30 Day Challenge

What is the 30 day challenge? 

How can it help with goal setting?

How does it work?

A few years ago, common belief was it takes two weeks to form a habit however, this has since been debunked.  Today, it is generally understood to take up to 30 days to form a habit.  Perhaps after two weeks the habit has begun to form whereas, 30 days requires a much more significant commitment.   The ones that are good for you require cultivation and determination.  The starting phase is the hardest, especially if you want to change an old habit into a new one.  Giving yourself a challenge for a minimum of 30 days is a great way to improve all facets of your life.  This is why I’ve decided to join the likes of Morgan Spurlock and, Matt Cutts and countless others by challenging myself to a 30 day challenge.

So, take a moment to think ‘Who do you want to be in 5 years?’  What kind of habits would you like to have?  You better start now if you want your new habits to influence your lifestyle and consequently your life!

Check out Matt Cutts experience of the 30 day challenge here.

My 30 day challenge is to run every day for 30 days and gradually increase the distance to around 8-10 kilometres.

Currently I enjoy walking with wrist and ankle weights, however I have wanted to start running again for some time.  This challenge over the next 30 days is sure to test my will power and resolve.

Today, I started my 30 day challenge.

DAY 1 – 13/08/2013

I have possibly overcome the most difficult part of the 30 day challenge, starting.  However, every day for the next 30 days, no excuses, I have to summon this same determination to continue.  It may help me to find myself a daily routine however, as I work from home researching and working on my website, it’s difficult to be strict.  So, there could be more than one advantage to undertaking this 30 day challenge.  Weekends could be difficult too, as the dynamics change with my partner home and family commitments etc.  But, really, all I’m talking about is finding the time, once a day, to complete a 40 minute or so, run (well, it’s more of a slow jog actually).

During my run today, I was aware of paying particular attention to my body and style of running.  I noticed, I sit into the run (picking up more pace) along a flat stretch of road, compared to when running uphill, I lean forward, landing on the front ball of my foot.  And, when running downhill, I try to protect my knees by landing softly and slowing my pace.

I weighed in at 67.4 kilograms this morning, having gained 3.4 kilograms over winter.  My aim is to lose this and, possibly an extra 4 thereafter.  However, I’m not in any rush and quite happy with my body (in jeans anyway).  It’s quite another matter to sit on the beach in a bikini when you are carrying extra weight.  But, I’ve seen worse and, all things considered, I’m happy with how I look and, my level of fitness.

I’m wondering if this is enough to keep me motivated and determined to push myself for each of the 30 days?

What was different about today than other days to make today the day I started my 30 day challenge?

I was becoming unsatisfied with walking.  I needed something more.  I knew I had to run.  I have known for years how much I love running, particularly when it is a nice flat path.  This is a habit I want to incorporate into my daily lifestyle.  An old habit I previously enjoyed.  But, the route I take when I walk is quite hilly, so I think the hills may have been putting me off.  Was this challenge too great?  Could I really do it?  Determined to achieve satisfaction, I went anyway.  What changed?  The answer to this is:  nothing!  Nothing changed!  The hills were still there, still the same route, I was still me.   I just did it anyway!  But, why?  Perhaps, because I dared to challenge myself.  

I imagine over the 30 days there will be times when I do not want to go because I don’t want to challenge myself with all these hills every day.  But, I can change the course I run and even run down to the local oval and around that a few times.  I would also enjoy this as an alternative as it would be a nice and flat run, although slightly uphill on the way home.  By then, the muscles are warm and it’s doable.  The hills are challenging but, they are not too bad.  I can put up with the aching tired muscles for this very short time limited periods during my run.  I can do it.  I did it today and will do it again tomorrow.  Stay tuned….

DAY 2 – 14/08/2013

Today I woke feeling a little bit tight in the thigh and calf area.  Obviously, I need to do some more stretching.

I started work on the website first of all and checked a few emails.  The longer I worked though, the greyer the sky became so, I decided to JUST DO IT!  Before leaving, I stretched my quadriceps and calves and repeated this again when I finished my run.

