#20 – Do 100 burpees in one set. Check. (And all of my other fitness milestones)

Last December, I had a hard time coming up with new and unique fitness goals for 2017. Once again, I have no desire to run a marathon or take up yoga. My goals are uniquely for me. As I am a big fan of burpees, I thought I would put myself to the test of 100 burpees without stopping (accepting the possibility of vomiting a few times along the way).

Over the year, though, I lacked continuity. Between traveling constantly, the awful winter, and working nonstop, I just couldn’t find a normal groove. At the same time, my goal #12 – Run in *new* 12 cities was on track, with opportunities to run in Paris, Dallas, Vail, and the beaches of California, North Carolina, Oregon and Hawaii.

Last Christmas, I also signed up for a Peloton membership and rode consistently all year, logging close to 800 miles on the spin bike. And in the fall, I found a great new trainer who helped rehab my knee and reenergize my strength training.

Pretty active – right? So why was doing a few burpees a day such a struggle? I really don’t know. They just were. When Thanksgiving arrived, I hit crunch-time, and was diligent for a couple weeks. I hated every minute.

One night, I decided to test myself with burpees to-fail, just to get a baseline. The first 35 were awful – my arms burning and I could never catch my breath. How am I this out of shape? I thought. But I forced myself to keep going, shooting for 50. Once I hit 50, I still had gas in the tank and forced myself to 60. Suddenly impressed with my progress, I forced myself to 70 and was far less miserable. I just kept moving, and focused on 100. Albeit, the last 10-15 burpees weren’t pretty, with my sloppy legs kicking back and my arms struggling to support myself – but in the end, I made it to 100.

What did I learn? It’s all mental. I had convinced myself that 30 burpees was exhausting so how could I ever possibly make it to 100? Once I decided that I just wouldn’t stop (motivated to be DONE DONE DONE for the year), it was possible and achievable.

This was not a fun goal. This was not an interesting goal. This was not a goal that I sufficiently trained for, nor am I proud of it. When I look back on the year, running in different cities and hiking the 30-mile Wildwood trail were all of those things. As I’m finalizing my goals for 2018, I’ll be mindful to not slap on a last-minute goal just because I think I should.

Before moving onto 2018, here are some moments from my fun and interesting fitness goals.

Where did your resolutions go, people??

It’s the end of January and I’ve noticed that a lot of people on Pinterest have stopped pinning pictures like this:

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Now I’m not judging; that nacho bar looks dope.

On New Year’s Day, I went running in my neighborhood and I distinctly remember seeing A LOT of people out getting their run on. People of all sizes wearing all their new gear they bought for the new year (me included). But yesterday I went running my same route, and I didn’t see a single other runner…It was like 57 degrees and sunny at 10am on a Saturday morning: PEAK running conditions for Portland. Then this morning, the gym was noticeably empty…

I have a lot of time to think while I’m out running (another benefit of getting out there), and I sort of agonized where all the people were. Was there a big sale I was missing? Is there a national crisis happening? Ultimately, I sadly decided that people have already forgotten their fitness resolutions. Am I right?

A couple weeks ago in Hawaii, I worked out EVERY SINGLE DAY. It was awesome. I imagined myself trying out for mini-Iron Man (I believe they call it “Tin Man” but I’m super short so I’m going with “mini). I ran along the beach, I swam laps in the ocean, I lifted weights in the park next to the meat heads. Then I came back to cold and dark and rainy-ass Portland and my workout steam was gone. I could barely get up in the morning, let alone slowly jog out a few miles in the rain. Hellll no.

Luckily I have a regular boot camp with my co-workers that’s non-negotiable so I didn’t completely slack off, but my head was not in it. I work out 4-6 times a week so I permit myself an occasional pass like that. In Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, he said he tries to finish his runs on a high-point – like when he’s feeling really good; that will get him back out the next day. I like that idea, and this last week was semi-miserable, which told me to just lay in bed instead.

But yesterday the sun was out and I had nothing to do all day, so I forced myself outside. Guess what? It wasn’t so bad. Actually, it was kind of good. All the same, I was going to allow myself to skip today’s workout if I wasn’t feeling it. AFter a cup of coffee, I opened my New Rules of Lifting book just to browse, and ended up preparing a super tough weightlifting session for my morning instead. It’s all mental.

So if you’ve given up on your resolutions, or you feel a dip coming, here are some of the things I do to get myself out the door:

1. Buy new workout clothes –  Seriously – this one works. Duh.

2. Get a buddy – Last year, my bff, Courtney, and I decided that we were spending too much time drinking wine and playing the jukebox. We didn’t say we wouldn’t go out and have drinks anymore, but instead made a pact that if we were going to, we’d workout first. It totally worked. We did boot camp and climbed stairs and went spinning all the time.

3. Get a trainer – I don’t currently have a trainer, but I definitely have worked with a great one for many years in the past and it’s the only way to go if you’re feeling a little lost or unmotivated. I learned so much and learned to really love going to the gym. There are usually package deals in January, too.

4. Get a subscription to SHAPE or Women’s Fitness or something like it – When I get my new magazine in the mail, I instantly get inspired to try something new (usually workout and food related).

5. Before falling asleep, visualize your workout – It sounds cheesy, I know, but for me it works. I learned this when I was in physical therapy for my knee. On Friday night, I totally imagined myself out running my regular route with my headphones in, and when I woke up, it was like I had already mentally prepared for the challenge. I also read Michael Phelps does a lot of this for his olympic swimming…so that’s a pro-tip for y’all.

6. Check in at the gym on Facebook or post your run – Some people hate me for this, but that’s their problem. I like to share my workout with my other runner friends, and I honestly enjoy seeing what other people are doing for their workouts. Last year, my friend Darcy was posting about how she could barely make a couple miles on the treadmill, now she’s out at 5am running like10 miles in the freezing cold! Like multiple times a week! That’s pretty inspiring.

