I’ve seen a few criticisms of the Holiday Running Streak across the internet—”I need rest days so I don’t get injured,” “I end up running fewer miles when I’m running every day”—and I get those. The one I don’t understand is, “Why can’t people just enjoy the holidays?”
For me, part of enjoying the holidays is making sure I make time to run during them, and the Streak helped me do that last year.*
I like running. Sometimes I don’t like the act of getting out for a run. Sometimes it’s inconvenient, or I just don’t feel like it, or I think, “I’m between training cycles. Better be lazy while I still can!”
But once I’m out there, I enjoy myself. I like being outside, I like getting sweaty, and the boost in mood I experience afterwards sure trumps the crankiness and guilt I experience after several days of skipped runs.
The Streak is designed to take that choice away, the choice to say, “Meh, I don’t feel like it,” day after day after day. If you know you’re likely to make such choices, and you know you don’t feel happy or good about yourself when you do, joining the Streak can help.
Feeling happy and good about myself is a major factor that goes into determining how much I enjoy the holidays. I’m prone to some seasonal gloom when the days get shorter and the sun hides out, even when Christmas is on its way, and running helps ameliorate that.
And, I certainly do not hold back on “indulging”—during the holidays, or any other time of year—and running keeps my weight in check. There is nothing enjoyable about trying on everything in your closet and having none of it fit quite right. College Years Meghan can vouch for that.
The Streak isn’t meant to be a burden or an insane, pleasure-depriving challenge; it’s meant to be fun. It’s for people who like running and all its physical and mental benefits, but who may not be terribly motivated in December. If you can motivate yourself without it, more power to you, but it upsets me to see it categorized as a “drive yourself crazy for the sake of health and fitness” holiday scheme.
*Full disclosure: I helped create the Streak last winter, when I had an unstructured gap between my last fall race and the beginning of training for my first spring race. I’m already in training for my first spring race, so I’m not so into the Streak this year. I don’t need the structure it provides because I have the structure of a training plan. I’m still streaking, so far, but I may not make it the whole way…and I’m fine with that. I’ll still be running five days a week, which is enough to keep me feeling happy, fit, and confident, but I’ll still be rooting for all the amazing Streakers out there.