100 day burpee ladder...the conclusion

The story so far:

Our intrepid couch coach has set out, with turgid prose and malice of forethought to burpee on each day for 100 days. The rules are simple: 1 rep on day one; 2 reps on day two, and so on, climbing to day 100 when we climax with 100 reps. Allowing for a little, ahem, life interfering with the art, if one day is missed, it is acceptable to catch up on the following day by completing all of the reps owed. Miss two days and the exercise is ended - rest up for a few days, consider your failings and start again.

Our story so far has paused at the end of day 50, half the total number of days notched up. Soberingly though, we've only chalked up 1,225 of the full scope of 5,050 burpees.

The next week and a half passed without incident. Occasionally needing to nudge myself out of my torpor to just start. Because once started, even as the air starts to thin with elevation on the ladder, inside of 10 minutes we are finished. Then the entry for Friday 30th November reads just one word. "LAZY". The day's reps are circled with an arrow pointing to Saturday, indicating a carry forward.

True, I was tired. Granted, I fell asleep on the sofa, sitting bolt upright but that did not stop me feeling an intense frustration with myself on the Saturday morning. If I'd only done them earlier in the evening then I would not have missed. Why didn't I do them half-asleep before heading upstairs? OK, that's just silly, but still! No point bitching about it. This situation here? It is entirely of my own making. Its end is entirely within my control too. So I have a choice, either shut the hell up and get it done; or, pulling out, and shutting the hell up. Either way, whining achieves nothing and anyway it is only 123 to do. Done.

That hurdle crossed, I could well have done without crying out for Huey down the porcelain speaking tube on the Sunday. As luck would have it, this only wiped out Sunday and left me fit for work on Monday - and, after taking the boys for training, my 127 burpees. It was ugly but I got them done, to the standard (chest touching the floor at the bottom of the press-up portion and a jump in the air at the top of the movement). And by way of small consolation, grim as I felt, it was fewer burpees than I had made the boys do that evening!

Over the course of the 100 days I experimented with rep schemes - doing small sets on every 30 seconds; doing larger sets on the minute; single sets; sets of 15; ladders down; ladders up; pyramids; timed rest; ad libitum rest. All sorts of different ways of slicing the same task. Varying intensity. Always keeping in mind a desire for quality of movement; listening to the body; recovering and sustaining it all throughout the 100 day endeavour.

For all the manipulation, day 66 saw the return of an old foe, pain in my right knee. Having neglected my mobility, flexibility and not once warming up, it was not entirely a surprise. However, a nagging concern started to bubble to be met by a "you've not made it this far to have your body quit on you now." A load of ITB, glute, calf and hip stretching started to see it improve but for the remainder of the task it oscillated. Some days good, others a deterioration. Fine to do back squats in the morning, as tight as a guitar string by the evening.

For all that, onwards we rumbled. Our Facebook group (I know, I'm a media-tart) provided all the support of an old pair of pants - more than you'd expect but never less than was needed. Dispensing support and banter in equal doses, it was something of a surprise to know that several of us had never actually met. We had enough common ground in this beautiful madness that it seemed to genuinely hurt to see teammates drop out with injury (there was no shortage of will by this stage). We got to within 30 days of the finish line and while that month may seem like a long way to go, it also suddenly seemed more feasible than it had for a while. Shortly thereafter we were to hit the half-way point in burpee volume terms. One of our statistically minded number threw out the idea that, assuming that eight of us were still going (as it turned out, there were more of us than that), as a group we had knocked out in excess of 20,000 burpees. Which nugget felt pretty good!

Day 75 was my works team Christmas night out. As a sign of how far I have come, rather than carrying that forward, I set the alarm early, dragged myself out of bed and got them done before work. It felt good for the soul. Admittedly, not so good that I wanted to make a habit of it but nonetheless, the day was lighter for not carrying the burden with me. As if to prove a point about my progress, day 76 saw the return of the weighted vest.

That was that really, with a burpee advent calendar left to do, the next week passed without fuss. No need for negotiation with myself, just getting them done. I had not paid much attention to the time any of this was taking throughout the piece but out of curiosity I set the stopwatch on day 83. Just over 9 minutes, without having to really cane it. So basically, some of those early nights had seen me spend more time changing t-shirt than doing my burpees! How pointless was the procrastination!

