For my century post, I looked back at how this blog has evolved over the first 100 posts:
I pressed “publish” on my first post on 11 July 2012 and at that time I didn’t really know what I wanted this blog to be. I was new to blogging, I was new to social media. I hadn’t had to sit down and write regularly since I was in school. Would I reach 100 posts? At that stage, I wasn’t sure that I would reach 10.
Looking back at it now, I’m pleased to say that my first post did try to articulate why I had set up this site:
The Challenge. Can I get fitter (and stay fitter) and, in doing so, allow myself the luxury of eating good food when I want? Can I really have the best of both worlds?
My first few posts were all about my nascent running endeavours and it was not until post number four that I remembered to mention anything about food. This was reflective of my focus at that time: I ate very well already, it was the running that was new and that was what I focussed on in my blogging. It wasn’t until September that there was the first real shift in emphasis on the blog, with the introduction of two new challenges. One of them in particular, the Year in Beer challenge, meant that I started to write about other things, not just running and exercise.
The blog began to show a few signs of schizophrenia. One week it would tell you all about running or swimming, the next week it would be all about the beer I was drinking or the food I was eating.
I was enjoying writing about both things but, as the running became “just something I did” I found that I had less to say about it. My attention turned to swimming and I began to document the process of improving my swimming performance, aware that I was falling into the trap of only being able to find things to talk about when first trying something new. At the same time, the beer-related posts carried on apace, structured around a once-monthly update. Perhaps more structure was the answer?
Into 2013, and Janathon provided the necessary structure to my blogging. Too much structure in fact, with a post-a-day soon defeating me. I am too verbose to be able to generate blog posts everyday.
As 2013 continued, I found that I enjoyed writing the food and drink posts more than I did the exercise-related ones. In part, this was because I was, again, trying something new all the time: not only the beers themselves, but I was also learning all about beer, the different styles, how it is made, what people like (and what they don’t; believe me when I say that there are lots of angry beer geeks out there on the internet), what I like and why I like it. It was also very satisfying to be able to tick the beers off on my list and as the challenge aspect of the Year in Beer came more to the fore, so I enjoyed it even more. Having to search out the missing beers was in itself fun, and it also gave me an enjoyable purpose in my writing.
A Year in Beer also got this blog the widest exposure it has had to-date, when I got the opportunity to write a guest post for the Independent’s blog, all about my quest to try all 50 of their top beers.
At the same time, exercise was becoming less fun and I was less inclined to write about it. I was working longer and longer hours and where exercise should have been a happy counterpoint to that, I soon found that I was neglecting it due to a perceived lack of time (and a very real lack of motivation). A vicious circle. I also injured myself, which didn’t help. All in all, the exercise blogging fell off a metaphorical cliff.
The saving grace for those of you who visit this blog expecting to still see some accounts of me actually doing something energetic came in the form of Parkrun. Again, it was something new (are you spotting a pattern here yet?) and I was able to challenge myself afresh. Not only over 5 kilometres, but also to be up and out in time to go running at nine in the morning on a Saturday. I enjoyed Parkrun and I enjoyed writing about it. Over the second half of 2013, it became something I returned to a few times within different blog posts.
The biggest change for the blog came about when I started casting around for a challenge to follow on from the Year in Beer. It needed to be something where I could try (and write about) something new. It needed to be something that I enjoyed learning about. I had a fair idea that writing about local food and drink would satisfy both those aims, but I had no idea that it would trigger a real enthusiasm for local produce and local businesses. I really enjoy writing about the places we visit and the food and drink we have tried. So much so that it has shunted the exercise-related posts even further into the background. Did I imagine, when setting up this blog, that the focus would have shifted so dramatically? Not at all. But let’s go with it; if I enjoy writing about it and you still enjoy reading about it, then where’s the harm?
Oh yeah. There is still the small matter of that original aim. If, 100 posts into this little adventure, all I have managed to do is find new and exciting things to eat and drink then I have not really helped to meet that original challenge.
Can I get fitter (and stay fitter) and, in doing so, allow myself the luxury of eating good food when I want? Can I really have the best of both worlds?
There must still be a balance. Starting out, I wanted to make this challenge public so that you could all keep me honest. I could pretend to myself that I was getting enough exercise; it would be much harder to pretend to you through this blog. I expected to come to love the exercising, but I’m not sure that I have. I really enjoy running and swimming when I go, however I do not have the burning desire to do it all the time. I am not as passionate and committed as the many excellent exercise bloggers I have found on the internet and I have come to accept that I never will be. It doesn’t mean that I should stop trying though. It just means that I should be more realistic.
Looking towards the future, I see this blog taking off in several directions. I hope that I can achieve this without it becoming truly schizophrenic and disjointed.
I want to continue to support, find out about and tell you about local producers.
I want to continue to explore new things and to tell you about them.
I want to continue to use this blog to track the levels of exercise I’m doing; what I’m doing and how well it’s going.
I want to be more realistic about the exercise I’m doing.
So that was how I was feeling after 100 posts. At the end of the day, I was pleased to report that this blog would remain a collection of my thoughts, witterings and musings (with the occasional stick man thrown in for good measure). It worked okay for the first 100 posts after all.