What the “No Days Off” Approach Gets Wrong
Run streaks can be super impressive, but they’re not for everyone.
It’s that time of the year when “no days off” becomes a marketing tactic. For some brands, it’s a call for consistency and a “re-commitment to the process of being a runner;” for others, it represents “your strength to self-motivate, crush all excuses, and follow through on your goals.”
It’s meant to be motivational, and approachable: All you have to do is run at least one mile every single day. There are people who’ve been doing exactly that for decades, and that’s incredibly impressive. But run streaks are not for everyone; I did one a couple of years ago (just from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day), and I realized that while I was capable of it, I just…didn’t enjoy running every single day.
I think we lose something with a “no days off” approach to fitness (in addition to running, there are programs like 75 Hard; 30-day challenges built around squats, push-ups, or other exercises; and even month-long elimination diets like Whole 30). It reminds me of the “no pain, no gain” cliché: This sort of all-or-nothing thinking encourages people to push through discomfort and override warning signals from their bodies, like soreness, fatigue, or even aches and pains, and it can lead to physical and mental burnout.
Sure, a single mile per day doesn’t sound like a lot. But—I know I’ve written this ad nauseam—stress is stress; whether it’s physical or emotional, external or internal, your body can't tell the difference. It’s called “allostatic load,” according to research published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics; once your cumulative burden of stress exceeds your ability to cope, it will lead to poorer health outcomes. Even a single mile can tip you over that cliff.
Both “no days off” and “no pain, no gain” equate success with suffering. Look, I’m not saying running shouldn’t occasionally feel hard or uncomfortable. But we’re all hobby joggers here; if you’re driving yourself to the point of suffering just because you feel like you can’t miss a day of exercise, where’s the gain in that?
These mentalities also encourage comparison, which can suck the joy out of running. If you see your online “friends” run further or longer, you’re more likely to run more, regardless of whether you should. Just because someone else is capable of running every day doesn’t mean you are—and you’re no less of a runner just because you can’t (or don’t want to) slog it out day after day.
All-or-nothing approaches to goal setting are bad because there are only two options: success or failure. You either did the run, or you didn’t. Your performance was good or it was bad. Words like “never,” “always,” “every day,” or “every time” can be a sign that your expectations are too high and too hard to maintain long-term, which inevitably sets you up for disappointment.
It’s extremism, and that isn’t the kind of mental training you want to practice. In fact, all-or-nothing thinking can contribute to an increased risk for anxiety and depression, according to a 2021 study published in Current Psychology. And perfectionism is a predictor of injuries in athletes, 2018 research from the Journal of Sports Sciences determined.
I’m not saying that all run streaks are bad. Try one! But before you start letting marketing language cancel out what your body tells you during that run streak, keep in mind that too much rigidity will make succeeding difficult. If you have to miss a day because you got sick, something came up at work, whatever, be kind to yourself (you didn’t fail, you just…have a life). If you’re not feeling it, revise your goal (maybe you walk a mile every day instead of running). If “every day” is too overwhelming, set a smaller, more doable goal (“every other day,” for example).
Let’s say you start out saying you want to run every day. But then on day 6, you didn’t (for whatever reason). You could quit and consider the experiment a failure…or you could just keep going. So you make it another three days, and then you need to take a day off. That’s still eight of 10 days—or, you were successful 80 percent of the time. Is that a failure? No! You have to be able to find the small wins even when you don’t achieve a bigger goal.
All-or-nothing thinking keeps you stuck in the short-term, when you should be focusing on long-term progress. It’s about consistency, not rigidity—so instead of forcing it, find the happy middle ground between all or nothing.
Brooks Ghost Max
Believe it or not, Brooks has held the number one spot in the adult performance running footwear for nearly two years—and the Ghost is the brand’s most popular shoe. How do you make a shoe like that even better? Even more cushion. The Ghost Max, which came out in late September, added high-stack DNA Loft v2 cushioning and GlideRoll rocker technology to offer more protection and assisted transition through the gait cycle. I actually expected it to be a little squishier, à la the New Balance 1080, but it’s on the firmer side (not in a bad way) and super plush all-around, like your feet are encased in bubble wrap. While I wouldn’t call it responsive or bouncy, it’s a really stable ride and surprisingly light for how much cushion you’re carrying around.
Swipe Up for More
If you’ve ever wondered exactly what “influencing” is really like, Swipe Up for More, by journalist Stephanie McNeal, is a really fascinating read. The book isn’t specific to fitness influences, instead, it follows three women in different content areas: a mommy blogger, a fashion blogger, and runner and advocate Mirna Valerio (so, fitness-adjacent!). These three women gave McNeal an all-access pass into their lives and business, and I was kind of blown away by a) how much money they make and b) how hard their jobs are. The whole book is kind of a middle finger to critics who brush off influencing as “not a real job,” and I found it to be really eye-opening in terms of how marketing and consumption habits have changed over the past decade.
Clicks, Shares, & Hearts: Social Media Is Closing the Women’s Sports Coverage Gap
Speaking of social media, this article from Parity, an organization working to close the gender income and opportunity gap in progressional sports, looked at the recent jump in how much coverage women’s sports has received. Women’s sports have traditionally received just 4-5 percent of sports media coverage on outlets like ESPN and SportsCenter. But when you factor in social media and streaming platforms, that number jumps to 15 percent. Even though the gap is still way too big, I think it’s pretty awesome that social media has made such a dent in women’s sports coverage, especially because it allows for more creativity and innovation than traditional coverage models.
Exploring the Potential of Using ChatGPT in Resistance Training
There’s no denying the fact that AI is going to have a huge role in health and fitness. It already does, at least in the machines we use and the wearables we put on our bodies. But it’s still not quite ready to replace human insights. A recent study published in Biology of Sport looked at ChatGPT’s proficiency in designing 12-week resistance training programs. The researchers found that the AI did demonstrate recognition awareness of training experience (intermediate versus advanced), but for now, it seems like ChatGPT could be used in drafting a resistance training program, but if you actually want that program to be effective, you’ll still need human expertise to fine-tune it.
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