July 2021 – The Push-Up Post Mortem

Looking back, it was obvious even by mid-November that Christmas 2020 would be like no other in modern history. The season’s habitual cheer unmistakably vacant as the third wave of coronavirus infections surpassed anything we’d experienced during the first half of 2020. Even before the official announcement on 4 January 2021, the media had primed us all for a potential (if not inevitable) third nationwide lockdown. After the initial disappointment of the government’s announcement, I, like so many others, started thinking of constructive ways to combat the monotony of being stuck indoors and having nowhere to go as our civil liberties were once again curtailed.

For some, it was jigsaws; for others, painting and crafts. For me, it was personal fitness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no slouch, but I’ve never been one for going to the gym or weight training. So, what better way to tackle the winter lockdown than by doing as much of something I hate everyday until the restrictions eased, namely… push-ups. I hate doing push-ups; always have, always will. Nonetheless, if something fills you with dread, you should probably be doing more of it. So, after discussing it with Mrs M., I agreed to try and do at least 100 push-ups every day alongside work and personal commitments for the entirety of the lockdown starting on 6 January and continuing all the way through to 11 April (or beyond depending on how the pandemic unfolded). To keep track of my progress (and act as a nagging reminder to actual do the wretched things), I decided to post my daily totals on my Twitter account, @wmts_translates.

The first step of any journey is always the hardest and Day 1 of the WMTS Push-Up Challenge was certainly a tough one with only 86 completed.

Now, I’m only human, and as such, I have many endearing and not so endearing qualities. My worst (according to Mrs M.) is my perfectionism and the fact that I hate being bested. This came in handy between Days 2 and 10 where I managed to complete more than 100 push-ups every day.

Feeling confident, I decided to up the ante on Day 11, aiming, from then on, to complete at least 200 a day. Increased discipline was required to fit them into my busy work day and I eventually hit on doing reps of 20-25 push-ups spaced about 30 minutes apart. Obviously, this all hinged on work and most days I only reached the 200-mark once my son was tucked up in bed. Over the following three weeks, I only failed to reach the new target on three occasions.

By day 20, progress had definitely been made. The pain of lactic acid had all but disappeared and my numbers steadily increased over the following days.

Day 36 represented the high-water mark of the challenge with a massive 310 push-ups completed. I remember it being a very, very long day and from then on I decided 200 a day was the right target for me.

Fatigue, both mental and physical, began to set in around mid-February and from Day 42, my daily total started to fluctuated. If Day 36 was the peak, Day 46 was the trough. My arms and back ached so much that I thought it best to take a break from the push-ups with a big, fat 0 completed.

I had been bested, but it didn’t deter me from carrying on. From that point on, I occasionally hit the 200 mark, but mainly I hovered around 100 or so a day.

On Day 96 (the last day of the challenge), I may have limped over the line with just 60 push-ups, but I’d made it to 11 April having done (more or less) what I’d set out to do at the beginning of January. Over the entire period, I managed a very respectable 15,246 push-ups. That’s an average of 159 a day.

So, it’s now nearly three months since my push-up challenge ended and some of you may suspect that I’ve simply slipped back in to my old routine, right? Well, the last thing I wanted was for this challenge to be reduced to a simple series of updates on my twitter feed; I wanted it to be a positive and constructive experience.

If the challenge has taught me anything, it’s that it’s always possible to do more and since mid-April I’ve continued to fit in as many push-ups as I can every day. Some days it hasn’t been possible, but overall I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in my overall fitness and posture (especially when sat at my desk, which is a massive bonus). Continually pushing myself, both personally or professionally, is certainly something I’m taking into the second half of 2021, and beyond. Finally, WMTS is also embarking on a new fundraising challenge for a very, very good cause. More on that to come soon…

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Author: Will Maitland

German and French > English Freelance Translator

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