Biologist on a Bike

What’s next, you ask? #360ActiveDays

I promised some aftermath posts as I readjusted to “normal” life, and I still have a few of those planned. I also plan to take some time and review some of my more important gear. But right now I want to address one of the questions I’ve gotten a lot over the past month

“What are you going to do next?”

I expect most people meant that to mean what big adventure will I set my sights on next. It’s a good question and one I’m not sure of the answer to. The Appalachian Trail is definitely something I’d love to experience, but given my summer time constraints I’d have to split it up into at least two summers. And I don’t think I want to do a major trip every summer. Maybe every two or three years I might, but not every single one.

The highest point of the Trans America Bicycle Trail. It was not all downhill from there.

Even if I’m not going to undertake some epic journey next summer, I did find myself wanting to do something. When I returned to work to get ready for the semester, I was in what was possibly the best mental health place I’ve been in a long time, and I credit my ride. That and having an extra two weeks after finishing the ride before starting work.

But it’s so easy for me to just slip back into routines. Left to my own devices, I tend to be a night owl. When that conflicts with the need to get up early, I often end up going to bed late, getting up early, and going through the day like a grumpy zombie. Occasionally it gets to the point where I have to take a nap instead of doing whatever workout I had planned because I’m so tired that the healthiest thing I can do is sleep.

I don’t want that. I want to hold on to how I felt physically and mentally when I was riding every day. I may not be able to devote 8 hours to a ride every day any more, but that doesn’t mean I can’t strive for more consistency in my activity schedule. Pair that with the approach of my 36th birthday and an idea was born.

 

360 Active Days

 

The plan: be active 360 days in the next year.

That’s insane, you might be thinking. You need recovery days or it won’t be sustainable. Don’t worry. I may be a bit ambitious here, but I am striving for sustainability, and “active” doesn’t have to mean “intense.”

To be an Active Day, I will do at least one of the following

  • 30 minutes or more of cardio. This could include running, cycling, swimming, martial arts, or any other aerobic athletic The word athletic is important. Housework, even if it is aerobic at times, does not count. I want this to be activities beyond those necessary to keep my house in order.
  • Weight lifting or bodyweight training session. Here I mean more than a set of pushups. The workout should contain at least 3 sets of at least 6 exercises.
  • 10,000 steps. And this is where I’m working in recovery days. I know this number was originally picked somewhat arbitrarily, but I think it works. On a normal day without a workout, I am unlikely to hit this number without taking a walk, so it’s high enough to force an effort. On the other hand, taking 10,000 steps takes much longer than a 30 minute bike ride or a weightlifting session, so I’ll be motivated to do the other activities when possible so as to not waste time I could spend on something else.

Getting 36 off to a good start! It was too early for smiles, though.

What do I hope to gain?

Many people, including myself, pick specific athletic goals or events to prepare for. Riding a bike across the country, running a marathon, being able to swim 100 laps of a pool in an hour, being able to walk 3 miles. That’s a great motivation and it gives you a clear goal to strive for and it works for a lot of people.

The thing is, I have a habit of lapsing after the goal is over unless there is another goal right in front of me. Oh, I raced my 5K. Good for me. Time to take a week off from running. Not that I let myself get to the point that the average person would call me out of shape, but I don’t consistently build off my achievements without at least some regression. For example, although I’ve been going to the gym and tang soo do classes, I haven’t taken my touring bike out for a ride since I finished my tour. (Some of that, admittedly, is because I’ve been too busy to take it to the shop for a tune-up.) I decided that what I need is not an event goal but a consistency goal. I want to establish a healthy and sustainable routine.

I don’t (just) want to set a race PR (I have no races planned, but maybe that will change); I want to establish a way of life.

While my eyes are focused on getting my body moving, to accomplish this 360 days out of the next 365, other aspects of my life will also have to be adjusted. A healthy and regular sleep schedule so that I have the energy for my activity, for example. I can guess at some changes that will have to be made beyond better sleep habits, but I’m sure others will be a surprise.

One friend asked me yesterday who else is doing this with me. I had to shrug. I’m calling this my “birthday resolution” and I want to post about it to share the journey and to help hold myself accountable, but it didn’t even occur to me that somebody would want to join in until she asked.

So, hey anybody who is interested, please join in the fun and get active. You don’t need to wait until January 1st to make a resolution. You don’t even need to wait until a birthday, mine just happened to be conveniently soon when I decided I needed a good goal, so it worked out that way. I could just have easily have begun on Sept 1st instead of Sept 7th. Pick what counts as active for you and strive to hit #360ActiveDays for yourself as well.

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