I did the same route as yesterday, lots of hills and I increased by one extra hill, possibly adding an extra 750m to my route.  I found I was slightly less focussed on the run, compared to yesterday.  I noticed myself automatically following my usual walking route, which happened the moment I stepped onto the footpath.  This could be a good strategy for me, as I don’t need to make decisions about which way to go, which could lead to indecision and procrastination and, potentially shortening the distance I run.  While I will plan on capitalising on this little strategy, I also want to ensure I look after myself and complete the 30 days, injury free.  Therefore, I might decide to incorporate a few flat stretches into my run every few days.

My current weight is quite variable.  This morning it was 67.5 but, after the run today was down to 66.7.  To eliminate as much discrepancy as possible from weight variances due to time of day of the running, from now on, I will provide my weight from first morning reading.

Time for more stretching.

DAY 3 -15/08/2013

Today I planned to run a relatively flat route due to my quads still feeling tight, despite a considerable amount of stretching.  I thought this would be a good strategy and relatively easy compared with the hills of the past two days.  However, I really had to push myself the whole way today.  I felt flat (pun intended).  What I mean is, I lacked the energy I had over the past two days.  I wondered whether this was my body’s way of telling me, too much, too soon’.  Those who know me, know I am not one for doing things by halves and, I do tend to be a little impatient.

I wrote yesterday of my intention to complete the 30 day challenge, injury free.  Therefore, tomorrow, I am intending to keep my run to a very short distance and only run for approximately 20 minutes or so.  I may even do a walk as well, to loosen up and warm down a bit after the run.  Like any other goal in life, I need to take this slowly, just one step at a time.  If I continue to run for 50-60 minutes each day, I’ll be reporting injury by DAY 6 and, more than likely, will have discontinued running, ultimately, failing my 30 day challenge.  Therefore, I must protect myself from injury if I am to continue to run for the 30 days.

I plan to reduce my distance by 30 minutes tomorrow and see how I recover the next day.  I will continue to take it one day at a time and run only long enough to ensure I can continue to run daily for the 30 days.

 

DAY 4 – 16/08/2013

Today was relatively easy, compared with yesterday, (which does not make sense to me).  I ran around my usual route and, even added an extra hill.  I also did a short walk to the local grocery store, later in the day, without any weights though.  All in all, I’m feeling really good.  I’m beginning to wonder, what I’ll do and how I’ll be feeling on day 31.  (So much for reducing the distance).

DAY 5 – 17/08/2013

The very moment I started running, my body just relaxed into the run, even though I had been feeling a little sluggish after a late night last night.  Given I’ve been doing so well with running each day, I decided, it would be wise to take it easy today.  I’m really determined to do the 30 days injury free.

Surprisingly, I felt really good running today.  I did a very short run, for approximately 20 minutes.  If I hadn’t set myself the 30 day challenge, I know I would not have run today, so I have already achieved something.   I DID IT!  That’s what matters.   Now that’s worth celebrating!

DAY 6, 7, & 8 (18-20/08/2013)

Day 6 was a breeze.  I extended the run by two hills and my muscles felt more relaxed and I felt more energised.  I noticed a significant difference today after taking it easy yesterday.  On Day 7, I completed a medium size run.  I’ve decided to mix it up a little and give my muscles a bit of a break and not overdo things.  Also, the added benefit of this is, I can complete a longer run the day after a short run and increase my fitness safely.

Today is day 8, an extremely cold day and going out the front door was the hardest part today.  I decided before I went to put my wrist weights on, that way, I could still get a decent workout, and not have to run too far to achieve an equal results of a longer run.  However, once I started running, I ended up doing a medium length run anyway.  I managed this with relative ease, apart from a dog running out and biting at my ankles.  I hope this vicious little critter is locked in its backyard tomorrow.

