1K Photo Challenge – Starting A Journal

A few weeks ago, Ransom Patterson, writer on College Info Geek, wrote an article about the importance of keeping a journal. Ransom found that since he started a journal he was able to develop a log that allows him to reflect on his life and see how he has developed over time.

Now when Ransom was talking about keeping a journal he mention how it’s more ideal to keep a daily journal rather than documenting one whenever you feel like it. This not only builds strong journaling habits, but also is a great way to express your thoughts and feelings on that day.

As some of you are aware, my Challenge List is a journal documenting milestones achieved in my life. When I first read about keeping a daily journal I figured doing it online only made sense for me. Although, when I look through all of my previous blog entries I found that a lot of them are formatted in a way that takes a while to write up. I felt that creating a daily journal here will not only require me to write a lot each day, but it will also take away from the entries that are there to reflect on each goal achieved on my list.

So, with that being said, I decided to create an online photo journal. A photo journal not only allows me to document each day visually, but also gives me the ability to write very brief descriptions about my thoughts and feelings that day. This photo journal will document one photo that involved a progression/event that has significance towards my goals.Every 30 days I will be taking the best/memorable/eventful photo and writing a reflection of that day. The reason why I call it a “1k Photo Challenge” is because I felt I needed an overall goal to motivate me for updating my daily journal. Since I like challenges, I thought I’ll make one that requires me to journal once day, for 1,000 days.

I’ve started this project about a month ago and already it has been a positive way for me to look back and see how much I’ve grown in just a mere 30 days. I recommend everyone to start a journal of their own and start writing in it every day. It has been a very encouraging way to go out and find adventure in life. If you have created a daily journal give a comment below on where it can be found and how it has been an influence for you.

Goal 29 Accomplished: Do Not Say “I” For An Entire Day

“Have you ever noticed how often we use the word “I” in a conversation. Whenever we do talk to someone it’s not difficult to accidentally make the conversation about ourselves.”

When I first heard this quote it made me more aware of how often I used the word “I” in a conversation. It was common for me start a conversation or chat with someone for a period of time and use the word “I” at some point. It got to the point where it was difficult to try not to use that word in my vocabulary whenever making conversation.

So in the start of 2016, I chose to challenge myself to completely remove the word “I” from my vocabulary for an entire day. This challenge would not only require me not to say “I”, but words that utilize “I” in abbreviation like, “I’m, I’ll, and I’d”. This challenge was not just limited to conversations spoken orally, but also through different forms of communication such texting, e-mailing, and IM’ing. To make sure there wasn’t a way to cheat this challenge, like staying quiet for the entire day, I made it required to be able to do this challenge only on days where I’m doing my regular duties. These were days where I was the most talkative whether it was when I worked, doing extracurricular activities, blogging, socializing, or other activities that required a lot of communication.

This challenge ended up being quite different than some of the others on my list. Instead of it being an accumulation of activities or one activity happening on a specific day/event, this was something that could be done every single day. This challenge meant there was a lot more room for failure throughout the year. So, when the year started I decided to take up this challenge right on January 1st. At first, I thought this challenge would be a bit difficult but possible after a handful of failures. However, despite being actively aware of not using the word “I”, it ended up taking me 114 consecutive days before successfully completing this challenge.

Doing this challenge ended up becoming quite the experience. When “I” was removed from my vocabulary it largely influenced the way I conversed with others. Trying to be aware of not using the word “I” ended up making me talk slower than usual, often making me think about what to say for a good 1-2 seconds before actually speaking. This ended up causing me to put a lot more thought into what to say order to convey a concise but meaningful message.

Although the most interesting aspect of not saying “I” was how much it shifted what to say during a conversation. Removing the word “I” from all conversations also removed most topics related to myself. This shifted about 95% of my conversation to either be more general or about the other person/people I was conversing with. This helped me realize how much people tend to like to talk about themselves.It felt like one of the easiest ways to make someone happy was to make the discussion about them. When they are talking about themselves they seem to be a lot more open towards sharing things about themselves and enjoyed my company more. Whenever I conversed with different strangers it was far quicker for them to be friendlier towards me than prior to when I started this challenge.

