So I'm lucky. Why? Because I had the benefit of Brandon's fantastic "goals" post before I had to attempt to write mine. Check his out here! He's smart, focused, motivated and will succeed. But his goals are not my goals.
This year I'm actually at a bit of a crossroads. For two years(ish) now I've had dates circled on the calendar. A "goal date" as it were. I had a dialed in training plan. I lived my life by a schedule (and I mean life, not just training life). I was regimented and consistent and accomplished everything I wanted to.
And then when it was over I felt the sense of loss that is only too common when there's "nothing left" in the calendar.
I took a bit of time off. More specifically, I put the watch away, I put the guides away, I put the trainer away. I did not put the tank tops away because this gun show can't be contained! (kidding.... sort of...). Instead, I engaged in a prolonged recovery routine that was unstructured (note, unstructured does not mean unmotivated, lazy, or not dedicated; I "recovered" at least an hour a day most weeks, sometimes more) and very "freeing" when compared to the rigour of defined training plans. I started to feel the benefits. I want to keep feeling those benefits.
So this year my approach to training and racing is going to be permeated by my lessons learned in recovery. Goal times and performance metrics are going to take a back seat, and mindfulness and focus are going to be moved to the forefront. Here's how that's going to happen.
My number one goal this year is to be consistent in activity. Not any particular activity necessarily, but activity in general.
Now Trevor, isn't that a lazy goal? "Oh, look at me...I participated in an 'activity' I should get a participation ribbon..."
Well no, actually. Consistency is the absolute hardest of all.
Who here has attempted p90x? Of any variety? p90X rocks. But I don't know a single person who has actually made it the full 90 days without breaks and cheats and stops. Or without downright quitting.
If you could do 90 days of p90x you would be ripped. Problem is, to be that consistent is nearly impossible. At least for me (maybe you're better at it than I am, and if so, I applaud you, now do it again, I dare you).
But do you know what you can do? Ensure that you are, each and every day, doing something that is geared towards progressing your training efforts. For example:
- Push yourself each day for that "5 minutes more". 5 minutes more per session adds up quick over the span of a week. Instead of cutting early, go that little bit longer. This doesn't mean go harder necessarily, just use those 5 minutes when you have them.
- When in doubt or pressed for time, stretch. I am really enjoying this youtube channel. Whether it be for 6 minutes of 60 minutes, I am setting a goal of always finding time to squeeze something in, and flexibility I find pays the biggest dividends with the least amount of time pressure. Plus you don't have to get all sweaty (necessarily).
- Drop and give me [as many as you can]! One set, max rep pushups. I was amazed how fast I built up from 15 pushups in a row to 50 in a row just by doing them once a day. It literally takes 30 seconds! And everything is engaged. Just do it. (Although I slipped so I can't do 50 right now)
- Use your early mornings on weekend. It sucks for the sleeperiners (of which I'm the champ), but it's worth it for your inner athlete. If you can get in 10 miles before most people have started their walk of shame you're setting yourself up for a fantastic training weekend (and a very enjoyable people watching session).
I have a massive goal this year to improve my lateral strength and stability. All the side muscles that make you do leg lifts and twists and stuff. So much so, that I've resolved myself to the fact that I will be swimming, biking and running less to allow for things like side planks and weird lunges. Ultimately in the short run that means my times may slow, and my endurance may suffer. But in the long run I know that it will set a foundation for an even faster year in the future; when I am actually able to get through a pilates DVD the way it's prescribed, instead of the painful, back twisting, mostly lying on the floor method I presently employ (sidebar: I once tried to do a side lateral exercise off a DVD I have that called for 15 reps. I managed 2 and literally couldn't get up off the floor...).
Intensity and Focus
My friend Morgan is like the chillest person ever. She brings me to what we affectionately call "White Girl Dance Party" yoga. She loves the yoga, I like hanging out and getting out of my comfort zone (yes, even I have one of those).
From time to time there are men in the class (like me). The other day I was looking around and noticed that of all the people in the class, only the men were there trying to kill themselves with each move. They look like awkward baboons pounding their chests.
In contrast the "white girls" look graceful, effortless. Whether they were beginner or advanced, their approach wasn't maximum effort, it was moderation and enjoyment.
I train like an awkward baboon most of the time. But this year, my goal is to train more like a white girl. That means managing my intensity which (are you paying attention, this all ties in) will ensure my consistency which will produce my results.
Now, again, this doesn't mean I'm being lazy by not training at max effort all the time. Instead, it means I'm planning to be better focused for each particular work out. My hard efforts will be even harder than they have been. But my low intensity activity will be properly low. And my recovery activities will be about recovery; working within my body's limits, not pushing for that extra inch or extra pose all the time. Each workout will have a focus to it and a set intensity designed to produce specific results.
Less data, more feel
I really needed data in the beginning. Why? Because I had no idea what anything was supposed to "feel" like. So I ran looking at my watch and speed up and slowed down as it told me too. No questions asked; brainless.
And that was the right approach, for a time. But then I started to learn, and as I learned, I began to think and to feel more.
Right before Arizona I ran a warm up race. And it turned out to be my best race yet. And I did it entirely on feel. When I took my mind off that data and focused on the feel I was better able to enjoy the experience. It wasn't mechanical, it was organic.
Now to be fair, it wasn't necessarily faster, but that wasn't the point in that moment.
For this year, most of my race calendar is trail racing. That is not an accident. Trail races can't be run on data alone, there are too many variables. You have to feel your way through, and in the process I hope to get stronger, faster, and enjoy more, rather than just suffer through.
Variety and Community
Ironman was hard, not only on my body, but on my relationships. Balance, community, and variety will be a part of my training plan this year. Instead of "having" to do my specific work out, I will value the opportunity to try different things with important people in my life, all on a timeline that advances my goals. Tennis, for example, is a new sport that myself and my girlfriend have recently taken up. I want to carry on with that. Swimming and triathlon have built me two very strong communities, I hope trail running will allow me the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, and make new. ones
Brandon's goals sound like a training machine. He is going to kill it. I can't wait, especailly for that first time he breaks the 4:45 in a 70.3. I hope I'm there to witness it and to make fun of him for not breaking 4:30 (bet he breaks 4:30 now...).
My goals sound more like a hippy dippy feel good session. But that's okay, because when you look deeper they're legitimate, challenging, and rewarding. Exactly what every goal should be.
Mat's up next! The most ambitious of us all I have no doubt. Let's see what kind of gauntlet he throws down, I may be motivated to add a "rise to the challenge" section update in response.