Hitting the Challenge Wall

As my regular readers know, my husband and I are involved in a year-long outdoor physical activity challenge called A for Adventure.

We're the perfect targets for this sort of challenge.

Before taking it up, we lived highly sedentary interior lives. My husband suffers from agoraphobia and finds being outdoors to be a trigger for anxiety, rather than restoring a sense of balance and calm.

I suffer from fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivities and chronic fatigue.

Not surprising, then, that having both turned 50, we developed Type 2 diabetes. We had already begun to go for several walks per week in order to increase our activity level, just around our neighborhood.

Then I happened upon a newspaper article about the A for Adventure challenge. The original challenge is to go on 100 outdoor adventures for 100 days in a row. This can be anything from going for a walk, going for a swim, riding a bike, rock climbing, canoeing, you name it.

I knew right away that Brad could never keep up such a pace because of his agoraphobia. As for me, 100 days of physical activity in a row is not great pacing for my pain and fatigue levels.

So we modified the challenge and made it a year-long event. We're now one month and 13 walks away from the finish line.

As with every marathon, however, there is a point where one hits the wall. For runners, there is even science behind why this occurs:

A few years ago, Benjamin Rapoport of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology asked himself these questions and answered them by creating a mathematical model. He found that the primary factors that determine how fast and how far a runner can run before glycogen depletion occurs are aerobic capacity (or VO2 max), the mass of the runner’s leg musculature relative to the mass of the rest of the body, and the concentration of glycogen stores in the leg muscles and liver. -- Matt Fitzgerald, Competitor 

All very well.

However, having participated in the NaNoWriMo November writing marathon several times, as well as other blog-related challenges, I can say with assurance that non-runners hit the wall without any sort of glycogen depletion being a factor.

For Brad and me, it's taken several pressing issues to find us pushing our own personal envelopes in order to head out for four adventures, four days in a row this week.

Having calculated that we needed to head out for 8 walks per month, averaging out to two walks per week, we began the challenge with a workable pace.

However, as is certain to happen in the course of a year, unforseen snags presented themselves: Brad spent three weeks visiting his family to celebrate his mom's 75th birthday, I had pain and fatigue issues in December, Brad had an emergency appendectomy and spent part of January in the hospital, and our part of the world -- eastern Canada -- had a record amount of snowfall and various blizzards that threw our walking schedule out the window.

We headed into the final 3 months of our challenge needing to go for 13 walks per month instead of 8, if we were going to finish our challenge on time. This week, due to other appointment schedules, and in order to begin May in a strong position, we had to push through and go for a walk every day for four straight days.

I can assure you -- we certainly hit the wall, glycogen depletion or no glycogen depletion. It definitely confirmed for me that the 100 adventures, 100 days in a row is not for everybody. I would say that for the target group of sedentary people like my husband and myself, taking a modified approach may be the best choice, as it builds in success.

The fabulous news:

We made it through the 4 days in a row!

Because we knew we couldn't keep up the 100-days-in-a-row pace, we added an extra challenge of going for 100 walks in 100 different places. Here, Brad checks out a try-to-separate-the-pieces toy at the blacksmith's shop, Ross Farm Museum on Sunday

Strolling past the Victorian and Edwardian homes at the Five Corners section of Dartmouth on Monday

Another in Brad's 'I Surrender' photo series from this challenge, at Silver Sands Beach in Cow Bay on Tuesday

A woodland beach on Lake Charles on Wednesday 


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