What You Need to Know to Run 30 Days in a Row

Three people wearing winter running clothes run together on a snowy street

We're Going Streaking

For 52 years and 39 days, the sun did not set before Ron Hill got his miles in.

When it comes to streaking, the retired British Olympian’s record is unmatched. When it began in 1964, the Beatles were on the top of the music charts, President Lyndon Johnson was monitoring a situation in the unknown country of North Vietnam and the Apollo program was contemplating if it could land a human on the moon before the decade ended. Needless to say, a lot had changed when the streak ended last January.

Hill began his daily devotional out of frustration with a disappointing finish at the 1964 Olympic marathon in Tokyo. His streak would end up including two more Olympic appearances and a then-record-setting victory at the Boston Marathon in 1970. It also included running with crutches and a plaster cast after bunion surgery. Let’s not even discuss a week filled with painful runs after he fractured his sternum in a car accident.

Running every day for five decades may be a hair unrealistic for most of us, but going a month without missing a run is an honest challenge almost anyone can tackle. Think No-Shave November for the running crowd. If you want to take a crack at getting in at least a mile for the next 30 days (the definition of a streak, according to the United States Streak Running Association), here are some things to consider.

A group of runners jogs beside a building in Austin, Texas

Go Into the Streak with Basic Fitness in Place

Starting a streak in good shape isn’t a suggestion—it’s a necessity. The impact stress of running every single day can be significant for less-trained runners, increasing the odds of injury. While you may look at running every day as a great way to increase your fitness, the risk of losing long stretches of training to injury can wipe out those gains pretty quickly.

That said, what minimum standards need to be in place before streaking is safe? That’s a somewhat subjective question, but if you’ve built a running base—running five to six days per week for the last month—it’s probably safe to assume you could handle streaking. If you’re a beginner or still learning how to run for exercise, consider putting off a streak until you build up your fitness.

Remember, it only needs to be a mile to count. If you get to your usual rest day and feel more tired than usual, going out for a jog around the block a few times will keep the streak alive.

It’s also worth noting that not all runs stress the body the same. If you’ve been incorporating workouts, long runs and easy days into your plan, by all means keep those in place. If jogging is the only name of the game, however, Week 2 of this challenge is probably not the time to try that new workout you read about. Respect your body and its need for recovery.

A person tying a pair of Nike running shoes

Get Good Running Shoes

Staying healthy isn’t just a product of training. It’s a matter of ensuring the technology on your feet is doing the job it’s intended to do.

Start by choosing the right running shoes. But once you’ve put some miles on the odometer, you need to make sure they’re still in good shape.

Worn out shoes may still look OK from the outside, but if you’re suddenly feeling every pebble on the road or noticing hot spots forming on your feet, it’s probably time to replace your running shoes before serious damage is done to your feet (and streak!).

One option to consider is rotating footwear. Alternating different versions of the same shoe will help them last longer by allowing the EVA foam or other insole material more time to decompress between runs. But the bigger benefits come from using different shoe models all together. A thin, lightweight trainer with a wide toe box paired with a more highly cushioned high-mileage trainer will give your feet different stimuli to react to each run, changing the muscles used and keeping your brain and body more engaged.

Keep Your Schedule Flexible

You may have the most sympathetic boss in the world, but odds are she isn’t going to reschedule the company board meeting to allow you to sneak in your run during lunch. Similarly, children and spouses also often have agendas that are not in line with protecting the integrity of your streak. Your toddler who is home sick from school suddenly turns a day full of cuddling to a day full of stress.

These obstacles aren’t insurmountable, though, they just require more planning than you might be used to. A noon meeting might mean a short morning run while the family is still asleep or a 20-minute jaunt during your commute home. You may even need a headlamp if you live in the country. These may look like hassles at the onset, but sometimes the best runs are the ones you fight for or the ones that occur in new locations. Who knew you liked running under a full moon?

Run Inside and Outside

There’s another variable that’s not terribly interested in your streak: the weather. If it’s 33 degrees and raining, you might find yourself in the unenviable position of deciding what to do. Worse yet – 31 degrees with a sheen of ice on every surface. If the streak is important, the obvious answer is to consider running inside. After all, the idea of the streak is to test your limits and encourage consistency, not risk your health for a clean calendar.

Opting to run indoors keeps you safe. If you do chose to run inside, make sure it’s actually running. Pool running, riding the exercise bike, or cranking on an elliptical are all great ways to stay in shape, but for the purposes of this challenge they are not considered running.

Professional runner Emma Coburn ties her hair back in a ponytail

When to Call Off the Streak

As fun as building your streak can be, there is a fine line between tackling a challenge and risking your long-term health. Here are several instances where it’s best to let the streak rest. After all, you can always start again.

  • Injury. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between soreness, stiffness and true pain. When in doubt, err on the side of caution. A sore plantar fascia that requires a week of rehab is better than a torn plantar that requires six months in a boot.
  • Illness. Much like with injury, running through illness is subjective. A small head cold isn’t a concern; the flu is. If your illness impairs your ability to breathe normally, leaves you feeling weak or unsteady, or you’re feverish or dizzy, the streak needs to stop. Pushing through increases the risk you’ll further compromise your immune system, making for a longer, more intense bout of sickness.
  • Obsessiveness. Streak running is supposed to be fun. If you find yourself consumed by the need to run every day, then the streak has taken over. Becoming obsessive about running every day is a surefire way to get injured, ill or lose the love of running. And wasn’t love the point of streaking anyway?

By Philip Latter. Latter is a former senior writer at Running Times and co-author of Running Flow and Faster Road Racing. His work has also appeared in Runner's World, runnersworld.com, and ESPN.com. He currently coaches athletes at The Running Syndicate, in addition to his day job coaching high school runners at Brevard High School (NC).