Taking two months out of Big Year obsessiveness, it’s vital for me to prop and ask: am I okay or is change needed when I reboot in June? The last four days’ posts have assessed, for my benefit, each of my four Big Years, and I’m pleased to leave Australia’s shores with a smile on my face. 2018 has not unfolded quite as hoped, and I’ve battled myself and the world, but I’ve done myself proud.
So . . . a break and then leap back in, Andres!
If I could, I’d restart this Big Year with a greater degree of simplicity, but here are the tedious ticks and crosses, moving from the biggies to the minnows:
- Cycling – going for a low 2,000 kms, I’ve struggled to find the time to hit my weekly targets, but am at 750 kms now and should achieve 2,000. Tick. (I now won’t ride a bike for the next ten weeks!)
- Jogging – after a major low, and impacted by travel and minor health issues, I’m now almost at my weekly target but only have just under 300 kms against a year-end target of 1,250. I’ll either need to up my weekly budget a bit or make a special effort while in Europe (I can probably jog five of the ten weeks). Cross.
- Gym – I’ve only gone 24 times and, after Europe, will need to increase the weekly goal from two to three sessions in order to hit 100. A big cross.
- Overall exercising – I’ve missed a quarter of my days. Most missed days have an excuse but a meaningful number haven’t. Even with the best will in the world, I have to count this as a cross.
- Alcohol – does anyone like their wine as much as I do? Given that, I’m delighted to have stuck to 42 of the targeted 45 AFDs (3 per week), and my average weekly glasses are only a bit over target. It’s hard to describe how buoyant this analysis makes me feel. Tick.
- The minor daily impositions/prohibitions – alarms, cheese, and snacking – are close to 100%. Tick.
Overall, this Big Year has been one exhausting struggle but the major reason – I’m prioritising writing far more – is sound. As I’ve discussed previously, I’m yet to feel “fresh” as was the intention, but I haven’t flagged at all. So . . . not a tick but let’s commit once more to the full year’s aspirations!
They were meant to feed off each other. The Freshness Big Year – reduced exercise but still daily, regular sleep patterns, less alcohol, a couple of minor dietary improvements – was intended to produce steady energy that feeds into my 1,000 Big Year, which is all about finishing a book: rise early, no Facebook during each dedicated-to-work morning, draft a thousand words, do daily planning/monitoring.
It hasn’t worked out as planned, at least not yet. Sleep has been disrupted. Exercising has been weirdly tough. Some days have required plotting or analysis, not drafting, and I’ve jumped briefly to publication plans for a different book. Frankly, my days are often a mess.
But let’s look at the positives. One way or another, nearly every day includes the equivalent of a full, uninterrupted-by-FB morning work. I’m exercising nearly daily and my end-year targets might still be achievable. I’m enjoying less wine. I’m more or less organized, day by day. The spirit of each of these Big Years is well and truly alive. I adore them both.
I read halfway through this Australian Financial Review interview in my typical way, that is, fast, so it wasn’t until then I realized this competing (World Cup!) triathlete is blind! Most days he trains early morning and after work. He requires a running guide, someone who runs ahead with some kind of a tether attached. He rides a tandem bike. A swimming guide leads him through water. Imagine . . . how puny my daily motivation seems! I need to rehabilitate my mind to tackle my exercise in a different spirit.
Margaret Heffernan’s “Wilful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril” is an intriguing look at our mental boundaries but I especially like this rather opinionated take on physical fitness:
Many people – and not a few companies – like to think that they can somehow stretch the cognitive limits of their minds, that doing lots of Sudoku or using programs like Brain Trainer will somehow enlarge their capacity. They’re out of luck. The only exercise that seems to nurture, or at least protect our brains is aerobic exercise. Yoga, toning and stretching may make you feel good but, in fMRI scans, only aerobic exercise seemed to have a visibly positive impact on the brain. If you want to protect your own intellectual capacity, or that of your employees, the only way to do that is to go to the gym . . .
Repetition works. Repetition takes many repeats but a desirable activity becomes automatic
Does anything bring as much freedom and physical exhilaration as a bike ride? 2017 was Cycling 101 for me and such a pleasure! With Pedal Pete, a role model of speed, stamina, and joyfulness, marrying my daughter later this year, I can’t help but dream of bunch rides, Gran Fondos, carbon enduro bikes, early morning post-ride coffees, touring across Europe . . . on and on I spin visions of a world opening up.
But 2018 isn’t the year for such dreams. Other dreams, yes, and mighty ones, but this year I’ll go backwards with my riding. In 2017 I rode 4,000 kms. At the start of this year, I aimed for 90 kms/week, which equates to 3,000 kms over the year. Now I’ve reset the 2018 target to just 2,000 kms. Almost too miserable to bother about, eh?
Daily but less: 2018 is as shown. The jogging target is slightly above my original goal of 1,200 kms, more than last year’s 1,000 kms, and of course well below the 1,700 kms of 2016. My second annual cycling target is well below what I thought I was aiming for – 3,000 kms – and only half of last year’s 4,000 kms. The gym goals are unchanged.
2018 is into Week 10 and the cornerstone of my exercise obsession – 90/30/3, which is a weekly goal of 90 kms of cycling, 30 kms of jogging, and 3 gym sessions – has only been met twice. Recent sedate hiking in Western Victoria gave me room to think: am I slack or what?
Why is 90/30/3 so hard to achieve? Because of two reasons: (i) I’m prioritising another Big Year, the writing one; and (ii) I can’t consistently rise at sparrow’s fart. When I sleep in a bit, I’m doing the right thing and working on past the usual main deadline of noon. Last year if I needed to exercise in the morning to meet my targets, that’s what I did, but this year I only huff and puff in the afternoons, so that every now and then I just can’t fit in longer bike rides, for example.
Since the idea of the Freshness Big Year is to brim with calm energy, something is not working, but rather than abandon hope, I’ve decided to reframe this Big Year. Let me be just as obsessive but not so intense! Instead of a weekly goal, I’m now targeting annual goals that accord flexibility whilst still requiring daily, or near daily, attention.
I’ll finalize 2018’s goals today but in the meantime am filled with hope that by the end of this year, I shall be the “perfect human”: sleeping like the sleep experts say I should, springing from bed at the optimal time, and burning with healthful energy all day long. All I need do is obey my own rules, day by day. That, anyway, is the quixotic goal.