Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Setting exercise challenges

I recently found out about various companies that sell exercise challenges. One of the best known is probably Virtual Runner, which also has a charity element, but there are lots more. You enter by paying a small fee, and when you have proven that you've completed the challenge (usually by submitting a screenshot from an exercise tracking app) you are sent a medal. The medals are themed and can be very fancy - sometimes seasonal or based around a TV show or film. They are a great alternative to an organised race, which aren't always easy to manage logistically.

I love the idea of these challenges, but I must admit that I'm too mean to consider paying to sign up for one. I'm also not fussed about the medal - I wouldn't know what to do with it and it would just be clutter. So I decided to come up with my own challenge.

While waiting in a queue at Disneyland last month and feeling that I had indulged a little too much on cookies and sweets, I decided that I would challenge myself to run a total of 50 km in November. My usual running distance is 5 km, so I thought that if I could get out for three runs a week then I could easily manage it. Until that point I'd been averaging about one run a fortnight, and running 5 km was doable, but it would involve making quite a bit of extra effort!

It wasn't easy, especially coming back to the cold after a warm holiday, but I was determined to complete the challenge. I aimed for two outside runs per week and one run on the treadmill at the gym. For the outdoor runs I ran at a fairly easy pace, and for the treadmill workout I pushed myself a bit more, as I find it easier to pace myself on a treadmill where I can set my speed. After just a week of running I could already feel the difference, and as the end of the month approached I noticed a big difference in how easy I found it to run the distance.

I tracked all my runs in the Runkeeper app. When I finished a run it told me how close I was to reaching my goal which was very motivating, and it also shows how far you have run that week and month. I was really pleased to complete the challenge almost a week early! Now I have to decide whether to up my game for next month, or stick to the same challenge for December, bearing in mind that things will start to get busy more over the next few weeks!

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