The challenge with challenges

A few weeks ago, Doug sent around an email explaining to the team about the 75 Hard challenge that he started this past Monday. In case you missed it, the challenge is that for 75 days in a row, you do the following things:

Workout for 45 minutes twice a day, once outside.

Follow a nutrition plan with no cheat days

No alcohol

Drink a bucket of water

Take a progress picture

Read 10 pages of personal development material per day.

If you forget any of these, you start over again.

My first thought when I read this was…..


The immediate hole I poked in it was the workouts. Aside from the time constraint because of my commute to work, there was also the hard cold fact that I’d hate my life for the next two and a half months. I’m willing to suffer through some workouts, but probably not 90 minutes everyday…

Then there was the fact that this challenge falls during my 20 year college reunion that I’m headed to in late September and I’m certain that we’ll do the middle aged version of the State Street Stagger at some point that weekend (the one that has us going out at 7 and getting home at 10).

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I am in a place now where I’m ready for a sprint. Doug writes about that all of the time – in our training and nutrition approach we go through sprints and jogs. I’m ready to buckle down and do a bit of a sprint.

I often think about challenges like this as all or nothing, and I can get ridiculously competitive with myself and with other people. To a fault. One of the greatest gifts of aging is letting go of certain things.

And in the days leading up to this challenge, I embraced the fact that I didn’t have to do a challenge that had the potential to wreck my already well-abused body with overuse. I’m already prone to overuse injuries and I can’t afford another one. I know myself and I know what’s right for me, even if I struggle to practice it.

So I took a note out of Frank Sinatra’s book and decided that I would do the 75 day challenge – but I’d do it my way.

The only substitution I made is with my workouts – I’ve committed to two workouts a day, for 30 minutes each, one outside. I also added a box for taking my supplements, something that I’ve been trying to do everyday. I customized these 75 days to something that is challenging for me, but that also includes behavior changes that matter to me.

It is so freeing to realize that we don’t have to be beholden other people’s standards. You can modify the couch to 5K program and still run a 5k. You can still run a half-marathon if you miss a few training days. You can still make gains if you miss one workout a week. For those of you doing the MyZone challenge at the gym, you can compete against yourself to workout harder and earn more MEPS than you earned last month.

It’s certainly a balance, but you can fit these types of challenges around your needs. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

I’ll let you know where I’m at with my 75Firm challenge next week. :-)