Three and a half weeks back from vacation and the magic of the Big Year concept has again made itself known to me. Running or cycling down the hill on any of the grey, cold days since then, I was one grizzly old man. But the Big Year dictates I do something every day and sets weekly and annual targets that brook no disobedience. So I’ve swaddled myself in warm clothes and driven those legs through winter’s worst.
And when I examine the results over nearly a month, I’m amazed, for my negative self-talk has been inaccurate. Gym? Three times a week, as prescribed. Cycling? 50 kms each week like clockword. Jogging? The first full week only recorded 20 kms out of the weekly 30-km goal, for I was only able to make myself do short runs, but I’ve hit target ever since.
Absent the Big Year discipline, I’m certain I’d have been a couch potato venturing outside occasionally. Best of all, in the words of R.E.M., “and I feel fine.”
Normally I wouldn’t be caught dead propping on my arse in a seaside holiday town, but the experience in magical Rovinj has been so wonderful that my aversion to sitting still now seems wrong. Seven nights in one place! No car (and limited drawcards near town)! Laziness but plenty of restorative exercise! A rare opportunity to review what an inspiring long trip has provoked!
So . . . I depart homeward today with many changes afoot, both in the short term and into the 2020s.
Nervous but excited.
Who is that hunched guy agonizing over a piddling run in Slovenia? Why, it’s me a couple of weeks back. After ceasing my normal day-on-day roster of run/cycle/gym back in mid-April, I managed to run 25 uninspired kms in Spain over four days, but then hiking subsumed everything, and I had five weeks away from my jogging shoes, which I think is my longest separation in many years. At the end of May, I shuffled a few kilometers in Rome, then gradually over ten days in Slovenia (7 jogs amounting to 55 kms), I morphed from hunched-corpse-running to some semblance of my old self. This week lazing in holiday town Rovinj (Croatia), I’ve managed four runs of 28 kms, but the improvement has been pleasing: I ran 10 kms without a need to stop two days ago, and my last jog today was a faster 5 kms that felt magnificent! Conclusion: I think I can resume the regular three 10-km weekly runs from Wednesday back in Melbourne. It’s hard to express how buoyant I am!
Better still, we cycled twice here, both trips around 25 kms, and although my bike was a semi mountain bike and too small, my post-ride legs stayed rubbery for only an hour or so. I believe I can resume cycling on Thursday!
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.