New Year’s Resolutions:
- This year I’m going to do a 5K.
- This year I’m going to break 18 minutes for the 5K.
- This year I’m going to get in the pool and do a triathlon.
- This year I’m going to lose those 20 pounds.
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, most people are good at making them, bad at keeping them. You’re not alone; in fact, the average person’s resolution to get regular exercise lasts only about six weeks. We’ve all experienced the inability to get on the aerobic equipment or find an empty pool lane at the health club from January 1 to late February when people traffic lightens up.
For those of you who need help creating and maintaining your goals, here are some helpful hints:
- Do a “here and now” assessment. Giving yourself an honest analysis of your starting point will allow you to start at a safe level and reduce your risk of injury.
- Make your goals realistic. Making unrealistic goals, like losing 50 pounds in a month, will set you up for failure coming out of the blocks.
- Make your goals specific. If you are planning on a certain distance to race, pick the actual race you want to do. If you want to get in the pool three times a week, schedule those exact times.
- Write your goals down. Writing them down makes them more realistic and gives you the ability to review them weekly and adjust them as needed.
- Make your goals measurable. Use a training log to track your progress (times/distances). Food diaries will tell you what you’re eating vs. what you think you’re eating.
- Realize there are consequences to working toward your goals.
Number six above is an interesting concept that is often overlooked by goal-oriented people, and failure to realize this can lead to over committing your time. The classic example of this is the training partner who is always late because “things took them longer than they thought” before the training session.
For those of you who don’t need help creating or maintaining your goals (type “A” triathletes, for example, for whom 7:07 AM, HR 155 means time to sip some sports drink), it may be time to reassess your goals. I don’t mean getting your lactate threshold re-evaluated or setting up next year’s race schedule to peak for certain races. I mean determining whether or not your resolutions address the right priorities.
Consistent training takes time, a lot of time. I once knew an ironman triathlete who rode his bike from 5-8 AM, swam for an hour at lunch and ran from 6-8 PM on a regular basis. This athlete finished near the top of his age group in several races, which is very inspiring.
This type of training is often not a reality for those of us with full time jobs. While inspiring, it can take its toll, not only on feet, knees and shoulders, but also on the people in our lives who have enabled us to reach our goals. You see, this athlete had sons ages 3 and 4, and while he was out “playing” his wife was maintaining the house and raising the boys. Who’s the real ironman here?
Time we spend in the pool, on the bike, or even at work is time away from other people and activities. Sometimes it’s necessary to check in with our support groups and determine whether or not we need to spend more time supporting them.
I have found some ways to reach my goals and feed my support system at the same time:
- Pushing a baby jogger may even out the pace of two people, enabling them to train together.\
- Instead of doing hill repeats, try snowshoeing with your family. A great workout can be had by carrying your 4-year-old on your shoulders when she tires of hiking.
- Leave for the pool early for your weekend swim workout, meeting your husband and kids later, allowing him to swim/Jacuzzi while you play sea monster with the kids.
- Instead of dropping your kids off at their soccer game and riding away, set your trainer up on the sidelines and spin while you watch the game.
These are just a few suggestions. If you have some that work for you share them with your training buddies. You may be surprised by how many people are in the same boat.
by Dr. Ken Sheridan