A Perfect Record


I hate math. But I love numbers.

More precisely, I love numbers in spreadsheets. I like keeping track of days, and miles, and books I’ve read, and our family’s monthly budget. Thirty is a good number of books for a year. A monthly income higher than our expenses is a number that makes me smile. A higher percentage of days exercised than not is a hard-earned and satisfying number.

So far in 2018, I am at 100% days exercised.

The rule for a day counting as an exercise day is simple: 30 consecutive minutes of exercise. It can be running, biking, walking, yoga, sit-ups, push-ups, boulder rolling, etc. This concept comes from Coach Jenny Hadfield’s Challenge Program, of which I have been a participant since 2014 and have benefited greatly. (You should click that link and join!)

With the start of a new year, I was determined to exercise on the first day of the year, thereby igniting some momentum toward doing better in 2018 than I did in 2017. My 2017 percentage was not a good number. It was a sad number. It was a number that caused me to make excuses: “Well, I was still in physical therapy in the first quarter of 2017.” “You know, I couldn’t always exercise because my ankle is still pretty sore.” “Hey! We had a baby in 2017! Who has time to exercise now??” My 2017 percentage of days exercised was… 28.49%. Look at that sad wimpy number. That’s less than two days per week! (1.9943, if you do the math.)

Finding time to exercise is often a challenge in our household, particularly because of that baby we had in 2017. My wife also runs her own business and has a freelance music career going. So, our schedules are often hectic. Add my full time job, extended family responsibilities, and the recent holidays into the equation and time for exercise becomes nearly nil. (I sound like I am making excuses again.)

I got a little better at making time to exercise in recent weeks. The reasons for this were: a.) I got disgusted with my laziness, b.) The end of the year was approaching and I needed to get my numbers up, c.) I didn’t want the holidays to get the best of me, and d.) It’s been adversely cold, making running outside difficult and even dangerous. (When I ran outside in the afternoon on December 28 it was 10° with a windchill of -4°.)

We don’t have a treadmill at home. I don’t have a gym membership. (I hate the gym.) We have weights, a medicine ball, a jump rope. But my main interest was in finding a substitute for running. The closest thing was climbing stairs.

Our flight of stairs to the second floor consists of 15 stairs. It has an elevation of 10 feet. My brain instantly calculated how many flights of stairs I would need to do to equal the elevation gain of my favorite mountain, Mt. Tammany at the Delaware Water Gap. 1,100 feet = 110 flights of stairs. My first stair session took me about 40 minutes to complete 110 flights.

For the first day of 2018, I had grand but steadily diminishing ideas for exercising. First idea: get up very early, run Mt. Tammany and maybe go out to Sunfish Pond and back for a distance of 10 miles. The temperature was 3°. Second idea: get up early, do just one loop on Mt. Tammany for a distance of 3.35 miles. The temperature was still 3°. Third idea: explore the trails in a park close to home. Then the day got away from me. Things to do. People to see. Errands to run. Before I knew it it was 10 PM and I was still pouring over the numbers in our December budget. (Our income number was happily higher than our expense number, allowing us to make an extra payment on our debt. Winning!)

At 11:20 PM I was skimming through Facebook and feeling bummed that I allowed the first day of the year to go by without exercising when I read a discussion of alternative exercise ideas for when it’s too cold to run outside and you don’t have a treadmill. Someone suggested using a deck of cards to make things more interesting. Assign an exercise to each of the four suits in the deck. Shuffle the deck. Then draw a card and do the exercise that corresponds to the suit of the card. What a novel idea! I still had enough time to get my 30 minutes in before midnight! Since I am a weakling, I assigned exercises as such:

  • Hearts = 5 flights of stairs (changed to 20 squats after the second draw because I woke the baby up by going up and down our noisy stairs)
  • Diamonds = 15 lunges (that’s how many I can do through the length of our first floor)
  • Clubs = 5 sit-ups (weakling)
  • Spades = 2 push-ups (definitely a weakling)

I drew cards for 30 minutes with the numbers adding up as follows:

  • 160 squats
  • 120 lunges
  • 50 sit-ups
  • 14 push-ups

That is a lot more of each of those exercises than I have done in a long time! And it was a lot of fun! I want to see those numbers go higher on a consistent basis.

I absolutely intend to see better numbers in 2018 than I did in 2017. I have a few ultra trail races lined up in the coming months. I have other challenging personal distance goals for this new year. I intend to lose 30 pounds. Consistent exercising, whether running outdoors or getting creative indoors, is a must. I have a perfect record of exercise so far this year. I only have 364 days left to maintain it! I can win if I play my cards right!

One Comments

  • Sam

    January 9, 2018

    At day 5 I was no longer at 100%. 🙁

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