On Saturday 20th January, I took on the first event of the 12/12 Challenge – 1000 burpees wearing a 10kg weighted vest.
Going into the event I had no idea how it would go or how long it would take. I had seen someone previously complete it in 4.5 hours, so my initial aim was to shoot for under that. I even set the goal of completing them in 3 hours. Optimistic to say the least.
The strategy going in was to break the burpees into sets of 5 right from the beginning. I would do 5, rest 10-20 seconds, do 5, rest slightly longer, and keep this pattern going for the whole thing. The first 250 felt good and I moved at a consistent pace. The next 200 I started to slow down, taking longer rest between sets. I had a break at 500 just to change my t-shirt, get some fluids on board and try and eat some food – although the last thing I wanted to do was eat. From 500 to 750 my pace had slowed down significantly and I was starting to reach muscle fatigue, having to rest far longer between sets and often resting at the bottom of a burpee!
When the last 250 came into sight I decided to push as much as I could, picking up a more consistent rhythm again all the way to the end.
Final time – 3 hours 25 mins
Mentally the hardest part of the challenge was between 400 and 750. This is where my body felt like it was starting to fatigue and I often had no energy left to push up from the floor. Despite the near physical breakdown, mentally I knew I was never going to quit, whether it took me 3 hours or 6 hours. I’d made myself accountable by telling people I was going to do it, I had a huge motivation in the cause that kept me fired up, and I’d already got so far through that it would have been stupid to stop!
Going into all these challenges this is going to be the fundamental piece of self-belief I need to maintain. I’m doing these challenges not only to raise money and awareness, but also to show that an averagely fit person can push themselves to achieve far more than they thought possible. It doesn’t matter if you run a marathon in sub 3 hours or 6 hours, or can swim the channel or four lengths of a pool. Embracing something that is a personal challenge is where we grow as individuals and learn that we are far more capable of what we may think. This is what I hope to prove during this 12/12 Challenge.
The two big lessons I learnt from this first challenge were:
- Support is essential – I was lucky enough to do this event at my gym W10 Fit, and roped a few of the coaches and my girlfriend into joining me on the condition they didn’t have to wear a vest! Although initially promising to do 500, Amy (@darchfit) ended up joining me for the whole thing and without that moral support and someone keeping me focused during the pain, I’m not sure I would have completed it anywhere near to the time I ended with.
- Nutrition is key – going into this event my diet hadn’t been great. Halfway through the burpees I really started to fatigue and a big part of that was not eating enough and fuelling myself sufficiently. Going forward I’m going to start experimenting with my diet, focusing on getting enough fuel in the days before the event and during the event itself.