Even though this challenge is completed, the habit of trying not to say “I” still has stuck with me. Many of my conversations have now shifted to rarely talking about myself to instead making talking more about other person. I still have an awareness for speaking with others and find how little the word “I” is used. Not sure if this has became a temporary habit influenced by this challenge or if the result is more long term. Whatever the case, this challenge proved to be extremely difficult yet fun to do.

2016 Challenge List
29 Do not say “I” for an entire day

Zombies Run! Spring 2016 Virtural Race

This week I had the pleasure of running Six to Start’s 2nd Zombies Run! Virtual Race. As a new found lover of races, I thought this race would be the perfect chance to challenge myself and run my first race competitively. It also seemed excitingly to participate in a race that immerses you into a Post-Apocalyptic story throughout the run.For those of who may not be familiar with this app, I would highly recommend trying it out. I’ve done a review of the application which can be found here.

The best thing about doing a virtual race was that it meant I had more flexibility on when I can race.The Spring 2016 virtual race could be run any time between March 30th – April 11th. This time range helped lessen the work of revising my running schedule to work 20160401_170438around a specific date. Another positive side to this was that, since I could plan my own route, I was able to pick a running path that was as little uphill as possible. When March 30th rolled around I got a pack containing a shirt and an envelope saying “Open After Completing Mission”. The T-shirt was one of the most comfortable, breathable articles of clothing I’ve ever had for running gear. I was so excited to wear it I chose to push my Run’s date to occur several days earlier.

Race Day arrived so it was time to gear up and race. While this may not be my first race I’ve done, this was going to be my first competitive race. Being an avid long distance runner, I felt the best way to challenge myself was to attempt the 10k as fast as possible. So, I followed my race day with as much consideration as I did with my marathon. I made sure I was well-hydrated, filled with carbs, and wearing the right amount of clothing so I can go at an optimal pace. I clicked start on my mission and off I went.

Not repeating the same mistake as my marathon run, I made sure that my first half of the race was maintaining a constant pace throughout. During my run I was deep focused on breathing, “Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth”. Since I was not running a full 26.2 miler, I made a few changes to how I approached this run. When running downhill I did not slow myself down to maintain my pace, but kept my stride so my pace was slightly faster. When going uphill I pushed myself to go slightly faster so I did not lose pace during my run.

This worked out for me during the majority of my run, but by mile 5 I was starting to fe20160401_170758el the effects of my energy expenditure. However, what kept me going at my pace was the Zombies Run! Application reminding me just how much distance I had left. By the time I hit the 6 mile marker I thought, “Just .2 miles left to go, time to pick up the pace”. At this point I booked it into full sprint mode to reach the end of my run. I heard the wonderful words, “Race Over, you can stop running”, before I slowed down to a cool-down jog. The 90-second sound post-race sound clip playing at the end of the run was exactly what I needed to catch my breath without my blood pressure going out of control. When the words “Mission Completed” were announced I stopped running altogether and stretched out.

Normally after a run I stay away from drinks that contain calories, but today I felt like this 6-miler was different. I gave the run my all and managed to even achieve a PR (39:42] by the end of it. I had a Gatorade saved for the race which was drunk with pride. Six to Start put on one entertaining Virtual Race completed with some pretty sweet rewards. I am taking what I learned from this race to plan out my races in the future. To all my fellow racers out there, I hope you had fun and gave it your all.

Goal 45 Accomplished: Take a Yoga Class

If you had been following my blog back in November you may have noticed that I participated in this 16-month challenge called “Buff Buddies”. This challenge ended up being the push I needed to get back into serious training by working out every single day. Out of the seven days of working out I had dedicated one of these days to be a “rest day” to stretch out and do light exercises for muscle recovery.

One of the most influential workouts I took up since putting in rest days has been Yoga. I’ll be the first to admit that, while I have done Yoga following Youtube videos, I am still a total newbie at the practice. I felt that the only way to truly understand the power of Yoga would to at least be to consult an expert in the field. Since Buff Buddies was coincidentally occurring before 2016, I thought what better way to get into the sport than to put it in as a Challenge item.

