Saturday, 1 February 2014

January Challenge

Firstly, a bit of context. For the last several years January has been a difficult month. Darker nights, post-Christmas, back to the grind of work etc etc. Same old same old. From what I've observed, I'm not alone.

With the threat of the new year ringing in my ears, I decided to set myself a challenge this year to see if it could tide me through the most depressing mid-winter month.

It was a fairly mild January, certainly in my part of Scotland, and I felt blessed to have these conditions in comparison with what I saw in the news of the freezing conditions in North America. (Southern parts of the UK have suffered with horrendous flooding too..)

Anyway, to my challenge. I aimed for around half an hour of exercise each day throughout the month. I used to record  the details of each day. The results have surprised me.

I've never been into exercise that much. I only considered it after a counsellor suggested that it is proven to reduce incidences of depression and I felt that I needed to give it a go. I started with cycling and moved onto running. I bought some equipment for my makeshift garage gym: a punchbag; a cross-trainer. My brother-in-law bought me some military fitness ropes for Christmas and lent me his 12 kg kettlebells. 

My mapmyrun dashboard tells me that I travelled 131.18 km in January, two-thirds of those on foot and one-third on my bike. This time last year I could only dream of doing that. I completed 33 workouts over 17 hours. I took part in the parkrun phenomenon that is now making tracks all over the world. Apparently I shed over 9000 calories in the month.

None of this is meant as boasting. I don't want you to say well done at the bottom of the page. I write this simply to ask you to consider if you need to exercise more as an antidote to the dark days of winter. Every year I hear sad stories around this time and maybe we could all encourage each other with a bit of positive peer-pressure in the exercise stakes.

I'm thinking about making this an annual event in my life and want to ask others to join me. Put it in your calendar, select a month and go for it. It doesn't have to be high intensity stuff. Walking is as good as anything. Let people know and let them encourage you. I've been amazed by the amount of people who have given me a "thumbs-up" on social media and face-to-face. It's really made my month.

Finally, I have to add that this exercise of discipline has had the major spin-off of helping to rekindle my spiritual life too. It's somehow become easier to focus on "soul life", having pushed the body to the limit. Having been forced to dropout of work for a while just over a year ago due to stress and anxiety/depression, I've found fresh encouragement in this scripture:

God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.

So, what about it? You might want to consider joining me next January (or any other suitable month), from wherever you are-set yourself a challenge, and go for it!
Makeshift garage gym scene!


  1. 131 kilometers in January? Wow. That's awesome man. I do agree that exercise can life one's spirits tremendously. It increases serotonin in the brain. I began regular exercise in 2008 and it changed my life.

    1. Thanks Keith-glad to hear that-the energy is transferred into your blogging and zest for life :)

  2. its good stuff man...i have been exercising a bit more this january as well...wanting to tone up and feel better about getting older a bit...ha...its interesting how our disciplines lead into each other....very cool on the rejuvenation of your spiritual life man....

    1. Maybe it's the getting older thing with me too Brian :)

  3. Hello! If I'm not able to get outdoors, power walk a minimum of three miles every day .... my mood is seriously jeopardized! I can relate. I also use five pound kettle balls (I know, not terribly heavy ... arms, shoulders love them. Have a great weekend!!!

    1. Thanks Helen. Great to hear about your exercise regime. It does work doesn't it!

  4. That's wonderful, David. The only exercise I do is walking and I really need to do more than that. This is an inspiring post. Loved the poem, too, and nice pictures :)

    1. Walking is a great kind of exercise. Thanks for that :)

  5. Very cool! Depression is such a killer, and I agree, exercise and all those endorphins make an amazing difference. "God doesn't come and go. God lasts." Perfectly said and true! You have really encouraged me today David, thank you.

    1. Thanks for that Jennifer-much appreciated!

  6. ND, you brought a big smile to my face and mind when you said that you're spiritual life has been rekindled. It definitely shows in the scripture paraphrases you've shared.

    As for myself, the winter months are and always have been my preferred season. The cold, the snow, the shorter days of light, in them i find my alone time.

    Keep the faith, run the race.

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words, sir!


Thanks for leaving a comment. Have a great day :)

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