10 Week Challenge

In just under 10 weeks from now, the world’s largest fun run is going to take place. It’s called the City to Surf and takes place each year in August in Sydney, Australia. There are over 80,000 people that join in the run from the centre of Sydney city to iconic Bondi Beach.

Let me just say that the atmosphere is simply amazing. When you have that many people all working towards the same goal there is an overwhelming feeling of support, encouragement and motivation. It’s an incredible experience.

Since I first took place in the event 8 years ago, I was hooked.

Now, it’s coming up again in a little less than 10 weeks (10th August) and I’m laying down my own personal challenge, but I ALSO want to invite you to join the 10-week challenge with me. Stay with me to learn how you can get involved and challenge yourself for personal growth.

Firstly, let me tell you what my own personal challenge and goal is.


City to Surf Start
Image: 85,000 people run the City to Surf 


My Goal

Goal: I will run under 58mins for the City to Surf (14km Run on 10 Aug 2014)

Previously, I’ve been happy with my performance in the City to Surf. When I first started in 2006 it was the longest run I had ever done and I didn’t know the course nor did I know how to pace myself. Since then, however, I managed to improve my time year on year for the next 5 years. I even ran the 14km in under 60 minutes which was an incredible achievement for me.

Here are my previous times:

2006: 76:00

2007: 70:46

2008: 63:36

2009: 60:55

2010: 59:30

2011: 59:08

2012: 68:58

2013: 65:14

As you can see, I improved year on year but my time for the last two years took a massive hit. 2012 and 2013 were incredibly tough as I simply didn’t have the time and energy to train. I was working long hours and my health plummeted. In fact, I had glandular fever for a good part of the year in 2013 and was hospitalised for tonsillectomy. This was a contributor for me leaving my job when I did. I hit the reset button!

Now, I want to put my mind and body to the test. I want to not only get back to running under 60 minutes for the City to Surf, but I want to improve on that and get under 58 minutes.


Why This is a Lot Harder Than You Think

You might be thinking that to shave off that one minute from my best time would be easy? Well, let me tell you that it’s a stretch target.

Shaving just one minute off my time means I have to run 2% faster for the entire race. This might not sound like much, but when you’re running for 14km and trying to keep a faster pace up for this duration, I can tell you it’s tough.

But not only that, what makes it even tougher is that when I did get my best times under 60 minutes, I was training HARD. As an example, I was running 3-4 times a week and throwing in plenty of cycles, swims and weight sessions. I was eating healthy and I was focused and determined.

So to shave off an extra minute on top of what was already a test of my limits is going to be incredibly difficult.

Now, just 10 weeks out, I’m definitely not as fit as compared to how I was at this stage back in 2009-2011, so I’m going to somehow have to up the ante and push myself like crazy for the next 10 weeks.


City to Surf Finish
Image: The Run finishes at the iconic Bondi Beach


How Am I Going to Do It?

Previously, when I ran under 60 minutes I was FOCUSED. I had spreadsheets going, I was training my one of my best mates and I was going hard! Also, I had started training well before 10 weeks out and had kept a good level of fitness throughout the entire year.

So now, I need to build a strategy that encompasses everything I was doing back then plus MORE… or at least tweaking that strategy for effectiveness.

The good thing is, I’ve still got the spreadsheets I used for my winning time of 59:08, so that will become my starting point. The spreadsheets outline my training plan and the times I was running in the lead up to the City to Surf. This will be a great reference point for me.


The Strategy

For those that are part of the Launch Your Life Academy, you know that I talk about the need for a strategy behind each of your goals. A goal needs both a plan and a strategy to be effective.

The plan maps out the specific steps to achieve the goal, while the strategy is the underlying support mechanisms you put in place to ensure you stay focused and on track towards your goal.

Here’s a breakdown of my strategy.


  • Sylvia (my wife) is also running the City to Surf so we’ll keep each other honest, fit and healthy
  • Andy, one of my best mates, will be a support in the gym for weight training cycling and swimming.
  • Mike, my brother, will be a running buddy. He doesn’t know this yet but I’ll be asking him shortly as he is training for a half-marathon. In fact, as he reads this it can be my invitation to him (Mike, you know you want to 🙂



Obviously, nutrition will play a huge part in the overall success of my goal. I have a number of steps I’m going to take to ensure I set myself up for success.

  • I won’t be buying any junk food at the supermarket. If my fridge and pantry is stocked only with healthy foods, I remove all temptation and have nothing to eat but healthy food. I will allow myself to have a piece of dark chocolate each day.
  • Limit alcoholic drinks – 2 glasses maximum per week, preferably none.
  • Drink at least 2L of water per day
  • Eat steak at least once per week
  • East fish at least once per week
  • Protein shake twice per day
  • Multivitamin daily
  • Fish oil tablet daily

As I write this, I’m drinking a smoothie with banana, oats, whey, yoghurt, linseeds and almond milk (yum!)



Rewarding yourself is a great strategy to keep you motivated and celebrate your success. My rewards are pretty simple but they are effective and meaningful to me.

  • Coconut water drink after each training session (I love this stuff… to me, this is a huge reward in itself!)
  • Spa bath after long runs. I’ll limit this to only those runs that are official (i.e. community fun runs).
  • Feeling healthy. This is simply an intrinsic reward. The feeling of energy and being healthy is a great reward for me that helps keep me motivated.


