As I promised in my last post about SparkPeople, I’m going to share my reservations about one of their motivational techniques: streaking. I’m not talking about college students or sports fans dashing naked in front of large crowds in public venues. In fitness circles, streaking means exercising every single day.
There’s actually an association for running buffs (as opposed to runners in the buff) called the US National Running Streak Association. It keeps records for the numbers of consecutive days and years its members have run. Former Olympic marathoner Ron Hill, 73, has maintained one of the most famous running streaks in the organization’s history. He hasn’t missed one day of running since 1964. He even jogged a mile the day after he fractured his sternum in a head-on collision, and he kept his streak going while in a plaster cast after bunion surgery by hobbling a mile on crutches every day for six weeks. Granted, he defines running pretty loosely. But, still, his accomplishment is mind-boggling. Most of us average mortals who aren’t made of Olympic material wouldn’t be capable of pulling it off.
Which is why I have my reservations about streaking. You might find it motivating to see the days and weeks add up. But what if you’re derailed by illness, injury, or just plain life and, unlike Ron Hill, end up missing a day or a week of exercise? You might just throw in the towel, especially if you have any perfectionistic tendencies. The concept of a streak lends itself too easily to all-or-nothing thinking.
Instead of aiming for a streak, I recommend shooting for consistency, making sure to allow for occasional lapses. Because life happens.
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