I Took a Day Off My Challenge But Still Consider It Successful
I wanted to run in the middle of the night in a new city, after eating dinner. It was December 30, 2020, in Nashville. My girlfriend and I were spending our holiday vacation there, after going to Alabama to visit her parents.
I didn’t wake up early enough to run. It was late at night, and I decided to take the day off.
For context, I’ve been doing the One Punch Man challenge, which is running 10k a day, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 100 squats. I’m supposed to do it for 100 days. It sounds extreme, but I’m 74 days through the challenge, and I still consider it successful. The run is the most time-consuming part of every day and often is the most difficult. But taking up the challenge has rekindled much of the love for running and fitness I had before.
Instead of running 10k that day, I ran 20k the next day, which is 12.5 miles. It was a “make-up run,” which made up for the previous day.
Even though I took the day off, I don’t consider it a failure. I could have called quits on the challenge and not kept going. But I figured I put in too much work to not come back stronger the next day.
This isn’t to tout my own virtue, but not a lesson not to get down on myself and beat myself up after I didn’t make good on one day of my challenge. I told a couple of friends I didn’t make good on that one day, but the fitness challenge isn’t a religion.
It was an acknowledgment that we’re all human beings at the end of the day. Things come up. Life happens. Just like how most medical experts urge people not to see relapse as a sign of failure, perfection is the enemy of good.
The challenge was originally one I saw as a joke, so if it started being too much of an obligation and not fun like it originally was, I was doing myself a major disservice. I didn’t want to take it too seriously, and not taking it too seriously means having a day off.
As a worker, I usually pride myself on my attendance. I don’t take many days off at all and will take the best care of myself to not take sick days. A lot of this is due to being young and privileged in terms of my health. But last year, I had to take a day to handle a personal issue. I didn’t get a perfect attendance award like some of my co-workers, but it was what I needed to do.
Taking a day off is not a sign of failure. Eva Short at the Silicon Republic notes many signs of needing to take a day off of work, but that applies to anything. One sign of needing to take a day off is a case of the “Sunday scaries,” where you feel a sense of dread during the weekend. She also says to take a day off if brain fog is plaguing your work and leading you to forget things that usually feel like second nature.
It’s normal to feel like other people might see you as lesser if you take a day off, including a boss, your co-workers, friends, or family. But the truth is that no one cares. Sure, someone might be inconvenienced for a day, but making sure your personal life and work-life are balanced is essential as well. Taking a day off might be due to personal circumstances and protecting your mental health, but it’s what you need at the moment.
Maintaining a strict, no-discipline approach might seem like it’s what I needed. But it wasn’t. What’s the point of doing my fitness challenge if I just drop it on day 101 and go back to the minimal exercise I was doing before? Sustainable improvement and growth need days off. It needs leeway. It needs to not feel like forcing yourself to miserably do things all the time.
In fact, if I were to do those days over, I wouldn’t have overdone the next day. But I did it out of my own volition and I was feeling good that day, being able to do the run at around 6:47 mile pace. Being consistent doesn’t mean maintaining the same routine over and over, but listening to yourself, your mind, your body, and your spiritual well-being.
According to Good Therapy, perfectionism often leads to burnout and leads to prolonged periods of stress. And burnout is often shown through signs of procrastination, giving up early, and avoiding situations with a risk of failure. And we often experience burnout when we feel like our daily tasks are pointless and that we’re constantly overwhelmed.
Of course, this is just a fitness challenge I’m doing in the middle of a pandemic. But the point is giving up perfection stopped me from giving up when I had an off day. Balance is key because we’re all flawed human beings at the end of the day who aren’t supposed to operate like machines.