As Thanksgiving Day rapidly approaches I’m struggling with an age-old running question: To streak or not to streak? Back in 2011, I participated in the first annual Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak. I ran at least a mile a day from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, logging 100 miles in 40 days during a month when I often sit on my butt. It was an excellent exercise in perseverance that helped me battle the gluttony of the holidays and sluggishness of cold, dark winter days. I didn’t run a fall marathon in 2011, so I was raring to go.
Come 2012, I’d finished the Philadelphia Marathon just four days before Thanksgiving and I didn’t have the running streak in me. I needed a break.
But this year, I’m debating taking the pledge once again. My fall marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, is more than a month behind me and I’m feeling that familiar itch—the itch to train. I loved doing the running streak in 2011. It kept me honest and gave me a great training base for nabbing some personal bests in 2012, which proved to be one of my fastest years on record. Though I bested my 5K and 10K times this year, my half-marathon and marathon PRs from 2012 still stand.
But the Holiday Running Streak is a commitment. I found that squeezing in a mile was sometimes difficult. There were midnight runs, a pre-holiday party run in 3-inch heels, and post-dinner runs with creamed spinach jiggling in my belly. There were sick runs, runs during snowstorms in rural Quebec, and plain, old “I don’t want to” runs.
So how to decide whether or not to streak now?
Back in my acting days I had a teacher who gave students what he called “The Hamlet Exercise.” The idea was that Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” contains the full range of human emotions. Students chose a passage from the play that spoke to something they’d experienced in life, and, then, performed it—reciting Shakespeare’s words but communicating their own inner truth.
It’s a classic “Method” acting technique: actors actually drum up in themelves the same emotions the character is feeling by exploiting their own past, memories, and experiences. Lee Strasberg, who pioneered Method techniques in the U.S., posed the question: “”What would motivate me, the actor, to behave in the way the character does?”
I played Hamlet in “Hamlet” in sixth grade. Revisiting it as an adult acting student was incredibly illuminating and effective.
So back to “Hamlet” I go!
To Streak or Not To Streak?To streak or not to streak? That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous weather Or to take arms against a sea of training And by opposing end it. To rest, to sleep in— No more—and by a sleep to say we end The body ache, and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished. To rest, to sleep in— To sleep—perchance to skip a workout: ay, there’s the rub, For in that sleep of rest what fitness may come When we have shuffled off this running road, Must give us pause…. To grunt and sweat under a weary running streak, But that the dread of loss of fitness and holiday weight gain, The undiscovered country, from whose bourn No runner returns, puzzles the will, And makes us rather bear that running streak we have Than run not at all? Thus conscience does make runners of us all, And thus the native hue of resolution Is fortified with the thought of streaking, And running streaks of great pitch and moment With this regard their currents inspire us And gain the name of action.
That’s it. I’m streaking!
If you’re thinking about joining the streak, here are all my past posts about the 2011 Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak—my triumphs and tribulations.