First thoughts on the burpee year.


I was lucky enough to get some coverage in the Bristol Post at the end of this latest burpee journey. The headline, and most of the comments I have had from people have focused on the 71,500 total burpees. The attention has been nice although a little odd since it simply doesn't feel like that big a deal.

Let me clarify that. It isn't some sort of false modesty or humble brag. Truly. Firstly, the fact that I can do it, and have done it, strips the mystery away. It means that it is doable. And it is doable by the average, I would say normal but I think most people would miss the statistical nuance and focus on the fact that a predilection for burpees is anything but normal! Where was I? Oh yes, if it is doable then its achievement does not merit much more than a tick in the box and confirmatory nod.

Second, I'm embarrassed by some of the suggestions of my fitness. Certainly that has inevitably improved in the last 12 months but other than that, I feel a bit of a fraud. There were a couple of extended effort days chasing a running total or as a twofor day (which sucked) but those apart, while I certainly made a meal of some of the sessions (especially in the middle third) I would have to say that I have done harder things than any given single day in the year. I would not recommend that a novice jumps in with 300 burpees but each day's total is readily achievable – perhaps not in one session for everybody , but achievable nonetheless. The difference is that I did every day. I started at 1 and built up and I didn't stop because I didn't fancy it or because something sexier/ shinier/ more exciting came along.

Unusual, not exceptional.

If you insist on saying exceptional, then it is about the task not the person doing it. It is about the execution, not the capability.

I made this about as easy for myself as I could get away with. True, burpees aren't the easiest exercise in the world. You can't completely zone out of them and they work you hard. But. They're simple, hard but not impossible, need minimal equipment and space and in theory offer some consequential benefits. You need a robust floor but that's it. You don't need to leave your home to do them. You don't need specialist, or indeed, any shoes or clothes. How much more excuse free could you hope to make it?

Simply put, the only possible reasons for nto doing them would have been me! All in all, it meant that I could focus on the point of the exercise - not the burpee, the challenge of dedicating myself to something, focused and committed, for an extended period, for once in my life!

Somebody said to me that they don't get the point of burpees. That it was like saying that you were good at a technical but pointless movement.

I have garnered a bit of a one-dimensional reputation of late (I am pretty sure that successfully navigating the burpee year has not helped with that!) but in spite of that, burpees are a tool. They have multiple uses but they aren't a universal truth!

The burpees aren't significant in themselves and whether the effect of them is important or significant is a subjective call (like running, reading, recreational sex etc etc). Playing sport is of itself a demonstration of skill. Whether it is important or why is that important? That discussion is a pub fight waiting to happen!

Given my propensity to overthink things, this next comment may seem a bit rich, but there comes a time when you just need to stop thinking and get on with it. Start because you've decided to. Then, progress, little by little and deal with it as it comes. This is as much about the thinking that gets in the way of all of our performance as it is about my discomfort with praise.

The binary or perfectionist thinking is a pain. It is a multi-faceted monster. As you may have noticed, I am not overly-burdened by perfectionist concerns. However, for me it is more pitched as a fear of making a tit of myself (if you've watched the video, you'll probably find that hard to believe)! So I get it, I really do. But it still dismays me to see it hamstring people so badly, whether in my corporate life or my sporting one. People who can't get a document done because it is never quite ready. Or the people who don't commit to a drill for fear that they might not finish or might be worn out by the end. It's training or practice lads - this is the ideal place to make mistakes - you have far more time and space to stop, highlight the learning and use it. Real time learning is oh so hard. Doable but you can't hit the pause button to do it. As for other things? We're human, we'll never have perfect or complete knowledge. Work with what you've got. Generate some movement. You'll surprise yourself and others and where you end up.

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