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  1. I'm turning this into a six week challenge because I can. Also, this series of challenges has growth as a central theme, and growth is continuous. Last time around I did indeed experience growth, and with that came knowledge. I'm putting that knowledge to use in this challenge and taking on a more freestyle kind of format. I do have goals, and in-particular I want to get myself into race-shape before I kick my season off at the beginning of January, but I'm taking a slightly more relaxed and reactive approach in order to accommodate the unexpected events that keep cropping up and my emotional and physical reactions to them. I've gone back to paper and pen, planned the next section of this path of mine, and given myself some guidelines in order to help me keep moving forwards. This challenge I will run. This challenge I will do yoga. This challenge I will lift. This challenge I will do body weight exercise. This challenge I will also study, read, knit, draw, cook, clean, and work towards achieving the best balance in life I can. If there is one hard and fast rule that can never be changed then it is this: there is no such thing as an unacceptable or wasted day. Rest is vital, emotionally and physically. GOALS AND GUIDELINES Run, but only on days off (almost always twice a week) Work out, but only before work (and just twice a week for the next six weeks). Also included under this goal is grip working, specifically working on my grip with cold hands. This can be done up to three times a week for the next six weeks. Study, at least half an hour on days off and at least fifteen minutes on workdays (and on work days, always before work) Keep stress low. Make time for fun and creativity every day, especially after work. And that's it. There are more things, but they're like background noise at the moment. The above is what I am primarily focused on. It is my hope that keeping things relaxed like this for a short time will help me make and keep the habits I'm trying to form, and then next time around I can work on SMART goals. In addition to all of that, I will update daily and check-in with others as often as I can. Doing that is one of the things that helped keep me going when things got tough and tiring towards the end of last challenge. Let's see how this plays out.
  2. “Die, Ranger scum!” Rhovaniel barely had time to turn towards the voice when its owner was bearing down on her, jaws open to reveal two rows of carious, dirty fangs sharpened into points, heading directly for her throat. With half a second to react, Rhovaniel flung herself forward, out of its path. Falling to her knees, she turned it into a roll and regained her feet. Her hands went to her hip but before she could pull her sword free the beast had turned and lunged at her again. Strong, muscular legs propelled it forward, the tail ending in a vicious barbed arrow, which it whipped at her as she dodged another neck strike. Black all over, in the fading light of the evening, it would have been hard to see, save for the thick reddish stripes, one each flank, that seemed to glow, and the eyes. Likes like fire. “The Emperor send you to do his dirty work?” Rhovaniel asked it, a film of sweat sprouting at her forehead. Having worked her sword free at last, she stood facing the beast, waiting, sizing it up. Cat-like, but clearly a demon of some form, at least as tall as a donkey, with none of the gentleness. It bared its teeth at her, and she caught a nose full of charred flesh. “I take no orders, Ranger! I am Torrcat.” Her blank expression must have given her away, because the Torrcat gave an aggressive snarl and sprang at her again. Its front claws batted away her blade, the back paws crashing into her chest. Rhovaniel hit the dirt and stayed there for a long second, winded, until she felt the heat, and rolled. A thin line of flames erupted from its flared nostrils, engulfing the spot where she’d just been. Then it was on her again, pouncing. She sensed an energy to it, excitement. It’s a cat, and it thinks I’m a mouse, she realised. The thought hardened her resolve. “Torrcat will feed on Ranger flesh,” it hissed. The front paws were on her chest, crushing her. It weighed a good ten kilos more than she did, and it was hard to get her breath. Not that she wanted to inhale too deeply, with it’s corpse-breath so close it made her stomach clench. “No, Torrcat wont!” Rhovaniel grunted, swinging her right forearm up. Her elbow was still pinned to the ground, her sword knocked from her grasp, but the dagger that had gotten her out of hot water several times before was in her hand. It didn’t go deep, having only half her arm to use, but it was enough. Too hot blood spilled from the cut she’d made, burning her stomach, but Torrcat, unexpectedly in pain where it was on the verge of victory, gave such a roar it made Rhovaniel cringe to hear it. It leapt to the side, and Rhovaniel went with it, blocking out the pain and snatching up her sword. This time when the fangs came at her, she was ready. Feinting to the left, she swung on her heel, the hilt grasped firmly in both hands as she sliced down. The roar was more a scream this time. Blood, which she now saw was orange, the colour of flame, smoked as it hit the dirt, and Torrcat, it’s neck severed, followed, collapsing onto it’s front paws and staying there. Rhovaniel waited, but it didn’t move again. Only once she was sure it was dead did she let out the breath she’d held. Inside, she was trembling, but outwardly, her hands were steady as she peeled off her leather jerkin and lifted her shirt, worried that the orange blood splattered across it had already darkened to black, to check the damage. Her abdomen was blotchy red, but no blistering. Yet. She sighed. She needed medicine. And, low on supplies, that meant she needed