Jump to content

Callanthae's Challenge: Baby Steps to Giant Strides!


Recommended Posts

Hi all. Callanthae here. I had a previous account on Nerd Fitness a long time ago, so I decided to skip the Level 1 Challenge and come straight to the Rangers. My challenge doesn't really have a theme, but it does have an inspiration. My favourite anime of all time, the reason I got into tennis, Baby Steps. For those who haven't seen it, Baby Steps is a tennis anime. What makes it so fantastic in my opinion is a host of factors:

- Maruo Eiichiro, the protagonist, doesn't have impossible skills. He starts out as a complete beginner to the sport. While his eyesight and his studious nature are big strengths, they're strengths that need to be honed and trained to be of any real use. Because of this, we see his journey from the very beginning.

- Maruo loses. Like...a lot. You really never know how any match, no matter how important or plot-crucial, is going to go. Maruo could easily lose at any time, and it makes it all the more thrilling when he wins.

- The realism of the anime shines through in a thousand other small ways. The shots and feats of athleticism are almost never superhuman, they're very much achievable for skilled players. Maruo's a very analytical player, and you get to understand his thought process as he plays. When he ascends to a new level, it's never because of just "powering up" or "wanting it more"...it's always a result of some useful insight that occasionally even proves useful on the court in real life. You really feel like you're in a match, and you get an understanding of how strategic tennis really is.

- Last but not least is the title of this challenge. "Baby steps to giant strides" sums up the mentality of this anime perfectly, and it's an expression that appears in Season 2. The protagonist doesn't have lofty goals...he just wants to get better at tennis, and over time, as he keeps working hard, he end up doing better and better in competitions. That's how I'd like to do as well. A series of baby steps that lead to giant strides as each one is steadily accomplished. 

Because of this, a week or two after I watched Baby Steps for the first time, I found a local tennis club and started playing. That was about six months ago. I now want to add in off-court training, getting back to running and lifting on a regular basis - and that's why I'm back. So, Baby Steps gets full credit for getting me active again, which is yet another reason I'm such a fan of it. 

Goal 1: Practice my serve twice a week.

I don't think you're legally allowed to have a challenge here without at least one GIF.

I already practice tennis with other people a couple of times a week, and on Fridays I compete with the juniors (12-14 years old). Being 5'4" and relatively new to tennis, I'm a pretty fair match for them despite being an adult. So that's 2-3 sessions a week already, and I need no motivation to keep attending them. However, sometimes you need to get some solo practice in and really drill something, and for me that's my serve. It lags significantly behind my groundstrokes, and I really need to dial in the new serve I learnt a few weeks ago - a solid pace on the first serve, and a spinning second serve that manages to be reliable without being easily attacked. My current first serve misses too much, and then I have a weak second serve with no spin or pace that's easily taken advantage of by better opponents.

Goal 2: Lift weights at least twice a week. (Ideally 3x)


For weights, I'll be following Phrakture's Greyskull LP variant. The Big 4 compound lifts, plus pulling added in as Pendlay Rows and Chin-Ups. (Assisted chin-ups for the time being.) I'll be tracking it using the Personal Training Coach app on Android, which has a bunch of workout templates, including the Greyskull variant I'm doing. I've started relatively light, but over the last couple of weeks the workouts have gotten harder. I'm still getting 10 reps on the last set for all the exercises except Chin-Ups though, so I've got plenty left in the tank. Over the next few weeks I expect that to change as the weights climb back up to my old levels of strength. 

Goal 3: Run at least twice a week. (Ideally 3x)

For running, I'll be using Zombies, Run! to keep things interesting. For the first two weeks I'll be running 4 km (2.5 miles), and for the second two weeks, I'll be running 4.5 km (2.8 miles). At my peak I was running 5-6 km 4 times per week, but I went from 3 days a week to 4 too fast and got injured. I never really got back into it. The goal is to run at an Easy pace (Based on an estimated 27-minute 5k time from a recent max-effort run I performed) 2 days a week. On Saturdays, I'll be doing story runs, where I run faster. I allow the Zombies Run story to determine exactly how fast I do run, though I don't plan to run faster than Threshold pace (Comfortably hard) except at the very end of the challenge, where I'll be doing an all-out max-effort run if everything works out, probably a 5k time trial. 

I could fill plenty of words with various details, but I figured I'd leave it nice and short...and it'll give plenty of stuff to talk about throughout the challenge this way.

