14 days, 106 minutes 32 seconds and 1325 burpees later and what did I learn from @auld_stock’s 14 #burpeechallenge? Actually, quite a bit more than I expected at the outset. Before we glean those insights, let’s begin with my starting point: 
 
I haven’t done even one burpee in God knows how long, at least a decade. 
The challenge started in the early days of the 2020 Covid Lockdown. 
I was looking for an event that would challenge me but not take up my whole life (I was way to busy under lockdown for that one!) 
I didn’t think this would be that tough or long to do. 
I knew I’d have some craic with other people online doing it. 
Damien’s outlook to the challenge was not to be the best but to gain insights into your own state of mind as you go through the challenge. That outlook appealed to me. 
 
What did the challenge entail (as laid out by Damien Browne, @auld_stock) 
 
14 days of burpees 
 
1 minute day one, 2 minutes day two……14 minutes day 14. 
 
You should match your previous days score in the same time and then add extra reps in your final minute (ie. Lets say I hit 50 reps on day 4 in 4 minutes. On day 5 I need to hit 50 reps in 4 minutes and then add more in the fifth minute, capiche?) 
 
What happened during the challenge: 
14 days of burpees 
 
1 minute day one, 2 minutes day two……14 minutes day 14. 
 
You should match your previous days score in the same time and then add extra reps in your final minute (ie. Lets say I hit 50 reps on day 4 in 4 minutes. On day 5 I need to hit 50 reps in 4 minutes and then add more in the fifth minute, capiche?) 
 
What happened during the challenge: 
 
My three daughters (age 10, 9 and 2.5 years) joined me from day two – that was awesome! 
I found the early days very tough to find a rhythm (day 1 – 7). 
During days 8-11 I found my flow. My breath connected to the movement and linked my state of mind during the event. It was only in the latter days that I felt I could really push my boundaries (days 12-14). 
As I became challenged in the event I failed to make the previous days burpees on five occasions. 
As I got to grips with each ‘phase’ of the challenge I found a flow state which catapulted my results within one session. 
I set a mini challenge of 200 burpees in one day by the end – I reached 181 and failed that target but continued to finish it beyond the time. 
I completed the challenge 
 
Now that we have all the nitty gritty details about the event and what happened, what did I actually learn from doing the event? Was it worthwhile? 
 
Insight 1 – Shodan (the beginner) 
 
I am very aware of my breath and movement anyway. Even as a seasoned breath and movement practitioner I found it incredibly difficult to link this ‘new’ movement to my breath in the early days. It took me a long while to find that rhythm and so I struggled. I struggled to find form, struggled with number of reps, struggled whether I would complete the challenge and struggled with my ego. 
In my head I knew I should be kicking ass with the event (at least in the early days) but in reality I sucked. I had to remember, in this event I was shodan – the beginner. 
 
Insight 2 – Flow State is a Process 
 
Flow or the ‘zone’ used to feel like a random occurrence to me. This challenge reminded me that Flow state is a process, like any other. Any time we start something new, we are uncomfortable and we want to find that comfort again. If the event is truly a challenge then finding my way back to comfort in the pressure of an event is, not just my first goal, it is my only goal for the event. The process of finding comfort in the uncomfortable is not just luck. It is a trained process that simply takes time and skills. The appeal of this event, was that Damien recognised that approach (it’s the same way he trains and lives). Like Damien, my goal was not to achieve or to win or to get to the end. My goal was simply to synchronize my being – to get into flow state whilst pushing myself physically. It may have taken time but when it came good, it delivered 
 
Insight 3 – The pillars of Flow State are Always the Same 
 
The synchornization of movement, breathing and self talk set me in a flow state. The more practised I become at one linking these three attributes, the quicker I drop into flow state. 
 
Insight 4 - Now What? 
 
I found flow – woop-di-doo, now what do I do with it? Flow state is not an end in itself. It is a means to achieve more. In this case, finding my rhythm enabled me to push the boundaries of what I was capable of in the event. There was a time mid-way through I didn’t think I’d even break 100 burpees. But once I found that rhythm, magic happened. I leaped 15 and 20 reps day on day when I couldn’t even progress by 5 previously. 
 
Then I would hit a speed bump in the road. I’d max out that learning and something in my rhythm would give. On one occasion it was my self-talk, on another it was my breath. Once the rhythm is lost, the flow is lost – time to get to work and find it again. It becomes a never ending learning curve in the process. I was never the same person on two different occasions and so the finding of flow when I was under pressure became a moving target. 
 
Insight 5 – Fellowship is priceless 
 
My kids joined me on day two of the event. All three of them – the Juliette (2.5 years), Genevieve (9 years) and Beatrice (10 years) joined me in the burpee challenge. Their participation in the challenge was the most joyful experience of the whole event. Watching them train daily, suffer together and have fun was a joy to behold. The challenged forged a bond between the whole family which is still noticeable two months later. If the challenge did nothing else for me, it was worth it just for that. I now know mini-challenges like this one are key to creating a healthy and supportive family life. 
 
Since the event what has changed? 
 
Nothing and everything. 
 
Life still goes on as it has (in lockdown 8 weeks later as I write this) but how I live my life has changed. I have connected some of the dots more clearly now than I had before and I understand the power of mini-challenges more greatly. The insights I’ve gleaned from the burpee challenge have outweighed the insights I’ve gained from some of my previous ‘bigger challenges’. Harnessing the power of doing something a little uncomfortable everyday is a great teacher. 
 
Thank you to Damien for inspiring this one. I am truly greatful for all that I experienced and learned from it. Onwards and upwards. 
 
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