to get to a town. The guildhall was too far in the opposite direction, or she’d have gladly rested there for a night or two. Her inspection over, she snatched up several handfuls of grass to clean her sword before looking down at the body of the Torrcat. What was a Torrcat, anyway? She made a mental not to look it up, but then dismissed it from her mind. She had more pressing things to worry about. In the month or more since leaving the guildhall, she had made very little progress towards finding the Dúnedain. Not wasted the month, she reflected, and her newfound strength was going to be needed. But still. She needed to get a move on. Leaving the body were it lay, Rhovaniel shouldered her pack, now considerably lighter than it had been, and continued up the road she had been walking along before the attack. To anyone she met, she appeared just another traveller. Armed, and obviously a Ranger of some kind, but a traveller on her way none the less. Inside, her mind was spinning, wondering what the heck a Torrcat was, and what other monsters, unconnected to the Emperor, she’d encounter on her journey. It seemed the further she went from civilisation, and the longer the miles from the Empire seemed to get, the more things seemed to want to kill her. All the more reason to find the Dúnedain, she told herself. Sooner rather than later.
  3. Ever the fearless, but never the fearful fares the better in a fight; 'tis better to be glad than in gloomy mood whether all is fair or foul. Fáfnismál, verse 29 To his friend a man should bear him as friend, and gift for gift bestow, laughter for laughter let him exchange, but leasing pay for a lie. Hávamál, verse 42 ================================================================================================= Courage and truth, the first two of the Nine Noble Virtues (not a bad set of things to aspire to, all in all). I stumbled across these a long while back and they rooted themselves in my mind, though until now I’ve never really paid them much attention. Now seems like an appropriate time to start moulding my life into what I want it to be, and it lines up with the Nine Noble Virtues quite well. To start, I’ll need courage. Maybe I won’t quite be ‘ever the fearless’, but if I don’t let go of some of the fear I’ve been hanging on to then I’ll never fare well in my fight. And what better partner for courage than truth? Uncomfortable though it might be, if I don’t start being honest with myself about how much I go off the rails during my downswings then I’ll never be able to move forward. So here we go. Courage Goals Physical: Get weird with training. Actually running an OCR drummed it in better than reading about it did: regular training ain’t gonna cut it. So out I go to run in the rain, to pick up suitable looking rocks and logs, to do burpees in the middle of a burn, to make use of the playpark in the early hours of the morning. No need to be afraid at what passersby might think. Aim: 2x weird training sessions weekly, 10 in total Reward: An increased ability to deal with adverse conditions. Mental: Cold adaption. Yes, it’s a handy thing for someone planning two winter OCRs, but my body could use some toughening up in general when it comes to the cold. So it’s time to enforce cold showers. Aim: Daily cold showers. Reward: If six consecutive days of cold showers are completed, day seven can be a warm shower day. Social: Daily check ins. Not just here. I’ve gotten very good at hiding away again, and that’s never a good thing. Time to break that habit. Aim: Daily check in wherever I have any kind of social presence. ***I didn’t count on the NF forums updating the format and it being so… painful. The lack of contrast between background and type in some parts physically hurts to read and while I have been trying to ignore it, the longer I spend on the site the more pronounced the nausea gets. I’m sure (I hope) they’re either still in the middle of updating or there’s a way for me to alter the colour scheme myself. If not (or if this is just my admittedly less perfect eyesight giving me more grief) this is definitely going to impact how much time I spend here.*** Reward: Feeling a little less lonely and isolated is the a reward in itself. Truth Goals Budget: This kind of got away from me. Now, after a fairly sharp shock from actually checking my bank statement, I’m reigning it back in and calling on my years of surviving on next to nothing to give me a little help these next few months. I learned how to track down the best bargains and how to make things last, and as soon as I found myself in a better financial situation I let that go a little. As soon as the stress hit I let that go completely. Aim: I have a weekly food budget (and multiple supermarkets to pick from helps massively here), a weekly household goods budget, a weekly ‘other’ budget, and my monthly expenses (things like bills, rent, and repayments) to stick to. No exceptions. Reward: This time around there will be no tangible reward, but the knowledge that I’ve begun to build a savings buffer will provide some comfort. Diet: I’ve gone in two different directions at once here. On one hand, when I have late shifts I’ll come home and cook up some chicken and veg. On the other hand, I’ll buy crap with the intention to make it last and devour it in one sitting. Guess what? Not good. Aim: Stick to the food plan I’ve created for myself day in and day out. Again, no exceptions. Reward: ...eventually the cravings will go away? ================================================================================================= There’s no disguising that this is essentially a cold turkey, health by brute force kind of approach. It’ll be hard. But if I don’t go all in then I’ll never make lasting changes. I can do it, and I will do it. Like I said before: shit is going down, but I am not.
