Disclaimer: This challenge ended up lasting 31 days, the full month of July.
Since I started Tenacious Travel, I have spent crazy amounts of time sitting and staring at a computer screen. Yes, I truly enjoy creating my website, but damn, I need to get off my ass more often.
I’ve become a bit… round. My belly has been expanding and my energy levels have been sinking. I’m like a loyal husband that has put on sympathy weight for his child-bearing wife (but nobody is pregnant).
So, I decided to challenge myself to step away from the computer and start walking.
10,000 steps, about eight kilometers (five miles), is widely seen as the ‘magic number’ to shoot for when trying to maintain an active lifestyle. So why not double it? We want this to be a challenge, right?
If I hit my goals, I should be spending over three hours a day walking and travel about 16 kilometers (ten miles).
To count my steps, I’ll use my Mi Fit Band that my generous girlfriend gave to me. Her motives are unknown, but I suspect she wants to track my every move.
I’ll use the Sweatcoin app to actually make money for all the steps I take outdoors. If I hit my goals, I can make about a buck a day. No, it’s not a lot, but it adds up. And it pays me to stop being lazy. Win-win.
This challenge is about restoring balance to my life. It’s about getting outside and breathing fresh air. It’s about getting my blood pumping and sweating out my bad choices. It’s about watching my dog bound through fields as we explore the world together.
Ten miles a day… here goes nothing.
The 20,000 Step Challenge Journal
The fine print: My objective is to average 20,000 steps a day for the entire month of July. Sometimes I won’t hit my daily goal, but that is okay. I’ll just have to walk a little more the next day.
Starting weight: 80.4 kilograms (177.2 pounds) Starting Body Mass Index: 24.7 (on the verge of ‘overweight’)
No More Procrastinating
July 2nd, 12:20 a.m.
So, I had been planning all week to push my 20,000 step challenge back to August. My reasoning: this blog isn’t public yet and this challenge will likely get lost behind others once I finally ‘launch’ this website of mine.
This is a stupid reason. It doesn’t matter if nobody is watching. If I make excuses for myself not to follow through on my goals, I’m setting a dangerous precedent.
So, I decided to go for it.
10:45 p.m. rolled around and I had still only reached 11,000 steps. Damnit, I couldn’t dig myself into a hole on my very first day. I put on my $27 running shoes and started moving.
My first big race against time was a mixture of jogging, wheezing, pitch black sidewalks, staggering with my hands on my hips, coughing up god knows what, and generally feeling out of shape.
11:50 struck and I was still short of my goal. I ran as fast as I could, but fell short by 53 steps – or 19 more seconds of running. I am sore and achy, but full of hope. 20,000 steps is no walk in the park.
I wonder how I’ll feel at the end of the month.
Digging Myself Into an Early Hole
July 5th, 1:46 a.m.
Fine, I’ll admit it: I didn’t give it my best effort yesterday. I finished 10,000 steps short of my goal. Oops. It might have something to do with me staying out crazy late and drinking beer with an old friend the night before. Who knows?
I was starting to panic when 11:00 p.m. rolled around and I had taken less than 5,000 steps. So, I did what any other exhausted and dehydrated person would do: I got off the couch and ran across town. Fireworks crackled overhead as my dog panicked and I moved slightly slower than usual.
Did I mention that walking 20,000 steps in a day is not easy?
I’ve dug myself a bit of a hole early on, but I’m excited to see how I get out of it. There will be more days that I fall well short of goals, but there will also be 30,000 step days. They’re coming, I promise.
20,000 Steps at 14,000 Feet
July 8th, 1:03 p.m.
I got some great steps in yesterday, almost all before 9:00 a.m. On the night of the 6th, I drove up to Kite Lake Trailhead (outside of Alma, Colorado) parked my van, and slept.
I awoke at 3:30 a.m., ate a cold piece of pizza, fed my dog, Bubba, and gathered my gear. I groggily poured myself out of my van and was met with a quiet moonlight. I found my two friends, Matt and Antonio, and we stretched and started hiking.
Now, these were real steps that we were taking. We huffed and puffed to the top of three different mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation: Mt. Bross, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Cameron. My friends completed a fourth, Mt. Democrat, but I ducked out because Bubba’s paws were beginning to tear.
The first week is in the books! I’m just behind pace, but have more big hikes planned later in this month. This challenge has already shown positive results. I feel lighter on my feet and full of energy at all times. Bubba and I are exploring the world together and enjoying every moment, 20,000 steps at a time.
Enduring the Brutal Heat of Summer
July 9th, 2:53 p.m.
I picked the wrong week to start sleeping in.
After slacking off yesterday and putting off today’s steps until 2:00 p.m., I was forced to take a run in Colorado’s triple-digit Summer heat. I still have 13,969 steps to reach my daily goal. Needless to say, today has been a bit of a learning experience.
Did I mention my house has no air conditioning?
Now, excuse me while I stand near my wide-open refrigerator.
Half Inspiration, Half Desperation
July 10th, 12:30 a.m.
I power-walked, jogged, and sprinted around town for 15,000 steps in the final two hours of the day. That’s how my night went.
I feel great though.
My 20,000 steps a day motto: ‘Half Inspiration, Half Desperation’
Halfway Home: My Midway Update
July 16th, 12:00 p.m.
Ah, the halfway point. It’s been an absolute grind to say the least. The 20,000 steps a day don’t care if you’re tired, burnt out, hungover, have shit to do, or its a 100 degrees (38° Celsius) out.
