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What 100+ Kilometers of Walking Lunges Over 8 Months Taught Me (And Why I Wouldn’t Recommend Lunging At 4am With A Flashlight)

activelifestyle exerciseprogramming goalsetting strengthtraining Aug 04, 2022

 But why? Is usually the first question that comes up whenever telling someone about my goal. And I’m sure you’re wondering the same thing, right?


Well I’ll get to that in a minute.


First, let’s lay down some groundwork:


Don’t try this at home is probably a good starting point. I have been working on the lunge for well over a decade, intentionally, and had built myself up to being ready to take on a challenge like this. That being said, if this inspires you to do something crazy to push yourself too, I won’t be upset.


For those trying to figure out the math, it broke down something like this:

  • I lunged at least a full mile one day a week
  • Most weeks I lunged 6 days a week, taking Sunday off
  • At my lowest I was doing 200m of lunges on the days I didn’t do a full mile, at my highest I was doing 800m of lunges every day with a mile on Saturdays
  • So on a heavy volume week, it would come out to about 3.5 miles of walking lunges over the course of 6 days
  • My first mile took me about 70 minutes, my best mile (last mile) finished at 42 minutes


Feeling sick or shaky in the legs thinking about it yet? I’m glad I didn’t think about it too much before diving in head first. Diving in head first is a great way to be too naïve to know how bad something is going to be, but not the best strategy for things you want to think all the way through.


Alright let’s get back to why I would ever decide to lunge that much.


I discovered the inspiration of walking lunges for cardio from Cory Gregory who popularized the idea along with things like squatting every day. I saw the idea, and thought it would be cool to push myself physically and mentally, so I decided to give it a shot.


Now this is not my professional recommendation at all, but I decided to jump right into doing a mile.


Bad idea. Stairs and getting off the toilet wasn’t so fun those first couple days after.


But I was hooked. For someone that can quickly get hooked on something fun and challenging, I committed right there to keep this up.


My goal was a year of doing a mile lunge every single week.


What started as doing a mile once a week turned into lunging 6 days a week in some capacity. Some days shorter, some days longer, but every week a full mile.


The reason was kind of for the physical benefits to start, but as with anything it’s never just the physical that’s being strengthened.


My legs were already strong. I sure wouldn’t mind leaning up some more and seeing my abs, and I thought it would help.


I love lifting more than I love high intensity cardio or running, so this seemed like the perfect balance to complement my strength training.


The mental challenge was doing something hard every day. At first I never looked forward to doing lunges, almost always at the end of an already hard workout, but I developed a lot of mental toughness from it.


The spiritual benefit for me was being quiet. I would rarely lunge with any music, podcasts, etc, so I got a lot of time just to think and be alone with God. A lot of good ideas came to me on my lunges, I can probably write a whole separate post on that alone (in fact a lot of ideas for my upcoming book probably came from those lunge walks).


From a consistency and integrity standpoint, there’s something powerful to doing something you want to get better at every single day.


I’ve found anytime I’ve committed to something, and kept a promise to myself to keep that, I’ve never regretted the valuable things I learned through the process.


That doesn’t mean the outcome was always where I wanted it to be, but you’ll always learn more through the process than from the outcome.


I know what you’re thinking - but you committed to a year and you stopped 4 months short. How is that keeping a promise and why did I stop at 8 months?


One of the most powerful things I’ve learned in recent years will be surprising for a lot of people.


Ready for it?


A lot of people would love to be able to commit to 3 days a week at the gym, let alone 5-6 days of gym PLUS miles of walking lunges every week.


But for me it’s different. For me it’s difficult to commit to something and not follow all the way through with it.


But in the last few years, this has been one of my biggest growths. The ability to set a goal and actually choose to give up on the goal it if it’s no longer serving me or the original reason I started it.


This doesn’t mean quitting when it’s tough or uncomfortable - that happened much sooner than 8 months.


Once I almost got attacked by a homeless gentleman when I was lunging at 4am in the dark with a flashlight. Yes, in hindsight I can see why that wasn’t smart.


Another time I lunged around my friend’s Texas neighborhood (also in the dark) while visiting them, on 4 hours of sleep, because it was the only time I was able to complete it. It’s one way to risk an anonymous report of suspicious activity, but thankfully that didn’t happen.


Come to think of it, this also started only a couple months into having our daughter, so no sleep was pretty much the norm throughout this.


So if we can agree that I was capable, mentally and physically, to reach the goal - let’s talk about why I decided to stop. Which is actually a sign of maturity for me.


First, my body felt burned out, overworked, and exhausted. Not just my legs - actually my legs probably least of all. I was also squatting about 3x/week a during this and feeling really good with it. My knees felt great. I was hitting numbers in the gym that I hadn’t in a long time.


But the rest of my body, my overall nervous system and recovery, was definitely off. I was flirting with red line, which I’ve done before, and knew it was not a good line to cross. Keep pushing through this and you’ll reach some unwanted consequences. Just take my word on it.


Also, I got to the point where I had other goals that were more important. The mental challenge was great at the beginning, but to be honest a mile of lunges was no longer super challenging. The day after day grind wore on me more than the challenge of the actual lunges.


Another thing was that it was no longer the best for how I was showing up as a husband and a father. Working out for an average of 90 minutes with a newborn and a wife at home is not the best way to show up in those relationships (although our daughter took a lot of stroller lunge walks with her dad). I was naive to how much time my physical goals would take up - and anytime those begin to overshadow the relationships that matter most to me, it’s a time I’ve learned to draw a hard line, even if it means ‘falling short’ of the original goal.


I’m thankful to have a wife that is so supportive of my crazy goals. She was a rockstar crushing a half mile of lunges less than 6 months after our daughter was born. You think my accomplishments are cool, she needs to write a story on this too.


But I’ve learned the goal served an original purpose to make me better. To make me better physically, mentally, and in other areas. But there comes a turning point where the goal that once was serving that purpose is now working against it. If you find yourself at that point, I’ve learned it’s more courageous sometimes to back down than it is to power through.


Finally, I learned the long way that no amount of cardio without good nutrition will help me reach my body composition goals. When I originally started lunging, it became an excuse to eat more of whatever I want. I was able to get away with this for a little while, but as with any form of exercise, you reach a point where you can’t out exercise too high of a calorie intake.


What started as healthy, became unhealthy for me. It was taking up too much headspace, time, and energy trying to figure out where to fit it all in. I felt guilty when I missed a day. I would overeat like crazy at the end of a long week of lunging only to see constant yo-yo in my weight and physique.


If you’ve gotten stuck in this pattern, maybe you can relate.


I’ve done a lot of crazy things when it comes to my fitness, my nutrition, and my overall health. If you’re thinking about trying something, I’ve probably tried it (or decided not to try it) for a specific reason. Before you go doing anything new and crazy, take the shortcut and learn from me.


If you reach out to me with your health and fitness goals, I’d be more than happy to guide you and give you my personal and professional opinion. Most people don’t give enough thought to what they’re doing. They just do it because they either always have or they feel like they have to in order to (lose weight/build muscle/get in shape).


Too many people think trying harder is the answer. So they go at it alone and think that more effort will get them to where they want to be. And then they beat themselves up when they don’t live up to that standard of effort.


But not you. You’re smarter than that and take advantage of wisdom when wisdom is available to help you reach your goals faster.


Text me what goal you’re working towards in health and fitness. And if you feel stuck let me know that too so I know where I can help out. Text me at (760) 477-4361 and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can with any advice or encouragement I have to keep you on pace for your goals.

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