Words by Jeffery "Skip" Clark // Photos: Bao Tang
So after a summer or two of not taking care of myself, both physically and mentally, I decided to do an internet fitness challenge. I know that may sound silly but I needed something that would give me the excuse to work out. The one that appealed to me the most was the simplest of challenges. “30 Days of Fitness”. For 30 days, I would “work out” for 30 or more minutes a day. During the 30 days I would post about my daily workout on a social media platform to document each day and so that I could share my journey with friends along the way. What I thought was great about this challenge is that you can pick any exercise you would like. It could be weight training, yoga, tennis, hiking or a combination of exercises, you just needed to do something each day.
Easy… right? Let me tell you how my experience went.
I decided that I would cross-train and run. I had started jogging about a year ago to shed off a few pounds but never really dedicated myself to the sport of running. My goal was to be able to run everyday. I found out quickly that my body needed to recover after long runs, so on days that I physically could not run, I did the elliptical machine. My 8th and 15th days were the hardest on me, but after that I really saw a dramatic shift in how I was hitting my daily goals. I was running everyday, and most of the time I was working out longer than 30 minutes when I did weights or cross-training. Once I was over the 15-day mark, I didn’t mind if I went over 30 minutes on my workouts. Here are the things that really got my over the hump and on my way to day 30.
I started to be very clear in my intention to work out each day for at least 30 minutes. It sounds simple when you say it, but each day, depending on my schedule, I would map my day out and pick when it would work best to exercise. Sometimes that meant getting up earlier or working out after work. By defining this time and sharing with my spouse, it became so much easier to get that workout in. Getting a workout in was a win! Getting a win daily became great for my physical health as well as my mental health. Who doesn’t want a win? Imagine winning everyday! The planning with intent also led to other things like planning my recovery and hydration.
Something I didn’t think about early on was recovery. If you've never worked out or much less run 3 miles a day, chances are you are going to be sore. So I learned very quickly some recovery methods that really worked. Hydration and staying hydrated was one of them. I stayed away from sports drinks with a high sugar content. I did use Nuun which is a hydration tablet that you put in your water. It has 10 calories and 1 gram of sugar. It works like Gatorade by replenishing electrolytes but with far less sugar. The most effective recovery technique was the ice bath. Yep, you read that right, ice bath. After a long run, 3 or more miles, I would fill my bathtub up with the coldest water I could get out of the faucet and fill it up with ice. I would sit in it for at least 15 minutes right after a long run. This really enabled me to run daily with little leg fatigue. The first couple of ice baths were a struggle, but after that I really began to look forward to them. They would lower my body temperature and it was almost refreshing after a long run. I know it sounds crazy but it works.
We as humans are so technologically connected it would be foolish if I didn’t mention work out apps. I used 3 of them. Nike Run Club, Strava and the Apple Watch Workout App. I used the Apple Watch app to track my long walks, and elliptical machine work outs. It comes with the watch and is easy to use. The Strava app was the newest to me and I liked it because it would track my cross training and bike rides. It was suggested by Outdoor Magazine and really caters to outdoor fitness activities like the aforementioned cycling and things like running and hiking. I mostly used the Nike Run Club or NRC app. The main reason I used these apps was the ability to get guided runs with Nike’s Global Running Head Coach, Coach Bennett, and they also do some runs with Headspace. Headspace is a meditation and mindfulness app and is popular in it’s own right. Co-Founder of Headspace, Andy Puddicombe is your host along some really great guided mindful runs. The guided runs will coach you from your very first run all the way up to a half marathon. They have guided speed runs as well as a trainer app that will get you ready for your first race. I encouraged my friends to join as we can cheer each other on through the app and track and share our runs. I used this share feature to post to Facebook directly through the app since it was already integrated.
The bonus I got out of this challenge is being outdoors. I am very lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest. Even more so that I live in Bellevue, in the greater Seattle area (Go M’s!)
I got to run and bike in the city of Bellevue and Seattle, Bellevue Downtown Park, Green Lake Park, the Kirkland Cross Corridor Trail and many other places along the way. Being outside daily has made me feel like I have been on an extended vacation. I go to work for a few hours a day, then I’m outside afterwards or I’m up early and outside before I go. Either way, I feel like I’m getting more recreation during my work week. This feeling of being on an extended vacation was unexpected but something I have been sharing with friends. If being healthy isn’t a motivating factor, getting some fun time in during the work week should be. I suggest you get outside with your fitness goals.
Lastly and probably the most impactful factor was having my friends and family follow my progress. I had so many people cheering me on, liking and commenting the posts, and messaging me. It really motivated me to continue each day on my fitness journey. What I didn’t foresee is that this would motivate people to start their own 30 Days of Fitness. I have 2 beautiful friends in Denver who have started their 30 day journey. At the end of my 30 days, I am more fit, both mentally and physically that I have been in years. I am clearer in my intentions with my fitness and love being in the great outdoors each day. With that being said, I have set a new goal: 90 days. At the time of this writing, I’m on day 43 and just completed my second 10K (6.21 miles) run. I’ll check back in on day 90. In the meantime, I encourage you to start your “silly” internet 30 day challenge today!
Jeffery “Skip” Clark
Escape Outdoors Bellevue
Follow my journey on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/
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