A time-honoured tradition enjoyed by sports fans and drunk people the world over. Sometimes people do it to make a point; sometimes they do it simply to get attention. There is something liberating about running around and letting it all hang out, hair blowing in the wind, dangly bits bouncing all around, and arms flailing out from side to side. Generally “pulling a streaker”, running naked through a public place can be a pretty unremarkable occurrence, but every now and then a streaker can make a bigger impression. The name “streaker” is coupled with nudity, but there is another streaking challenge that has nothing to do with being starkers: go on a run streak! It demands that you run at least one mile every day for a set period of time: some choose weeks or months, others a year or indefinitely. Last week the longest run streak in history ended. Ron Hill, 78, a three-time Olympian for Great Britain, ended his running streak on Sunday, January 29th 2017. The streak, during which Ron ran at least one mile every day, stands at 52 years, 39 days. It was the longest known running streak in history. In 1993, one day after he broke his sternum in a head-on car accident, he still managed to run one mile. He also had bunion surgery the same year. His son picked him up from the hospital and took him to a track, where he ran a mile, using two canes. A week later, he abandoned the walking sticks and continued his daily streak in a special cast.
When starting a run streak relatives and friends will put barriers of fear in the way with warnings that running everyday will ruin knees and lead to arthritic and stiff joints ……. well it won’t! In fact, studies prove that runners are less likely to develop knee osteoarthritis (Chakravarty et al., 2008; Williams, 2013). Regular runners have been shown to have almost half the rate of arthritis as regular walkers and the runners with the greatest mileage had the lowest occurrence of joint degeneration (Williams, 2013). Knee pain experienced by runners is often caused by weakness or tightness in other areas of the body. Having disregarded the threat of walking sticks and the risk of stiff painful knees the next obstacle thrown in the way by naysayers is age. “It’s too late, you’re too old and you’ll wear yourself out”. However, in marathons twenty five percent of 65–69 year-old runners tend to be quicker than half of the 20-54 year-old runners – age is not a barrier (Wright & Perricelli, 2008).
So provided knees and joints remain healthy and ageism doesn’t cause discouragement from starting a run streak surely the lack of recovery time should prevent people from running every day. The ability to recover is important because training isn’t just about one run on a single given day. It’s about consistency and logging enough miles each week to promote the adaptation of the muscles and cardiovascular system which ultimately causes improvement. Actually recovering from harder runs may be as simple as getting up and running again, all be it at a slower pace and less intensity. As counterintuitive as it may seem completing light jog whilst recovering from a harder session may be the most promising means to alleviate the pain and soreness (Cheung et al., 2003). Running fast and long every day may lead to burnout and even injury. However, remember the run streak only requires a one mile run every day to keep the streak alive, and that mile can be as slow and easy as needed to achieve recovery benefits. Even for the most committed participants running can become tiresome, aching muscles and minds that despair at the tedious drudgery of training can tax the reserves of motivation in any runner. So get motivated by competing with yourself and start a run streak. Inspired by Ron Hill I started mine on the 29th January 2017, how long it will last I have no idea……. “The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running!” (Anonymous)
Follow https://www.facebook.com/RunningStreakIreland/ established by Kildare “run streaker” Tom Blennerhassett.
Chakravarty EF, Hubert HB, Lingala VB, Zatarain E & Fries JF. (2008). Long distance running and knee osteoarthritis. A prospective study. Am J Prev Med 35, 133-138.
Cheung K, Hume P & Maxwell L. (2003). Delayed onset muscle soreness : treatment strategies and performance factors. Sports Med 33, 145-164.
Williams PT. (2013). Effects of running and walking on osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk. Med Sci Sports Exerc 45, 1292-1297.
Wright VJ & Perricelli BC. (2008). Age-related rates of decline in performance among elite senior athletes. Am J Sports Med 36, 443-450.