It seemed like such a great idea.
Three hundred and sixty five days of something.
The idea came to me while I was riding my mountain bike. I was picking my way through an icy trail in Palmer Park. “Wouldn’t it be cool to do something like this every day?” I thought to myself. The notion further coalesced into a plan when I decided I’d try to lose the last ten pounds I was packing on my gut.
It would be fun to do a little cross-training. I’m not much of a runner – in fact I was exclusively a singlespeed mountain biker. I finished up a two thousand mile 2011, complete with a singlespeed trip on the Kokopelli Trail. My dog demanded her daily ritual – a 2 mile, fast-paced walk . I was fit, I just wanted to lose some extra pounds.
The rules would be simple. I had to do something physical every day. A bike ride, a run, a trip to the gym, walking the dog. Something - anything - to stay active. I even included trail work as an activity. Basically, anything that was physically demanding.
The New Year started with a bike ride. I bought some decent running shoes with my Christmas money and started running as well. I would run at work, or bring my bike in and get in a quick lunch-time ride on the Falcon Trail. As the first days of the New Year turned into a month, it was very satisfying to see the miles pile up. By the end of February I had run 150 miles and ridden another 163 miles. I even entered my first 5k in March, something I had never done before.
I also began tracking what I ate. I found a free app for my phone, and was pretty religious about tracking my food intake. At the end of each day, the program would say “Congratulations! If you keep this up, you’ll weigh 160 pounds in 6 weeks!” I was motivated!
I suffered a calf injury while running in late March, but I switched to my bike until I could run again. Other than that, I was injury-free. As the days got longer, and warmer, I kept it up. I began to adopt a ‘cave-man’ attitude. A cave man couldn't take a day off to nurse an injury – he had to keep going, hunting and gathering food to survive. If a cave-man could do it, then so could I!
I made it into the summer going full stride. I rode in the oppressive heat. I ran through the smoke of the Waldo Canyon fire. Nothing could stop me. The hottest summer on record did nothing to melt my enthusiasm.
As the days went by, though, I started to notice something. It was subtle at first. The food diary program would tell me I’d weigh X-number of pounds in X-number of weeks. I’d get to the magical day, and I weighed the same. In fact, as the weeks went by, I gave up on tracking my food intake. I tried to eat sensibly, but sometimes cravings would overtake me. “It’s OK”, I’d think. “I’m doing enough to burn these Oreo cookies off”. “That beer is my reward.”
Around late-July, I started feeling run down. I could still work out, but I was just - tired. “It’s hot” I rationalized. I also noticed I wasn’t losing any weight. In fact, I seemed to be gaining weight. It was a very frustrating process. I was working my tail off. By the end of August, I had piled up over 1400 miles on my mountain bike, and an additional 500 miles of running and walking. On most days I would ride 15 miles on the Falcon Trail and walk an additional 2.5 miles in the evening. By early September, my frustration started to peak. I wasn’t losing weight, and I was tired. Maybe I should take a break and allow my body to recover. I can’t, I’d argue. I have to make it through to the end of the year. I began to dread my workouts. My mind began to lose the battle with my body.
On Saturday, September 2nd, I cut down a sprawling juniper bush in my front yard. It took 4 hours of chopping, digging and cutting. I counted it as a work out. On Sunday, September 3rd, I slept late. I didn't ride. I didn't run. And much to the vocalized disappointment of my dog, I didn't walk her. I rode the next week, but missed a few days. The following Sunday, I got sick. I stayed in bed for almost 4 days, just trying to recover.
I guess you could argue I worked myself into that illness. Maybe. I did a little research on fitness and found out that you can indeed over-exercise to the point of gaining weight. Your body is an amazing engine, but apparently it can be contrary when you push it too hard.
For the year, I rode 1,776 miles on my singlespeed, and climbed a little over 24,000 feet. I ran and walked almost 600 miles. As I write this, I may get in a run or a ride to finish out the year, but I’m not so sure. I have been going to the gym more, hoping to incorporate a more balanced approach to my fitness.
I’m not sure what my goals will be in 2013. I’m sure it will involve my mountain bike and a pair of running shoes, and probably some weights. I still want to lose those 10 pounds, plus the extra 10 pounds I gained from this experience.
One thing for sure is I won’t be doing 365 days of something.