Yesterday, my friend Mike completed the Ironman Arizona.
“Completed” is the wrong word. “Decimated” is more like it. To swim, bike, and run more than 130 miles non-stop is a remarkable achievement. To set a goal to finish your first-ever Ironman in twelve hours seems crazy. To have done it in a hair more than eleven hours is just…
Well, yesterday I found myself using the word “inspiring.” Because it is, right? An incredibly lofty goal that took months of pure dedication, a rigorous daily plan, and a commitment to seeing it through — is inspiring the right word? When I was watching the livestream of runners crossing the finish line, waiting to see Mike’s smiling face, I thought it was inspiring that so many people were involved — the runners, but the support they’d received, everyone there rooting for the accomplishment of goals. How is that not inspiring?
It’s no accident Mike accomplished a most remarkable physical feat. His daily training regimen was ridiculously challenging. He brought anyone interested along for the ride, through social media, through his blog (he’s a gifted writer), even through pictures of all the scrumptious things he ate along the way (gotta replenish those calories somehow).
And just like the training, I followed along the Ironman online, taking special note of this tweet from our play-by-play correspondent, Mike’s wife Evelyn:
Dedication. Commitment. Inspiring, right?
While Mike was out beating the world, I was home coughing and shivering, taking medication for what I’m told is “bacterial bronchitis.” I may have even napped during part of his bike ride. Given my dietary and physical regimen, it’s probably no coincidence I’m fighting a bug. Without a plan, without being dedicated to a course of action, I’m going to wander aimlessly and be susceptible to occurrences like that.
Again, words are important here: Instead of “occurrences,” I nearly wrote “misfortunes.” But there’s nothing unlucky about me being sick, any more than Mike was lucky to have completed the Ironman.
Inspire (according to Mirriam-Webster):
- to make (someone) want to do something : to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create
- to cause (something) to happen or be created
- to cause someone to have (a feeling or emotion)
I’ve explained how Mike’s achievement fits the third definition of the word. But even more than that, he’s giving me reason to go after the first two. The last few months, I’ve wandered without an individual mission, outside of 1) caring for my family and 2) helping create a positive atmosphere and product at work. Those are fine and all, but they haven’t given me purpose.
I’ve skated — for months, and possibly much longer — without consciously trying to better myself. A half-hearted attempt to exercise, purchasing books to read and never cracking the cover, even starting up (and paying to renew!) this blog which has laid dormant forever… it’s just weakness.
And so I hereby declare my plan. I am creating a structure so I have a path to follow. It’s my challenge to myself to see what kind of commitment I have to self-improvement, the way that I want to do it. So for half an hour every day, from here forward, my brain’s training plan is:
- Monday: Reading day. A chance to catch up from all the online posts from over the weekend, and to whet my appetite for whatever books comes next.
- Tuesday: Connections day + exercise. Each week, I want to spend a little time using social networks for good — making sure I’m in touch with people I haven’t talked with in a while, or inviting connections I haven’t actually made.
- Wednesday: Blog day. I want to commit to writing here on a regular basis. When I started this, it was because I thought I was clever, and honing my writing skills would lead to something. I now see that this can be my form of therapy, getting thoughts out of my head and organized. But that only happens if, you know, I actually do it.
- Thursday: Puzzle day + exercise. To fill what feels like a growing void in my creative side. I used to make time for things like Games Magazine and such, so that I could feel neurons connecting. I miss that.
- Friday: TED Talk day. There are so many great videos out there. To make sure I see 52 in a year should almost feel limiting.
- Saturday: Reading day + exercise. Reading takes time. Reading may also take place in other parts of the week, but it gets dedicated time on Mondays and Saturdays.
- Sunday: Blog day. I mentioned the therapeutic part of writing, right? Twice a week, mister.
(I don’t exercise. At all. And I’m 98% sure that’s why I’ve become The Blerch. So I’m making sure to add that, too.)
I recognize this plan doesn’t have an Ironman — the specific moment where all that training pays off. And that’s fine by me. I thought about adding a reward for keeping this up for x number of months, but I can tell you, putting even this little structure around my day-to-day already feels like a step in the right direction.
In summary: Yes, watching Mike was inspiring. Truly. Congratulations, good luck, and thank you.