Positively Unstoppable Challenge Update

So the six month positively unstoppable challenge has come to an end. You can read more about what the challenge is and why I signed up to it in my first post on this topic.

I set myself two challenges. The first was to run a half marathon. Admittedly I was confident I could achieve this goal because I’ve run many a half marathon and although it had been a four year absence, I knew the exact steps to take to get race fit. I completed this goal in April by running the Star Wars Virtual half-marathon, which you can read about here.

The second challenge I set myself was to be able to do the side splits. There are benefits to flexibility and the side splits just looks cool. This challenge was the harder of the two. I’ve never been able to do a side split. I failed to hit this goal, but I saw small progress none the less. I used the length of my yoga mat to measure progress. My yoga mat is 216cm long and with my left foot at one end, my right foot was 40cm away from the other end in January. By February my foot was 31cm away from the edge of the mat, so a quick improvement initially. By June, I was 27cm away from the edge of the mat, my progress has slowed considerably. The lesson I learned is that my plan was relatively sound, but the timescale I set was wrong, 6 months was enough for me. I’m resetting my expectations to 12 months and carrying on independently of the Unstoppable Challenge. The goal itself has become more important to me than the Unstoppable Challenge. Maybe thats the point of challenge, set a goal, pursue it for 6 months, and its borderline impossible to not see progress. Once you’ve seen that slow and steady progress you’ll likely carry on and see what the next 6 months bring.

27cm away from the edge of the mat, down from 40cm in January

The plan now is to keep my running fitness at a high enough level that it won’t be such a challenge to get race fit again, and to carry on with my side splits training and measure progress again after another 6 months.

Positively Unstoppable Challenge

I’ve decided to enter the DDPY Positively Unstoppable Challenge. Its a six month challenge to achieve a self selected fitness and wellness goal. And a chance to win prizes, who doesn’t love a prize.

For me the Positively Unstoppable Challenge is helping to provide focus, and enthusiasm. Towards the second half of 2020 I lost a bit of my passion for exercising. I’m disciplined enough that I still exercised, but I hit a bit of a funk where I was going through the motions and wasn’t committing everything I could. I reduced my workouts from 6 days a week to 5 days a week, and used the excuse of age/time/covid/whatever to tell myself this was a good idea. I found myself looking for the shorter and/or easier workouts on days when I’d had a “long day”. Then Christmas hit and I stopped training altogether as I do like to take a break over Christmas. And my Christmas eating habits were not good, and the bad eating habits lasted longer than they should have. I entered a mode of, “I’ll just eat all the crap, and then it won’t be in the house anymore, problem solved!”

As stories go, its not really that sad, throughout all of the above (Christmas excluded) I still exercised 5 days a week and ate well so I was in good shape throughout. January 1st rolled around and Ireland went into Level 5 lockdown, gyms and fitness studios closed, travel restricted to within 5km of your house. A depressing start to 2021 to say the least, which made it hard to be enthused about returning to exercise after Christmas.

The Positively Unstoppable Challenge is something to get enthusiastic about. I’ve set myself 2 goals. The first goal is to run a half marathon. The last half marathon I ran was in 2016, after which my first child was born and running didn’t continue to the same extent. I did sign up for a half-marathon in 2018 but my training was a disaster so I pulled out. I’m determined to get race fit and run a half-marathon in 2021. I’ve signed up for a virtual race on April 18th and so far 5miles is the furthest I’ve gone in my training.

Longest run so far of 2021

The second goal is to be able to do the side splits. For no other reason than I think they look cool. Flexibility, when pursued correctly, is good for you but I don’t know the in’s and out’s of the benefits of the side splits, thats one for Google. My yoga mat is 216cm long and with my left foot at one end, my right foot is 40cm away from the other, a long way to go to the splits.

That white chalk line is where my foot is now trying to do the splits. The goal is to get to the DDP logo

At the end of the six months I’ll probably look the exact same because my goals are cardiovascular endurance and flexibility, both of which or internal changes. If the monotony of life under covid is sapping you of energy and enthusiasm, I’d suggest finding something like the Positively Unstoppable Challenge to help get you going again. I certainly feel I need something specific to train for, having spend all of 2020 training for its own sake. I’ll post regular updates to this blog to hold myself accountable. Whats your 2021 goal?

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