Was Christmas a problem? Not at all! There was almost a perverse pleasure in doing them on Christmas Eve while not a creature was stirring. What about the day itself? Easy! Fit them in between basting the turkey and putting the pigs in blankets in the oven! And because it was Christmas, Santa hat and a red Hawaiian shirt were a must!

I was quite enjoying being on leave, for a whole host of reasons! I was also loving the feeling of being less of a social leper by being able to do my burpees in daylight hours. Of course, this gave me time to think in the evenings... which is seldom a good thing! Around about the 27th of December I started to be conscious of the strange idea of rounding up the total number of reps. Somehow, from somewhere, 6,000 popped to mind as a nice round figure (a lot like mine!). I calculated that, with the extras that I had already done, I would only have to add an extra 95 per day to make it a reality!

Clearly on the 28th I had managed to persuade myself to stick with the plan. Keep the goal the goal and not endanger the objective my overegging it. "89 as (2-3-5-10) x 4, 2-3-4" reads the log. However, I'm rubbish with temptation! On the 29th, 250 was the score. I was greeted afterwards by my wife "you've been doing burpees for a while", I explained why and she sighed and called me "fool". Four innocent letters which somehow mange to encapsulate a heady blend of concern, piss-taking, exasperation and a strange sense of "I'm not really entirely surprised".

OK, despite the volume to date, that 250 seemed manageable and so I backed it up with 257 on the 30th December, which would otherwise have been day 91.

New Year's Eve, my wife's birthday and a day where discretion is the better part of valour. So as not to worry her I stuck with the regulation 92. The first 20 or so felt as stiff and awkward as a puritan at a rugby club dinner but the joints loosened like a politician's morals and it started to feel good. So, like said politician I indulged that feeling and snuck out at 22:45 to slip in a cheeky 50. It comes to something when you're cheating on your wife with burpees!

At this point I started to shape the next week in my head a bit more. Aside from regretting not thinking of this 6k idea a lot earlier in the piece, I was beginning to think how I could finish on day 100 with the regulation 100 reps, you know, the way I'd intended from the very beginning. Day 93 (Happy New Year), 223 in the bag. As a sop to my increasingly tender breasts and wandering mind, I worked out that since I had finished work on the 21st December I had done a mere 1,556 burpees. A nice thought to carry back to the office!

Day 94 - I went for 194 at first. Having completed those, I sat down with my notebook and worked out that with just another 20 now, I'd only have to do 60 more on each of the next five nights to leave just the ton on day 100. As I went on, I started to appreciate little markers too. For example, on day 96, after my 156 burpees, I had completed 2,081 since waking up on Christmas morning. Saturday 5th January, day 97 - after the 157 that made the total 1,304 this week!

I was enjoying this! And frankly, at this stage, there was nothing on earth that would stop me finishing this off. Day 99, 159 done, that's 1,222 in 2013, and here I was the night before the grand finale.

I don't know whether it was the 0530 reveille, or that day away with work or what but the act of completing this venture was a bit anti-climatic. To an extent, I've always been like this. True, I have not that many accomplishments, but each time I have got there, there is a slight flicker of joy but mostly it barely registers as satisfaction, a tick, "yep, job done" and move on. Odd. If only I could spend as much time enjoying successes as I do in the sackcloth and ashes of defeats.

So there we have it, 100 days, 6000 burpees, otherwise as prescribed. Did I get what I wanted from it? I guess so. Self-discipline was tested. It failed occasionally but never catastrophically. More than anything I wanted to be able to look back and say I relentlessly set about my objective for 100 days. After all, 3 and a bit months is longer than a lot of relationships last!

Was it what I thought it would be? Yes and no. The volume crept up on me as predicted but it was nowhere near being the lonely endeavour that I had anticipated it to be. I can't thank my merry band enough for their companionship over the 100 days. It also turns out that I'm still powerless in the face of my own inclination to do something stupid! But it turns out that, like so many things in life, that is a potential strength as much as it is a trap waiting to snare me! Depends which way you point it!

So, what's next?


Popular Posts

Competition without competing

Burpees Anybody?

Review and Apology

The 100 day burpee ladder...the beginning