Jantastic 2015 – How was it for you?

 Mine started out okay, but ended dismally (if you’ve read my blog, you’ll know why).

If you haven’t heard of Jantastic, it’s a yearly challenge, starting in January, funnily enough. Over the course of twelve weeks, participants are encouraged to set themselves goals and targets, and to log their activities for the chance to win virtual badges, and a sense of achievement. You can also join teams, and hopefully, encourage each other along. 

The challenge is broken down into three stages; the first four weeks focus on achieving a specific number of activities per week. The second four week stage then asks for a longest distance target for each week, as well as committing to so many workouts. The final four weeks then asks you to set a time challenge. You pick the distance, and the time that you want to achieve. Pretty simple, really.

The idea behind Jantastic appears to stem from the many people who use New Years Resolutions to begin a new fitness regime. Quite often, these fail after a few weeks. By encouraging people to commit, it should give them a target, and hopefully make exercise a habit. The progressions, from doing X workouts a week, through to a time trial, can show people how they get on, how they’ve improved, and gives them something to work towards. A bit like those people who pick a race, and train for that. It also takes into account that some people might be starting up from scratch, so doesn’t put too much pressure on them, as they get to choose what they do.

It also tied in well with the “This Girl Can” campaign. I applaud anything that can get more women to throw off their inhibitions, and anxieties, and get out their and exercise regularly.

I took part in last year’s Jantastic, which focused solely on running (you can read my review here). This year, I decided not to set up a team. I joined the Leicester Runners team, instead. I felt a sense of responsibility with the team I set up, and felt a bit disillusioned by the lack of effort some people put in (or didn’t). Don’t get me wrong, I know some people don’t get on with exercise, or others get ill or injured. I even understand that it’s easy to forget to log workouts. It was the people who signed up to a team, then did nothing. It might be my competitive nature shining through here, but that had a detrimental effect on the team score. Me no likey. That’s why I joined a team, and focused on my own goals. Not quite the team player, not this year.

This year’s Jantastic had a slightly different format. Here are my observations;

  • Jantastic no longer applied to just runners and joggers. This year, swimming and cycling workouts could be added. Anybody put off by the thought of taking up running, but wanted to take part in a motivational challenge, could join in, if they took up cycling or swimming. This change benefitted anyone who cross trains, as they can take their other activities into consideration. It was also good for anyone who developed an injury, and had to switch from, say, running to cycling. Finally, anyone thinking of training for a triathlon, or a duathlon, could use Jantastic as a kick up the backside, as people could set targets for that, too.
  • It seemed easier to change targets this year, compared with last. I only noticed because I struggled to stay fit this year, as well, and had to revise mine.
  • You could vary the types of workouts, so you could have started with running, and finished with swimming. Again, a bonus if you struggled to stay fit and healthy.
  • The time trial target changed; last year, you had to be pretty much spot on. If you aimed for a 25 minute parkrun, and ran 26 minutes, you didn’t get 100%. Neither did you get 100% if you ran it in 24 minutes, which seemed a bit unfair if your training went better than expected. I fell foul of this, and didn’t get 100% last year, simply because I ran quicker than I thought I would. This year, if you met your time goal, or went quicker, you got your 100%. I am bitter, yes.
  • The minimum requirement for a workout also changed. As last year’s Jantastic focused solely on running, all you had to do to log a workout was to run at least one mile. This year, that wasn’t going to be feasible, given the differences between the three disciplines, so a 30 minute workout was suggested. It quite clearly stated that this was a guideline, and as Jantastic used an “honesty” system, it advised participants that if it didn’t feel like a workout, then it probably wasn’t. I had a couple of issues with this, because some people took the 30 minutes quite literally. I even got into a debate about it on the Leicester Runners Facebook group. Firstly, for those new to exercise, half an hour might be too much, and if they couldn’t manage that, it could easily put people off. Secondly, for other people, a three mile recovery run wouldn’t last 30 minutes. Hey, some could run four miles in that time, and who’s to say that that particular person hasn’t had a good workout, because they took under half an hour? It would mean that some runners wouldn’t be able to log their parkruns, whilst others would. This did not seem fair. I certainly advocated the “if it feels like you’ve put the effort in, then log it” route. I then saw that there were tweets and Facebook updates from Jantastic asking “have you logged your parkrun”. Clearly, that suggested that 30 minutes was just that, a guideline.
  • From both years participation, I would say that the people who seem to get the highest scores are those who already exercise regularly, and have a routine, and are used to logging things manually. It’s very easy to forget to log your workouts.

On a personal note, I had to use both of my jokers, something I didn’t have to do last year (there are only two jokers, and you can only use one per four week stage). I still failed to meet my last week’s target, and I also failed on my time trial (that’ll learn me to leave it until the last weekend). I set out with the aim of getting 100%. I have to admit, I found it more stressful than not, having to think about going out, when I didn’t feel well, just to avoid using a joker, and to keep my 100% going. I ended up with a score of 96.1 (still an overall Gold), 4th in the team, and in 21st position locally. Considering how my luck has been, I’m pleased with that. I’m not sure if I’ll take part again next year. It is a great motivational tool for those setting out, but doesn’t really add anything if you have an established routine, or training plan.  

 

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