I’m aware of the potential obstacle this vicious littler critter poses, if I choose to allow it to become an obstacle.  I must choose to be solution focussed, have a plan (eg: take another route, talk to owner) to ensure, this does not become an ongoing obstacle.  Moreover, I have already identified a further potential obstacle to me achieving my goal, magpies.  As the winter season comes to a close in a few weeks, the magpies will soon begin to swoop, which I’m not too thrilled about.  But, I have a plan.  Swimming goggles.  Yep.  I wear these on the back of my head and this seems to be enough to confuse the magpies or, certainly elderly passers-by.  Also, this creates a smile on onlookers’ faces and provides a funny topic of discussion around the dinner table that evening.

I’m loving feeling fitter and more confident and inspired each day!

Let nothing stand in your way!  Obstacles are excuses!!!!  

Day 9 – 15 (20-27/8/2013)

Today is day 15 and for the past four days, I have been doing really well.  I have increased my speed and distance.  On several days, I’ve decided to just do a short run due to having completed a longer run the previous day but, what I’ve been finding is quite surprising.  Once I get out there and begin to run up a few of those hills, I automatically go along the same route and forget to keep the run short.  My body feels fit and I’m beginning to settle into a really relaxed jog.

Yesterday, I decided to use the 1kg dumbbells in each hand and just do a short run, after two days of completing the full 5.513 km.    Once again I surprised myself.  And, just as on previous occasions, I found myself running the full 5.5km.  I’m so proud of my achievements.  I’m estimating the route is 4.5km of uphill and the remaining 1.13 is downhill or flat.  It’s a fantastic area for getting some hills into a short course run.

I increased my run by about 1km today.  I added an extra hill, which I had not previously attempted.  After this hill, I decided to run along a different route toward home which incorporated an extra steep peak, on top of which I included a smaller hill.  These extra couple of hills only took a few more minutes of my time, and, as I was out there anyway, I thought, why not?  As you can see, the extra hills here and there are really adding up now and my fitness overall is increasing.

My weight is currently at 66.5 which is not a considerable loss however, I believe the running is toning my muscles and I’m aware of muscle weighing heavier than fat.  I’ve noticed my clothes are feeling looser, giving me a more accurate measure of my weight loss.  I already know I’ll keep running after the 30 days.

Although the running is going really well, I’ve been getting quite tired.  I’ve begun to incorporate carbs back into my diet and ate some pasta for dinner the other night.  I feel like I noticed a difference in my run the next day, as I mentioned earlier, the running is becoming more automated.  As I approach certain corners or hills, I just automatically do them.  In psychology terms, this is known as a conditioned response.  I’m getting really tired later in the day so, have decided to increase my protein intake with a shake every second day.

Half way mark!

I’m past the half way mark.  Too easy!!  I’m really proud of myself and what I’ve already achieved and excited by achieving my new goal.  I’m feeling fitter, happier and more confident each and every day.

Read up more on conditioned response/classical conditioning:  Pavlov’s dog. (Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936). 

DAY 16 – 19 – 28/8/2013 – 31/8/2013

On day 16, I continued to do a big run again but, I was starting to feel a little sluggish and struggling as I approached the top of each hill.  I noticed I was needing to take a few steps walking (only about five or so, as I am determined to run the full length of my running course, each day).  As a result, I did a shorter run the next couple of days and gave my muscles some time to recover.  After all, it’s been four years since I had done any significant running so, I should take it a bit easy on my body.

Thankfully, this made all the difference.  Today when I left, my feet were quite cold and it took me a good kilometre or so, before I warmed up.  Once I had though, I wasn’t gonna stop any time soon.  I estimate I ran (oops, jogged) approximately 7 kilometres today. I’m absolutely, LOVING IT!  It was awesome.  The sun was shining on me and it felt fantastic.  I needed to get back though and get some work done on the website, as I hope to have Free Counselling Australia online this weekend. One step at a time, one article at a time, I’m slowly but surely achieving my goals.  WOOHOO!!!

This is definitely one of my greatest, GO TO – HAPPY PLACES!

DAY 20 – 1/9/2013

I’ve noticed a significant decrease in my appetite over the past week or so.  I was feeling a little concerned until I read an article by Brazilian researchers who found breaking a sweat from exercise alters brain chemistry, restoring the sensitivity of neurons that tell you when to stop grazing.  I’m wondering if this is the cause of my decrease in appetite, I hope so.  Read more.

