The benefits of completing a challenge

Well, what a great way to start the new year.  By that, I don’t mean the heavy cold that started on 26 December and has long outstayed its welcome.  No, I mean the exercise challenge I set myself early in December.

By pure chance I began my December 30 day challenge at just at the point when I would finish it on 1 January.  And I managed to complete it – so that was four and a bit weeks when I achieved 3 x 30 minute sessions on the rower.

I did it when I really wanted to, and I listened to something interesting on the radio while I did so (usually an edition of From Our Own Correspondent – sometimes sad and distressing, sometimes amusing, but always interesting and informative).

I did it when I really didn’t want to, when I really had to force myself.  Because I was tired, or starting a cold, or just plain lazy.  I listened to the radio, I did my 30 minutes rowing, I felt better for it.  And I certainly felt better for having done what I promised myself I would do.

I did it when I was brewing a cold, when I was struggling with insomnia, when I was just out of sorts.

Light at the end of the Tunnel

What I learnt was:

  • feeling lazy is just that: feeling lazy.  Not actually a note excusing me from taking part
  • no harm came to me from doing exercise when I just didn’t fancy it
  • after each and every session (every single one), no matter how I felt when I started, by the end I felt much better
  • plus I felt proud of myself for having forced myself to do it when I didn’t want to
  • sometimes in life, you really can do the things you either don’t believe you can do, or you just don’t want to do

Of course, I already knew all of that.  But it does no harm to remind myself of it again from time to time.

And I do recall that when life was tough at different times for different reasons, I went back to those moments when I had taken on earlier challenges, and reminded myself that I had done what at the time felt impossible.  And I carried on, and I survived it.

At times that meant adjusting to a new reality – when what at first looked like a sprint turned into a middle distance, and ended up being not just a marathon but more like an iron-man, we had to change the support we could offer accordingly, just to be able to survive it.  But survive it we did.

American Museum, outside the Kaffe Fassett exhibition

Of course, what counts as a challenge will be something different for each of us.  I am fit and healthy, and my challenges are a world away from the challenges of someone who is ill and struggles simply to get through the day.  But a challenge is a challenge, for all that, and the lessons are there to be had.

2014-06-25 16.42.49

You don’t run a marathon by just getting out there and doing it. You train long and hard for it, and even then struggle to complete it.   The most important thing I’ve learnt through taking on physical challenges is that in life as in sport, you can build your own resilience and ability to endure.

About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
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4 Responses to The benefits of completing a challenge

  1. Karen Lucas says:

    I am impressed with your accomplishment and had just one question. What is the marker at the base of the tree which seems to read ‘Fairy’ and 15?


    • Oh well spotted! Up in a wood on the Bath Skyline (Rainbow Woods) th National Trust has installed a number of these ‘fairy doors’ at the base of trees. I think there may be a trail for children to follow. Anyway, they appealed to the big child in me, and make me smile whenever I see them. Each one is different. Just a tiny bit of magic sparkle dust on the everyday.


  2. What an inspiring post. You have certainly inspired me.


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