Birthday Challenge

I’m planning a thing for my birthday this year. This thing is inspired by Katy Bowman’s 44th birthday challenge.

The essence of this thing:

  • walk 10 miles a day for the 45 days leading up to my 45th birthday for a total of 450 miles between October 25 and December 9.

There are a few things standing in my way in achieving this goal:

  1. Time: Ten miles, even at my usual (fairly solid) walking pace, is going to involve a couple of hours of walking each day. I don’t actually have a lot of hours when people don’t need something from me, and since my birthday is December 9th, the days leading up to my 45th are getting shorter, which restricts the amount of daylight I have. This isn’t insurmountable, but I do have to factor in auto traffic, coyotes, and ne’er-do-wells when I think about going on early morning walks. Add in my homeschooling, parenting, volunteering, and work commitments, plus all of the unforeseen things that keep me from workouts already, and I’m a little worried about having enough time to get the miles in every day.
  2. Unstable neighbors: For about the past year, we’ve had trouble with neighbors who seem to have some difficulty with reality. They perceive us as a threat of some kind, and they’ve decided that the way to deal with that perceived threat is through (so far) petty harassment. So far this harassment has just been unpleasant (swearing at us as we walk down the street, knocking over our full recycling bin, playing classic rock at full volume from their car parked right in front of our house), but most of it happens in the dawn and dusk times when I’m likely to want to walk, and I’m a little nervous about leaving my children in the house while I’m on foot for miles at a time. Of course, my “children” are 12 and 16, and they know how to use a phone and not answer the door, so I’m probably worrying about this unnecessarily. But still, it’s a thing, and knowing myself, I’m likely to cling to most anything that gives me an excuse not to follow through.
  3. Physical discomfort: My feet hurt when I walk a lot (and sometimes even when I don’t walk a lot) and even though I’m used to walking, I’m betting that this many miles each day is going to give me some repetitive stress-type discomforts. I’ve got a plan to address these, but I’m not sure what’s going to come up as I get into this challenge.

With these in mind, I’m going to give myself a little more latitude in my rules than Bowman did in her challenge.

For one, I’m counting my pedometer steps.

I’ve used my pedometer for a good while now, and the steps-to-distance conversion seems to match pretty well with the GPS-based maps I use to calculate distances when I take intentional walks. I get a lot of distance in while pacing around the house during phone calls, and since I don’t want to start up my fitness apps for talks with my mom or my sister, I’m going to count the steps I get on my old-school pedometer.

Another difference: I’m counting more than just walking. Whether I jog, walk, or bicycle, if I accrue miles by my own power, that counts towards my 10 miles a day. That said, I suspect that most of my miles will be walking miles.

Bowman seems to live in a location much better suited to walking for errands than my car-centric suburb, but I think I can work in a little more walking to get stuff done than I have been doing. There’s also a lake nearby with a 5-mile trail around it, and I suspect that’s going to be a big help in getting my miles.

As incentive, I’ve set myself up with four Conqueror Challenges that together total 450 miles. The ones on my list include:

  • Trek to Petra (40 miles)
  • Cabot Trail (185 miles)
  • Alps to Ocean (180 miles)
  • Giza Pyramids (46 miles)

Okay, those with math skills know that these total 451 miles, but I figured that’s close enough. I hope that dividing my challenge up into these shorter milestones—and anticipating actual, physical medals upon completion—will help keep me motivated. And I will try not to think too hard about how similar the word “milestones” is to the word “millstones.”

Another incentive: audiobooks. The thought of giving up reading time in favor of walking is a little difficult to stomach, so I’m doing my best to line up compelling audiobooks (and not let myself listen to them unless I’m walking). Suggestions for awesome audiobooks would be very welcome!

To address the physical discomforts of so much walking, I’m scheduling in stretching. I have a Fitness Blender stretching plan on board for the first two weeks, in case I have trouble figuring out what kind of stretching to do, but the basic plan is to stretch whenever I’m not walking (e.g., when I’m blogging, when I’m watching shows, when I’m homeschooling, etc.). Hopefully this will keep me feeling in good shape to keep to my goals, but I do anticipate that the biggest challenge will be psychological.

I’m not sure how often I’ll post about this challenge. I’d love to promise to post every day or even weekly, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. I’ll definitely post at the end of the challenge, and anything else in the interim is bonus.

I guess it would be more compelling if this were a “rah-rah, I’m going to totally crush this goal!” kind of kick-off post, but that’s not me. So, we’ve got the “I’m going to set this goal for myself and try to mitigate all potential obstacles and hopefully I’ll make it happen” kind of kick-off post. I guess we’ll see in a few weeks how I do!

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