DAY 21- 23 2/9/2013- 3/9/2013

On day 22, I found myself procrastinating about my daily run.  I didn’t feel like going around my usual route.  I wasn’t looking forward to it today.  I remembered a walk/run I often did a few years ago however I never ran that route, just small sections.  This triggered more procrastination as I considered whether to drive across town to attempt this tremendous hurdle.  Was I kidding myself?  Could I really do it?  Where would I park etc. etc.? I realised I was continuing to procrastinate and knew the longer I procrastinated, the more difficult it would be to go.  There was only one thing I could do.   And, somehow, I did.  I stopped overthinking everything.  I just got dressed and went.

Would you believe it, to my absolute delight, I made it up the steepest side of the hill, without stopping!  WOOHOO!  I was so thrilled!  This was the encouragement I needed.  This was a benchmark for me.  I decided I would keep going down the other side of the hill and try and make it back again without stopping.  Crikey!  Before I set out on the run, I would have been happy to make it up and back on one side of the hill, let alone completing both.  I pushed away the self doubt and visualised myself reaching the pinnacle.   I could just see myself, complete with Rocky music playing in my head.

The next part was easy.  I was over the hill and running down the other side.  At the back of my mind, I was thinking okay, just remember, you have to make it back up this hill, no stopping.  I was telling myself, I can do this, by the time I get back to this point, my muscles and breathing will have had time to recover from coming up the hill and I’ll be fine.  I continued on and thought of a point where I would make my turn back up the hill (by now, I was about a third of the way down the other side).  However, once I got to this point, I thought, why not just one more hill.  And so on went.  Until, I was completely down the other side of the hill.  Now, the time had come to return back up this hill.  So, here goes!

As I approached each peak, I pictured the hills I had been running up on my daily route and imagined I was running up those.  Before I knew it, I had reached the first of about five long steep stretches on the way back.  I set myself small markers for every 20 metres or so up the hill and once I made it to this point, setting myself another and so on.  I just had to make it to the next white post or, the next shady spot, until I eventually reached the climax of each hill.  This continued until the final steepest stretch of hill at the very top.

As I began to climb the final steepest stretch of hill I was really tempted to walk a few steps and just catch my breath.  But, with the final peak in sight, I was determined to go on.  In my mind, I was playing the triumphant music from Rocky soundtrack as Rocky reaches the top of the stairs ‘Gonna Fly Now’ by Bill Conti – ‘Getting stronger, wont be long now, gonna fly now’, etc.  I was so close.  I pictured myself, arms in the air, achieving my goal.   I can do it!  I’m nearly there now!  I didn’t dare to look ahead at this stage, the hill seemed steeper than ever and all my effort was focused on breathing and keeping going.  ‘Getting stronger…’.  Gradually, I began to intermittently look up to see how much progress I had made on the hill and with each step closer singing ‘Gonna Fly Now’ to myself and pushing the air out of my lungs.  Only about 100 metres or so to go and, I’ve made it.  The rest was downhill all the way back.  This is it now. I continued singing to myself ‘Getting stronger…’.  WOOHOO!   I’m nearly there now and I’m going to make it.

I made it.  Oh my goodness.  If I had any spare energy, I would have jumped for joy!  All I could think of was telling my partner.  I couldn’t wait to run down the other side of the hill and share the news with him.  I have achieved the impossible.  I never thought I would have been able to run both sides of this hill.  This is FANTASTIC.  I was thrilled.  I DID IT!  I felt like shouting.  I can’t believe it.  I know my daily run is comparable to this hill.  This has set a benchmark for me now.

Once I completed the run, I drove the distance in the car to measure the kilometres.  Initially, I was a little disappointed to learn I had only run 4.25 km but, quickly realised I had forgotten to double this.  The overall distance I had run, non-stop, over and back a considerably steep hill was 8.5 km.  Happy doesn’t begin to describe how I felt at this moment.  I felt elated, euphoric!  The best was this feeling stayed with me throughout the rest of the day.  I just couldn’t settle down.  I wanted to celebrate, which I did, with a green smoothie.  I’m all about holistic wellbeing.