Preventing Injury:

Long-distance running requires a lot of training and running on concrete a lot can cause some painful injuries.

Back in 2009, I injured my foot and knee just 5 days prior to the race (I couldn’t believe it!). On race day, I ran the full 14km with a busted knee and still produced a decent result, but it took me a while to recover.

Since then, to prevent injury I’ve incorporated a lot more cross-training into my training plan. This has worked really well for the past few years and I plan to continue cross-training this year. Something that many people forget when training for long-distance running is the need to do weight sessions! Incorporating weight sessions, specifically for the legs, is great to ensure you build and maintain strong leg muscles to increase speed and keep you going the distance.

Here’s what I’m incorporating into my training plan this year

  • Distance running
  • Interval Training
  • Weight training
  • Cycling
  • Swimming


Measuring Progress:

Again, in the Launch Your Life Academy I talk a lot about the need to measure your results and progress. Simply put, what gets measured gets done. This is often a reason why many people do not progress, lose motivation or reach their goals.

I’m a big fan of spreadsheets and some people know me as a man that lives my life through spreadsheets. I think it’s a good thing 🙂

Continuing on with my tradition, I’ve got a spreadsheet to track each of my training sessions and see where I can improve.


Mental Preparation

I have also planned to do a number of fun runs or community runs to help get me prepared. These runs are fantastic because they provide a real race environment where I can get used to the process of waking up early, getting transport to venue, waiting at start, running among others etc. Basically, it’s mental preparation.

The runs I have scheduled are:

  • 1 June: MS Fun Run – 9.5km
  • 7 June: Striders North Head Run – 10km
  • 15 June: Mini Mos – 10km
  • 22 June: Run 2 Cure – 10km
  • 13 July: Sydney Harbour Fun Run – 10km
  • 20 July: Sydney Trial Series – 13km
  • 10 Aug: City to Surf – 14km


Am I Currently On Track?

Last weekend I had my first of the scheduled fun runs, being the MS Fun Run (9.5km). I ran a time of 40 minutes which I was pretty happy about considering I’ve only just started training. This means I was running at a pace of about 4 minutes and 13 seconds per kilometre.

When I extrapolate this out over 14km as it would be for the City to Surf, my time would be 58 minutes and 57 seconds. I’m very happy with that for now. However, I need to remember that it’s obviously going to be harder to maintain that pace for an extra 4.5km and I know (from past experience) that the City to Surf run is a lot harder than the run I did on the weekend. The City to Surf has many more hills (including one that goes for a loooooonnng 2.5km or so).


Why Would I Do This?

I know a lot of people ask “why would you dedicate so much time training just for a fun run?”. To me, it’s not about the fun run itself, it’s about challenging myself and continually improving myself.

I always find that I’m much more happy and energetic when I go through this period in the lead up to the City to Surf. Keeping myself fit and healthy is one of the best things for happiness and energy. It also increases my overall confidence and I feel better about myself.

Also, it’s about developing my focus and mental discipline. Most people don’t have specific goals like this one, or if they do, they don’t bother to set a plan or a strategy to get there. To me, this is about developing my own mindset, creating focus and pushing my boundaries as much as possible to know what I’m capable of doing. The City to Surf just provides an awesome way of being able to do that and share the experience with 85,000 other people.


Your Turn… I Challenge You to Create Your Own 10-Week Challenge

I don’t want this to be a one-way report. I want you to challenge yourself and see what you are capable of. This is why I challenge you to set yourself a 10-week challenge.

What is it that you want to achieve in the next 10 weeks?

10 Week Challenge

Ask yourself that question now. Really think about it. What would make the biggest difference to your life if you challenged yourself for the next 10 weeks to achieve something you’ve always wanted to achieve. Perhaps you want to:

  • Lose 10kg… that’s 1kg per week.
  • Write the first 100 pages of your next book.
  • Read 10 books in 10 weeks.
  • Start a blog and get your first 100 subscribers.
  • Paint your house or clear out all of the clutter in your life.
  • Learn how to play piano or guitar.
  • Meet 100 new people.

Whatever it is that is relevant for you, I want you to create your own 10-week challenge. What is it that you are going to commit to for the next 10 weeks? Please leave your personal challenge in the comments section to ensure you stay accountable to your goal.

I look forward to doing this with you!


About the author 

Brendan Baker

Brendan Baker is Australia's leading personal development blogger and and helps people build and grow online businesses based on their passions. He has created the Launch Your Life Academy and Your First 1000 Subscribers. Connect with Brendan: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

Brendan Baker is Australia's leading personal development blogger and and helps people build and grow online businesses based on their passions. He has created the Launch Your Life Academy and Your First 1000 Subscribers. Connect with Brendan: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

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  1. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the page layout
    of your blog? Its very well written; I love
    what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it
    better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two pictures.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

  2. Glad I came upon this article, it presented some impacting ideas and I certainly plan to check back in the future, to look at what other people are saying on the issue.

  3. Heady numbers Brendan! All the best with it dude! Out for a swim in Phuket now….I was feeling a bit lazy, but you’ll get me back on my “2 hours of exercise a day” track lol….

  4. Thanks for the challenge! 10 books in 10 weeks! Lets go!

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