Looking forward to the start of the challenge!

  • Like 2

Challenge 1: Baby Steps to Giant Strides (Tennis challenge!)


Link to post

That sounds like a really cool show.  I like your challenge lay out.

Wisdom 15.5   Dexterity 11   Charisma 12   Strength 14  Constitution-11

Elastigirl:Just Living Life , Part II - Current Challenge: February 14 to March 20 - Nerd Fitness Rebellion

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song, above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world" J.R.R.Tolkien

Link to post

Welcome back to the Rebellion and to the Ranger Corps!

Current Challenge Original 1,2,3, R 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51


"By the Most-Righteous-and-Blessed Beard of Sir Tanktimus the Encourager!" - Jarl Rurik Harrgath

Link to post
On 8/11/2018 at 4:46 AM, Elastigirl said:

That sounds like a really cool show.  I like your challenge lay out.

It's definitely a great show if you're into that kind of style. It's exactly my thing and I've never found anything else quite like it. Sadly, it was cancelled after 2 seasons :(

On 8/11/2018 at 9:11 AM, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Welcome back to the Rebellion and to the Ranger Corps!

Thanks Tanktimus! Glad to see that even over a year later you're still encouraging everyone like the Paladin you are :D

23 hours ago, Radost said:

Love your title and the reason behind it!  Looking forward to seeing how the challenge goes. 

Cheers mate - I'll try not to disappoint!


Training Log:


Saturday: Ran 5.11 km in 33:06. (6:29/km) (Goal: 6:45-7:21/km)

Sunday: Off


Yesterday was an interesting day. Using Zombies Run, I expected the mission to be over after 6 laps of the local park (About 4.2-4.5 km), but the mission sent me on another lap. Turns out I'd accidentally set the distance too high, so I ended up running 5 km instead of 4. It's good to know I can still do that without much trouble, but it's not something I want to overdo. Building up slowly is the name of the game, especially after I got injured last time. While I can run more than 4 km at a time, it's best not to push it too much. Running's a high impact exercise, after all.

On another note, I continue to run about 15-20 seconds faster than the top end of Easy pace. This isn't actually a good thing - I want to control my pace properly, and keeping my easy runs easy is going to be important for recovery given all the different workouts I'm doing. I always do the first km at a pretty good pace because I'm still warming up, but then I get into the groove of things, I start to speed up, and before I know it I'm going too fast. It's something I'll need to work on fixing this challenge. 

Challenge officially begins tomorrow (I live in Australia, so I'm about 16-18 hours ahead of all you Americans out there) so I'm looking forward to it! Here's the ideal schedule for the next four weeks, though I've made allowances for imperfect execution:

Monday: Gym.
Tuesday: Serve practice. 3:30-4:30 hitting practice. 5 pm run.
Wednesday: Serve practice, gym
Thursday: Afternoon run, 5 pm - 7 pm Social Tennis.
Friday: 5 pm - 6:30 pm Junior Competition, Gym later.
Saturday: Afternoon run.
Sunday: Off

My gym time isn't scheduled because I'm a member of a 24-hour gym about three blocks from my house. Since I'm a night owl, I basically go to the gym whenever I feel like it (unlike runs, which have to be done before sunset). As such I don't schedule them since I often go at 10 or 11 at night. Gym's usually empty or almost empty at that time too, which is a nice plus - no waiting for anything :)

The schedule's built around my regular commitments. On Monday, I do maths tutoring for a few hours, as well as an hour on alternate Fridays. Saturday and Sunday I have D&D, but since that goes from 1 pm - 5 pm, I can squeeze in a run after the game's over. Sunset's about 5:45 where I live at the moment. Sunday's off because I think it's important to have one day completely off any physical activity, so no exercise allowed on Sundays.

This is the ideal schedule, but in reality things happen. I'll be pretty satisfied if I get at least one dedicated serve session in per week, plus 2 gym sessions and 2 running sessions a week. That much would be enough to get my strength and speed mostly back to their old levels, and get me well on the path to a serve with the same power and reliability as the rest of my game. (Which, don't get me wrong, isn't super strong...but it's more than my serve has right now.)

For any tennis players out there, I currently self-rate myself at 3.0 (With a 3.5-level backhand, my best shot) according to the NTRP guidelines. According to a summary:

Beginner-Intermediate Player: Fairly consistent when hitting medium-paced shots, but is not comfortable with all strokes and lacks execution when trying for directional control, depth or power. Needs work on depth and variety.

