I just completed a 30-day challenge to run at least 5 kilometers a day. I failed at my attempt to blog daily. One out of 2 isn't bad for my first month. The idea behind the 30-Day Challenge is that 30 days, according to Google engineer Matt Cutts, are “just about the right time to add a new habit or subtract a habit.” Cutts popularized the idea of taking on a 30-Day Challenge after he gave a TED talk on the topic. For June, I decided to taken on 2 challenges: 1) run at least 5 kilometers a day and 2) blog daily. I completed the daily running part; I failed at the daily blogging right in the first week. [caption id="attachment_1403" align="aligncenter" width="612"] BASDAKO. One of my most memorable runs was the one from Hale Manna in Basdako, Moalboal to the Poblacion and back. Basdako is a beautiful place for running. You can then end your run with a dip in its gorgeous beach and clear waters teeming with marine life.[/caption] I think I’ve been able to rebuild my running habit. I used to run regularly and in long distances until I had to focus on my startup's projects. A few weeks into my daily runs, I started looking forward to my time on the road. My weekends are again set aside for running longer distances. Among the most meaningful runs that I did in the month were on Day 1, when I started the challenge with a 21-kilometer solo LSD (long slow distance run); Day 7, when I ran in the rain in what was supposed to be an Ungo Friday Night Run; Day 12, when my run was cut short by a storm that flooded many areas in Metro Cebu; Day 14 at the Ayala Triangle in Makati City after covering the PLDT stockholders’ meeting; Day 17 at the beautiful Esplanade in Iloilo City after a meeting partners and friends that included liempo chips!; Day 22, which was a 22-kilometer run from Moalboal to Badian and back; Day 26 when I pushed myself to run 5 kilometers in 29 minutes and 25 seconds and Day 28, which was a 15K run from Hale Manna in Basdako in Moalboal to the Poblacion and back. [caption id="attachment_1404" align="aligncenter" width="612"] Day 14 of my 30-day running challenge was in the Ayala Triangle in Makati City.[/caption] The month has taught me a few things: 1) Focus. Although I decided early on that my main challenge was to run, taking on another challenge doomed the secondary task from the start. Running daily takes a lot of commitment - physically and mentally - and I no longer had the energy for the secondary challenge of blogging every day. 2) Prepare. I was able to run 5 kilometers a day because I had been gradually getting back to regular running after about a year of slacking off. I had a base to build on. In fact, when I completed the challenge, it was already my 42nd successive day of running. In contrast, I wasn’t prepared to write a blog post daily. I did not think ahead of potential topics and, more crucial, I did not prepare myself mentally for the task. 3) Commit. I made a commitment to myself that I would complete the running challenge, whatever it would take. This meant that sometimes I’d run by myself at midnight in our subdivision because that was the only free time I had. It also meant that I had to run under the storm (the June 12 downpour left me stranded in the flooded streets of Cebu). 4) Measure. You cannot change what you cannot measure. For this, I find the phone to be the best tool. In my running, I was dependent on RunKeeper, an app that uses GPS to measure your running distance and speed and then keeps a log of all your runs. I also extensively use Lift, an app that allows you to keep daily track of habit you want to build or lose. Here's my Twitter log of my 5K a day 30-Day Running Challenge:
I'm setting 30-day challenges this month. Today is day 1. The challenges I chose are meant to help me improve my writing and fitness:
- Run at least 5 kilometers every day
- Blog every day
Thirty days are "just about the right time to add a new habit or subtract a habit," Google engineer Matt Cutts said in his TED talk in 2011. "If you really want something badly enough, you can do anything in 30 days," he said. By taking on his 30-day challenges, Cutts said he found that "instead of the months flying by, forgotten, the time was much more memorable." He also said that "small, sustainable changes" were more likely to stick. I am slowly getting back to running and have, according to the app Lift, an 11-day streak in daily runs. RunKeeper logs my mileage this week so far at 26.8 kilometers - a walk on the block compared to the mileage I racked up running ultra-marathons some years back but a veritable ultra compared to the zero mileage of recent months. One thing I realized after getting back to running was the My getting-back-to-running goal is to run at least 5 kilometers a day. A tall order but one I've managed to keep for a week. To make a habit stick, my favorite productivity site Lifehack says you must do it daily.
"Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick. If you want to start exercising, go to the gym every day for your first thirty days. Going a couple times a week will make it harder to form the habit. Activities you do once every few days are trickier to lock in as habits." - Scott Young.And with the free tools available in this age of the "quantified self," tracking progress or regress is so much easier. My phone is a slave driver - it tells me every day to drink more water, run, blog more etc. Today is the end of the month. Tomorrow, I plan to take on my first 30-day challenges. Apart from the daily 5K, I'm considering other health-, writing- or tech-related challenges. Spend more time with the family, travel more, stay away from fast-food, no more soda, eat less junk food, stop eating rice, blog daily, learn Git and consider moving to it from Subversion, interview people, build a mobile phone app, build an iPad magazine, write using Markdown, write a book, run another Linux distro, live "on the cloud," learn another language, run another marathon, run another ultra, read my backlog of books, stay away from social networks, take a photo a day, learn a new word a day etc. These are some of the challenges that I want to take on. But which should I tackle first? I have the day to decide.