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Should You Run Every Day?

We break down the benefits (and potential risks) of lacing up for a daily run. Here's what to consider before embarking on that streak.

By Natalie Arroyo CamachoDecember 18, 2023

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There’s a freeing feeling you have on a run—putting one foot in front of the other, stride after stride. You may even crave or chase that sensation every day. And many people do, engaging in a “run streak.” But are there benefits of running every day? 

Those regular miles may have some science-backed perks. For example, there’s the famed runner’s high. Additionally, a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology associated running just five to 10 minutes a day with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Do you really need to run every day to reap those benefits? Or is it better to stick to your weekly jog? Below, we chat with a Peloton instructor and a dedicated athlete on a multi-year run streak about the potential benefits and risks of running every day.

What Is a Run Streak?

“A running streak is having consecutive runs one day after another without taking a day off,” says Hellah Sidibe, a long-distance runner who is on a run streak. “You can go as long as you would like, in both distance and streak duration,” he adds.

“The running streak can be five days, 10 days, or six-plus years, in my case,” Sidibe says. (He’s been on a daily run streak since May 15, 2017.)  But Sidibe is an extremely dedicated athlete, who once ran across the continental U.S. Would such a run streak make sense (or be safe) if you’re a casual runner?

Is It Safe to Run Every Day?

Yes, as long as you’re healthy and careful. “If your body gives you the green light to run every day, i.e. there’s no pain or injury, then that’s okay,” says Peloton instructor Becs Gentry. That doesn’t mean you necessarily should—or even have to—in order to maintain your physical health. “Some gentle movement some days and harder on others is lovely and so fabulous for your mental health, too,” she adds. Considering that running is extremely physical, she says starting a run streak may not be the right idea for everyone. 

“My issue with saying a hard yes to this question is that not everybody is okay with the impact and stress that running causes,” she says. “I only tend to go on run streaks for a short period of time—like one calendar month, for example.” You also don’t have to run everyday in order to identify as a runner, she adds. Whether you’re completing a 15-minute walk + run or clocking five miles a day, you’re a runner. 

You can also consider doing spontaneous run streaks instead of embarking on a perpetual streak, Becs says. Such efforts still help you build endurance, motivation, and discipline, she adds. If you start to feel pain or get bored of your daily runs, try committing to a form of movement everyday. “For example, that could be combining running, yoga, cycling, strength, and rowing [over the course of a week],” Becs says. “This way your body is doing low- and high-impact movement, in all different planes, and working your total body.”

Pain is your body raising a red flag—and it’s critical to pay attention to it. If you’re feeling any unusual discomfort in any part of your body, stop your run streak. Running through the pain can lead to a more severe injury, such as a muscle tear. (If you know that you’re already living with pain or injuries, you also may want to steer clear of starting a running streak in the first place.)

The Benefits of Running Every Day

However, if you do opt to embark on the challenge of running every day, a run streak can help you build consistency in your fitness regimen, as well as establish a daily routine. Sidibe confirms that the benefits go beyond the physical. “When you're running, it's just running,” he says. “Nothing is distracting you, and you only think about the running.” When you subscribe to Sidibe’s approach, running is almost meditative.

It can also benefit your training. “A positive of a run streak is that it can be a great way of building endurance by starting small on the distance and increasing it weekly,” Becs says. “This is especially useful for ultra runners, [or runners who run races longer than 26.2 miles]. It helps you get used to running on tired legs quite quickly.” 

Want to try out a run streak? Read on for some key expert-backed tips to keep in mind. 

How to Do a Run Streak

1. Set a Goal

Your run streak doesn’t have to be as long as Sidibe’s. Set a goal of running every day for a week or a month, committing to a particular duration. By creating a measurable goal, you’ll be more likely to stick to it. 

2. Be Consistent

It’s key to be consistent. While it may be easier for some people to get in a run whenever they can on a day-to-day basis, this approach may not work for everyone. Pick a time when you know you’re free (maybe early in the morning or during lunch) and plan to complete all of your runs then. 

3. Add Miles Incrementally 

Start slow in the beginning days of your streak. Your first few runs may just be a milelong. Over the course of your streak, gradually increase your runs by half a mile. (Becs recommends adding mileage in weekly increments.) By slowly and carefully upping your distance, you’ll decrease your risk of injury and increase your likelihood of continuing on.

4. Check In With Your Body

If your body tries to tell you something, listen to it. For example, you may feel pain or discomfort in your knees, ankles, shins, feet, or hips. When you’re moving, run a “systems check” on your body to see how you’re feeling. 

5. Wear Proper Gear

When it comes to running gear, good running shoes are non-negotiable. Select shoes that properly support your feet. (Your local running store can help you with this.) If you’re injury prone or have sensitive knees, it might be a good idea to wear a knee brace. This will help stabilize your knee and reduce any shock to the joint.

How to Track Your Progress

Sometimes, you need to visually see your progress. Keep a notebook and document how you felt during your runs, as well as their length, duration, and potential areas for improvement. You’ll be able to personalize your runs in way that works best for you and your body. 

How to Recover

Running takes a physical toll on your body.  As a result, it’s critical to recover after each run during your run streak. “I take my recovery seriously,” Sidibe says. “I see a physical therapist once in a while to make sure I’m tuned up again. And I think a lot about my nutrition. When you’re doing a run streak, you’ve got to eat a lot—and you’ve got to eat well. You also have to hydrate.”

How Long Should You Run Every Day?

The answer to this question is dependent on who you are as a runner. For example, you may already be logging five miles on each of your runs. Or you may be hitting the Peloton Tread one mile at a time. Regardless of where you’re at, remember to check in with your mind and body. You may need to dial back the mileage or even turn it up a notch. However, never run through severe pain. Only run for as long as you can without your body sending flare signals.

Either way, remember: A running streak isn’t about how far you go. It’s about the fact that you are running.

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