The Running method that’s gathering pace on social media The Evening Standard Mon 16th Nov 2015 by Phoebe Luckhurst
Running is tiring and often tiresome. Your legs ache from the miles, and your mind despairs of the tedious drudgery of lapping the park for a third time that week. It is cheap and chews up calories, but it taxes your reserves of motivation and in winter can be utterly miserable.
You must compete or there’ll be nothing to run for. So this is why runners take on challenges, lining up marathons and half-marathons, making JustGiving pages and inviting everyone to give sponsorship money.
These competitions can be inconvenient, however. Doing a marathon? The lonely road is far longer than the race’s 26.2 miles: training is sapping. When mates are piling into the pub for oners on a Wednesday, you’re running the nine miles home from work. You think getting a “Jong one” out of the way on Saturday morning leaves the rest of the weekend in play, but your creaking joints and weakened body will keep you sofabound.
There is another challenge: go on a run streak. The name connotes nudity, though in fact a run streak has nothing to do with being starkers. It demands that you run a set distance every day for a set period of time: some choose weeks or months, others a year or indefinitely.
It appeals to the runner, by nature a masochist, because it tests the mettle. You must be motivated, and it sets up an intense competition with yourself: You’ll want to better your time from the previous day; you’ll feel deflated if you don’t. You must get out there, even if you don’t want to, which pits mind against matter.
However. despite how it sounds, a run streak doesn’t have to be as joyless as training tor a big-ticket race. Many runners staart on a mile. which will take the slowest runner Jess than 10 minutes. It is very easy to find 10 minutes in your day. Those training for marathons must pick work or play, but you could do a run-streak mile before work, leaving you free to go to the pub later. And frankly, running a mile on a hangover is certainly possible and only unpleasant tor 10 minutes (maximum). You’ll likely burn between 100 and 120 extra calories every day.
It’s a big social media movement: runners hashtag die mileage, time and day they’ve reached and hash tag the stats #runstreak. They’ll Jog it on running apps: Strava or Nike are preferred.
Furthermore, the run-streak is more flexible than the diktats of a regime. Pick a mileage at whim; you can increase or decrease it later. If you fancy a longer run at the weekend then just keep going after your mile (or more) is up. When you are training for a race, you map circuits to ensure you get the distance and end up back at your door; run streaks on shorter distances require far less planning. The idea is also appealing in winter, when you have a limited window of light in which to run, and little appetite for splashing through mile after mile of muddy puddles covered by fractured, uncertain sheets of ice.
But is it good for you? Running every day means throwing your joints at pavement, and muscle tissue needs time to recover from even short workouts. Giving your body a battering could jeopardise the immune system – inadvisable as we edge into norovirus season.
“The initial short-term gains physiologically for the cardio-respiratory system occur quickly,” says Jonathan Grayson, a chartered Six Physio’s studio in Moorgate, and who recommends a run-streak distance of a mile. “Increased capillary and mitochondrial synthesis allows for a more efficient oxygen intake and usage. The short-term gains for the central nervous system are great as well. Getting into a routine enables neural efficiency to improve; it’s like practising a new skill over and over again. And psychologically, getting into a routine will always have a massive boost mentally through endorphin release.
“However, any physiological improvement will certainly slow over the months as you begin to do the same thing every day, and too much too quickly can cause overload for people who aren’t used to running even a mile. One of the biggest predictors for running injuries is too many consecutive days running, which can increase injury rates. for true physiological adaptation to occur, variety is key – and recovery even more so. The body heals overnight and usually needs at least 24 to 48 hours to recover from the kind of repetitive micro-trauma of running.”
Grayson advises a more balanced programme, incorporating interval work and alternating speeds, and doing some kind of light exercise – yoga or Pilates – to help the body to recover in between. He also suggests mixing up the time to maximise recovery: so doing a morning run one day, and an evening nm the next. To minimise injury, set a short distance for your streak, and use a foam roller to unknot muscles and relax tense tissue. This could be the path to a winning streak.