Pros and Cons of a run streak #REDBED Day 20

Today is #REDBED Day 20. So almost 2/3rd of the way through #REDBED and 80% of the way through the Run Up 2 Christmas challenge which I’m doing alongside it. I thought today I might look at some of the pros and cons of doing a run streak.

Some pros of doing a run streak

It gets you out

It’s easy to find a reason not to run when the weather is grim and the days short. During December the race season thins out so motivation can drop. Doing a run streak can give some focus during this time. Although see below for the potential pitfalls from a training point of view.

A steady build up of miles

The #RED approach actually works rather well in kicking out the excuses, something which I covered in my post on targets last week. In addition, by keeping my daily mileage low, I’ve managed to build up a significant amount of total miles in my legs over the past 51 days. My plan will be to get some proper rest in January to be ready to tackle the first half-marathon I’ve booked in for 2018 later in the month.

Better planning

As well as the #RED approach persuading me out for a run, it has also focused my mind in how I would fit in a run during the day. The simple reality is that a fun doesn’t need to take a huge amount of time. A short run of a couple of miles can be over and done with in half an hour, and if at a low intensity, the post-run shower can possibly wait until later in the day if time is a challenge.

Maximise your Vitamin D intake

Now this does assume that you get your run during the hours of daylight. Vitamin D intake can be vastly reduced in the winter months due to the lack of sunlight. So anything that gets you out into the limited amount of daylight should help to boost this important vitamin.

Counter S.A.D.

From the MIND website:
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that people experience at a particular time of year or during a particular season. It is a recognised mental health disorder.

Many people notice they feel better when the weather is great, and less good when it isn’t. The short and dark days of winter are a time when this effect is more noticeable to more people. Getting a nice flow of endorphins by exercising during these days may well help to lift your mood a little. And having a structure to do this via a #RED may help too.

Some cons to doing a run streak

But what about the flip-side of a run streak? What have I discovered that I didn’t realise beforehand?

Washing

I have a lot of running event t-shirts. Which is fortunate because if I’m running every day, a fresh one is required each day. Pretty soon the washer is full to bursting! In December, getting running t-shirts can also be a challenge as most would melt in a tumble drier. So a keen eye on the weather forecast to get them on the washing line wherever possible has been required! And as I iron my t-shirts, the pile of ironing builds up very rapidly too!!!

There’s also an increased use of the showering facilities at home……!

Fitting it in

We all have pressures on our time from multiple sources, so adding in something else can be a challenge. Those non-runners in our lives can struggle to understand the importance (to us) of going for a run. Doing it every day and there may be friction, especially during December where there’s lots of additional other stuff going on. I know some people run early morning / late at night to fit the run in. I have started to take my running shoes with me to work in case there’s an opportunity for a couple of miles.

Overdoing it

Probably the best training advice you can take away is to listen to your body. Ignoring it feeling fatigued or achey risks injury or illness. Whilst exercise is good for your physical health, overloading the system can result in wearing down the immune system. So too much running, especially if it’s cold and wet and you could be more suceptible to whatever lurgy is going around at the time.

Ultimately, doing a #RED or any challenge / race / competition is optional; the world won’t end if you have to stop. Saying ‘no’ to a race or an ongoing challenge is probably one of the hardest calls to make as a runner.

I was nursing an injury at the end of April this year. I had a race I’d entered and decided to do it anyway as I felt I needed to do it. The injury was exacerbated and subsequently lost 6 months of training and 3 marathon entries. Now the injury would have written off a chunk of time regardless, but I’ve not been out of action for that long before. Lesson duly learnt!

Taking risks

This is more related to doing a #RED during the winter. Some of the hazards can be addressed (to an extent, but care is needed regardless). With rubbish weather and dark days, there are more hazards which could result in injury. The recent icy weather made the pavements and roads like ice-rinks. So easy to slip/trip and hurt yourself. Additionally, so many people run in dark clothing and assume that others can see them. It’s too easy to have a collision with another pedestrian who doesn’t see you, and worse, a traffic collision. Regardless of ‘whose fault it is’, if a car hits you, you’re likely to be the one that comes off worse!

Not great for planned training

As I explained on day 1 of this challenge, prior to undertaking it, I’d not done a run streak beyond 10 days before. In all honesty I couldn’t see the point.

Indeed, from a training point of view, their application is pretty limited. Most formal training plans involve periodisation, where the frequency and intensity of the training follows a regime. So a period of intensity will usually be followed by rest, and the whole programme aiming towards a goal in the future.

When you run every day (#RED) it’s much more difficult to include these trends. Whilst it is possible to specify easy/short runs after heavier ones, the fact that there is no break doesn’t lend itself to a steady build towards a goal, which is generally the idea of training.

Wrap up and today’s run

Let me know what other pros and cons you can think of!

Today’s run was a functional one. Basically the traffic in Marple and Hazel Grove was at a standstill. So having wasted so much time sat in stationary traffic and thinking I’d be quicker if I was on foot, I decided to do just that. Although I did drive home first rather than abandoning my car! Here’s the route I took.

Today's run involved too many main roads!

Today’s run involved too many main roads!

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