This sums me up very well. I can return medium-paced shots fairly consistently. My shots have a bit of power to them, but I can't get them where I want to go yet, and I hit a lot of short balls. When I try and ramp it up, I often over-hit it and send it out of the court. Variety's also lacking, as I've only just started learning to slice defensively, and without a decent slice, drop shots are pretty much out of the running without a really great angle. As for volleys, the less said about them the better...the net is not my friend right now. Hopefully the majority-doubles junior competition will keep bringing that up.

That said, I've only been playing for six months and I'm quite happy with how things are going. Tennis is a game that takes a long time to get good at, and I just need to keep plugging away at it.

Baby steps.

  • Like 2

Challenge 1: Baby Steps to Giant Strides (Tennis challenge!)


Link to post

Training Log:




Bodyweight 65 kg (143 lb)

Overhead Press: 5/5/10 - 25 kg (55 lb)
Asst. Chin-Ups: 5/5/7 - 35 kg (77 lb) assistance.
Squat: 5/5/10 - 45 kg (99 lb)

Tuesday: 20 minutes hitting practice (against wall).

Wednesday: 40 minutes serve practice.

Bench Press: 5/5/10 - 32.5 kg (72 lb)
Pendlay Row: 5/5/10 - 30 kg (66 lb)
Squat: 5/5/10 - 50 kg (110 lb)

First three days of the challenge are over, and I've gone to the gym twice and done serve practice once. I wasn't able to run yesterday due to some leg pain - sometimes the site of my old stress fracture whines at me. When this happens I tend to skip the run, given that I got injured last time I ignored pain there during a run. Tomorrow should be better.


The gym had some good and bad news. The bad news is, I'm not sure what's up with my chin-ups. I managed 5/5/7 reps on the machine at 35 kg (77 lb) of assistance. That's more than half my bodyweight, and I couldn't get more than 7 on the last set. According to Symmetric Strength, that's RIDICULOUSLY far behind my other lifts...and I also can do one chin-up with no assistance at all. This should be impossible for someone who can't do eight reps at less than half their bodyweight. It makes me wonder if the machine is really accurate, especially since it doesn't even let you use it with less than 20 kg of assistance. That said, I suppose it doesn't matter too much if I'm improving over time. If I keep using less and less assistance on the machine, does it really matter how accurate it is? If I can go from 7 reps at -35 kg to 7 reps at -25 kg, I've improved, regardless of what "-35 kg" and "-25 kg" really mean. And once I get to -20 kg, I can just try the bodyweight chin-ups again.

The good news is, my Pendlay Rows (aka Bent Over Rows) are much, MUCH better. Last time I was going to the gym, my rows sucked. My back was extremely rounded when doing them, to the point where, on a form check, someone told me "Dude, you straight up shouldn't be doing these. Find a different exercise until you can fix the back thing." Today, I'm not sure how, but it appears to have solved itself during the last year or two.

I was lifting 30 kg (66 lb) because the gym has 5 kg bumper plates, letting me put the bar at the correct height. I was supposed to lift 27.5 today, but I figured 30 with the bar starting at the right height was better. I took some videos of my form, and it was great! There was almost no rounding of the back at all, I wasn't letting the bar rest on the floor during reps, and the bar went to my chest on every rep. Even on the last set of 10 when I was fatiguing a bit, the spine stayed straight. I'm extremely pleased at this - it was a constant source of irritation and back pain when I was last going to the gym regularly. I've got no idea what fixed it - perhaps I've gained increased body control or posture through tennis. Either way, I'll take this gift.


Tennis-wise, nobody was at the tennis club on Tuesday for some reason, so I just did some practice against the wall. I did some long overdue experimentation with slices, and found out why my slice kept going way up in the air. A horizontal slice sends the ball vertically, a more vertical slice sends it horizontally. My next step is to practice this vertical slice in rallies, and if I can get that going well, I should be able to add the forehand slice to my arsenal. Should go a good deal towards augmenting my weaker forehand shot. 

I got some serve practice in today as well. I wasn't hitting the ball at full extension at first, so I worked on fixing that, and my first serves started going in a fair bit more consistently. Second serve (spin serve) remains maddeningly elusive. Sometimes I get 3-4 in a row and think "Yes, this is it!" but then I lose it again, and miss the next five. I've just got to keep working at it.


