This morning I had a clear choice; Back to bed, or out for a walk?
I’d already had my 10am client cancel because she’s self isolating due to coronavirus, then at 6:45, my 7am client messaged saying she’s coughing and has a temperature. Clearly with her exhibiting two known coronavirus symptoms it would not have been sensible to go ahead so we cancelled. This left me 6 hours until my next appointment at 1pm. The lure of returning to my nice, soft, snuggly bed was extremely tempting, but yesterday, on the first day of the year, I committed to getting myself some regular exercise, and this year to keep my eye on the goal (more of which later), so I could use this opportunity to get some exercise and go for a walk. It was still dark, it was below freezing outside (I’d just defrosted the car) and my bed was still warm, but this morning, the walk won over and I popped back inside, not to go to bed, but to change into my walking gear.
I wrote in a previous blog about attempting and failing the “You vs The Year” challenge in 2019, but how I considered it a victory as, despite missing the 1019km target, I still chalked up over 800km of walking throughout the year, which was far more than I’d ever achieved before. I also mentioned how, with the event of a national lock down due to COVID-19, I was taking the opportunity to get some more exercise and see if I could make it in 2020, hopefully learning from the experience of the previous year.
During lock down, March through June, I consistently averaged about 6km a day, so by the end of June, whilst I’d not completed the target 1020km, I was just short of 700km. Not bad for just over three months. So had I learnt from the previous year? Well, yes, and no. Whilst I’d learnt not to go completely stupid in an unsustainable fashion, this effort I was making was still not sustainable because as soon as lock down ended and I restarted work, I suddenly found myself time limited again, and consequently stopped. Until…
Lock Down 2.0
November and another national lock down. This one was not as intense as the first, but my work was amongst those affected so once again I found myself with time on my hands. I decided to dedicate some of it to work on my digital marketing business but I also looked at the You vs The Year Challenge again; I’d completed just under 700km already and had pretty much given up any idea of completing.
In With A Chance?
Could I, in a month, turn the tables and give myself a chance? I calculated that if I could average 10km/day over the 28 day lock down, then this would leave me with round 40km still to do through December. And that was possible. I was in with a chance but it would take some serious commitment, albeit just for a month.
By the second week I was averaging 12km/day and sure enough, by the time lockdown completed I was over 1000km and within shouting distance of the finish. Then, amidst a fanfare of trumpets from our local marching band (I can dream, can’t I?) on Tuesday 15th December, I walked instead of drove to my ex’s to spend some Star Trek time with Luca, my eldest son and hit the 1020 just in time to see the opening credits. Victory was mine!
Retrospectively, whilst it was great to complete the challenge, proving to myself (and especially my two boys) that great achievements are possible if you commit to them, the victory felt a little empty. Whilst I had made a monumental effort (for me, at least) to complete the challenge, I had completely lost sight of my original goal at the beginning of 2019, which was just to get some regular exercise. It was this, more than anything, that pushed me into starting again this year, 2021.
Let’s Go Round Again
I’ve signed up to the challenge again, but for me, this isn’t about limited periods of unsustainable effort. This is about the long term, sustainable, consistent behaviour that will consequently have a long term effect on my personal health. Jeff Olsen’s book, The Slight Edge (see my book list), is centered around the principle of doing a little, every day, in order to see serious growth over time. Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, is about choosing to do something and sticking with it. This is what I have in mind.
What’s My Goal?
So, my objective now is not 1021km for the year, but instead 3-4km/day, on a regular basis, at least five days a week. If I can do this, then the 1021km will almost do itself.
For me this happens one day at a time, and this morning I made a choice for today.