I have made some progress since I set out in May to train for the Rugged Maniac, but I have had a variety of setbacks too — injuries, accidents, heat waves, traveling, being barely able to walk after Mount Katahdin. When I realized I had six weeks to go before the obstacle race, I needed to seriously step it up.
I’ve never been a video gamer, other than brief obsessions with Pac-Man and Tetris ages ago. My boys and husband are very into gaming, though. One of my boys in particular gets motivated by collecting “achieves,” little symbols that mark reaching achievements in the game. He will devote hours of otherwise uninteresting gaming to collecting an achieve.
When my other son was given some end-of-summer homework to brush up on Algebra, he went about it halfheartedly — until he noticed that Khan Academy was tracking his progress and giving him achieves for his accomplishments, and then he started putting in some extra hours on his own.
I decided to jump in and use some gaming techniques to inspire myself when I saw the TEDx talk given by Steve of Nerd Fitness in which he describes how he levels up his life.
How to Train for a Race Like It’s a Video Game
In gaming, new characters start out inexperienced; as they accomplish quests in the game, they earn experience points (XP). With extra XP, they gain new abilities and strength. As I train for the Rugged Maniac, I earn XP by completing runs and weightlifting workouts.
I am earning experience points by running and weightlifting, with some extra points awarded for other types of exercise. Each time I earn 25 experience points, I level up.
Level 1: Newbie (completed)
1 XP: Made a six-week countdown chart (8/18/12)
2 XP: Completed a run (8/19/12)
2 XP: Completed a Bowflex workout (8/20/12)
2 XP: Completed a run (8/21/12)
2 XP: Completed a Bowflex workout (8/22/12)
2 XP: Completed a run (8/23/12)
2 XP: Completed a Bowflex workout (8/24/12)
1 XP: Played mixed doubles (8/24/12)
1 XP: Completed a Cardio Tennis class (8/25/12)
2 XP: Completed a run (8/26/12)
2 XP: Completed a Bowflex workout (8/27/12)
2 XP: Completed a run (8/28/12)
2 XP: Completed a Bowflex workout (8/29/12)
1 XP: Played mixed doubles (8/31/12)
2 XP: Played in a tennis tournament (9/1/12)
I leveled up, so I am now on Level 2.
Level 2: Sticking with it (in progress)
1 XP: Played women’s doubles (9/3/12)
2 XP: Completed a Bowflex workout (9/3/12)
2 XP: Completed a run (9/4/12)
I also am earning achieves as I reach milestones in my training.
Three weeks to go!
An aside: As a teacher, I am intrigued about possible classroom applications. Completed homework three nights in a row? Used complete sentences in an entire essay? Didn’t steal anyone’s pencil for a solid week? (Just kidding about the last one.) Would awarding collectable achieves motivate seventh-graders in Language Arts class?
UPDATE: Rugged Maniac Race Report
How do you motivate yourself to work out?
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