Know when to reevaluate your goals (running update)

I thought I'd do something a little different here and move the post to early in the week, since the podcast posts at the end of the week. I'm not really sure if I can keep up a new publishing schedule like this, but there's only one way to find out, right? If need be, I'll just go back to Thursdays.

Anyway, onward.

Some of you might be aware that I set a goal to run 1,000 miles this year.

It's been almost 11 months since I started training for a half marathon, which I ran last November.

I went into that training with no time expectations, and by the time I got through the summer heat and really settled in, I decided I'd set a goal of 10-minute, 40-second miles (which from now on I'll format like 10:40 so as to not only sound like I know what I'm talking about, but save some space). I was right around that (a little behind — I finished in 2:21:12, which is a total of eight seconds behind over the course of 13.1 miles, if my math is correct).

I've kept running, which, I understand, is unusual for someone *cough cough* my age who only just started running. And like I said, I set a goal of 1,000 miles for the year.

I'm going to keep that goal, knowing that, as it gets warmer, I'm going to taper some miles. Sure, I'm still putting in some miles while it's 85 and humid, but given how early in the year the heat's hit, I expect we'll see some 100-plus weeks.

I'm also going to have a couple of weeks when I know I'm going to not run or maybe just get out for a few miles once or twice. My typical week consists of three, maybe four runs for a total of between 22 and 27 miles. This week will be more like 5 or 6 runs at a total of around 20 miles. Those weeks we have friends coming into town, we'll wind up walking 25-30 miles, and I won't run at all. I'll be out of town on vacation for a week and a half, and I'll run sporadically and enjoy myself instead.

That said, if you watch the progress on the right side of the website, you'll see I'm averaging more than the 2.75 miles a day I need to reach 1,000 on the year. I'm also well over the 85 miles per month, so I'm giving myself some breathing room.

All this time, I've been maintaining my goal of running at 10:40 a mile, and I realized on a run Monday that I need to stop that. I need to give myself the opportunity to fail as the weather gets less runner-friendly. I've been setting PRs almost every week at one or more of some of my more common distances (2, 7 and 12 miles).

I'm moving my goal up to 10:00, and I'll revisit that in September. That'll also make the math easier for me along the way (I have Runkeeper tell me where I am every quarter mile — just time and distance — and I calculate where I am compared to my goal to keep myself focused a little bit).

This is a good reminder to reevaluate your other goals, too. If you're knocking your goals out of the park, maybe it's time to set more difficult goals. And...go!


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Allow your plan to change

Among other books, I'm reading The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson. It's a collection of essays, some published, some unpublished, all Thompson. One of the essays is the jacket copy from his classic book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

I've read Fear and Loathing, but I read it in paperback, which means I didn't get the jacket copy when I read the book.

It's a good reminder that the book started out as an assignment for Sports Illustrated, which wanted Thompson to write a 250-word caption for a motorcycle race in Las Vegas.

That's right. It's a sports book.

It's also a true crime book. The lawyer on the trip was an L.A. lawyer Thompson was using as a primary source on an investigative news piece about a shooting by sheriffs in the Hispanic community, and because Thompson wasn't a member of that community, it was clear to the reporter the only person who wanted him interviewing the lawyer was the lawyer.

Thompson took him to the motorcycle race so that they could get out of the community and could talk.

There were plans for the trip highlighted in the book, and while maybe the objectives laid out – the investigative news piece and the race caption – were achieved, at some point for Thompson the plan changed and the book that became the legacy of that trip was something else altogether.

Just because it wasn't the plan, doesn't mean it didn't get accomplished. In fact, something bigger came out of it.

The lesson here is that you need to allow your objectives to evolve.

I saw this with some running this week. I was going to see how many days in a row I could run for 30 minutes, but it only took two days to realize that wasn't a sustainable plan. Day 1 I ran for 30 minutes and some change then couldn't get much of a resistance workout in because I was just done. Day 2 I did a great resistance workout and puttered at 17 minutes of running.

Rather than let it get to me, I've changed my goal to 120 minutes of running a week for three straight weeks. I don't care how far I go, or how fast, the cardio, joint and muscular endurance are important to me.

Day 3 I knew two things: I was returning to the tennis court for the first time in 15 months, and I was dropping my car off at the shop. So what I did was drop my car at the shop and run 15 minutes to work, then after work I ran 15 minutes back to the shop. That gave me plenty of rest and recovery time for tennis, and got me 30 more minutes for the week.

That left me 43 minutes of running to do in 4 days; an easy enough average that I could take a rest day (or 2!) and still hit my goal.

I adjusted my goal downward, yes, but certainly didn't make it easy on myself.

Start off with a plan, but don't quit when it looks like that plan isn't going to work out. Be willing to evolve with the circumstances, otherwise you're just going to keep running into a wall.

The weekend's coming. Don't forget to do something important and to make the time to create something.

Three rules for setting goals

As I was getting ready to start my week last week, I tweeted that my goal for the week was 30,000 NikeFuel points, which would have been my best week ever.

As you can see from the screenshot above, I did it.

[If you're not sure what the heck I'm talking about, read my thoughts on the Nike FuelBand here.]

This little success was not without some unintended consequences; I guess I didn't plan accordingly for that.

Thursday was a rest day, but take a look at that chart again – I earned somewhere in the 3500 fuel for the day. Men in their 30s who have the FuelBand (and thus probably skew toward the more active) average about 2200 a day. I had a rest day that beat the average by more than 50%.

My workout Friday was awful. I intended to run 4.5 miles and lift heavy. I quit running after 1.5 miles and then lifted about 30% lighter than normal on several fewer lifts than I had planned.

Sunday I just didn't feel like moving at all; the 1800 fuel I picked up came largely as a result of an outing to Chittenango Falls for some important stuff.

I set a goal. It was achievable but a stretch. I reached it, but didn't plan for the fallout of reaching it in the manner I reached it.

Here are three rules I'm going to follow with regard to goals from now on. Let me know if you have other tips!

1. Outline a plan that doesn't require vast amounts of recovery (whatever that recovery is from or for).
2. Be willing to miss your goal to keep more important stuff in play.
3. Have a plan beyond reaching the goal – if you do reach it, what's next? Hopefully not just more of the same, because that's just quantity, not growth.