Dan Wagstaff | Calendar Club
What is it about pushing physical boundaries that has allowed human beings to transcend what was initially thought unrealistic or unachievable?
When the question of completing the calendar club was first posed to me on the 31st of March, unrealistic was a word that first came to mind when contemplating doing this challenge in miles.
The calendar club requires a person to run the distance corresponding with the days date for an entire month.
Options to complete this challenge in kilometres or miles were both put forward, however something within me felt that kilometres was too achievable, yet miles seemed like a stretch.
Going back to my first question on pushing physical boundaries, I have come to a point in my life where I recognise that in order to find answers, you must be willing to ask questions of yourself that you may have never asked before.
For me, pushing physical boundaries always brings me back to this question, ”what am I going to learn about myself?”
I recently wrote another article about setting objectives and what it takes to work towards achieving them.
The metaphor I used was likening it to mountaineers with the objective of summiting Mount Everest. In order for climbers to reach the summit, their objective, they must first acclimatise in Nepal and then at Base Camp for months. Furthermore, they must then make a number of seperate pushes in stages to camps at higher altitudes. For mountaineers wanting to summit Everest, or any mountain for that matter, in the literal sense or a figurative sense, they must be prepared to progressively get more uncomfortable as they get closer to their goal.
This is what the Calendar Club was like. It became progressively more uncomfortable as the sun rose at the start of each new day.
Early in the month, the miles were absorbed into my regular training program with the guidance of my coach Jock Campbell from Jock Athletic. (I was actually doing extra miles in the first week or so walking with some personal training clients, following my run program, and running with my run club crew the URC)
The required miles in week one was 28, which equates to just over 45km. A distance I would do weekly throughout the year without question.
Comparatively as I moved into week two the required miles over the next 7 days was 77, which equates to 123km. This would be a peak training week for me leading up to a race.
Week 3 was 126 miles, equating to 202km
Week 4 was 175 miles, equating to 281km
And the final two days, 29 miles and 30 miles were 46.6km & 48.2km respectively.
Shit was about to get real.
A big thing I wrestled with early on in this month, was thinking I was going to try and run every single mile for the month. While I do think that this could have been possible reflecting back on the month, I think it would have been foolish, as completing the month how I did allowed me to not only complete the challenge, but come through the other side with no injuries, and an incredibly strong endurance base to now work with towards some big objectives towards the end of the year.
Consulting with my coach, and making decisions based off how I felt each day, as I passed the 10th of April, I began to split the days distance up into two runs, which proved effective in maintaining my body for the following day. Then as I moved passed the 22nd of April, I began to include some walking miles to again preserve my body for the volume in the remaining days and my push to the summit. The 30th of April.
Throughout this month I got to experience some incredible self discovery, but I also got to share each day with some of the people closest to me who were always willing to put their hand up for a long run or multiple runs each day, as well as connecting virtually with a number of other calendar club members through daily zoom calls and Instagram messages. This reinforced the value in human connection. What was also reinforced, was how incredibly valuable having a big focus on recovery is. Daily ice baths became a thing I truly looked forward to, because I knew how amazing my body would feel afterwards, which in turn got me excited for the following day.
In particular, the 29th of April was the worst day of the month, with heavy fatigue, sore legs, big blisters and chafe but a very long ice bath and some ice and heat packs in the evening had me feeling fresh for my final day.
In just 30 days though, here are some of the biggest lessons that I now am fortunate enough to take with me, for the rest of my life.
I learned the value in not playing small. Set yourself goals that fucking scare you, or at least make you feel uncomfortable just thinking about them. I promise you, you are capable of so much more than you would have ever given yourself credit for previously. At worst, you fail, learn a few things, and you try again.
I learned the value in always placing one foot in front of the other. For the month of April, I meant this in the literal sense. One foot in front of the other always meant I was moving towards my goal. I just had to be prepared to put in the time.
I learned the value in what it means to be truly invested in someone elses success. I learned this from my coaches Jock and Mel Campbell. They consulted with me multiple times a week to check in, but what meant the most to me, was when they turned up for my final kilometre of the month, windy, cold and starting to sprinkle rain. Having them there meant more than they could ever know, because I know they didn’t have to turn up, they wanted to.
And finally, I learned that some of the biggest satisfaction in achieving a big goal, is actually immersing yourself in the process of working towards it.
I also confirmed beer is suitable for re-hydration.
The calendar club, April 1st to April 30th:
835km travelled (a little more than the required 750)
New friends made virtually
New benchmarks set on what is possible physically and mentally
3 pairs of running shoes
Lots of conversations with lots of running partners
Lots of conversations with myself
Over $250 spent on bags of ice
Rediscovered my love for chocolate milk and meat pies after a long run
Finished a run on the steps of the opera house
Set an example for my son to grow up and look up to
Ran in the sun the wind and the rain,
Ran on the road in the bush and on the sand
Time to set a new objective.
Time to start climbing.
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