Still I Run, 2023 Run Streaking for Mental Health
I am so freakin excited!! This blog post started out as a short blurb about why I love run streaks to help manage my mental health and in my quick search to see if anyone else had written about this too, I found Still I Run. As described on their home page…
Still I Run is a community of runners and mental health warriors determined to take control of our physical and mental health while also breaking the stigma surrounding people that live with a mental illness.
YESSSSSS! I love this so much! First of all, they use my favorite mental health expression, “mental health warriors”, which also happens to be the inspiration behind my “warrior” collarbone tattoo (the one I got with my bestie). It also combines two of my favorite things in one—running and mental health awareness—and they really bring the two together so perfectly…
Because one of the best ways to help combat anxiety and depression (aside from medication and therapy) is through exercise and running, we combine the two. For us, running and mental health are perfect partners. The name, Still I Run, is inspired by the famous Maya Angelou poem Still I Rise. Though we may feel defeated and deflated, we can fight the good fight and get out and be healthy both physically and mentally… together.
And if they weren’t cool enough already, this non-profit holds a virtual run streak every year during the month of May for Mental Health Awareness Month to help raise awareness and funds for mental health. The timing couldn’t be any more perfect as I was planning on starting a new run steak today, so you know I had to sign up!!
For those of you reading this and think I’m talking about stripping down and taking strides across a sports field or through the neighborhood, let’s take a step back for a sec. A run streak is running every day for a set distance, for either a predetermined number of consecutive days or for as long as you can. The only rule is that it has to be at least one mile a day, every single day (on a trail, track, along the road, or on a treadmill).
It’s more fun than it sounds I swear!
Now, how does run streaking help with mental health in (my opinion at least)…
It’s movement every single day, which, for anyone with mental health or illness challenges, is crazy important. Moving your body, even if it just means taking a walk, is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your mental health. I’ve noticed that whenever I become stagnant and am not making the effort to stay active like I normally would, my depression and anxiety really start to take a dip.
Even on my bad days, when I’m feeling hopeless and like I’m failing at everything, running my 1 mile still means that I had a win that day—I kept a promise to myself and added another day to my streak.
In order to not feel like hell during that 1 mile each day, I have to take care of myself: this means gettin enough sleep, drinking lots of water, and eating foods that make by body happy. It’s a win-win!
I run outside, so it’s a way of making sure I get a least a little fresh air and sunshine no matter how busy I get.
Personally, having a routine and consistency is a huge help for my mental health so running every day at the same time is perfect for me because it give me the big of structure I need, even when life gets a little out of have and the rest of my schedule goes out the window.
And streaking doesn’t have to be running. In all reality, you can do any kind of movement everyday—running, walking, yoga, biking, etc.—and it can still be considered a streak.
Now that I’ve convinced you that you need a streak in your life, how do you keep one going after day 1….
Tell everyone and post it to social media. This will help you stay accountable. And you may even inspire the people in your communities to join you! This could be a daily thing or when you hit your goals.
Invite someone to do your steak with you. This could be a partner, the bestie, a group of friends, or even your running group. You can hold each other more accountable this way and then you also have a running buddy (or several).
Celebrate the wins! During Covid I had a really great streak where I went 167 days and every 50 days I would celebrate by baking myself cupcakes and decorating them with the streak number. What better motivation to hit your next streak goal than cupcake?!
Use a tracker or calendar that you can physically check the days off. That little bit of daily accomplishment can go a long way.
Set goals. You don’t have to do a streak for forever. I, personally, like to see how long I can push them, but you can have a set number of days or a target date you want to streak till. I once read about a guy who did a streak as a lead up to his wedding day as a fun way to count down the days and on the day he got married he ran his last morning for that streak.
Make a routine. I like to run the same time every day so that it just becomes a part of my daily routine. That way I don’t accidently schedule something during that time of day and things are less likely to interfere with my streak. Having a routine could also look like going to the same trail or having a post run/walk/ride practice like getting coffee at your favorite local shop.
Know your Why. Having a solid why, a purpose for running your streak, goes a really long way, especially on those days you’re just really not feelin’ it. My Why has to do with my mental and physical health: I know that when I make time to move and be outside every day I mentally and physically feel better, so when I streak it’s the greatest gift of selfcare that I can give to myself. It also reminds me that I can do hard things, which is a big deal when your depression likes to attack your self-worth and sense of optimism.
Want to join me in participating in Still I Run’s Virtual Run Streak for May? You can register here on their website!