In this Wall Street Journal article written by Dr. Simon's journalist daughter, she says:
The streak is too much a part of him. I worry about that sometimes. He's proud of his streak, and I think his running longevity -- the fact that he's prevailed against injury, weather and all the rest -- has strengthened his spirit. He's a born optimist, but the streak has made him even more confident, even more resilient. What will happen when it ends?
On one level, I know that's a ridiculous question. The streak does not define my dad. He still practices and teaches medicine; he still writes and edits. He and my mom take art history courses, study music, volunteer, travel. But still, I worry.
In running -- in streaking, in particular -- my dad has found an outlet to express personality traits that might otherwise stay submerged. He's a humble and reserved man, but his streak is such a goofy accomplishment that he's given himself license to celebrate it.
I think the majority of us would say this man's (and the 30 others in the running streak association) running is based on obsession and lunacy. Yes, they all run for different reasons--communing with God, placing order in their life, problem solving, etc. That is all good and well. However, they also run through wretched and medically unsafe conditions, like in thunderstorms and blizzards, running while holding a catheter!, running through chest pain which turned out to be a heart attack, running with broken toes and other various compromising injuries. The sole reason: to keep the streak alive.
One thing I find incredibly ironic in this article is that this physician has written several books on health and fitness, expressing the importance of moderate exercise. I guess this becomes a "do as I say, not as I do example."
Eight or ten years ago, I would have thought this was an amazing thing. There is no doubt that my relationship with exercise is skewed, and I admit, I still think ultrarunning would be a cool thing to do one day. However, I do understand the mechanisms of the body physically and take rest days. Two is about my maximum before I go completely crazy, but still, I rest anyway. The guilt remains, sometimes denial is added in there too, but it is a step I continue to do, reminding myself it is a good thing.
It's interesting when I think about this whole concept of keeping a streak alive in whatever avenue of life. Most of the time, the idea of a "streak" is about winning. And in many cases, it is certainly seen this way. For instance, for some people an incentive to abstain in self-destructive behaviors like purging and/or drinking, is to hold onto their streak. It provides not only a sense of accomplishment but a purpose of some sorts. Therefore, there is a feeling of winning over the battle of an eating disorder and/or alcoholism.
However, on the flip token, people can also use streaks in self-destructive ways, like in the continuance to starve or exercise obsessively. That, we all know, can lead to many health problems and possible eventual death.
The thing is streaks eventually end whether by personal choice or another occurrence, and then we have to decide what to do or become after those streaks. For some, holding onto those streaks means a lot, and it is difficult to let go of them. For others, it's not as big of a deal, and it's easy to start over or do something completely different. Then, there are those who may break a streak, and have difficulty in deciding what next?
So my question is: do you keep streaks in certain aspects of your life? Do they matter? Do you find them helpful, harmful, or just another added expectation?