Running A Mile a Day from a Coach’s Perspective
It started when I was about 24 years old. New to teaching, I found myself coaching track and field. Tasked with coaching sprinters and jumpers, I read up on the sport in order to best prepare the athletes for success.
The entire team started practice by looping the track twice around, completing an easy 800 prior to warming up with group drills and stretching.
On one particularly sunny day, one of the girls said to me, “Coach, come warm up with us.”
Their pace was easy, their banter back and forth happy and casual. As we completed the two laps, their laughter was contagious. I found myself looking forward to those easy two laps each day.
At the end of practice, the sprinters always did three or four super easy laps to work out the kinks. After a couple of weeks of joining them on the warm-up, I decided to jump into the cool down also.
And such as the beginning of my running journey.
Running 1 Mile a Day
Since I was running with the kids, I found myself running a mile a day on most days that we had track practice. It was interesting. Just making this one small change, I found myself feeling different.
First, I used the time to mentally clear my head of the stress from the day. The casual loping around the track was relaxing and therapeutic.
In addition, I found myself getting stronger. You would not think a simple mile each day would make a big difference, but I found I could talk and laugh more when I ran with the team. If they picked up the pace when someone told a funny story, the side stitch I used to get went away.
Once, while we ran, it occurred to me that the boys’ team had dropped off the track. I asked the girls, “Have we run more than 4 laps?”
One of the girls replied, “We’re on lap 7, coach,” and they all laughed. That was the furthest I had run since high school and I didn’t even realize it.
Running As An Adult
After a particularly stressful day at work, I decided maybe the magic of track season would extend to my everyday life. I honestly don’t remember what time of year it was but I do recall putting on my running shoes and heading out the door.
I had no plan on how far I would go, nor any preconceived notions on what I should accomplish. I just headed out the door with my watch on.
I had decided to head out for six or seven minutes, then turn around and come back. Without any fancy mechanisms to track how far I had gone, I just used the stopwatch on my old school Timex watch.
That day, on that simple out and back, it hit me that the tension of the day was melting away with each step.
For quite some time I committed to running a mile a day, most days. Well, “around” a mile a day. Remember, no fancy watch. That 7 minutes out and 7 minutes back became my staple. Sometimes I ran it all, others I walked some. I always was out for about 15 minutes.
My running has changed a lot since then. Today, I run anywhere from four to six days a week. My workouts vary depending on the time of year.
For five or six years, throughout my 40s, I typically ran high mileage in the winter and spring in training for a half-marathon. Summer meant biking and swimming, so my running mileage declined to compensate. Sometimes, I would take summer to focus on either a triathlon or a 5K goal.
There were those years I coached cross country when my fall was filled with running with athletes, and those were joyful years. Getting paid to run again was, well, amazing!
Somewhere in there, I discovered the Runner’s World Holiday Streak. Plain and simple: you commit to running one mile a day!
Although there are many short-term streaks out there, this one is perhaps the most popular. Many people call it Turkey to Champagne streak because you start on Thanksgiving Day and it spans until New Years Day.
The idea is that you run at least one mile each day for the duration of that holiday season. Why, you ask?
The simple answer is, “Why not?”
The complicated answer is here. Benefits of running one mile a day through the holidays:
- It keeps you focused during the Holiday season.
- You stay disciplined.
- Guaranteed movement.
- Joining other runners in an epic goal.
Another streak is the Summer Streak, which spans Memorial Day to Labor Day.
While you only need to commit to a mile a day minimum, most people run more some of the days each week.
I have done the holiday streak many times, ending with a glass of champagne with friends on New Years Day. I have to admit that sometimes it is difficult to drag myself out there to get the mile in. However, I do enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing the streak.
While I don’t see myself ever being a “real streak runner,” I do enjoy the short-term commitment of this type of streaks.
Year-Round Streak Runners
There are also runners who streak all the time, year-round. If you think that sounds crazy, you are not alone.
An organization called Streak Runners International is practically a church for people who take their streak running very seriously. These individuals register themselves with the group and are intent on keeping their streak alive at all costs.
Some of these people have kept the streak going through major illnesses, surgeries, and even deaths in the family. One streaker I know will run at 2:00 a.m. on a day he flies out on vacation. He even convinced a doctor to delay his emergency appendectomy so he could do his mile before surgery!
Benefits of streaking include feeling disciplined, a sense of accomplishment, dedication to a goal and the community given by the group.
Downsides are that runners often have injuries that linger way longer than they should due to never taking a day off. In addition, some streakers report that their family members simply don’t understand their need to continue streaking.
Is It Worth Trying?
Whether you are new to fitness or someone just looking for something new to try, I would encourage you to try hitting the pavement for a mile a day. Just pick a day to get started and head out the door.
If you are a non-runner, you can certainly start off walking. If you are a runner, try a month-long streak. You may find success in recalibrating yourself into a newfound goal and sense of accomplishment!
Whether you walk, jog or run, movement does your body good. Why not dedicate yourself to it every day and see what happens?