As we now know, streaking in running lingo has recently assumed a new meaning. It has nothing to do with running naked in public as a result of a lost dare. Streaking simply means running on consecutive days, for a set period of time, without fail. It is not as easy as you might think.
As the human quest for adventure continues, streaking has rapidly escalated to be the ultimate challenge. Runners across the world struggled to find motivation amidst the global pandemic of COVID-19 erupting at the beginning of 2020. Thanks to streaking, a lot of people are again finding themselves running.
The rules are simple: you set your intended timeframe, and then all you have to do is run (most runners opt for a minimum of one mile) every single day. Your run streak can be for weeks, months, or for the exceptionally committed runner — forever.
We have a few streakers of our own in the Frederick Steeplechasers club. A few of them recently shared their stories with us and a glimpse of their continuous running streak or Running Streak Day (RSD) journey. Here’s Heidi Novak, FSRC President, with her story.
Heidi starts with, “On Friday, March 13, schools in the area shut down for what we thought would be two weeks. On Monday, March 16, I decided to start a running streak. I told myself that I would keep running until we went back to school. I figured, it would be a month at the most.“
Heidi’s streak continued through the summer and into the fall. The return-to-school date changed from November to after the beginning of the new year 2021, so the streak kept going.
Finally, the return to school was announced in early March 2021. Since she was so close to a full year of streaking, Heidi was determined to keep going. She celebrated one year of the run streak by running one mile every hour for 12 hours. In case you are wondering about the significance of these numbers, Heidi explains, “One mile is the minimum you have to run for a running streak and 12 is the number of months in a year. So, the streak could end since I was back at school and I made it a year, right? If you know me, you know I like a challenge, so I decided to keep going, as long as I am having fun and I am healthy.”
Of course there have been slow runs and fast runs for Heidi, and while every run might not have been great, Heidi pushed through.
During her streak, Heidi participated in several running challenges. To kick off her Spring Break in 2020, Heidi ran the Yeti Ultra 24-Hour Challenge. Heidi also virtually made her way across Tennessee in the GVRAT (Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee) 1000K. While the Market Street Mile Challenges were virtual, Heidi traveled to and across the physical bridges on the route and learned a lot about the history of the covered bridges in Maryland. And, perhaps most notably, Heidi stepped out of her comfort zone during the Rick’s Run Ultra Challenges in 2020 and ran up and down the infamous Bob’s Hill four times in a row!
At the end of a tough pandemic year, Heidi also added, “As races [were] returning, I [was] looking forward to participating in some in-person events and keeping the streak going.”
Heidi sums it up, “You can’t run every run fast if you are going to run every day. Also, if it seems like something you have to do and not something you want to do, you should probably stop.”
We had to revisit this article with a recent, March 2022, update from Heidi, who is still streaking, by the way. Heidi is now in her second year of running consecutively every single day.
Heidi has now run in all types of weather. She has run early in the morning and through the night. Heidi once stepped out for a run in a rainbow unicorn onesie and in skinny jeans and a blouse.
Why did Heidi decide to keep going? In her own words, “I got to one year and was still having fun, so I kept on going. The whole time I told myself that as long as I was happy and healthy, I would keep on going.”
When Heidi was almost at a two-year point of her streak, her running coach created a fun custom workout. The workout consisted of 7.30 miles (for RSD # 730), with some 7:30 pace intervals. As ambitious a goal as it was for Heidi, she did not hesitate to give it a go, albeit unsuccessfully in the end.
Heidi stresses that usually when this happens, she gets upset. Out of accompanying frustration, Heidi usually follows up with her coach by sending her a quick “this sucks” text. “But not that night!”, exclaims Heidi.
On that night, after completing the challenging workout, Heidi realized that sometimes it is more important to focus on the process and not the product.
Heidi, a kindergarten teacher in Virginia, has been sharing her running journey with her co-workers and was one day greeted with cheerful signs in the hallway. “Our wonderful counselor had done this, and it totally made my day. The children were all asking me if it was my birthday, since there was a balloon. I told them about why today was special and I got lots of thumbs up and high-fives”, adds Heidi.
So, how does one celebrate a two-year anniversary of running streak, you ask? In a true running style, by signing up for a race, of course! In 2021, Heidi ran the legendary JFK 50. “Although I just said I wasn’t going to do this race again this year, there was something inside me telling me to give it another go. Yes folks, this girl will be toeing the line for the 60th Annual JFK 50 on Saturday, November 19, 2022”, Heidi excitedly breaks the news on her Facebook page.
The next member sharing her story is Michele Newton, FSRC Half Marathon Coach.
April 26, 2021 marked one year for Michele’s run streak. Giving thanks to God for her own good health and also for allowing her to be able to accomplish such a big feat, Michele worried she would forget to thank everyone who helped her along the way. “There are just so many to thank. I want to thank the academy”, Michele jokes.
Michele also adds, “I want to thank my tremendous brain for convincing my body to go along for the ride. I want to thank my family for getting on my nerves just enough that getting out the door to run every day was not an imposition.”
Whenever Michele mentioned running to her non-runner friends and family, the inevitable response typically included the word “crazy”. But who would understand you better than your running friends, after all? Michele was also grateful for her friends’ continuous thoughtful and supportive inquiries about how her streak was going and what day she happened to be on.
The encouragement that Michele received along the way was unparalleled. To prove that Michele wasn’t blowing smoke, Tara, a fellow runner, said, “I want to run a half marathon every month, who is with me?” Quite a few friends joined in. “Those January and February half marathons were frigid!” remembers Michele.
Not to be outdone, a couple of Steeps and friends of Michele, Amanda and Lindsey, decided to train for a marathon in the winter, without the support of a formal training group. When the race they signed up for was cancelled, they completed a marathon anyway.
Another incredible story comes from fellow Steeplechaser, Roxanne Kircher.
The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee (GVRAT) was the inspiration for Roxanne’s year-long running streak. It began on April 30, 2020. May 1 was Day #1 of the GVRAT. Roxanne thought, “Hey, I’ll run the whole month of May.” Then it became something else.
Another couple of months turned into, “I’ll just streak until I’m done with GVRAT.” Roxanne found herself unable to stop. She couldn’t give it up. One full year later, Roxanne signed up for GVRAT again, with no intention to break the streak.
2020 was a tough year for Roxanne. Aside from toughing it out at home with her two kids, Roxanne felt very alone through the pandemic. She also lost love. Unexpectedly, Roxanne found herself in love with this new streaking journey, and, coincidentally, she also found a new love! “I get support from him every day, and I’m extremely happy. It was hell to get here, but I wouldn’t change any part of it”, Roxanne sums it up.