The steps are always waiting, screaming to be taken.
The last few days my legs have felt heavy and taxed, especially when I’m running. My body has hit a wall. In spite of this, I have made some very noticeable progress.
Here are some of the physical differences that I have seen:
Midway weight: 172.6 pounds Midway BMI: 24.1
I’m trimming up and it feels good. I’ve shed almost five pounds so far. My legs, although often fatigued, feel stronger and more stable. My energy levels are up and my stamina is climbing. The blisters on my feet have turned to callouses and I feel like I’m getting back towards ‘trail shape’ again.
Mentally, I feel sharper and more focused. I am able to organize my normally jumbled and erratic thoughts when I’m walking or running. Many future ideas for this website have come to me while I was racking up my 20,000 steps for the day.
Bubba is thoroughly satisfied and exhausted on a normal basis. This is something I never thought possible from a yellow lab. Instead of anxiously following me around the house waiting to be exercised, he is constantly recharging for our next set of 20,000 steps.
It’s safe to say that this challenge was a great idea. Here’s to the second half, where I must now average 21,437 steps a day.
A Furious Finish Ahead
July 25th, 1:20 p.m.
So, I have some good news and I have some bad news.
Let’s start with the good: my girlfriend recently got back in town from China. She’s visiting for three weeks. We’ve been having a great time! We even went to Las Vegas and ate at our favorite restaurant in the world.
Now, for the bad: I have put my steps on the back-burner. They have not been a priority and my averages have been suffering. I’ve dropped down to an average of 17,894, which doesn’t sound bad (but really is this late in the game).
This means my last week of steps I will have to average 26,912 steps a day, which I have only surpassed once this month. I anticipate lots of late night sprinting and early morning jogs. My sleep will suffer, but I will reach my goal. I hope.
Complete and Utter Exhaustion
July 29th, 12:08 p.m.
My calves are shot. My legs are jelly. My IT band is aching. My dog thinks I’m crazy. I’m exhausted.
I reached 30,000 steps for the first time this month (just as I promised I would). A few days ago I felt extremely pessimistic. I thought I had dug myself into a hole too deep, but yesterday’s total gives me new hope.
I feel like a different person than when I started this 20,000 steps a day challenge. I guess that’s the point, isn’t it? In years past I’ve gone months before without ever running. Now, my days feel incomplete without it. The late nights exercising alone in the darkness — it’s kind of soothing. I’m beginning to see how people get addicted.
Three days left. Time to finish strong.
Never. Stop. Walking.
July 30th, 2:43 p.m.
This morning I paced back and forth around the light rail station as I awaited my train. I followed that up with more aggressive marching around Union Station as I stacked up steps waiting for my bus. I looked like a madman with a million things racing through his head, furiously storming around and trying to make sense of it all.
And whose to say that I’m not?
I have 51.5 kilometers (32 miles) left this month to reach my goal of 20,000 steps a day. Sometimes I’m just going to have to act like a lunatic along the way.
Thank God It’s Over
August 1st, 12:23 a.m.
That’s it. It’s over.
The 20,000 steps a day challenge is finished. This last week my existence was consumed with reaching my goal… if I wasn’t working, I was walking. If I wasn’t walking, I was running. Steps, steps, steps… all day long.
I’m glad the grind is over. I’m tired. I’m going to bed.
I’m ready for a new challenge.
|Noel Before the Challenge||Noel After the Challenge|
|Round figure, sluggish, constantly staring at computer constantly||Active, energetic, and physically fit|
|Ran sparingly and inconsistently for short bursts||Daily runner with best stamina in life|
|Bored, unfulfilled, and under-exercised dog (Bubba)||Bubba constantly experiencing the best day of his life|
|Had a hard time focusing, jumbled and disorganized thoughts||Clear mind, natural and flowing creativity, focused|
|Unsure about achieving goal, lingering self-doubt||Confident, motivated, and goal-oriented|
Gear I Used Along the Way
20,000 Step Challenge Stats
|Total Steps Taken/Average Per Day||620,637/20,021|
|Most/Least Steps Taken in a Day||37,093 (July 29th)/5,311 (July 8th)|
|Time Challenge was Completed||11:17 p.m. on July 31st|
|Weight Lost||2.3 kilograms (5 pounds)|
|Sweatcoins Earned||385.78 ($19.28)|
|Total MiFit Battery Recharges||Two|
What I’ve Learned
Without question, I took more steps this month than I ever have in my life. This challenge forced me to break out of my sedentary routine and get out in the world. I feel lighter on my feet and healthier. My mind slows down and my creativity blossoms while I’m on my feet. I didn’t lose a drastic amount of weight, but I trimmed up and changed my habits.
My future goal will be 12,000 steps a day. 20,000 steps a day is a bit much for now. I want to be active, but I don’t want my life to revolve around steps. Balance: that’s what I’m looking for.
Take the 20,000 Steps a Day Challenge
I recommend a 20,000 steps a day challenge to anyone who needs to become more active. Steps are effortlessly countable, easy to achieve, and take you places you may never have gone otherwise.
You will notice changes both mental and physical.
You will find yourself out in the world thinking clearly and moving freely.
Some days the challenge will feel more like a chore. You may doubt yourself and you will probably struggle, but you will come out on the other end a stronger and more determined person.
Even if you look like a lunatic as you pace around the occasional bus station.