During the coldest months of the year, runners everywhere are streaking. As a quick translation for the non-runners, streaking means running at least one mile every day for as long a streak as possible. Runners treat this as a badge of honor, boasting about hitting 100, 500, 1000 day streaks, and streaking becomes especially popular between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Given that this time of year is notorious for indulging in treats and feeling too busy to exercise, streaking provides structure and motivation, and many runners love this daily challenge.
Streaking just isn’t for me.
The physical side of streaking is reason enough for me not to do it. Some people’s bodies can handle the same action repeated daily, but not mine. Alternating running with yoga, swimming, or hiking gives both my mind and my muscles a break while still ultimately moving forward. My body requires variety and rest, and I when I try to push through either, I almost always end up injured. No thanks. I tend to take a very long view of running’s role in my life, and I’d rather still be running in 40 years than hit a 40 day run streak now.
The emotional side of streaking doesn’t appeal to me either. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and frequently feel anxious, so the pressure of being required to run every day stresses me out. A long run streak signifies strength and determination, but the flip side is the looming fear that failure is just a day away. Have to work late? Streak is back to zero. Feeling under the weather? Back to zero. Sore from yesterday’s run? ZERO.
This time of year has enough pressure already, and some days I need to prioritize my mental health over my physical health. That’s not allowed with streaking (or it is, but only if your version of mental health includes at least a one mile run). As much as I love running, I truly value the time I spend practicing yoga or exploring nature. I also value the time I spend drinking wine in my sweatpants while watching The Great British Bake-Off. It’s called balance.
If streaking is helpful and fun for you, by all means streak away! We all have different bodies and different sources of motivation, so I fully support any runner doing what feels best to them. But if you find yourself feeling the weight of the season (compounded by guilt of not running every day), it’s okay. You don’t have to do all the things. You’re still a badass runner, Christmas won’t be ruined, and honestly most people won’t even notice.
Instead of obsessing over a running streak, how about aiming for a drank-enough-water streak, or a went-to-bed-before-midnight streak, or thought-that-thing-I-really-shouldn’t-say-out-loud streak? There’s a finite number of hours and a finite amount sanity, so enjoy the holidays, be kind to yourself, and do whatever makes sense for your own health. Happy streaking!