Challenge Accepted

I love challenges. Reading challenges, puzzle challenges, fitness challenges. I’m not motivated to compete against other people. For me, it’s all about competing against myself. Can I read more than I did last time? Can I put together more puzzles? Can I lift heavier weight? Can I go further, faster?

For me, when it comes to competing against myself, I will nearly always say Challenge Accepted.

In mid-August, summer fit camp ended. After 8 and a half months of fit camps, the instructor Ashely needed a break. I didn’t want to adapt to a new instructor (Ashely is awesome) and I too needed a break from waking up at o’dark thirty 3 mornings a week. So I decided to take a fit camp break too. But I needed to do something until the next fit camp session.

I thought about several options. Doing my own work-outs. Swimming. Go to one of the aerobics classes at the gym. But none of those really sparked my interest. Plus I wanted something that didn’t make me get up super early before work or make me drive to a gym. So I decided that I was going to walk 3 miles every evening for the entire month of September. 30 days of walking 3 miles each day. 90 total miles.

But why 3 miles?

One mile seemed too short and not challenging enough. I wanted to be active for at least 30 minutes. Even at my slowest pace, I could walk a mile in less than 30 minutes each session. Then I considered 5 miles. Many experts recommended walking 10,000 steps per day, which is approximately 5 miles. But 5 miles seemed too much. I didn’t think I would stick with 5 miles. I considered my track record in sticking with a workout and gave myself an honest assessment—if I tried 5 miles, I would likely quite.

The solution? I split the difference and decided to go for 3. Three seemed doable. My brain could wrap itself around 3 miles. And really, the mental hurdle is more than half the battle. So with my brain accepting 3 miles, that’s what I committed to.

On September 1, I walked 3 miles. I did pretty well and felt pretty good. Then I did it again the next day, and then the next day.

Before I knew it, half the month had passed. And not only did I walk, I looked forward to it. And by the end of September, I had walked a total of 95 miles.

Now I had proven to myself that I could walk 3 miles every day. I wanted to keep it going but I needed to up the challenge. I needed to give myself something new to work toward. I needed to compete against myself. So I signed up for the Leukemia & Lymphoma’s October 72 Mile Challenge.

I have long been a supporter of LLS. The first (and only) full marathon (26.2 miles) that I ran was on behalf of LLS (5 days before my 30th birthday at Walt Disney World. What an awesome birthday that was!). I have run a marathon and two half marathons (13.1 miles each) and raised over $6,000 for LLS. So 72 miles + $200 in fundraising in 31 days seemed like the perfect goal.

And I certainly did accept the challenge. I completed mile 72 on October 20. (That’s an average of 3.66 miles per day.)

I have never taken so many selfies as I have in October.

But I didn’t stop at 72 miles. I’ve kept walking every day. 55 days walking 3 miles each week day and 3-6 miles on weekend days. And yes, one or two days I only got 1 mile in before a rain storm started. But the next day, I made up for those missed miles + the 3 miles for that day.

I walk. Even after I got a huge blister on my heel (albeit I walked quite a bit slower, slightly limping, and with a lot of bandages wrapping my heel).

I walk. Even after that terrible day at work.

I walk. Even the day I started off with a migraine.

No matter what, I walk. It’s become a bit of an obsession. And you know what? My pace is faster. My average heart rate is down. My recovery time has increased. My stamina has increased. I feel amazing.

As of today, I have walked/jogged 91miles—only 3 short of my September total. If I only walk 3 miles for the next 6 days, I’ll still beat my September total by 15 miles.

Challenge accepted indeed.

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