Running in a Winter Wonderland

Christmas used to be celebrated as a 24-hour affair. You’d wake up, open presents, eat yourself silly and roll into bed. Then one show-off with a thing for pear trees dragged it out for 12 straight days, and the art of the ever-expanding holiday season was born.

You know what I’m talking about. Thanksgiving doorbuster sales. Christmas carols in October. Your company setting up its massive 19-tree holiday display while the temperature is still in the 50s.

(To be fair, that’s more global warming’s fault.)

Now don’t get me wrong. I love the holidays, and I mostly love that they’ve swelled from a one-day celebration into weeks of festivities. I love the family time. I love the music. I love the smooches under the mistletoe.

Sing along, folks: “I saw mommy kissing her future mother-in-law’s former dentist’s westie!”

What I don’t love, however, is the indolence and indulgence that tend to accompany the holiday season. Or let me put it another way: I don’t love the fact that every year I have to ask for expandable elastic-waist pants from Santa.

Between all the cookie exchanges and latke-fests, the hot chocolate and buttered rum, the holiday season can work havoc on your waistline. Add on top of that a surprise engagement that has everyone busting out the bubbly, and this December is going to be a very delicious — and caloric — month indeed.

Now some fitness bloggers might tell you to simply shore up your defenses to prevent those holiday delicacies from ever passing through your lips. And sure, there’s some good advice to be had there: don’t go to a party famished, try not to get too sloshed, skip the everyday snacks like potato chips and pretzels in favor of the holiday specialties that only appear this time of year.

Like pecan pie while traversing the New Jersey Turnpike.

Sure, it’s good to have some holiday eating strategies in mind, but let’s be honest: I don’t particularly WANT to deny my decadence this December. At the same time, I don’t want to jelly roll my way into January, so I’m going to try to curb my calorie count a different way this holiday season: not with less food, but with more with exercise. More specifically, with a running streak.

A running streak, or a commitment to run at least a mile every single day for a predetermined period of time, is a great way to hold yourself accountable and motivated during a long holiday season. Streaks can be fun any time of year, but they’re especially useful to bridge that gap between marathon season and spring training when some runners (I’m looking at you, mirror), let all athleticism go by the wayside.

Runner’s World recommends starting your holiday streak on Thanksgiving and maintaining straight through the New Year, but considering I haven’t started yet, it looks like mine will be a “25 Days of Christmas” streak instead. Enjoy the free advertising, ABC Family, but only if you play “Holiday in Handcuffs” on repeat ’til Epiphany.

So that’s the plan: at least a mile a day every day between today and Christmas morning. These miles can be slow miles, they can be treadmill miles, they can even be hungover miles, but they can’t be one thing: postponed til after the holidays. I may grow to regret this decision on the first snowy day of December, but as of Dec. 1, I’m excited to have a goal once again on my radar.


You could say it lights a fire under me.

And behind me!

Twenty five days to go. Who’s with me?


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