  4. SPARTAN RISING So cast off whatever fears arise at the armoured legions they’ll muster before you, hedge yourselves round with hollow shields, and learn to love death’s ink black shadow as much as you love the light of dawn. Arete - Tyrtaeus of Sparta (sometime between 650-37BC) “This is not a disaster, this is an origin story.” - a surprisingly reassuring thing to tell the mirror every day Adversity builds character, or so the cliche goes, and right now I’m facing a mountain of it. Living below the poverty line has never been particularly fun, but I’ve always managed to scrape by and wriggle my out of whatever bad situations come my way. This current one, though, this is a little different. This is projected to be the coldest winter in five years and I can’t afford heating. I can’t afford anywhere near enough food. I can barely afford my rent and bills. And my income is not stable. At all. I’m living in constant anxiety and I don’t know how things are going to turn out in the end. But you know the great thing about rock bottom? I’ve got solid ground below my feet and from down here I can see every route that leads right on up. Each of these routes will be a long, hard climb, and I may well slip and fall at any point, but ultimately it is possible to escape from this place of misery and self-pity. The question: How will I do this? The answer: Go full Spartan. The idea is in no small way inspired by the fact that I’m running a Spartan Sprint in July 2017. That said, I think I could benefit from developing some of that incredible mental fortitude necessary to stand on the battlefield, armed and ready to fight, and be at peace with the prospect of imminent death. A Spartan body wouldn’t be half bad either. Usually this would be the part where I would say the only thing standing in the way of this is myself, but for once that isn’t strictly true. Yes, there are external factors, and yes, those have the potential to get seriously ugly, but when it comes down to it, I can only do so much to sway those factors in my favour. I can do so much more to build myself up and prepare for whatever comes. That’s why I’ve switched over to a battle log and will be staying here exclusively for at least a month rather than stressing myself out with challenges. Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge format, and it has worked well for me in the past, but right now it isn’t what I need. Right now what I need is to drag my sorry ass back on track and drill in good habits, because I am a mess, and being a mess is not conducive to moving forward with my goals in any respect. Most of what will be in here to begin with will be simple check-ins to confirm my dailies and weekly boss fights and summaries. Sometimes I may go off tangent depending on just how badly I need to get something out there and not have it bottled up. Most importantly it will be accountability, no matter who does or does not read it. I do the thing, I post about the thing. I don’t do the thing and I have to explain why. Baby steps, so many tiny little baby steps, because when it comes down to it, a mountain of adversity isn’t so bad. After all, I climb mountains for fun The story so far… i / ii / iii / iv / v / vi / vii / vii / ix / x / xi / xii / xiii / xiv / xv / xvi / xvii
  5. Makes me stronger? Had better start running? ...will leave me grievously wounded? Taking up running at the beginning of a miserable Fort William winter certainly seems like it would set me up for the latter, but we’re gonna try and avoid that. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing an OCR for a while now, and last challenge I just so happened to mention it where @mr_willes and @Charlie_Quinn could hear me, so to speak. It resulted in a conversation that both alleviated my hang ups about running (or more specifically, learning to run) and got me pretty psyched to train up and Do The Thing. When I’ll Do The Thing is as yet undetermined. There’s a very rough plan for an OCR based meet up in April next year. Assuming this to be a mostly immovable fact helps me with my own timeline, whether it happens or not! I’d love to squeeze in two races before that time, but it’ll all depend on what’s available on the shorter end of the spectrum (5K, basically), finances, and a few other things. So for now I’ve set up a two-part challenge to cover the length of my chosen running program, and I’ll evaluate things at the end of that. Goal One: All Aboard the Zombies Bandwagon Pretty self-explanatory. Got the