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December, 2016:

I will run 2,017 kilometers in 2017

running1The title says it. I’m announcing to the world that I will run 2,017 kilometers by the end of 2017. There’s no getting out of it now without looking like a fool. I’ll hate myself for 364 days, but by December 31, 2017, I will think differently. I hope.

Running is my main means of exercise. I don’t hate running, but I don’t love it, either.  It’s boring, because most of the time I have to run on a treadmill. My family doctor told me that running outside is easier because something happens to your brain when you run outside. You sort of hypnotize yourself. That does NOT happen to me on the treadmill.

So, because I can’t enter a brain-numbed state of blissful detachment, I need something to distract me from running. I need something to help me forget that I’m annoying my body. Sometimes reading works, but it depends on the subject matter. Zombie apocalypse novels are good, because the scary parts provide a nice dash of adrenaline. I liked this one, for example. But there are only so many zombie apocalypse novels that are worth reading.

I also bought an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet so I could watch movies and TV shows while I run. This one only cost me $40 when it was on sale last year, it was ridiculously cheap.  That helps. The Quizlet app is another good distraction.

Now I can add another aspect to my exercise routine. I have set a goal for myself. I will run 2,017 kilometers in 2017.

The goal can also be broken down into sub-units. If my yearly goal is 2,017, then my monthly goal is 168. My weekly goal is 38.79. And so on. If I run for more than 39 km in a week, that’s great. That will mean that I have banked up some progress toward my goal, so I could take a break in some future week.

The concept of “gamification” is really intriguing. The idea is to add a level of competition, score-keeping and goal-setting to a task. You have to somehow quantify what you’re doing so you can keep track. In this case, it’s straightforward. I have a specific goal (2,017 km) that is countable in units. The more I run, the more units I accumulate, and the closer I get to reaching my goal.

This will also be a motivator to help me get to the gym. The psychology of gamification is that you “earn” some sort of “points” by doing the task. The points aren’t really real outside of the game, but the idea of accumulating points is motivating. The same principle applies to video games. The points that you earn by playing video games aren’t really worth anything, but they still have some value to the players.

So that’s my goal for 2017. I will run 2,017 kilometers by the end of the year.

What’s your goal? What can you do 2,017 of in 2017? Join the 2017 challenge.

Because I’m a nerd who likes to make web apps, I’m going to make a leaderboard web app where I will chart my progress. You can track your progress there as well. I’ll post a link as soon as it’s done.

What can I do 2,017 of?

Yesterday I read a thread on the “running” subreddit about running 2017 miles in 2017. It seems like a lot of running, and it is. You would have to run an average of 5.5 miles every day in order to reach that goal. That is not a realistic goal for me. I ran about 800 miles in 2016. So 2,017 miles in a year isn’t going to happen. I would probably do serious damage to my knees if I tried.

Still, the idea of doing 2,017 of something is intriguing. My sister the writer commented that she could try for writing that many pages. I’m not a writer, so I don’t know if that’s a lot. I assume it is. A good-sized novel is 400-500 pages. It seems reasonable to take a year to write a (good) novel. I guess you could write a lousy novel in a few weeks. If you were a super-speedy lousy writer, you could pump out a novel in three months, and if you did four 500-page novels in a year, that would help you hit the goal of 2,017 pages in a year.

I’m not a writer, so that isn’t even an option for me. If I were a baker, I could make 2,017 cookies. Or if I were a singer, I could sing 2,017 songs. A film critic could watch 2,017 movies (that’s too many movies). With a little creative thinking, it isn’t hard to brainstorm a pretty good list of units that you can accumulate 2,017 of in a year.

You could also get abstract and say that you were going to make 2,017 positive comments in the year. That’s an average of 5-6 every day. That wouldn’t be hard. Complement someone on their outfit, say thank you (and really mean it), wish a few people a nice day (sincerely), point out the nice weather, and you could get there pretty easily, I think. Plus, by reaching your goal, you would be making the world a little more pleasant 2,107 different times.

I’m currently in language training, and will be for the next 5-6 months. I could make a goal of saying 2,107 unique sentences in Vietnamese, or learning 2,017 new words. But language training will end before the year is half over. I want a goal that I can work on all year. I want a target that will keep me motivated through 11:59:59 pm on December 31, 2017.

Whatever I decide to do, I will tell everyone that I know. I read somewhere that you can force yourself to persist in your goal if you publicize it. It’s a strategy of motivation through public shaming. If you want to quit, then you will have to quit in full view of everyone. Everyone that you told about your goal will be a witness to your failure. Human beings are social animals. Remember the old playground chant: “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” That’s a load of bullstuff. Names hurt. A lot. We really care about what our friends think of us. No one wants to be a failure in the eyes of his friends. So putting yourself out there with a public commitment is a pretty strong motivator.

I will think about this, and decide on my goal. If you have any ideas, let me know. And feel free to make your own goal. What can you do 2,017 of in 2017?

You haven’t had a cookie

Until you’ve had a cookie at the National Building Museum. 

Also, the building itself is magnificent. Almost as impressive as the cookies. 

When will this madness end?

The pumpkin spice craze is getting out of hand. 

All I want for Christmas

Is this cup of hazelnut coffee, made with real hazelnuts, with a splash of egg nog added to it. 

God Bless America

I dream about this when I live abroad. 

This is not a political post

It’s a thought-provoking quote from an article in Time magazine, on the nature of the presidency:

“No president, whether having served for many years or a partial term, has stepped away with his work complete, nor without some baggage left behind in the Oval Office. The presidency is a relay race with no known finish line, and America’s challenges and opportunities persist through each passing of the baton.”

Honor and Effort: What President Obama Achieved in Eight Years

 

Delicious

Crack an egg into the hole where the avocado pit was, microwave until the egg is done. Serve with toast. Yum!

Thanks for the idea, Daniel!



Red-Tail Hawk at FSI

Taken right outside the cafeteria. 

Enjoying the Season

Even though we are crazy busy with language classes, we are also trying to take advantage of the seasonal festivities in DC.

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The Botanical Gardens, near the Capitol on the Mall, has a series of evening music programs.

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Last night was a good program of Christmas jazz.