When I went into the Spirit of the Lake Yoga I thought it was like stepping into a different world. The office was filled with a lots of herbal tea bags, natural oils, and prayer beads. I was greeted by a very eccentric, tan-skinned, instructor who had very little body fat.I signed up for the drop-in Beginner’s class then took my place on a mat in a room filled with two very fit twenty year-old dudes and about five middle-aged women. The atmosphere definitely felt slow and calming, a complete opposite from my usual environment training at the Parkour academy where you’ll find muscle-bound guys doing flips to the sound of Dubstep.

When I initially thought Yoga I thought of it as just doing a lot of stretching. To my surprise, there was a lot of meditative techniques that mixed into the class. We started the class by reviewing the seven chakras in yoga. We were going over the Fire Chakra, which basically came down to a lot of heavy breathing and a lot of positions meant to raise our body’s temperature. I found that a lot of the different sort of poses we had to hold wasn’t so difficult to do, but when it came to maintaining a rapid breath while being in a one legged plank, it ended being quite the feat.

After one hour of being put in different positions and doing rapid breathing we ended our session lying on the floor working on slow breathing techniques. Now that I was able to gather my thoughts I came to the realization that my body was stretched, hot, and dehydrated. I didn’t feel like Yoga was as excessive as the workouts I usually do, but my entire mind felt exhausted while my body felt awake. My sore muscles also felt a lot more relaxed by the end of class..

I felt very renewed afterwards. During the entire workout I was able to release my mind and decompress. The workout ended up being a calming experience that benefited me more mentally than it did physically. I personally am not a spiritual kind of guy, but I did feel like doing Yoga allowed me to be more grounded to the earth.

Spirit of the Lake Yoga felt like an extremely welcoming place that gave me a pleasurable experience different than what I’m use to in my workouts. If you are ever in the Minnetonka-Excelsior area I would highly recommend signing up for one of their classes. I am looking forward to coming back for one of their later workshops, Yoga for the Runner.

2016 Challenge List:
45 Take a Yoga Class

Buff Buddies Week 15: Wrapping Up

It’s nearing the last week of Buff Buddies. This entry will be another short one. The snow is starting to melt so I planned on doing one last snow boarding trip before winter ends.

Week 15 was definitely a fun week. My girlfriend and I have this traditional bad movie marathon where we would watch bad movies and eat junk food the entire day before Valentine’s Day. This year, however, we actually went with a less junk food filled route and stuck to more healthier options such as vegetables with hummus, zucchini bagel sandwiches, and tortellini soup. On Valentine’s day we set out to go hiking for several hours then chowing on Udon and catching the Deadpool movie.

The rest of the week I spent pushing myself in my Parkour training. I am working hard to get into the advance classes before this summer. I have been showing a lot of progress in such a short amount of time since joining the classes. Now that week 15 is over I will be moving on to the final week of Buff Buddies to do a recap of the entire adventure. Good luck to my fellow buff buddies on their final week!

Buff Buddies Week 12-14: Climbing Higher

It’s been a little while since my last Buff Buddies entry. I recently had some technical issues with my blog making me unable to post my latest update. The past 3 weeks have definitely been a mix of feelings from entertaining to exhausting to say the least.

In week 12 I continued on my personal challenge to do the Spartan Workout of the Day (WOD) every day. I ended up succeeding in nearly all of them, except for Saturday, which tasked me to run over 3 hours consecutively. Instead I went for a much shorter run then went rock climbing. I ended up knocking down a Buff Buddies fitness goal, where I successfully climbed a V4 route. I am proud that I’ve come so far in my rock climbing abilities since a year ago where I was dominated by my friend’s 12-year sister as she climbed V3’s with ease while I struggled with V1’s.