Zombies 5K app, and I intend to make use of it. I’ll do my three weekly missions come rain or shine (unless it’s a Fort Bill Monsoon, in which case I’ll probably end up swimming should I attempt to go outside), and by the end of this challenge I will be half way through the program. Reward for completion: Upgrade a piece of running kit Goal Two: Don’t Let Go My grip strength is laughable, ergo I need to put in some work. After doing a little research and factoring in how I tend to work best, I’ve decided it’ll be best to make this a Pomodoro type goal. Therefore: Day off: Pomodoros continuously throughout day Single feature day: Pomodoros worked around shift, at least six cycles Double feature day: At least four cycles Reward for completion: Fat grips Goal Three: Pull, Pull, Pull Another self-explanatory one. Achieving a pull up isn’t a new goal for me. I’ll continue with the grease the groove method for things like chin ups, ring rows, negatives, and bar hangs, and I’ll explore weighted options for improved back strength. No reward, not a completion based goal. Goal Four: Eat Like An Asshole By which I mean shovel down all the protein and veggies I can afford. I know what I should be aiming for. No reward, not a completion based goal. [Dailies List - Things that should be done daily, but are currently not] Side Quest One - A little me time every day. Side Quest Two - Save a little every week. Gotta move someday soon, after all! Side Quest Three - Domestic rangering. Half hour daily. Side Quest Four - Socialise. Post daily where possible. Try and post in at least one other thread every time I post in my own. Side Quest Five - FINISH THE BLANKET Side Quest Six - Work on Secret Project for at least half an hour daily
  6. Here we are again. This is my 16th challenge... can you believe it? Anyway... The other day I ate like a pig. Not ONE healthy thing all day. So yeahhhh... that will be on the list for a bit. The second thing I need to look at is rest, both as "rest days" and "me-time" as well as "night sleep". Life has been a hell of a busy time lately. But the end is in sight. The weekend of 0 week I'll finish my theoretic course to become a trainer, then I am just 5 course weekends of practical hands on training (in early '17) away from getting my licence. Similarly I have been training for my first obstacle course race. Okay, per definition it's a mud run, not a race, but I'll call it race, for simplicities sake. The race is on Oct 8th, and I am VERY MUCH excited about it. I have not gotten as strong as I would have liked to become by now, but there is a direct correlation between how much I put in and how little I got out. So that is only fair... if unfortunate. I am in the mood to DO ALL THE THINGS. But I know better. I'll do the ranger thing without the overload, this time, I hope... Plans for this challenge: write down food - might not be in-app everything measured and concrete calories and macros and all that hassle. Just write down what you ate, snacked on or otherwise stuffed in your face. Keep lists. stop eating like a dickhead - one veggie or fruit each day, no excuses, no processed substitutions. One. Each. Day. Also skip the salt and drink your goddamned water, for crying out loud! Keep training and resting and enjoy the ride. I mean what more is there? Soon my friends from Australia and the Netherlands will be here for a weekend, I will clean like a maniac (I'm human afterall). I will train, both running outside as well as fitness and belly dancing classes, peer pressure is my saviour! I will rest when I can, I will keep logging my sleep (not awesome atm) I just brushed off a minor cold, so I am taking the hint of taking things less serious and rest more. I am not sure how to measure this though. And enjoy the ride? When do you ever meet online friends in person for the first time, run your very first mud run / OCR? Enjoy it! Take lot's of mental pictures, real ones too. Live the life, be present in the moment. Anyway, I will post this up, since you nice folk are so very patient with me, let me tell you again how grateful I am for your companionship, support, insight. Morag. Gratitude Wasabi - yummy. FlyLady - even though I have to regularly start over again and again... difficult to find a third item here today... I think relationships. Both romantic as well as platonic. So many so-very-different people connect and interconnected in so many different ways, it's amazing, breath taking, awe inspiring. Wonderful. It makes you wonder.
