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The Overnight

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The Out of the Darkness Overnight is an 18-mile journey through the night, from dusk until dawn. It’s a unique opportunity to bring the issues of depression and suicide into the light.  The 2010 American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Overnight will be held June 26-27 in Boston.  I began this site to document my training for the 2009 Overnight, but it’s turned into something more.

Spring comes to Madison

This is the same lake (Lake Monona) that I walked around last week where the men were ice fishing.  No ice today, but the air temperature was about 10 degrees cooler than last week.

Training: 1.50 miles in 31 minutes and 29 seconds

Having it all

Today was a rare, well balanced day. Work was excpetionally fulfilling today, I got to spend some time with both of my adult children, and I was able to exercise in the sun. 

Still following the recommendation of my physical therapist, I only walked one mile today. My venue was a park that I’ve passed frequently, but never walked through. As today was one of the first 60 degree days of 2010 in Milwaukee, the park was packed with people in good moods.

Scheduled training: 1 easy mile
Actual training: 1.01 miles in 22 minutes and 27 secondsPulaski Park

One step at a time

Lake Monona, Madison, WIIt was a wonderful day to resume training. On Wednesdays, I have business in Madison, which is about 80 miles from Milwaukee where I live. The weather was nice today in Milwaukee, but even better in Madison where there is no cooling effect from Lake Michigan.

My physical therapist advised me to go no more than one mile a day this week, and it was frustrating to stick to that, but it was great to walk with no pain.  It was 60 degrees out, and I was sweating even in short sleeves due to the sun.  As I walked along Lake Monona, I thought there can be no better time of year than when the rollerbladers and ruuners in shorts are circling the ice fishermen. In case you think I’m exaggerating, here is another photo from this afternoon.  
Ice fishing in 60 degree weather 
Scheduled training: 1 easy mile
Actual training: 1.00 miles in 21 minutes 41 seconds

Still on hold

The weather is gorgeous, and while I would have loved to walk today, I followed my physical therapist’s instructions to hold off walking until I replace my walking shoes. Tomorrow is pay day, and I plan to head to the running store for an updated gait analysis. It will be interesting to see if anything has changed since last year. With the PT, my flexibility is better than it’s been in the last decade, and I think my balance has improved, too. Surely there has been some impact on my gait, as well. I’m anxious to see what shoe I come out with.  Mostly, I’m anxious to walk again. Especially with my new, improved feet.

A System That Worked

As planned, this week has been devoted to getting some systems into place to help stay organized before I return to my training for The Overnight.  I’ve said before that some people seem to be able to stay organized without some kind of system, but I’ve never been one of them.  It was wonderful timing that I happened to see an article at Lifehacker this past Saturday that inspired the week to come.

The article, Focus on 8-Minute Increments to Beat Back Chores, suggests setting a timer and seeing how much you can accomplish in the eight minutes.  I decided to try it out that day.  I have seven rooms in my home, and so I decided to do one “round” of eight minutes per room, which would come out to just about an hour.  I was amazed how much I accomplished in the first round.  I’ve previously done 15 and 20 minute segments, but I’ve never tried eight.  With the eight minute blocks, I discovered that I maintained a sense of urgency throughout the designated time.  That urgency continued when I switched rooms at the sound of the timer.

Here are the things I like about using this system over any others I’ve tried before:

  • After one hour (or one “round”), I can see improvement in every room of the house. In the past, I’ve had a meticulous bedroom, but an embarrassing dining room, for example.  I’d feel great when I was in the bedroom, but overwhelmed by the rest of the house, which remained unchanged.  With this method, no matter where I go, I see signs of progress.
  • Goals are easier to meet. Most of my systems in the past involved one room or major activity (errands, for example) per day.  That’s fine when everything is already well-organized, but once chaos has set in, completing a whole room can be too large a goal to reasonably complete after a long work day.  On the other hand, if I make my goal seven 8-minute rounds, I can be satisfied that I have met my goal even if work remains for the next day.
  • The system itself doesn’t take up much of my time. As the Lifehacker article points out, it isn’t logical to spend more time making lists, assigning priorities, and checking off tasks than the chore itself would take to complete.  It took me less than 30 seconds to switch from one room to another and reset the timer with the 8-minute method.  The lack of wasted time allowed the sense of urgency I wrote of earlier to continue.

It astonished me, but it took only three rounds to clean my house to a point that I felt in control again.  That means just three hours.  For nearly nine months, I lived in chaos that didn’t need to happen.  I guess I assumed it would take me the equivalent of two 40 hour work weeks to get things back in order, but it was nowhere near that.  There are still things to do in the kitchen and spare room, but I would guess that would take less than 5 hours to do everything that I would like in those rooms.

My house isn’t back to the state of perfection that I kept it in for the first several months after the kids moved out, but it doesn’t need to be.  It is clean and tidy to the point that when I enter my home, a wave of calm comes over me.  As I start training again tomorrow, I will continue to incorporate the 8-minute method into my weekly schedule.  Some days will feature one or two full “rounds,” while others will have only one or two 8-minute session.  I haven’t given up list making entirely, but now the lists are reserved for tasks I might not remember without a written reminder.

I’d love to hear from anyone else who tries this system.  How did it work for you?  Let me know in the comments!

Status Update

My three week break from training in order to get organized is nearly over.  In nearly every way, this time has given me what I needed.  All of the rooms of my house are clean simultaneously for the first time since June of last year, which has restored the sense of peace I had long forgotten used to be the norm for me.

During this time off, I’ve been continuing physical therapy for plantar fasciitis and seeing a chiropractor for neck issues aggravated by a fall down the stairs.  This week, I reached physical milestones with both my feet flexibility and my posture.  My physical therapist did throw a wrench into the works with my idea of starting with the 15 week schedule on Sunday, though.  He said that I should not walk more than 1 mile per day for the first week.  Maybe it’s the peace from the lack of chaos in my home, but I’m not agitated by this unexpected plan change.  As soon as I have a new training plan set up, I will post it.