Week 13 was pretty eventful. The school work is starting to pick up so it was becoming more of a struggle to balance exercise, school, and work. I still managed to get in my workouts in by really pushing myself to complete my work. I felt that week 13 may have been one of the most stressful weeks to keep on exercising. In week 13 I was enrolled in my Parkour academy’s Level 2 classes. The Parkour academy I go to is now transitioning to a leveling system and will be creating advanced level classes(Level 3) later this year. From what I learned, Level 3 will be really intense, so I’m hoping to fine tune my techniques in Level 2 before testing into the Level 3 classes.

Week 14 was a very entertaining week. I enrolled in a martial arts class to learn how to sword fight. My friend was having a birthday party and I had a lot of fun doing more leisure workouts like bowling after my usual workout regime. On Saturday I was invited to a film festival and had trouble parking. I ended up parking 2 miles uphill and running back and forth to try to catch the film. I ended up being a little late due to how hectic traffic was, but I still got a great run from it. The day afterwards my girlfriend and I tried snowshoeing for the first time and went on a 3-hour long hike. At the end of the day we spent a good few hours having cocoa and building snowmen.

Only 2 more weeks until the Buff Buddies challenge is over. I hope everyone has been keeping up with their workout goals and finishing off with a high note!

Run From Zombies With Zombies Run!

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I’ll be the first to admit that my motivation for many of my runs was not simply to stay in shape but to assure I’m in top physical condition for the Zombie Apocalypse. You can imagine my excitement when I learned that there is an App out there that places you in the midst of a Zombie Outbreak where you complete missions by running.

Zombies Run! is a Six To Start application that has garnered a lot of popularity among the running community. The app relies on gamification, using game playing elements to other areas of activity, for players to experience a simulated zombie environment to collect items, complete missions, and build towns to protect themselves against the zombie horde. I touched a bit upon my experience with Zombies Run! in my marathon training and mentioned just how enjoyable it was to be immersed in a fictitious story while jogging
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So what’s the story? You start off as a runner who just survived a helicopter crash. You are given the name, “Runner 5”, and must jog around to gather supplies and do rescue missions for the town of Abel. Listening to the mission’s dialog is pretty entertaining. Typically there are two narrators who guide you on your journey to both motivate and entertain you throughout the mission. The Radio Mode gives you two other wise-cracking narrators who play the DJ roles while making light about the apocalypse. You must venture to restore what’s left of humanity, defend yourself against enemies, and try to survive the endless swarm of zombies that surround you.

One of QuickMemo+_2016-01-22-15-42-23the great parts about this application is its ability to divide up your music’s playlist with the application’s audio. When you are not listening to any dialog throughout your run you are able to listen to music on a software music application, such as Pandora, or load songs directly from your playlist. Throughout your missions the story will pause the music to provide a narrative

When you aren’t running there’s a second half of the game to keep you busy. Whatever supplies you gather from your missions can be used to fortify the town of Abel to better withstand the horde. The more supplies you collect the more you can level up your town.

My favorite part of the application though is the Application’s GPS trackingQuickMemo+_2016-01-26-14-28-15 system. Unlike many running apps out there, this application will provide you markers for each mile ran. This became a great way for me to track my pace as it provided me total time ran each mile I hit. However, don’t rely on this application too heavily. On a cloudy day the GPS tracking can get pretty fuzzy and may tell you you hit your first mile in the impossible time of two minutes. For the most part, the GPS tracking provides a really accurate report of your run. Zombies Run! also logs all your runs from the beginning so you can look back at your progress.

If you really want to push yourself you can enable Chase mode where you’ll need to pick up the pace to avoid being taken away by zombies. In the chase mode a runner will need to sprint at least 20% their average pace for a solid minute to evade being zombie chow. A great option for those who wish to work interval training. For the individuals who are new to running, the Six to Start also has a Couch to 5k version that trains you up from novice to 5k runner.

Speaking of 5k Runs, if you are interested in competing in a race, Six to Start is hosting a Virtual 5k Race in late March. Thousands of runners will get exclusive running gear, such as a sweet Runner 5 Tee, and a Finisher’s medal. Come join many other runners on a quest to battle against Zombies.