The Outside 365 Manifesto

I've had a very simple idea stuck in my mind—inescapable, tantalizingly-attainable, but surprisingly-difficult to achieve—for over two years. That idea is born out as a goal: be active outside, every day, for 365 days straight. I’m calling it Outside 365.

Not an Original Idea

Before I go further, I must point out that this isn’t an original idea by any means. A simple Google search reveals at least 3-4 different websites dedicated to the idea. Some of these blogs have simple goals, like moms simply getting their kids, their families, out of the house every day. Others are a bit more complex, such as having the goal of covering 365 miles of ground under human power in a year. (Note, that goal isn’t everyday activity, but rather a total in a year—similar to Mark Zuckerberg’s running goal back in 2016.) 

Others hone in their focus even further. A cult-like subset of runners addicted to this idea are called “run streakers.” The basic definition of a run streak is to run a minimum of one mile per day, every day… for as long as you choose. Many run streakers make the challenge more difficult, by choosing to run outside every single day, and generally running much more than one mile per day. 

To some run streakers, 365 days might be unattainable… but to others, that’s barely getting started. Early in 2017, the longest run streak ever recorded came to an end at 52 years and 39 days. 52 years and 39 days! I can only imagine accomplishing a feat of that magnitude.

Above and beyond runners, I know so many mountain sports athletes who simply live the Outside 365 lifestyle and think nothing of it. It’s not like they have to set a plan to go outside every day—that’s just what they do. The question isn’t whether or not they’ll go outside, but what adventure they’ll choose to embark on during any given day.

I’ll confess: I was a little disappointed to realize that my grand plan, this idea that’s kept resurfacing in my soul for years, wasn’t an original idea. But then I realized something: the fact that so many other people have felt compelled to set similar goals in their own lives indicates there’s a really important truth here. Not only does a growing desire for this goal amongst others confirm that this is a goal worth pursuing in my own life, but the goal of getting outside and being (more) active might just have implications for people around the world.

We Need This

The desire to complete this challenge germinated somewhere deep inside of me, in a place that I can’t quite defineSometimes, trying to retroactively assign a meaning to a desire is more than meaningless, but I think the desire to go outside and be active springs from deep roots.

We—Americans, and westerners at large—are dying from a lack of movement. According to the CDC, over one third of adult Americans are obese, and “obesity-related conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, are some of the leading causes of preventable death.” 

Photo: Marcel Slootheer

Even for those of us who might be in decent shape, a lack of time spent outdoors and in nature is shown to negatively impact our moods and our psyche. Mental well-being is the primary reason that my soul craves to go outside and be active. Moving my body through the woods and the mountains is an extremely centering experience, allowing me to process my negative emotions and live a well-balanced life. I’ve learned that I need this… yet it still can be difficult to prioritize.

Personally, I probably fall toward the more active end of the American spectrum. Some people might even consider me to be in decent shape (but is the athlete ever satisfied?). However, as a writer and an editor who spends 40+ hours per week behind a computer, I can easily go several days--sometimes close to an entire week--without any meaningful exercise. While getting out for a walk or a quick bike ride seems like it should be easy, the addictive call of the lazy boy is real and it is powerful. And, the daily pressures of everyday life can quickly overwhelm one’s schedule, squeezing out the most important activities if we don’t take the time to make them a priority.

Ultimately, I’m undertaking this challenge for self-centered reasons: to maintain my own health, and as a way to live the richest life I can imagine. 

What counts as a day spent outside?

For my personal goal, I’m not defining a day spent outside as just walking out onto the deck to sip my coffee in the morning, playing with the dog in the yard, or walking to the car. Instead, I’m requiring some sort of physical activity:
  • General adventures like a mountain bike ride, downhill skiing, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, hiking, snowshoeing, et al. qualify. 
  • If on foot (walking or running), cover 1 mile.
  • If biking, 30 minutes minimum. 
  • Strenuous physical activity (ex. yard work, building a trail, doing trail maintenance), 30 minutes minimum.
Why blog?

"Why choose to blog about this? Why not just do the challenge on your own, and call it good?” you’re probably wondering.

While this idea of going outside and being active every day might not necessarily resonate with you, if you've made it this far through this manifesto, chances are you're at least curious about the idea. And I think if we're all being honest with ourselves, we can all use a little inspiration from time to time. I'm hoping that my weekly blogging will provide a touch of that needed inspiration.

I don't plan on penning hoo-rah motivational speeches, but rather sharing small nuggets of ideas that will hopefully germinate and grow into greater inspiration and motivation to lace up the shoes, lube the bike chain, stick the skins to the bottoms of the skis, and head out the door into the great, wide world.  

Because in my opinion, ideas are what matter. I’m not really interested in relating the ho-hum day-to-day events of my Outside 365 challenge in this space. “I went for a one-mile walk down the road today,” would be gouge-your-eyes-out boring. If you want those details, follow me on Strava (but don’t expect me to post all my one-mile walks).

Instead, I hope to share ideas that matter. Ideas about why getting outside and moving your body is important. The bigger picture of engaging deeply with our world and living a vibrant life. Motivating oneself to get off the couch. Those sorts of things.

If you like the sound of this, I’d love to have you join me as the experience unfolds! If you haven’t already, you can “like" my Facebook page to get updates there, and/or follow me on Instagram for a visual experience.

2018 is going to be an interesting year!

Outside Day 13