I finished 2015 by participating in the Runner’s World Holiday Challenge. Every day beginning on Thanksgiving Day and ending on New Year’s Day, I ran at least a mile. As someone who enjoys running in the morning best, that meant at times waking up as early as 4:15 or 4:30 on a workday to squeeze in a mile or two before getting ready for work.
I was not training for a race, I was not running to keep my weight down (although the health benefits are appreciated), and I did not keep rigorous track of my mileage or stats so I could post them on social media. Why, then, did I take this challenge which seemingly had more downside than upside?
Because it was there and I could.
One of the things that appealed to me about the challenge was that it gave me a goal to attain that I could do. I am not by any means an accomplished runner but I do run often and participate in races, so I knew that I could do a least a mile a day. It was more of the psychological rigor – could I challenge myself every day, even on the biggest rest and relax holidays, to take time to run at least a simple mile. Some days were definitely harder than others – I think my Christmas morning run after being up until 1:30 AM was a 15 minute mile – but every day I did it, I felt a small sense of accomplishment.
What if I had injured myself or needed to quit? I would have been mildly disappointed but it would not have ruined my day. I would have tried and failed, and had a chance to move on to my next challenge.
Looking back on this made me think about the benefits of a low-risk challenge, and there are many. Small tasks like these, done regularly, are a small boost that helps move the day along. When things were not stellar at work or the kids were all over the place at home, and I would feel like an abject failure, I at least had a small victory to fall back on. No matter what happened that day, I had run a mile.
One of the things I want to do in 2016 is do more of these small challenges, and not just for running. I aim to do more challenges in my spiritual life, mental life, and yes writing life. That way, I have a small victory every day, no matter what.
What are some of your small challenges you’ve taken on and succeeded in doing?