Thirty Day Challenge

For the past few months I’ve been challenging myself. For thirty days at a time I changed a behavior to see how I would react, both during the month and afterward.

In August I gave up alcohol. I expected the abstinence to be more difficult but was surprised to find that I needed it much less than I thought I did. The month was not without its temptations, but they were minor. It was also not without its distractions, which helped to keep some impulses in check.

September’s challenge eliminated red meat from my diet. This wasn’t much of a challenge as I don’t eat much red meat anyway, but still had its moments where, for example, I had to turn away a delicious roast for a vegetarian dish at a nice restaurant on a work retreat. The herbivorous option was surprisingly tasty, which helped to validate the experiment.

I want to experience life from a different point of view. I want to test my grit and improve my will power. I want to build good habits and eliminate bad ones. As September came to a close, I wasn’t sure what the next challenge should be. In August I proved to myself that I was in control of my alcohol consumption. In September I learned to be less afraid of vegetarian cuisine. What would be October’s mission? Then, as I was syncing my running data into Strava today, it hit me.

Reebok is sponsoring a challenge. If you can log a run for 10 days in a row, you are entered into some sort of drawing. With my 1000 mile challenge goal nearing completion, this seems like a worthy nominee. Run every day in October.

I’m sure there will be days when the weather will try to work against me. I’ll probably have days where I’m exhausted and running is the last thing I want to do. And I’m positive there will be at least one day where I wait too long and will have to run in the dark. The test will be to see how my body, and mind handle the stress. Hopefully I will come into November with a better understanding of my body and my limits, with some better habits for keeping myself in shape, and a little more will power in my arsenal.

This is just the start. These months have been sort of trial runs. Not that I haven’t stuck to the plan, but the plan has been rather loosely formed. My challenges are not all very challenging, either. Soon I think I’ll formalize this a little better and turn up the heat, but I may need a little help.

I’ve been thinking about ways to challenge myself. Some challenges present eliminatory behavior shifts, such as abstaining from alcohol. Others are supplemental, like adding runs to my schedule. These challenges could be dietary, physical, or mental. I’d like to get more ideas. Do you have any?

The challenges will last approximately 30 days, depending on the month. The core of them should be some form of self improvement. I don’t want to find out what happens if I eat only red meat for a month. This is not about becoming a science project. So, hit me with your suggestions. You can find me on Twitter or through the contact form on my website. And keep an eye out for updates on the latest challenge.