I understand the allure of joining a streak challenge as simple as doing one activity every day for one month, several months, or even years. And I’m all for any gimmick or trick we can use to entice ourselves to exercise more.
However, some of these challenges are not always healthy and often lead to injury.
The most dangerous streaks involve a repetitive activity or sport done every day for a total number of repetitions, distance, or time. Such as completing X number of pushups or running a certain distance or time daily.
Pushing yourself to participate in an activity every day, no matter how tired, injured, or ill you may feel, goes against all training advice. Many athletes ignore the body’s signals telling them they need a day or two off, and even more so when they have committed to a streak challenge. The constant repetition often leads to burnout, overtraining, and repetitive strain injuries. Common injuries suffered from athletes participating in a daily running streak challenge are achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, or worse yet, a stress fracture in the leg or foot.
But, not all streaks are bad.
Healthy or “good” streaks are those that allow for flexibility and encourage rest days. These challenges usually require you to complete a total distance within a specific time frame. Even better are streaks that include a variety of activities or allow you to choose for yourself, as in the case of a yoga or weight training challenge; the classes are different every day, and vary in intensity and volume.
If you are choosing a streak to help motivate you to exercise, try to pick one that allows for flexibility in how often you need to do it, and ideally some flexibility in what activities you are doing. Not only will you be healthier overall, but it will also make you faster in your preferred sport and help prevent injury.
If you want to use the challenge to get you riding more, the Strava streaks sampled in this article are good examples. However, it will still require some planning to make sure you give yourself enough recovery days throughout. As well, the challenge you chose needs to be appropriately placed within your overall yearly training program. Don’t get coerced into signing up for a challenge just because your friends are.