7. Eat some dope nachos after you run – I’m not advocating a binge after you workout, but every once in awhile, it feels good. Something to think about if you’re headed to a Superbowl party next weekend…

I’m not a personal trainer or a nutritionist or anything like that, which is why I think my advice is more credible. I’m not paleo or gluten-free or even an amateur marathon running. I’m just a regular person trying to be regular healthy – and I’m here to represent.

Two words: PIZZA NACHOS.

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A timeline for recovery

I had a doctor’s appointment today. Just the regular old, “How’s it hanging?” kind of appointment that your insurance forces you to go to every 12 months.

The doctor kept saying, “I’m here for you…what are your concerns…?” And I was like, “Nothing – I feel good. Can I go now?” Then she smiled this really saccharine smile and cooed, “Whatever’s good for youuuu is good for meeeee…” 

Then the nursed walked me out and handed me the doctor’s “Follow Up” forms. It said, “Nothing! Remember – I’m here for you!” Ok lady, I got it.

But no really – three years ago, I had two, sometimes three, medical appointments a week for my blown out knee. Every time I saw the surgeon or the physical therapist or the chiropractor, I had a laundry list of questions (and they returned a laundry list of recommendations). A year later, I was 8 months post-surgery and I was still struggling despite finally being able to run outside (a sad limping, lurching kind of jog).

On the way to work, I would regularly fawn over this guy I named, “The Burnside Guy” who wore a full Nike spandex bodysuit who ran past me while I crept along in traffic. As I left the doctor’s office and glimpsed at myself in my full Nike spandex tights and day-glo running shoes, I had a realization: I’m, like, healed. Maybe, just maybe, some other injured weirdo is out there calling me “The Cornell Girl.”

Sure, my knee makes this audible grinding sound when it bends, but there’s no pain. And the questions have finally ceased. I’m no longer spending countless hours googling things like, “ACL recovery”, “knee strengthening exercises”, and “moderate-to-severe joint pain.”

What’s my point to all this? I think I’m ready to move on. I’ve spent THREE YEARS really focused on my knee. My brain has been reprogrammed to focus on the right side of my body, and I often think of my timeline as it’s own Gregorian Calendar of B.K. (Before Knee) and A.K. (After Knee). I can imagine that those who have had a more serious injury or tragic event, this feeling might never go away.

When I was in the midst of my knee woes, I wished there had been something somewhere that said, “Things really will get better – and this is how long it will take…” but nowhere could I find anything about it. If you’re reading this and perhaps also suffering from a recent sports injury or accident (or maybe even a recent break up), I’m telling you THREE YEARS. Sure, it sounds like a long time, but I did it…so can you.

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Now seriously, WHERE CAN I GET THAT NIKE FULL BODYSUIT?

#7 – Do an old fashioned rope climb. Check! Sort of….

I should have clarified from the very beginning that I never ever thought I would be able to actually ascend the rope to the top. The goal of doing an old fashioned rope climb was more about the sheer curiosity of how much I could do. Never in my physical education growing up did the PE teacher ever say, “Today we are going to do the rope climb.” But I remember that damned rope dangling from the ceiling and thinking, I want to try that.

Alas, it’s been a nagging thought since I was 12.

Today during our after school boot camp (yes, we teachers workout in the gym after school), I convinced our PE Teacher, Ken, to let down the rope and give me a try. A sad, flailing try.

That’s right; I couldn’t climb the rope. I mean, I could hang on. Eventually, I learned to twist the rope in between my feet and I think I got three good pulls, but then I slid down after giving myself a hernia. I tried with shoes, without shoes, and finally without socks. All the same result.

However, I wasn’t the only one to give the rope a try, the rest of the group tried, too, all with similar results (our trainer included!). My verdict? A rope climb is FREAKING HARD.

Of course, in hindsight, I was like, Maybe I should look up rope climbing techniques on Youtube…

Ah-ha! We were doing it all wrong! We didn’t apply the foot clamping technique. So while I’m crossing off the goal because my curiosity has been satisfied, I’m also ready to try to some “foot clamping” to really decide whether it’s impossible or not.

Our October Burpee Challenge

FINALLY the weather has cooled down, just a bit. I cannot WAIT until we get back to our Portland rain so I can start enjoying my outdoor workouts again. I must have some genetic marker that says “unable to run or workout in the sunshine” because although I love to bake by the pool, my body just isn’t built to handle workouts above 55 degrees.

It’s going to be a very, very busy month for me, with a lot of traveling, but I haven’t forgotten that one of my bonus goals is to complete a burpee mile. Not long ago, I completed a burpee HALF mile and it really wasn’t that terrible. Mostly just the sunshine and the boredom are what got to me, and I wasn’t abnormally sore the next day either. That being said, I’m thinking mid-November might be my first try at an official Burpee Mile.

When I was training for 100 pushups in one set, I made it a point to do push-ups every single day. Sometimes it was multiple sets of 25 – 40, other times just 15 quick ones before bed. I’m thinking that repetition and mindset are what I need to gear up for that big burpee mile at the track.

How to do it…..how to do it…….? *Oh I know!*

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I make no claims to have made this myself, and am not a little ashamed to admit I found it on Pinterest…but here we are, the OMG Burpee Challenge of October. What’s funny is that I posted this image on Facebook earlier this morning, asking, “Who’s with me?” and imagined that by dinner time I would accrue zero likes. Ironically, in just a couple hours, a whole host of people had not only “liked” the post, but said they would like to try, too.

So – what do you think? Are you up for doing some burpees with me and my sadistic committed friends? Join our group: OMG October Burpee Challenge.