The 100 day burpee ladder...the beginning

I've been squaring away my training log from the burpee ladder, a good time to reflect on the 100 days and see what, if anything, I managed to learn from it.

It started out innocently enough, as all daft ideas seem to. The final destination, the 100 reps, was already in my grasp. Admittedly, not within the grasp of all of the foolhardy band who joined me, but still manageable with only the slightest imagination. The challenge for me, or so I thought, would only be the day-to-day discipline.

I have acquired a reputation for being focused over the years which, I would maintain is largely unfounded. I'll take it because it suits but from my perspective, it has never seemed to fit that well. Of course, there is no smoke without fire, so this seemed like the thing to do to check it out. I get bored and easily distracted. In many walks of life, once the initial rush is done and the possibilities are explored, I found myself drawn to nail the job shut and move on. I've always, always, preferred breadth, sometimes just because, sometimes to keep options open and sometimes because I get sidetracked by a spin-off possibility coming off what I have been doing. 

Anyhoo, why labour this point? I have never stuck to very much of anything over time, so the ladder is as much a way to develop discipline as a challenge to it. Or at least, that's how I sold it to myself.

And as it turned out, over the first couple of weeks I found the most difficult thing to be remembering that I had burpees to do! But with the daily volume so low, that was not much of a difficulty. And then the gloss started to fade. The first couple of people from our band fell victim to distraction or injury and Day 100 seemed to be such a long time away.

For the first time, but not the last, the benefit of having a group on board came into play. How could I, so full of blood and thunder so recently, bail out on my team now? What encouragement would I offer were roles reversed?Just get today's done, leave the existential considerations for tomorrow. And so it came to pass. Doing them was not always satisfying but it was significantly less dissatisfying than waking up the next morning and feeling disappointed in yourself and knowing that you only have today to sort yourself out.

I passed at Day 22, having left it too late in the day I opted for not disturbing my sleep and hit the hay as I had an early start and long day ahead of me. Great logic but Day 23 found me sitting on an early train thinking less of myself and knowing that I had a long day ahead of me and would have a choice between double or quits that evening. Sure enough, I did not feel much more like doing the burpees that evening but I had to do them. So I did. And it was swift, and painless, well, as painless as burpees ever are!

The following week saw the seasonal d&v hit our household and with a nearly 12-month old on board, this was not a whole lot of fun. I felt a bit badger's arse as the week went on but mercifully otherwise unscathed so was able to muscle through. I tapped out on the Friday, spending my time instead either on or in the dunny. Saturday saw a kitten-like performance from me accompanied by some dry-heaving into the kitchen sink (no, this is neither big nor clever) but one of my old strengths came out - on this occasion quitting wasn't an option. That's not just machismo, it was like my flirtation with the marathon - I was just too stupid for stopping to actually occur to me. Back on track baby, back on track.

A week later, another side of me came out to play. Respected Strength & Conditioning coach, Dan John wrote "The goal is to keep the goal the goal. Everything that you add to the plan that is not part of the goal is going to be the problem. Don't do it"


Starting, despite some enduring dry heaving, to get the taste for the ladder, I thought about spicing it up a little. I'd already done single-leg burpees, burpees for distance, with a weighted vest, with kettlebells, what next?

Weeeeell, it is Remembrance weekend... So let's do something commemorative but burpee-ish... OK, the Royal Marines were first formed in 1664...there are 3 RM Commando Units (40 Commando - the good lads of which have beaten me up on numerous occasions; 42 Commando - a couple of whom have also had a pop, and 45 Commando - thanks to their being based in Scotland, I haven't had the pleasure!). Good, that's the beginnings of a plan. Let's take 16 as the number of reps of, well, burpees. Let's have 64 as, ooh, squats. Fine, but could be like having an omelette in a curry house - sure you're eating out but where's the flavour? Got it! Weighted vest! As if my "low centre of gravity" is not enough weight to be heaving around!

Yep, that sucked! Sweaty, ugly, lung-bursting...the session, not me! Of course, I do need to remember that I have to be able to sustain the regular, repeated activity for the duration of the balance of the 100 days. Meh, that's tomorrow's problem! Besides, there is a fine line between sensible precaution and cowardice masked by a healthy dose of "logic-ing"

Sunday 11th - day 42. A little leaden legged but buoyed by the gentle strains of Elgar's Nimrod -variations and inspired by the sight of the weighted vest still struggling to dry after absorbing my perspiration the night before. Actually, this one wasn't as bad as it could have been and aside from the jumps at the end of each rep was just what my legs needed to get moving again.

Days 46 thru 49 seemed to be such misshapen numbers, so in the interests of boosting their self-esteem, let us round those out to 50 each. I'm sure that had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the mid-burpee shivering fit on day 50 itself. OK, I admit it, at about rep 30 when I should have been sweating like a journo at an ethics exam, I found myself shaking like a dog having a dump. At this point, a little voice in my head tried to convince me that maybe I should stop for today. "Listen," it seemed to say, "the chattering of your teeth is the rumble of the tumbril wheels on the cobbled road to bed." But another voice, harsher, louder and with more than a passing resemblance to Adrian Edmondson seemed to bawl in response "shut up you pretentious ponce". It was a short but persuasive argument, and without further ado, and actually, with very little extra investment of time, the balance was seen off. It's almost like the aggressive part of me knew!

And so to bed. Shivering, to sleep, perchance to file the dual lesson of determination and brevity of the sessions.

We're half-way through the days...


  1. Good on you Fester :)

    Ok, you had me at the first burpee, I'm going to go through the 100 days of being the BigBurpee. Wish me the best

    Enjoy your writing!

  2. Thanks for the kind comments Miles.

    More importantly, good on you, welcome aboard the burpee train!

    I won't say too much now because it is your challenge to explore, enjoy and hate! But keep in touch, let us know how you're getting on (either here or @yayburpees on twitter). Look forward to sharing your achievement mate


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