In nerd news, Battle for Azeroth came out yesterday! That's the latest World of Warcraft expansion, and I've been stealing a bit of time to play it when time permits. I had a little bit of a "What have I become?" moment when I joined my old guild, only to find everyone online was max level already and doing a Mythic dungeon. Meanwhile, here I am, wondering if I can hit 111 tonight after posting this. All of a sudden, in the 1.5-2 years since the last expansion came out, life's suddenly gotten in the way. When Legion came out, I hit max level in two days. Now it's been two days and I've only played for an hour or two. Though not all of my commitments are productive ones; I've got the gym, tennis, uni, and two D&D campaigns to prep for as I DM them both. Between all that, I've got a lot less time for video games nowadays. It all kinda snuck up on me :)

I guess that's how life goes sometimes, I've got mixed feelings about the whole thing. On the one hand, I'd love to drop 20 hours on WoW in 2 days and smash my way to max level again. On the other hand, the reason I'm not is because I've matured, gained more responsibility, and I no longer shirk my other obligations to play video games as much. So, I suppose it's a win in the end. 

  • Like 2

Challenge 1: Baby Steps to Giant Strides (Tennis challenge!)


Link to post

Training log:




45 minutes hitting practice.
45 minutes match play. Went 3-6.

Ran 5.67 km (3.52 mi) in 34:17. (No goal pace)
Pace: 6:02/km (9:44/mi)

Today started out badly, but then got a lot better. I tried running again, and my leg hurt so I backed out. But then I realised something very strange. When I play tennis, there's no issue with my leg. It barely twinges, and certainly doesn't hit. With all the running on hard surfaces, sprints, and sudden turns, it should be downright hell on any sort of hurt leg, but it seems fine. Why can I run back and forth on concrete but a light jog on grass hurts? It doesn't make sense.

As the first part of my testing, I attended tennis. There were a couple of twinges to start with, but then I was fine, even able to play a set. I went 3-6, which is pretty good since the guy I played against used to be way better than me, to the point where he had to hold back even in hitting practice. Now I can match him reasonably well. I even broke him once, but had a lot of trouble holding serve. It always comes back to that darn serve. The fast serve is good, the spin serve is good, but I have to hit them consistently. The fast serve is getting there, but the spin serve is far too unreliable to use as a second serve right now. I need to grind it out until it's as solid as my groundstrokes.

So, after tennis, walking home, I developed a few theories as to what might be going on with my leg, and some tests to figure it out.

1) Surfaces. The grass is hurting my leg while the court surface isn't. Test: Try going for a run on the court surface.
2) Movements. The jogging motion hurts when the shorter, faster movements of tennis don't. Test: Try doing various tennis movements like side-steps, agility drills, and short sprints on grass.
3) Warm-ups. I warm up more thoroughly for tennis, and it's the lack of warm-up that hurts. Test: Try going for a run after being very thoroughly warmed up.
4) Psychosomatic. It's all in my head. I'm worried about getting hurt again, so I'm convinced it hurts even though it's fine. Test: No clue. Do the other three first, then we'll talk.

Of these four tests, #3 seemed like the easiest one to test immediately. I'd just done tennis, after all. So I dropped off my bag (I live about two blocks from the tennis courts), grabbed my headphones, and dashed off immediately to try running. And, what do you know...it worked. After an hour and a half of tennis, my leg didn't hurt at all even when I ran. In tennis, after my usual dynamic warm-up, I warm up my tennis game from the service line, walking/jogging around and hitting some balls with my partner. Then we move back to the base line and gradually increase the intensity. By the time I'm sprinting for balls, I'm much more warmed up than the 2-3 minute casual warm up I do to jog. This is going to  have to change in future, that's for sure.

It was a great run, actually. The Zombies Run mission I was doing was called "A Voice in the Dark". Without spoiling much, it takes place at night. And I was running at night, by the light of the nearby hockey field, since I was running after tennis. I probably ran a bit too far too fast in my excitement, but I turned out fine. A bit of chafing, but no leg pain.

Run Log:





You can tell I was pretty excited near the end :) 5:30/km is only about 10 seconds slower than my race pace right now. Those of you who've played Zombies Run can probably see why - "A Voice in the Dark" is my favourite mission yet.

So I did my tennis, I did my run, and I got all my uni work done. (I'm in my last semester of Computer Science - I chose not to make this into any sort of goal since I'm handling the work okay as it is. So I decided to keep this one just a physical challenge.)

