Is Running Every Day Beneficial to Your Health?

Date: July 17, 2021

I had no intention of running every day. In the ten years I've been running, I've learned the value of taking a couple of rest days each week to allow my body to heal and rebuild itself.

Everything felt out of control in March, when news broke that the coronavirus had finally set foot on American soil. Shelter-in-place orders were issued in my city. My son's school was forced to close. It seemed like I was entering a battle zone when I walked inside the grocery shop. Shoppers were rowdy and obnoxious. Common household items have gone missing. Then individuals started sending messages on social media saying, "Stay home!"

As a result, I went outside and ran.

I prefer to run on paved surfaces. The woody, tamped gravel trails, though, drew me in. I yearned to be outside in the fresh air. To inhale fresh air, sweat off all the chaos, and make sense of what was going on in this world.

"Look deep into nature and you will comprehend everything better," Albert Einstein reportedly stated. I believe he was right on the money.

Rest Days' Importance

I had run every day for a month before I realised it. Running every day turns out to be quite common. There is, in reality, a United States Running Streak Association, which is a part of Streak Runners International and has members all over the world. You must run at least 1 mile (1.61 kilometres) each calendar day to qualify. Anyone can join, but no one's streak can be listed on the active or retired running streak list unless they've been running for a year.

"Do you believe that running every day is a good idea?" During one of our weekly runs, I asked my buddy Kile Putman. He's a USA Track & Field-certified coach who works with elite athletes and Wounded Warriors, and he helped me prepare for my final and (as of yet) only Boston qualifying marathon.

"Think of your body as a machine, like an automobile," he said, as our feet pounded in time on the mountain route above Birmingham, Alabama. "Rest, like taking a day off, is good for the body. Maintains your health and prevents injuries so you can run longer and faster."

He also reminded me of the marathon training plan he'd put out for me. Mile repeats, speedwork, and long runs were followed by easy runs, sometimes known as "active recovery," on days when we did mile repeats, speedwork, or long runs. That one non-running day of the week was intentionally scheduled the day before the long run to prepare both my body and mind for the many kilometres ahead.

There were no races to train for because of COVID-19. I wasn't running quickly or far, either. Putman admitted that this made my daily run routine bearable. "Just listen to your body," he counselled, even though the only injuries I was prone to at the time were scraped knees and bruises from stumbling over roots and rocks on the wooded, creek-side trails.

Understand "Why" you're running.

Not long after that conversation, I decided to take a day off. My body felt as if it needed some "upkeep." But the next day, I went out again, this time without stopping. Not at 50 days, 75 days, or even 100 days. Even the threat of COVID-19, which had engulfed the United States by this point, couldn't keep me from working.

I had ample reason to be unconcerned. According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, just five to ten minutes of low-intensity running each day can help you live longer than not running at all. However, according to a study published in the same journal in 2013, the total number of hours of jogging per week should be increased to 2.5 in order to gain the maximum benefits. I was at least an hour ahead of schedule.

To be sure, I asked Dr. Sophia Lal if it was a good idea for me to run every day. She's a long-time triathlete and a nonsurgical sports medicine specialist in Birmingham. She was cautious to express outright disapproval, although she did state she wasn't in favour of it. She claims that the body requires a rest.

"You can think about running recovery in the same way you think of weight training," she explains. "If you run every day, you don't give your body, including the muscles you use when running, time to recover." Running generates microscopic tears in your muscles, similar to weight training. A day off helps your muscles to heal and your body to adjust to your workout.

Sure, there are people who run every day and never get hurt, according to Lal. Many people who overtrain, however, wind up with plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, sprains, and strains in her practise.

But what about those who run every day and never get hurt? "It's a combination of genetics, taking care of your body, and running tall and light," she explains. Running tall entails engaging your core so that your chest remains straight and you don't slump. Running light entails avoiding hard and obnoxious foot strikes. ("Like a cat walking on carpet," Putman explains.)

Lal highly advocates cross-training for persons who must accomplish something every day. She also enjoys trail running since it allows her to explore new places "Each and every step is unique. While navigating the terrain, you're strengthening your ankles."

Finally, while you can run with sore muscles, you should not run in discomfort. "Some ailments can keep you on the sidelines for a long period," she explains. "And that's not something you want to factor into the (training) equation."

Understand "Why" you're running.

When I rejoined Putman on the trail, I had completed my 100th day of jogging. COVID-19 was worsening, not improving, but society was cautiously reopening. I asked him if I was crazy for continuing to run every day.

He says, "It depends." "First and foremost, you must ask yourself why you lace up your shoes and go outside in the first place." That's when he told me about one of his athletes, a man with post-traumatic stress disorder who runs every day to keep the monsters in his head at bay. "Is it a case of mental anguish? Addiction? Obsession? Perhaps some form of competitive training? Or are you trying to get away from something?"

To make sense of the pandemic, I began my running streak. I reached my 115th straight day sometime in August. In that time, I'd seen a lot of wildlife, including newly hatched copperheads skimming the creek's surface and ospreys fishing at dusk. At low tide, I came uncomfortably close to a massive napping alligator and came upon a bunch of dolphins "muddling" in the salt marshes.

Then I felt a catch in my right knee one day. It wasn't anything I couldn't handle, but it was something I realised I shouldn't. I took off my running shoes and decided to take a well-deserved rest. Perhaps, as Einstein put it, I'd learned enough knowledge from nature to know that, despite its enormous problems, life goes on.

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