This Is How I Use a “Run Streak” to Overcome Anxiety, as a Running Coach
I started my run streak on Thursday and got hit by a motorbike on my Friday run. The driver zoomed through a red light and careened into my right side. I crashed to the ground, ending my run streak, and kicking my anxiety into high gear.
As I nursed my bruised and swollen leg for the next two weeks, my mind spiraled into an anxious state. For someone like me who has general anxiety, pandemic life and New York City living can be challenging. The run streak was my idea to get out for some free “running therapy” to defeat the worries in my mind about crime, COVID-19, street harassment, and any other thing that could go wrong.
Once I healed, I decided to get out and try again. Tired of being homebound and worrying, I laced up my sneakers and began my run streak right before summer began, on May 31.
Now I’m well into month three of my streak. I’m happy to say I’ve been running every day for the whole summer. And I feel more energized and less worried. Just the simple act of going outside at least once a day to go for a run — even just a mile — has helped keep my worries in check. And sticking to my run streak has helped my confidence and overall fitness level.
I still have days when I don’t feel like going out or I worry about what could happen, but I know I have to go to keep my run streak alive. Sharing my progress on social media with fellow runners has also been motivating.
You may be wondering if a run streak would work for you. Whether you want to build a running habit for your physical or mental health, a run streak is a great way to go. It is something you can do anywhere with just a good pair of running shoes.
Here are my tips for starting — and sticking to — your own run streak:
- Check your shoes. Go to your local running store to get fitted for running shoes that match your needs. Do not run in old and worn-out shoes as this will not give you the support you need and will increase your risk of injury.
- Plan your runs and go early. The earlier you go, the better chance you will get your run in. If you run each morning, then if something urgent comes up that disrupts your schedule, you will still have a chance to get in your run later in the day and keep your streak alive.
- Build up gradually. Follow the 10 percent rule and do not add more than 10 percent to your mileage from the week before. So if you run 10 miles in one week, you can add one more mile (10 percent) to run 11 miles the next week.
- Track your runs. Tracking your runs will keep you motivated and accountable. Use a fitness tracking watch or app and you’ll be able to record your progress and see your run streak continue to grow each day.
- Take recovery days. Recovery days are necessary for your body to rest and repair itself. Take a 1-mile recovery run day a few times a week or as often as you need.
- Celebrate progress. Celebrate each milestone. Whether your goal is to run every day for a week or a year, break it down into smaller increments and celebrate the milestones.
- Connect with other runners. Runners love to talk about running so connect with them. Do a local 5K race, join a run group, or share your running progress on social media with other runners and you’ll find lots of support among the community.
- Add audio to your runs. Listen to your favorite podcast or audiobook or make a running playlist that gets you pumped up and you will find yourself enjoying and even looking forward to your daily runs.
- Have fun! You are doing the run streak for yourself so keep this truth in perspective and try to enjoy your running time.