And I even got a few hours of WoW in as well.

All in all, a pretty fantastic day. 

  • Like 1

Challenge 1: Baby Steps to Giant Strides (Tennis challenge!)


Link to post

Woot for improving at tennis, and being able to win some games against  your tough opponent. Cool to that are figuring out how to do the runs without pain. Weird o the chin ups with the machine. I guess your right though, even if it isn't accurate , it will work to keep using less.

Wisdom 15.5   Dexterity 11   Charisma 12   Strength 14  Constitution-11

Elastigirl:Just Living Life , Part II - Current Challenge: February 14 to March 20 - Nerd Fitness Rebellion

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song, above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world" J.R.R.Tolkien

Link to post

Training log:




Bodyweight 65 kg  (143 lb)

Overhead Press: 5, 5, 10 @ 27.5 kg (61 lb)
Asst. Chin-Ups: 3x5 @ -32.5 kg (-72 lb)
Deadlift: 1x10 @ 50 kg (110 lb)

Sat, Sun, Mon, Tues: Sick, no training


Bench Press: 5, 5, 10 @ 35 kg (77 lb)
Barbell Row: 5, 5, 10 @ 32.5 kg (72 lb)
Squat: 5, 5, 10 @ 55 kg (121 lb)

Thurs: 2 hours social tennis. Went 4-6 vs. Other John, the guy I always go 4-6 to. (Even more aggravating, he's somehow playing better than ever despite not playing for six weeks. If I'd played vs. John from two months ago, I'd have destroyed him with the way I was playing today...but I still couldn't win the set.) 

Ran 3.93 km (2.44 mi) in 25:03.
Pace: 6:23/km (10:16/mi)


I'm back!

Was ill from Saturday through Tuesday, but starting yesterday I was back into training.

Last week, I ended up with 3/3 workouts (awesome), 1/2 serve practices (pass) and 1/3 runs (Boo!) so it was a mixed bag. One of those missed runs was due to illness, and one was due to the leg issue I solved on Thursday, so hopefully things look up next week. This week I had to miss a couple of days training due to illness, but hopefully I can still get a passing grade. I still need one workout, one run, and one serve practice, so I should be able to squeeze that in.

I'm quite happy with how my weightlifting's going. I haven't hit the point where I can't make 10 reps yet, so I'm still doing double increases - 2.5 kg (5.5 lb) for upper body lifts, 5 kg (11 lb) for lower body ones. The exception is my overhead press. On Friday, I got 10 reps, but the last one felt off in terms of form. I decided that I would count it as 10, but would just start increasing the overhead press by 1.25 kg each workout now. 2.5 kg is a huge increase in the OHP so I highly doubt I could get 10 reps with 30 kg anyway.

 Unfortunately, this increase is actually going to have to be 1 kg in one workout, then 1.5 in the next. Most gyms don't have anything below 1.25 kg plates (About 2.5 lb) so I had to buy some 0.5 kg (~1 lb) microplates. This was exceedingly annoying, because the plates were about $2 each, but I had to pay about 15 bucks in shipping. 20 bucks is a reasonable price, but I don't like that I could have gotten them for pocket change if I could have purchased them locally. I'm a frugal person who loathes spending money, but in the end I caved, paid for shipping, and the plates arrived yesterday.

I was able to squat 55 kg (121 lbs) for 10 reps, which I was very surprised at. It would appear as though I'm just as strong if not stronger as I used to be, in an absolute sense. Though in a relative sense, still got a bit to go...last time, my record was 67.5 or 70 kg (I forget) for 5, but I was 60 kg back then, not 65. So, I'd need to get to ~77.5 kg to meet the same standard. Even so, within a few weeks I should be breaking new all-time PR's if all goes well. Unless I fail to get 5 reps, my squat'll be increasing by 10 kg per week until I fail to get 10, then 5 kg per week after. That's still only 4 weeks or so from a PR attempt if I keep managing my reps every workout. Can't wait!


  • Like 2

Challenge 1: Baby Steps to Giant Strides (Tennis challenge!)


Link to post

Welcome back, good job on all that progress!

Current Challenge Original 1,2,3, R 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51


"By the Most-Righteous-and-Blessed Beard of Sir Tanktimus the Encourager!" - Jarl Rurik Harrgath

Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

New here? Please check out our Privacy Policy and Community Guidelines