I surprised myself again the next day by running a 6 km run.   Every other time, when I have planned to do a short distance after a longer run the previous day, I have ended up doing a medium size run.  I’m extremely surprised I am able to continue to achieve such amazing results in such a short period of time.  I would not have thought three weeks ago that I would have been able to run up these hills by now.  I set the goal high and am well on my way to surpassing this target and more.

DAY 24 – 29  4/9/2013 – 9/9/2013

Over the past few days I’ve continued to run my usual route and have increased hills and length.  I’ve begun to complete some of the more challenging hills earlier in the run.  For instance, instead of just running down a particular hill at the beginning and trying to run up on the way back.  I now run down and back up again two or three times at the outset of my run and finding this much easier.  This has the added advantage of getting some extra hills and distance in without having to go off-course.

My confidence has soared since completing One Tree Hill.  I know what I am capable of now.  I know I am capable of so much more.

DAY 30  10/9/2013

After another big run yesterday of approximately 7.5 kilometres I took to the shops to buy a new pair of runners.  The ones I had been wearing throughout the 30 day challenge to date were about five years old.  My newer ones, had a gaping hole in the bottom from wearing them bush walking.  I decided to purchase the off road runners in hope they will outlast my previous ones and prevent them from wearing out as much.  The daily course I run has many sections of bush tracks so I wanted something that’s going to last.

I have achieved my goal of running each day for 30 days and, reaching a distance of 8-10 kilometres but, I need a greater challenge now.  Something to keep me motivated.  I am contemplating competing in a 15 kilometre course at the Bendigo Fun Run in about six weeks time.  I perused the course map and found it to be a relatively flat course with only a couple of hills incorporated into the route.  I feel this will give me some direction and a goal to strive for.  The 15 kilometre course is a combination of a 5 and 10 kilometre mapped route.

After studying the fun run course last night and mapping out an extra few kilometres onto my daily route, I decided today, I would attempt a 10 kilometre run.   The added few kilometres were relatively flat which also happened to be the direction I started out with.    I hadn’t stretched properly yesterday so my calves and hamstrings were pinching slightly along the way.  Also, I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet as I set out on my run at 6:20 a.m.  The combination of tight strained muscles and lack of energy really affected my run today.  Lucky for me, I had my super cool, fluoro runners to make up for it.

I completed the run in 1 hr 15 mins.  I’m sure if I had breakfast and waited to run a little later in the day, the time would have been well under 1 hour.  I have noticed previously the difference in energy levels depending on what my carbohydrate intake has been like.   Yesterday when I ran, I felt so much more energetic and would have run further if time permitted.  So, in a couple of days, I’ll again attempt the 10 kilometres and in the meantime, I’ll do heaps of stretching and ensure I have a carbohydrate meal an hour or so prior to the run and see what the difference is.  I hypothesise  feeling much more energetic, a significant increase in speed, and possibly a longer distance.

 

DAY 36:   18/09/2013

Hi again!  Well, I’m still running.  I’m running further than ever.  I’ve now extended my run over One Tree Hill to 11 km and begun training for a local fun run.  I have taken one day off running since I started over 36 days ago.   Yesterday I completed a 10km slow run along my usual daily route.  After having the day off running the previous day, my muscles were relaxed and fresh.  I felt like I could run forever.

 

I’d love to get back into swimming again but,, this requires a tremendous effort and takes considerable time out of my day.  I’m in the contemplation stage, which is a start.  If I start swimming, I could possibly replace my run for that particular day with a swim and just start off with one day per week at this stage.

 

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this 30 day challenge and the determination required when you commit to a goal so publicly by writing about it online.  I’ve decided to write an e-book for my next 30 day challenge and am considering writing several.  The initial challenge will be deciding which topic to choose for the 30 day challenge.

 

MY HYPOTHESIS

I will continue writing e-books after completing an e-book for my next 30 day challenge.  I will need to diversify my collection of triumphant music as I hypothesise achieving many more goals using the 30 day challenge methodology.

Still running,  More to come soon… 

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