To give you a bit of background, I’m a runner of 26 years and coach of 21 years. I coach beginners through advanced levels of runners, including middle school, college and adult groups. In particular, I’d like to reference my beginner/intermediate women’s running group, the Distance Mamas of Ahwatukee. Last year, in an effort to get them to find a little more motivation to run more than just the two days a week that we met, I issued a challenge—the Streak Challenge. Run a minimum of 1 mile a day for at least 50 (or 100) straight days. My goal was to get them to accept themselves as “runners” and make it their lifestyle. They all had visited Sole Sports for good shoes and cute outfits, but they didn’t quite see themselves as runners…yet.
My Streak History
It was a challenge I used to use on myself to get through the hard Connecticut winters and come out in April and May in great shape. In college, I had the goal to run a minimum of 10 miles a day for 100 straight days and hit 105 before I took some time to rest my body. At age 30, I did a streak of a minimum of 5 a day for 130 days. I figured this would be a nice little endeavor for this group, who, despite the name, is comprised more of 5k runners than marathoners and women mostly in their 40s and up.
At the beginning of it all, I did entice them with prizes and other motivational tools, but I quickly found that it wasn’t about the prizes. It was about so much more. It was about accountability; our Distance Mamas Facebook page was where everyone would post once they’d completed their run. It was about camaraderie, people who had just met were now meeting daily to run together to take care of the challenge. It was about a feeling of accomplishment that one cannot get from raising kids, from their job. It was 50 straight days of running.
Some made it right away, others struggled with being Mom/work schedules and missed a day, but started over and then finished the streak. Before I knew it, everyone hit the 50 mark. These ladies didn’t stop there; they were now in pursuit of the elusive 100 day streak. Lo and behold, all of them accomplished that as well. More than a handful of them took it upon themselves to go a full year and have done so, now in excess of 400 days. While I don’t necessarily condone too long of a streak because the body needs rest and recovery, it was a much-needed lifestyle change for many of these women, most of whom have the addictive and determined personalities to keep going.
Becoming a Habit
Women who work full time and are full-time mothers squeezed in their mile a day any way they could. The oldest woman to finish the 365 day streak was 70 years old. Recently one of the newer members attempting it figured out that she’d be on a plane until the end of the night and would miss her run, so she opened her carry-on, got changed into her running clothes and ran a mile in the airport. That’s dedication. Some waited until the end of the evening and almost forgot, but popped it out at the last minute. Some got up before the crack of dawn to get it done before they started getting the kids ready for school. Basically, once everyone gets past 20 days, no matter what the situation, they find a way to get it done.
This is ideal for people who:
- struggle daily to find the motivation to train
- want to achieve training consistency in harsh weather conditions
- want to have a challenge that’s something worth celebrating but not impossible to do
- want to start small and get in respectable shape at a smart pace
- want to change their lifestyle to a more active one without a gym membership
So now it’s time to find your inner streaker. Grab a bunch of friends who would be unlikely to do this on their own, or do it solo with the help of social media. Get properly fitted for running shoes at your local running specialty store, then set your goal for 50 days. Tell everyone about it, give yourself props on Facebook and inspire people across the country like many of the women in my group have done.