New Month, New Challenge

A month ago I challenged myself to run every day in October as part of my 30 day challenge series. I completed the challenge, save for one day; the Sunday I flew back from Berkeley after spending a week at the Bay Area Drupal Camp. One day out of 31 isn’t so bad. Technically I still ran for 30 days in October, so I’ll call it a successful challenge.

As I stated in prior posts, the true goal of these challenges is not to hang a medal around my neck for completing an arbitrary task for 30 consecutive days. Rather, the goal is to improve my health, habits, and mindset. The Challenge is simply the vehicle. October has now passed, and with it the challenge of running every day, but what has changed?

Today was very busy. I woke early and was active all day. When I returned home around 3:30pm after running a few errands, my energy level was approaching zero. Having completed my 1,000 mile challenge last weekend and my 30 day challenge yesterday, there was no reason for me to run today. I could think of plenty of reasons not to, however. I was exhausted. I needed to prep for my trip to Atlanta tomorrow. I’m not training for a race. I don’t need to log any more miles for any reason except…me. As I sat on the couch pondering whether I should take the day off or suck it up, I became enveloped in guilt. Guilt for making an excuse not to run. Guilt for taking the easy road and letting myself off the hook. Guilt because for the past 30 days I worked so hard to carve out time every day to run a few miles, and it made me feel great. Running is now part of my daily routine. Admittedly, routines will need to be adjusted from time to time due to extenuating circumstances, but throwing away a gorgeous day because I was a little tired is not one of them.  The weather was too nice to pass it up. Today was one of those perfect Colorado Autumn days. I sucked it up, strapped on my shoes and took a slow, relaxing run through the neighborhood; just for me. It just felt right.

After three months of 30 day challenges, the effects are tangible. First was no alcohol, second was no red meat, and third was running every day. My urge to drink alcohol has decreased, I am still maintaining a nearly red-meat-free diet, and I don’t know how to stop running. These were all primarily heath related challenges, so would the next one be more of the same, or should I change the tone and try something a little different? Evidently, November happens to be National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Since writing is a skill I’m trying to improve and a passion from my past that I seem to have lost since high school, this seems like a natural challenge!

NaNoWriMo is a well-organized community and service to help authors write a novel. They’ve gamified some aspects of the process, developed buddy systems for accountability, and even organized local face-to-face meetups to help encourage you throughout the month. One goal is to write every day; whatever you can muster. Ultimately, the goal is to reach 50,000 words by the end of the month. That works out to about 1,667 words per day. I think that’s an ambitiously realistic goal. The larger challenge might be divining sufficient content as opposed to generating an arbitrary number words. I have a few ideas for topics to write on, so I guess I’ll have to start writing and see where it takes me. In the end, maybe I’ll even have a novel to publish!

Bring on month 4!