Run Every Day Challenges
I often get asked about Run Every Day challenges and whether I recommend them to people. There are lots of different aspects to consider, and whilst these types of challenges haven’t been studied directly (as far as I’m aware) there are plenty of other studies that help you to decide what the best approach might be.
The biggest aspect of Run Every Day challenges is that you don’t get rest days. Whilst the number of rest days that is ideal for each person varies there is good evidence that rest days are a good idea both for your fitness and overall health; https://acewebcontent.azureedge.net/SAP-Reports/Post-Exercise_Recovery_SAP_Reports.pdf
Skipping them means your body is missing out on recovery time; your body re builds, adapts and recovers when you are resting so the risks of skipping that recovery are clear.
Running is a repetitive, very high impact sport so recovery is even more important than is it for other sports.
You can plan passive recovery, rest days, or active recovery, cross training which both have benefits.
Making changes slowly
If I was to “go rogue” as a coach and wanted to injure a runner quickly the way I’d do it would be to make big changes to their existing training routine and suddenly increasing their mileage!
So any risks of a Run Every Day challenge will be greater the further that is from your current routine. So if you already run 5-6 days a week and plan on adding in a 5-10 minute run on your current non-run days for the challenge I’d not be as worried as I would be if you currently ran 3 times week and were looking to run 5k every day.
The 10% rule is often quoted but isn’t a bad rule of thumb, make sure you don’t increase your mileage by more than 10% each week. I would add to make sure you have one recovery week a month where the mileage drops back from that.
Run Every Day challenge often mean runners miss out on their cross training, which is why I far prefer the approach of Active Every Day. Thoughtful cross training can add real value to your running; yoga for flexibility, strength training for power or swimming for active recovery.
I don’t recommend Run Every Day challenges to those new to running, because there is a very real risk that you’ll do too much too soon and get injured. All the points above, especially about recovery, are even more important for new runners. I often work with new runners on picking other goals and challenges to keep them motivated.
After all of that there are some benefits to these types of challenges, they work on consistency and routine which is something I know many runners struggle with. There are lots of other ways to work on that aspect of your running though, from a training plan, a variety of different activities and focussing in on other things to compliment your running like yoga or strength training etc.
Coaching can also really help with this and ’m always happy to chat through options with any interested runner!