Burpee, NOUN; aka squat thrust: 1. a full-body exercise that consists of a standing position to a plank, to a push up, to a squat, and then jumping up. 2. an exercise that everybody hates to do.
Yes, you read the title of this post correctly, on Saturday, May 17, 2014, I performed 1,000 burpees... almost effortlessly.
I was in the zone. My mind was clear, my body was loose, and it felt like I wasn't even trying.
The zone is something that every athlete has experienced, but for most people, it is an elusive "x" factor that only comes around on rare occasions.
And especially rare when it has to do with burpees.
So how did I do it?
Before I tell you, let me give you some background...
The reason why I decided to do 1,000 burpees was because my CrossFit box (CrossFit Mercer) was running a burpee fundraiser called Remission Accomplished. The fundraiser celebrated 5-year-old Ryan Cromwell's victory over cancer. His parents, Michelle and Jason Cromwell, along with CrossFit Mercer owner, Dolph Geurds, organized the event as a way to give back to CHOP, the Children's Hospital Of Philadelphia -- the very hospital that saved little Ryan's life.
I told my friends, family, clients, and Facebook/Twitter followers that I would do one burpee for every dollar that I raised. By Friday night, the donation amount was at $193. I was a bit disappointed, but I thought $193 is better than $0. My plan was to complete my 193 burpees and then join my fellow CrossFitter, Ed Wenzel's company team, RedEye. This way I could continue to support the cause long after I had hit my donation total.
I went to bed early, but I couldn't sleep due to the excitement of the challenge. I got up around 11 p.m., checked my phone and noticed that someone had donated an additional $200! I was excited (and nervous to do 200 more burpees).
"I can do 393 burpees," I told myself.
I wanted to shoot for 1,000, but wasn't sure how feasible that goal was, considering the most I had ever done in one day was 100. I set my mind on my goal, but decided to see how the day progressed and how my body reacted. I was sure it would be a marathon, not a sprint.
6 a.m. -- I arrive at CrossFit Mercer, say hi, record a video, set up the live streaming on ustream.com, and get to work. Beginning at 6:15 a.m., I took my time and worked in sets of 10 and 20. By the time I had to leave (7 a.m.), I had performed 250 burpees. Not a bad start. I said my goodbyes until my return in the afternoon when I was done with clients.
7 a.m. -- I head to the Monroe Sports Center to work with some clients, and hoping that I would get some others to donate some burpees, in addition to mine. En route, I grabbed breakfast at a local bagel shop (where I dropped down and did some more burpees).
8 a.m. -- I work with a client and throw in a few more burpees. I also get a few tennis players to do some burpees to add to the fundraiser.
9 a.m. -- I have a one-hour break before my next client, so I roll out my yoga mat in the lobby of the sports center and crank out about 100 more burpees. An older gentleman joined me and it turns out that his wife is on the board of the Children's Hospital Of Philadelphia, a nice coincidence.
10 a.m. -- I work with a client and add a few more burpees to my count.
11 a.m. -- Another break, so I roll out the yoga mat and get ready to do some more burpees. So far I had done over 300 and was closing in on my 393 mark and I ask a random woman, "Would you like to do some burpees with me for a fundraiser?" She responded with, "No thanks, but can I write you a check?" I said, "Of course," and then she handed me a check for $200, which brought my burpee total to 593. So much for being close to reaching my goal. Again, I was thrilled and nervous, at the same time. So I continued performing everybody's least favorite exercise for the rest of my hour break. My mind was clear, and I was a burpee machine. Don't get me wrong, I had negative thoughts come into my head, but I just disregarded them, and by noon, I had done 600 burpees. I reached my goal/minimum of 593.
12 p.m. -- My final client of the day, and I did several burpees during our hour-long session.
1 p.m. -- I make my way back to CrossFit Mercer, picking up a couple bananas, granola bars and beverages to refuel. I also call to book a massage at 7 p.m. to ease and expedite my recovery.
2 p.m. -- At CrossFit Mercer, I officially meet 5-year-old Ryan, our superhero for the day. As a matter of fact, he was wearing a SuperRyan T-shirt with the same logo that all of us burpee participants were wearing on the back of our shirts. After chatting, meeting his family, and snapping some photos, I get back to work. I had nearly 400 burpees to go.
3:15 p.m. -- I reach the 900 burpee mark. I'm happy, but my body isn't. I feel a bit light-headed, with a headache coming on. My body begins tightening up. Time is on my side, so I take a break, eat a banana and granola bar, and chug some water. Until the 900 mark, I was doing sets of 10 or 20 burpees, but now had to resort to sets of five. Luckily, I got my second wind, and had my friend Dee performing burpees next to me, so I kept on going.
4:15 p.m. (the 10 hour mark) -- I finish my final set of five and fall to the ground, having completed 1,000 burpees.
So how did I do it? How was I able to be in the "zone" for 1,000 burpees?
As a mental performance consultant, I know some truths:
1. When performing any activity (sports or otherwise), you will inevitably have negative, insecure, and interfering thoughts come into your head. This is true whether you are a beginner or world champion. The difference is that the world champions don't concern themselves with those thoughts. We can't all be world champions, but we can all have the same mindset as one.
2. Complaining and worrying are choices we make. According to Ryan's mother, Michelle, he never complained during his cancer treatments. He would just "scoot around the halls with his IV pole." Not even a second round of chemo could affect Ryan's well being because, "He knew what he had to do." During my 1,000 burpees, when those negative thoughts came into my head, I didn't concern myself with them because I too knew "what I had to do." With children fighting for their lives, I could do 1,000 burpees in one day, especially for such a good cause.
3. A dream without a team is a nightmare. Could I have done 1,000 burpees by myself? Probably, but it would have been more difficult without others' support and encouragement. And the day would not have even occurred without the idea from the organizers. I am proud to say I raised $593 and even prouder that as a whole CrossFit Mercer raised more than $10,000. I wasn't thinking about doing 1,000 burpees that day, I was just focused on doing one burpee... 1,000 times.
So what does my burpee story have to do with you?
You may never have to do 1,000 burpees, but there will surely be challenging things that you will face in your life. You don't have to be a CrossFitter, or even an athlete for that matter, to have a winning mindset and access to the zone. No matter what happens to you, or what interfering thoughts come into your head, if you just let thoughts come and go, your mind will be clear. And when your mind is clear, you will be able to stay in the moment. And when you stay in the moment, you just might do what you previously thought was impossible.
Connect with Ed:
Free Peak Performance Course: www.edtseng.com