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The 30 day hiking challenge

Hiking in San Luis Obispo

About 30 days ago…

I started this on Tuesday, October 21st and the next day, when I went hiking again, I decided that I was going to make it a 30 day project, since I live a block away from one of the best trails in town and I am surrounded by many other mountains in San Luis Obispo, and “what a better day to start than today?”, I thought, hence my enthusiasm for what I hope becomes a 90 day challenge after the first 30 days.

I do hike occasionally, but I’ve had issues with consistency my whole life, specially when it becomes to working out. Hiking is a great way to get a little workout while admiring nature and feeling at peace with one self. If you don’t live in a place where you can hike, I invite you to discover your possibilities to get exercise in a fun way wherever you live, it could be running up and down the stairs, running in a park, doing abs at lunch time, or lifting a child up and down to work your arms. Whatever you choose, make sure you do it for 30 days straight, no excuses, it can be 5 minutes, but the key is to do it every single day.

Consistency is a great virtue and the begging to a healthier life. I consider myself pretty healthy, but I could definitely do a lot more, so for 30 days I will hike mostly my favorite Irish hills trail and will take at least one picture to document it. I will also take screenshots of my phone timer to keep track of how long it takes me, the goal is to get faster by the end.

The results

Did I hike all 30 days? Nope. I missed 2 days, the first one because I had wisdom teeth surgery and they advised me to not engage in that kind physical activity. I wanted to disobey. naturally, but the truth is that I fell asleep all afternoon and when I woke up it was too dark to go. That night, our friends were going for a night hike and we decided to join them, but it was a steeper way up and it just didn’t seem like a good idea, so I chickened out. I still hiked for about 30 minutes, even if I didn’t get to the top. Partial credit.  The other day I missed was a Monday and I simply forgot.  Am I a failure and a horrible person? No! There is no way I would’ve hiked 28 days with the consistency I did if I hadn’t set that stupid “challenge” . The lesson: commitment device is a very powerful tool:

A commitment device is, according to journalist Stephen J. Dubner and economistSteven Levitt, “a means with which to lock yourself into a course of action that you might not otherwise choose but that produces a desired result”.Put differently, a commitment device is a “way to change one’s own incentives to make an otherwise empty promise credible”. A commitment device is a technique where someone makes it easier for themselves to avoid akrasia (acting against one’s better judgment), particularly procrastination.

In other words, just to state this as a “challenge” and as something that had to be done and that I intended to publish, a potentially empty promise became real. Yes, I missed those couple days, but I got faster, my legs started to look better, I felt good wand at peace while doing it, it was extra exercise for my dog and between surgery (which lead to reduced eating and no drinking) and the hikes, I might have even lost a couple pounds. I hiked the same trail everyday, trying to keep that factor constant in order to measure more accurately real progress. I was not the best record keeper and the sample size was too small to draw statistically significant conclusions, but here are some of them:

  • Initially, hiking with the dog was slower, later she became better at understanding my pace and not getting in the way.
  • Later in the afternoon worked better for me than early or when it was sunny.
  • Shorts are definitely better.
  • There is a possibility of wasting a few seconds due to cyclists coming your way or random people wanting to pet your dog.
  • I was able to reduce my time from over 47 minutes to 29 minutes to complete the full loop.

Now, all I need to do is to keep it up. This time for 90 days straight. There could be some logistic issues, as I might travel a little, but I’m sure there is a hike I can do in Colorado!

Photo Highlights

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For the upcoming portion of the challenge, I will publish the spreadsheet with my daily times and other variables worth noting . BTW, we got new phones and Android is so much better, stupid iPhone, I don’t miss you.

Yarina Morning Hike

 

  • Do it!

  • Pingback: Commitment Devices | The Blog()

  • Yes, it totally helped me do it, and if I had posted it from the beginning, maybe it would have had a deeper effect! 5K, wow… I have never done it, but it should be a good goal, let me know how it goes!

  • Jean of all Trades

    What a beautiful location for a hike! That is motivating in itself! I’m about to embark on Couch to 5K or some similar “ramp-up.” Perhaps I’ll blog about it (to keep me accountable).