Some of us can just eat properly and get their exercise as a daily routine. That’s not me. I need a well-defined goal and a plan for how to achieve it. My long-term goal is to finish a marathon at the age of 70. That is a little more than 18 years away and does not help me focus for today or this week. Goals more than 3 months away, except for a marathon, just don’t keep my attention. And even my marathon training goals have to be broken into segments.
My new goal is to pass a nuclear imaging stress test just before Thanksgiving. That’s an abstract goal. Yes, I know that I have to lose some weight, take my medication and get at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. All good things, but I need numbers. My cardiologist told me to run no more than 5 miles at a time. After my injury I struggled to walk .5 miles. The Cardiologist told me to take 6 weeks off of running to help my heart heal.
My numeric goal is to be able to run that 5 miles in 42:30 the week of the test. It was frustrating not being able to run, but I could walk and ride a bike. That would have to do until I could start running. Then I would be like a beginning runner all over again, but with some wisdom learned over the years. I knew that I could not just start off and try to run 5 miles in 42:30. It would result in failure or even injury. At first I would try to run for a few minutes until I was tired, then I would walk a little until I was better. These sessions would last 30 minutes. They would continue until I could go 3 miles running without a break. I’ll always remember that day in Long Prairie, Minn. I pumped my fist into the air as a cop watched. He must have thought I was a nut case. He may have been right.
Once, I reached that goal the idea was to increase my distance by .2 miles per week. Two weeks ago I reached 5 miles for the first time in 49 minutes and 12 seconds. The next step is to increase my speed by about a minute per week over the next few weeks. That will last until I break 45 minutes. Then the plan is to improve by about 30 seconds a week. This Sunday I ran it in 48:23. The goal next weekend will be to break 48 minutes, than 47,46,45, 44:30, 44, etc. This Sunday during the run at about the three-mile point my partner was struggling to keep up. I left him at 3.5. The feeling hit me. I felt like a runner for the first time since the injury. Nothing else feels like that.
What’s your plan? Where do you want to be in 3 months? Figure that out. Make it achievable. Nothing breeds success like success. Now split that goal into 3 monthly segments. Great, now what do you have to do this week to achieve your monthly goal? Now do it!