Archives For goal setting

A New Year’s Resolution

New Year's ResolutionsAt the end of December and/or beginning of January of every year millions, perhaps billions of people set resolutions for themselves on how they want to improve their lives in the new year. This year will surely not be any different. Unfortunately, for many this meme from last year will surely reflect a reality. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

I’ve been using the fitness tracker app RunKeeper since February 2010. I use it to record almost every run. Last year the app developers challenged people to enter their New Year’s fitness resolutions. Now you can add a resolution whenever you like, but while you’re thinking about it, why not do it for the new year, right? The good thing about using the app is that you can easily see a record of what you’ve done in the past. So I looked and saw that in 2012 I ran some 2500KM. Seeing that I set my New Year’s Resolution to run 3000KM in 2013. On January 1, 2013, I then went out and ran 15KM  or 0.5% of my set goal. Yesterday (December 31, 2013) I ran my 3000th kilometre of the year. Yes, it took an entire calendar year, much to my chagrin, as there was a time in the year when I thought I’d over achieve my goal by 10%.

Crazy? No, calculated

Running 3000KM might sound crazy to some of you. But, I believe that most people can do it. I say that with the caveat that you need to know where you’re starting from. If you haven’t run more than 2km since school, it might be a bit difficult, but you can train up again. I trained from 0 to a marathon in 3.5 months which was a bit fast, but thanks to an open schedule possible. Yet, going from 0.5km to 10km only took a month, of regular running. Back to the 3000KM — Break it down. 3000KM/365 days = 8.22 KM/day. Now, most people probably won’t run every day, so let’s say they run 5 times a week. At 5 days of running a week, you’ll need to run 11.54km each day you go out. If that sounds like too many at one time, you can break it down into two runs a day on those days (morning & evening). But maybe you want to start with a lower goal, perhaps 2000, or 1500, or just 1000. Important is to set a goal. But that’s not enough.

A Roadmap

A goal is important, but a roadmap to that goal is equally if not more important. Apps like RunKeeper, Dacadoo, Strava, Map My Run, etc., provide you with a tool for tracking your progress. This act of tracking is like creating your own roadmap. Some of these apps even have built in training programs that will help you achieve certain goals. Setting milestones, knowing how much you need to do by when is important. In running there are no shortcuts! You need to move your legs to go somewhere, you can’t coast, though when you get into your groove, it will sometimes feel like you’re flying. With approximately 1320 steps per kilometre, you will need to take at least 3,960,000 steps.

Because life is hard to calculate, it’s important to mark milestones. For the 3000km I broke the year into quarters, meaning that I wanted to achieve 750km after 3 months (end of March), 1500 after 6 months (end of June), and 2250km after 9 months (end of September). Doing that meant that I kept up the running and didn’t let too many to-be-run-kilometres accumulate at the end of the year. This was good, as work really shook things up at the end of November and start of December, to a point where on December 21st I still had 225km to run. Determination is what got me through that. An average of 20km/day for 11 days.

Summary:

  1. Determine where you’re starting from
  2. Set goal
  3. Calculate what you need to do to get to your goal
  4. Set milestones
  5. Track what you’re doing

Application to other fields

While I’ve been writing about running, you can apply this above theorem to different goals.

Want to lose weight? Know where you’re starting (current weight, current calorie intake, current calorie usage) and then set where you want to go. How many fewer calories, how much more exercise. Record what you eat and your exercise.

Want to save money? Record where you’re spending money and see where you can save. High electricity bill? Try and lower it. You might also look at how you can earn more money on the side by doing something you really enjoy – baking, gardening, painting, helping people etc.

Want more time for things that really matter to you? Record where you spend your time, then see where you can extract more time for those things. Maybe it’s less TV, maybe it’s shortening a commute (change home or work) or going from driving to public transport so you can be productive while commuting.

As you can see, the five step approach is a great way of achieving your New Year’s Resolution. Think about how you can apply it to your own life. Below is how I did that to achieve the 3000km and what that looked like.

My Year Running

As I wrote above, I started on my New Year’s Resolution for 2013 on January 1st with a 15km run. The charts below show you distance per day, week, and month. On average I was running 10km/hour in general. It took 295 hours (12.3 full days) or 3.4% of 2013 to achieve the 3000km. It was the best 3.4% investment I’ve made, because running helps me perform better at work, and stay healthy, which means that other things function as I would like them to.

I ran 2800km of the 3000km with On’s Cloudrunners

My favourite races of the past year were the Eiger Ultra Trail 101 and the Matterhorn Ultraks

On a map, 3000km from my house is like running to Oulu, Finland or to Alanya, Turkey.

Resolution 2014

This year’s resolution is 3500km of running and 100 hours of rowing.  Prosit 2014!