First of all I think I need to explain the lack of content on Now We Live in recent months. Basically, I've been busy. A heck of a lot of travelling in 2017. Vienna, Barcelona, Romania, Malta and the nearly month-long trip around the US. Combine that with pushing that boulder up the hill just to watch it roll down, and lots of hours in the gym and writing for another website and studying my MSc... yeah, I've been busy.
In late October I received an email from the Gym Group. It caught my eye because they were teaming with the Movember Foundation to get people moving, and in doing so raise money for the Movember Foundation. This charity help with cancer support and mental health support in men. According to their data three out of four suicides are male. Men also live shorter lives than women. So a worthy charity in my opinion.
I considered some of the challenges that were suggested as standard, but felt they were a bit too easy. After all, a challenge is supposed to be challenging or there is not really much point. I decided to do a virtual version of the Land's End to John O'Groats cycle challenge. This is the route from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland (or you can do the other direction; top to bottom as it feels a bit more like going downhill if you go North to South I think). A bit of google-fu suggested the distance is 1,407 km. I would complete the distance through cycling on the stationary bike and through everyday walking. Assuming I worked out every day in November, I would need a daily average of 47 km to hit that distance in 30 days.
November 1st: 64.7 km
November 2nd: 65.92 km
November 3rd: 80.43km
November 4th: 67.04km
After four days I had nearly hit 280km. At this point I was in a bit of pain from the hours of sitting on a saddle. A shopping trip and dedicated cycle shorts helped me kick on.
November 5th: 36.67 km
The first of only four days where I didn't hit my daily target.
November 6th: 61.81km
November 7th: 80.22 km
November 8th: 88.13 km
November 9th: 83.28 km
I had the goal of smashing through as many km as I could before the 10th as that would be my first day back in the office and I would not be able to continue with four or more hours at a time in the gym.
November 10th: 45.06 km
The second day I did not hit the target. However, I did recalculate that due to the advances I had built up, my daily target had now reduced to 37 km.
November 11th: 9 km.
My worst day. I didn't feel great and needed a rest.
November 12th: 80.38 km
November 13th: 52.79 km
November 14th: 44.15 km
November 15th: 42.09 km
At this point the I was in a routine. I was keeping up with my weight training, which comprised a three day split; chest and triceps, back and biceps and a leg day. At this point, I had to make a decision to cancel leg day. I simply did not have the strength to do this much cycling and a weights workout on my legs.
November 16th: 48.99 km
November 17th: 50.74 km
November 18th: 53.52 km
November 19th: 74.38 km
November 20th: 45.06 km
At this point, my daily target had been reduced to just 25 km. However, I needed to complete the challenge by the 27th as my hours of work would be longer at that point. I wanted this challenge done.
November 21st: 46.76 km
November 22nd: 46.01 km
November 23rd: 49.00 km
November 24th: 5.4 km
November 25th: 35.78 km
November 26th: 49.93 km
Total: 1,407.23 km
The actual finish was a bit of an anticlimax in a way. I don't know what I was expecting, but I finished and looked up and saw loads of people working out. I know, rationally, that no one else probably knew what I was doing, but still...
The surprising thing for me about this challenge was the mental side. It was more mentally exhausting than physically. I was fine hitting the gym twice a day, sometimes three times for weights and cardio. Typically, an average 30 minute workout on the bike would yield around 12.5 km. That is roughly 112 hours of cycling; 4 and a half days. All that time staring at either Netflix on my phone, or just the bike's computer display. It was pretty dull, but this brings up an interesting debate. Would it have been more or less difficult to do this challenge for real?
In some ways it was definitely easier. I could return home for breaks and have a good meal to refuel. There were no major hills to climb and I was protected from the elements. In some ways it was more difficult though. For a start, when you are cycling in a real world situation you can often coast without peddling. You can go for fairly long distances just on momentum on even a slight downward angle. Also, mentally you are more engaged as you observe the world around you. It has been a goal of mine to do this cycling challenge for real at some point. Maybe I'll get round to it once I've got a bit more free time.
I think the Gym Group could have done more to engage with customers in the Sheffield branch. From what I can tell, almost all the people doing the challenge in that team are staff with only a couple of paying customers. I guess I just feel like it hasn't been promoted much, and there wasn't the team spirit I was hoping to find. It was more of a case of me on a bike hour after hour.
Anyways, the main point was to raise money for the Movember Foundation. As of writing, I'm on £236 against a target of £250. I just need £14 more to hit that target and I would class that as a job well done.
If you are interested in contributing, you can find my fundraising page on the Movember site, here:
Thanks for reading, and extra special thanks to everyone who has sponsored me and who has supported me throughout the month. Thanks to all of you who made the time to talk to me about this challenge and ask me about my progress. I really appreciate it.
Critic. Writer. Thinker. Observer. Creator of nowwelive.com.