Three quarters of the way through the year and I’ve spent an hour each day reading and researching self-publishing and modern authorly marketing (that’s my Tractor Big Year, the title being a play on words of my upcoming book’s draft title). I have found it to be a most fascinating and effective educational process. Sure, some days it’s been tough to find time, amidst the press of urgent life matters, to seat myself down in the afternoon to read and take brief notes. But manage it I have and now I reckon I have a decent, rather deep understanding.
Look, I can’t say I’m an expert on this topic I’ve gradually immersed within. Any time I execute part of my strategy, say commissioning a cover, I need to revisit my notes and reading material, but what the Big Year does is give me confidence in my overall grasp. If you are intrigued by something, anything at all, be it Tudor England or robotics or Soviet espionage, do yourself a favor by assuaging the itch in a steady way: set up a Big Year!
After managing 5 kms a week or so ago, I’m now running 6 kms three times, then 7 and so on. By early November, body willing, normality shall bless me again. What surprises me most is that every jog is a pleasure, a sheer gobsmacking pleasure!
Do you ever suddenly dip into hopeless gloom at five o’clock in the afternoon? For no good reason you can fathom, your energy dies and you survive the hours until sleep with a sense of hopelessness and dread. This happens to me maybe once a quarter and I’ve observed something even stranger: the next morning I rise from bed buoyant and cheerful. It’s as if one extreme state is accompanied by the other. Can I explain it? No, and I’m not sure I want to.
1,000 words by lunchtime?
Some folks actually enjoy going to the gym. I know this because at Visions Fitness Centre, the wonderful place I walk to, happy faces are perennially smiling. Me, I’ve never been able to bring a grin to my face on a gym day. Yes, I always felt satisfied after each session (a large part of which is the geek’s academic understanding of how low-weight-bearing gym routines dramatically improve the health and prospects of us older folks), but getting me to Visions involves plenty of grimacing.
Well, a side benefit of having a leg injured enough to ground me from jogging is that I’ve suddenly transformed into one of those looneys with maniacal smiles while they pump iron. When gym is your only time wrestled away from pen and desk, it suddenly feels sweet. Did I catch myself whistling yesterday on the way to Visions?
The details are boring but at last, after a few weeks of uncertainty, I can plan anew:
I’ll only jog 1,000 kms this year, quite a bit lower than my original target (which itself was the same as 2017’s achievement but far below 2016’s 1,700 kms). I’ll ratchet up distances slowly to spare myself a gluteal muscle relapse. I’m happy with this: at least I’ll be back running round my streets three times a week.
I’ll still aim to hit 2,000 kms on the bike. Not easy but not hard either.
I’ll only aim to hit the gym 75 times (down from 100 last year), which amounts to maybe twice a week, the bare minimum frequency to have a positive impact.
A wondrous blanket of peace descends onto me . . .
In the final sprint to the end of 2018, this Big Year has been a mess but a bazooka of a mess. I know now to never again set such gnarly day-by-day imposts. Every day in 2018 I’m mean to rise early, to work in peace (no Facebook) over the morning, to get my 1,000 words, and to do daily planning/monitoring. Even allowing for vacation time, I estimate my success rate for those four rules is 67%, 75%, 33%, and 80%. By any measure this Big Year is a flop.
But flop it isn’t, not really. In a busy life, getting most of the day onto in-flow work is tough, and I’ve felt engaged and motivated all year. Right now, I jump out of bed without fuss, I give Facebook an AM heave-ho, I always get pretty good work done, and I’m on top of things. No mean feat, all that.
Imagine me smiling . . .
How can you know? Ask ten people how much you ought to weigh and you get ten disparate answers. BMI is, in my opinion, more suitable for the more athletic, and nigh useless for many of us.
Ever the geek, I have six years of daily weight data, which I’ve averaged over months and plotted. You can see I got my myself down from 81+ kgs to a late-age low of 75, had a rough patch, and then for two years in 2016 and 2017, I consistently came in at 76 to 78 kgs. These two years, not coincidentally, were my first two Big Years (daily exercise helps stabilise weight, not news, right?) But then our Italian trip earlier this year took me to 78 kgs and it’s climbed to a recent high of 81 kgs and rising.
Has cycling put on some muscle mass, as a couple of people have suggested? Not 4 kgs’ worth!
Not being able to jog gives me a chance to crack open the 5:2 diet, which reliably shifts weight downwards at least half a kilogram a week, no matter how much you eat on the five non-fasting days. Results? Excellent so far, now solidly under 80 kgs, and I’m looking at 79 kgs at the end of next week. I’m aiming for 77 to 78 kgs and predict a wonderful boost to my running as a result.
Urgency grips the geek. 100 days! Can he do it? So what if he does?
I’ve reassessed progress and prospects. The picture over the four Big Years isn’t pretty but each has lifted me for the better. Over the next week or so, I’ll reshape the four pushes towards December 31. Call me excited!