast too often. On these things, slow, slow, slow.”—Jeff Dengate, Runner-in-Chief

“I’ve been running at about a minute slower throughout the streak...sometimes intentionally, sometimes not...and foam rolling every night before bed. Hurts so good.”—Andrew Daniels, Editor, Popular Mechanics

“SLEEP. More miles = more Zzzz’s. If I’m pushing too hard or going too fast on runs, my sleep quality goes to crap, so it can be a good indicator to slow down,”—Morgan Petruny, Test Editor

“I would also say go slow and do the one mile days when you need them,”— Taylor Rojek, Senior Associate Editor

“Trying to run slow on the shorter days. Stretching.”— Anne Marie via Facebook

“Run slowly. Eat chocolate. Repeat.”—Majken Brahe Ellegaard Christensen via Facebook

“Get plenty of sleep. Eat good food. Take extra B and C vitamins. Stretch. Stretch. Stretch some more.”—Michelle Straub Bell via Facebook

“Stretching. Emergen-C. More rest.”—Erica Barnett via Facebook

“Cross-train with barre and yoga.”—Stacey Skinner Dudick via Facebook

“Always take two ‘rest’ days. On these days, I do a maximum of 2km. Keeps the streak going but lets the body have a bit of recovery.”—Anne McGrane via Facebook

*Parameters of the cohort: Strava defines the start of a season (winter, spring, summer, fall) as the period 15 days before through 15 days after the calendar start date of the season. Strava only included athletes (U.S. runners) in this data who have done an activity (run) in the start window and who have not done an activity 30 days prior to the start of the season. In this way, Strava is able to only select athletes who have started within the given season.

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