How do you fancy becoming a streaker this Christmas season? Don't worry, you can keep your clothes on. Your running clothes, of course. In fact, there will be little point in taking them off. This is because, to join us in our streak, you will need to run every day from 1 December to Christmas Day. It is called the Advent Streak – and any chocolate in your advent calendar can only be consumed once you have completed that day's run. Anyone up for the challenge?
The Advent Streak was an idea initiated by the online running group Run Mummy Run, and there are now about 50 people taking part. The idea is that you choose a minimum distance, such as a mile or 5km, and run at least that distance each day for the 25 days. If you do it smartly, using what would normally be your rest days as easy recovery runs of only your minimum distance, then you should find that your fitness improves.
Of course, streaking is not new. Mark Covert ran every day for 45 years until this year, when a foot injury sadly caused his retirement. And then there's former Commonwealth marathon champion Ron Hill, who maintained his streak by running a mile the day after breaking his sternum in car crash. Many others sign up for a month's streak, such as Janathon.
The theory behind streaking is that, if you are used to exercise, your body can partake in "active recovery". Instead of taking complete rest (and, let's face it, how many of us truly do rest on our rest days anyway?), your tired muscles can be allowed to recover through easier work.
My own interest in streaking began in April this year, when I ran at least 5km per day for 50 days. I started it a week after running the Brighton Marathon as a way to keep up my fitness, rather than let myself sink into my usual post-marathon training low. My running improved so much that I soon smashed my PBs for 5k and 10k.
Running every day also led me to seek out new routes, take on more off-road work, and try new local running groups. I relished the three days per week where, after choosing a route of roughly 5km, I could leave my watch at home and just run nice and easy, giving me much-needed time to myself.
Though a mere 25 days, I'm certain the Advent Streak will bring some of the same benefits. If you are preparing for spring distance training, this will give you a fantastic kickstart. But even if you aren't, the streak will give you the motivation we all sometimes need to get out there on cold winter mornings or evenings. It may even help keep off some of the pounds that many of us gain at this time of year.
There was much discussion among members of Run Mummy Run as to how we can find the time to run every day. But with a few adjustments, almost anybody can do it. Many members will be running with their children in their buggies. One amazing lady will be doing some of her miles while pushing her son in his wheelchair, and one other will have to do one of her runs in an airport. Whatever your circumstances, you can make the time.
If you do choose to take part, there are some precautions you should take too. Firstly, as already stated, you should not be pushing yourself every single day. On the days that are ordinarily your recovery days, just run your minimum distance at a very easy, conversation pace.
I you are new or returning to running, or are recovering from illness or injury, the streak is definitely not the time to start building your mileage over any single run. And if an injury rears its ugly head, do not ignore it. Remember this is just a challenge for fun and fitness, and it should not result in your becoming unable to run afterwards.
You may be running in the dark more than usual, so do take all necessary precautions to keep yourself safe. Wherever possible, run with others. Finally, even if time is short, do carry out at least a few basic stretches after your run.
So are you going to join us? You can join the Facebook event and we would love to hear from you about how the streak is going. So go streak and be merry!