Festive Challenge Mk III

In 2011 I set myself a Christmas fitness challenge as part of my efforts to raise awareness of muscular dystrophy. That challenge involved 12 cross country miles on each of the 12 days of Christmas. For year 2 I doubled up & ran for 24 days & so it was with some trepidation that I cintemplated year 3.

After much deliberation this years festive challenge is now 'set'. It will involve 36 days of exercise by the end of which I intend to have completed 639 km by bicycle, 639 km of running & scaled 639 flights of stairs. The 36th day will be December 31st.

My logic for the above is: 3rd year of taking on a festive challenge so inevitably year 3 involves 36 days of exercise.

639 to represent the generally accepted number of muscles in the human body.

For this year I have brought the start date forward so day 36 closes out 2013. This means I can use the exercise to prepare for the ultra run I have entered in early January & allow for a taper.

The flights of stairs will make use of a training option that I currently ignore each day at work & will help me develop leg strength.

The cycle work will provide some non- impact activity, reducing injury risks. The kms covered will also help kick start my preparation for TransPyr road.

The 36 days will have structure & purpose.  

So that is the plan & it is now public.

The challenge is underway...

Update 1/12/2013

I have completed the first 9 days of this challenge. During this time I have covered 450km by bike & 82km on foot. These kms were enjoyed during a break in Lanzarote with relatively warm temperatures. For this reason I chose to bias the days towards cycling to allow some wriggle room for the remaining cycle days in recognition of the potential impact of winter weather on my plans. I remained mindful of my long term goal though & resisted the temptation to simply fill the days will riding & running. The days had both structure & purpose.

In addition to marking a solid start to my Festive Challenge they mark a welcome personal return to structured training. Today is my first planned rest day. Tomorrow I recommence with mt first (for this challenge) run commutes & my first sets of stairs.

Update 26/12/2013

The lack of updates hasn't been due to inactivity but fatigue. Fitting the elements of this challenge in around my work commitments has, at times, been nearly as difficult as ticking the kms off & scaling the flights of stairs. This hasn't been helped by some of the weather we've enjoyed over the last few weeks.

Last week was my heaviest run for a very long time. This involved some long dark multi- terrain runs which were mentally as challenging as they were physically demanding. The week was rounded off with a steady plod around the Portsmouth Coastal marathon. Fortunately besides the opening few kms the weather was very kind.

This week is another big run week. This isn't ideal but was innevitable given the initial cycle bias, something I don't regret as running in the cold & wet is 'easier' than cycling in those conditions. At the beginning of the week my legs were understandably stiff & heavy. As the week has progressed they appear to be doing OK.

As things currently stand the target of 639km of running & 639km by bike are within reach with c. 80km remaining of each. I am also a similar number of fligts of stairs from hitting that target. I have 5 days left in which to achieve these.

Throughout the challenge when feeling beaten & tired I have gained strength from the knowledge that I can & do choose to test myself in this way. If I pause I will re-group & mend. Ultimately I will finish stronger & fitter as a result of my efforts. For those affected by muscular dystrophy that choice is removed & ultimately, as the disease develops they will grow weaker. 

Update 1/1/2014

I am pleased to announce the successful completion of my festive challenge. Over 36 days of exercise I cycled 639km, ran 639km and scaled 639 flights of stairs. I was able to do this not because I am 'amazing' but because my muscles work and function as they should. For most of us this is the case. We are limited by our imagination and belief in ourselves, not the physical limitations of our bodies, which, through training and adaptation are capable of truly amazing feats. Thank you to everyone who supported me on this journey. I hope between us we have helped raise awareness of muscular dystrophy.

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