New Year’s resolutions can be tricky things. I have discovered in the past that it’s often the specific resolution that gets accomplished. “I’m going to get the kitchen ceiling painted” gets done because it’s a specific goal with a readily observable outcome. “I’m going to eat better” often means a complete diet revamp for several weeks followed by what I like to call “mission creep” and a steady erosion of diet goals over the course of the year. I’ve always found it a bit unfair that since my late twenties, running no longer means I can eat as much as I want. I found this out the hard way one spring when I was accomplishing some great running and noticed that I was gaining weight: “What the…” This was also around the same time that I read about how each pound is worth 1-2 seconds per mile. “Well, shoot,” I told myself, “this should be an easy way to get faster.” It might be easier just to tack on some additional mileage and do some more speed work. “Ideal Racing Weight” is one of those phrases that I believe many (myself included) master runners use to justify nonspecific, wishful thinking regarding race performance: “Well, I’m not where I want to be pace-wise, but I just need to lose some weight and get nearer to my racing weight.” “In the upcoming year, I want to get faster…” But, how and how much, exactly?
What I am getting at is the necessity of stating specific goals and then pursuing specific actions to achieve those goals. I have done fairly well, recently, about pursuing goals in the abstract: “Hey, I want to get faster.” Around November, however, during the last several years, I hear a voice in my head that says: “You’ve gone about as far as you can go on this training – it’s time to change it up and it’s time to lose some weight (I know you don’t want to hear this…).” I promised myself that when I started this running blog, I would put some of my goals out in public. For some reason, I think it might make me more responsible, more answerable. This past year, one of my goals was getting under 20 minutes for the 5K. I didn’t have a specific time in mind, and my training wasn’t all that 5K specific, either. I unexpectedly broke twenty at a small evening 5K in the late spring after having consumed a fried fish sandwich and large strawberry milk shake for lunch. It was a tough race. By the end of the summer, I had managed to hit 19:25 and was fairly astonished that I was now closer to nineteen. So, I am now going to declare a goal of 18:55 for next year. Writing it down looks a bit daunting, I have to admit. To do this, I am also recognizing that I need to lose some weight. Instead, however, of some general desire to get down to my “racing weight” whatever that is, I am going to state that my “racing weight” is now a specific number: 155 lbs. There, I said it. It doesn’t sound difficult, but my body has a special impervious weight plateau at 164. It looks like the year of ’55. I am hoping that with some specific time and weight goals, I will be able to be better focused on the things that can allow me to successfully achieve these goals. How will I accomplish these goals? The specifics are for some future posts. Have a happy New Year, everyone.