Why, oh Why, Did I Do The Burpee Challenge Again?
Back in March 2020 Damien Browne posted a 14 Day Burpee Challenge to Instagram. The goal was to perform as many hand-release Burpees in a minute on day one. On each subsequent day you have to beat your previous score in the same time and then add another minute of torture! Ireland had just entered a national lockdown and with nothing better to do I decided it would be an easy way to keep myself occupied. Boy was I wrong. It was a horrible challenge (which I secretly loved, lol). You can read more about my first experience of the 14 Day Burpee Challenge by clicking here. Afterwards, I swore I’d never do something so stupid again. Fast forward eighteen months later and I’m back at it again for a second time. So why, oh why, did I do the Burpee Challenge Again? Read on and you’ll find out my reasons as well as what I got from it this time around! But first let me give you some context.
The Big Why
Like all great decisions I make, I undertook the challenge this time around in the spur of a moment. I was talking to a client of mine, Stefan. We had just committed to climbing the #Big4in24 in three weeks. I felt we needed a mini-challenge to sharpen our minds when tired and the Burpee Challenge was just the programme I felt. From past experience, I knew it was time-short, physically tough and mentally draining over the 14 days. It was the perfect solution. The only issue was that I had a family holiday in Italy in the middle of the 14 days – this was not going to be pretty!!
The Early Days of the Burpee Challenge
Days one to five are the honeymoon period with the Burpee Challenge. They’re tough because everything is new but they are also relatively brief. Building on my experience from the first challenge, I found my breath and movement rhythms nice and early. I was nose breathing throughout the challenge and I paired my inhale and exhale with phases of the burpee. All in all, it led to a very meditative workout. This helped me immensely to eek out some extra reps in those early days in comparison to the first time around. Things were moving smooth but in the back of my mind, I knew the challenge hadn’t kicked in yet really.
The Mid-Challenge Slump
Day five onwards began to get quite tough. The minutes were racking up and the mind started to be challenged at this point. I was still nasal breathing, my rhythm was good and reps were decent. Although I was now doing comparing myself to Stefan and Daryl (another colleague we roped into the #Big4in24). The two boys were kicking my ass in reps and this put some pressure on me to up my game.
Day seven was a breaking point for me. All day my mind was nagging at me to stop the challenge and go easy on myself. It’s so clever too. The thoughts in my head were insidious – slippery like a snake. They didn’t just jump out and say “stop”, rather they courted and grinded me down hour by hour. I was thinking about the challenge going to sleep, when I woke up in the morning and all day. It was becoming all consuming. This had to stop. I had to change something.
I realised that I had no structure to the Challenge. I was doing my Burpee’s whenever I got the chance. In between clients, after workouts or before dinner – I’d fit in the challenge whenever I could. As the days were progressing I found myself performing the Burpee’s most often in the evening between 5pm and 8pm. After day 7 I made the decision, I had to order my workout and then forget about it. On day 8 I was flying to Italy at 3am and travelling for the guts of 12 hours. If I was going to take control of my mind, then I’d have to get up early.
The Italian Leg
On day 8 I set my alarm for 3.20am. On the morning I actually woke up at 3.05am naturally and the first thing that popped into my mind was to get the Burpee’s done. At 3.10am on day 8 I began the challenge and absolutely killed it. Afterward I felt fantastic. It was just getting the challenge done early, it was more that I knew I had taken control of my mind for the day. I could now get on with the rest of my day and leave the rest of the challenge until tomorrow.
The following four days flew by. Once more I structured when I would perform the challenge in advance. I stuck to those times, nailed the challenge and moved on. I was still, lagging behind Stefan and Daryl however I could make the excuses that I was now on holidays. I was baking in 30degree heat, eating to my heart’s content and drinking wine every night. Being honest with myself, those excuses were flimsy and my results weren’t sitting too well with me. Was this a representation of what would happen on the mountains in the #Big4in24? Was I young enough, fit enough and tough enough to stay with the lads? I had to dig deeper than I imagined I could. I had to start that in the Burpees.
The Final Furlong
On day thirteen I eventually unleashed hell on myself. I opened up my mouth and began to really push my conditioning. Level one, level two and level three breathing were all employed. Heck, I was even breathing out of my ass I was pushing that hard!! (*yes that is a real thing by the way. Recent research has found that mice, rats and pigs can do it and it is thought humans do too. They’re even looking at oxygen therapy being used anally!! I’d rather just breathe better, lol). I upped my game, added another few reps to the previous day but unfortunately, I was still nowhere near the boys. The holiday fever had well and truly set in and I was in no fit condition physically. Overall I ended with 173 reps in 14 minutes and the boys with over 220. I was even shy on my reps compared to my original 14 Day Burpee Challenge. I had learned a lot about myself; my mind was certainly a lot stronger than it was when I began. Was I ready for the #Big4in24? Only time will tell.
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