  7. Here I am hiking after Gyddyn, a ranger from Middle Earth. Why? I don't really know except yesterday after my grandmother's funeral I found out that my mother was a distant relation of King Legolas of Mirkwood, or as it is now known, the Great Greenwood Forest. Guess I now also know where my almost pointy ears and my affinity to animals and plants, come from. My father was a human from "New Earth", in a different dimension to their Middle Earth, who accidentally stumbled upon the portal. He was gone for a long time, and when he returned to his own dimension, my grandmother couldn't make head or tails of his story about elves, ogres, orcs, dwarves and fighting. So much fighting. My grandmother raised me from baby till her death, now 27yrs later as my father passed from some infection soon after reaching home. “Keep up, Calithil. We have a long way to the portal still.” The flicker of his star brooch caught my eye as he quickly turned away from me. His faded green long coat fitted loosely over his leather vest, and looked a bit worse for wear. If it wasn't for the fact that my grandmother's last letter spelled out that it was essential I go “home” with this ranger, I wouldn't have set off with this scruffy looking stranger, with his reddish hair and beard, armed to the teeth with bow, arrows, long sword and various daggers, no doubt. “You mind explaining again the urgency behind this trek, please?” I huffed out breathlessly. “And why do you call me Calithil, when my name is Sarah Elizabeth?” “Huh, your human name may be Sarah Elizabeth, but your elven name is Calithil, meaning Moon Light. I wish to reach the portal before nightfall when the mountain trolls come out. They roam that area at night.” “But why am I rushing to Middle Earth now. Why not before?” “That is for King Ellavorn to discuss. I was asked to fetch you, as soon as possible, after your grandmother's passing.” We reached the portal in another hour. It was inside a dark cave which grew colder and colder as we penetrated its depths. Then suddenly all was pitch black and between one footstep and the next there was a shimmering, and suddenly I stood among rocks, with the sun sitting low behind us. As I looked up I walked from under a rock arch so magnificent it boggles the mind. Pointing at the engraving on the arch Gyddyn said: “It says Middle Earth in Elvish. We should reach Bilbo's house within another hour as I've arranged for horses to be waiting for us. Another reason why I would prefer to leave before those mountain trolls wake up. They love horse flesh.” On the other side of another huge boulder we reached a grassy knoll with two magnificent horses waiting for us. “Firefoot and Lightfoot. Horses of Rohan, and descendants of Felarof, first of the Mearas.” His quiet voice held the awe he felt for these animals. We quickly mounted and set off for Bilbo in The Shire, a descendant of The Great Bilbo, The Adventurer, who helped the dwarf king defeat the dragon Smaug. Upon reacing Bilbo's house a while later, I found we were not the only ones to stay over there that evening. As tired and weary as I was, I found the company of these dwarves and one wizard quite enlightening.
  8. My goals this challenge are staying pretty much the same as last time. My main goal is to be fit and strong enough to do all the events I have planned this year, so my goals are going to remain the same or very similar for the foreseeable future. I'm not doing any theme this challenge, I'm just keeping it nice and simple so I can focus on what I have to do. So, without further ado... Goal 1 - Endurance Run a total of 60k This is exactly the same as my last challenge. I found it really helpful to have a distance target to aim for. I did manage to complete this last challenge so the obvious thing to do would be to increase the distance this time round but I'm keeping it exactly the same. The reason I've done this is because I only just managed to hit the target last time thanks to a few issues. This time I'm going to try to do more runs during a week so I'm not cramming all the distance into the last few days of the challenge. Once again, I'll be logging all my runs on Strava and will post screen shots from Strava here throughout the challenge. Goal 2 - Strength Part A Climb once a week I go climbing once a week with my husband and enjoy it a lot so really this doesn't need to be part of my challenge, but the enjoyment is very reason I'm keeping it here. I think it's important to make sure I'm doing something fun in my challenge so it doesn't start to feel like a chore. Plus, the climbing is really going to help with the big obstacles once the OCR's roll around! Part B Strength train twice a week With everything else I've been doing (Thanks, Rangerbrain), I've found it hard to keep up with my lifting, so I'm adding this in this time around to make sure I don't let it slip. Goal 3 - Mobility Part A Yoga twice a week The same as last challenge, I'll be doing a NF yoga session twice a week. Part B Foam rolling and stretching during warm up and cool down I need to get better at stretching and foam rolling as part of my warm up and cool down after exercise. The yoga is helpful for the tightness but stretching/foam rolling before and after exercise is the thing that will help prevent me getting injured. Life Goal - Coding Course Work on my coding course at least once during the week I failed this completely last challenge so this time I'm not saying how long I need to spend each week on this, I just need to make sure I do something.
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