Last week I wrote about Burpees for Vets and singing up to do the fundraiser. I pledged to do 20,000 burpees in roughly 200 days.
I've done my share of burpees over the years, but not in this kind of dedicated daily fashion where I need to average 100 burpees a day.
My first set of 100 for Burpees for Vets was on June 12. Since then, to this moment as I'm typing these words, I've executed 875. After work, on my way to pick up kids from daycare, I'm stopping by a small park and putting in 125 burpees. So figuring that all goes right with this plan, I'll have accumulated 1000 burpees in nine days.
(I've noticed that there are some doing Burpees for Vets that are knocking out 300 per day, in some cases more, so it gives me some interesting perspective).
What's it been like? I think the most interesting thing I have to say is that it's a drill in basic self discipline and, as author Steven Pressfield has put it, an exercise in how to fight mental resistance.
Particularly on days that excuses for opting out were handed to me like hastily-wrapped Christmas presents. Two days into the nine, last Friday, I woke up with what felt like a wisp of a head cold. By 2pm that day things had escalated from cold to wanting to raid the nearest drug store for relief. It would have been easy to rationalize not doing burpees. They could drive the cold into my lungs, per my limited knowledge about what to do when you get a cold (I don't know if that's right or not. It's just something I heard somewhere).
The risk in doing the burpees was that I'd get more sick. The risk in not doing them was that I'd lose this new discipline I had just started building. So in sets of five rep, broken up by long, gasping recoveries, I got through the 100 for the day.
I didn't get sicker. But on Saturday morning, with my 16-month-old daughter asleep in my arms, I was going upstairs to put her in her crib. At the top of the steps, I stubbed the baby toe on my right foot like I was trying to drive a nail with it. I think I mouthed a few expletives and let the wave of pain rush through my nervous system. And I wondered if I broke it. It turned deep purple that day.
Again, I was confronted with a choice. Should I be jumping off the ground with a toe the color of my son's favorite crayon?
I found some deep grass in the backyard and it actually wasn't so bad. The cold was still kind of a drag, but I did them. Then on Sunday, Father's Day, we went to a playground as a family and after playing with the kids for a while I knocked out