This will be a fairly short post, but I wanted to send out a note to expand on 2 points I made last week about setting fitness goals as we wrap up 2016 and move into 2017. Last week, I made a short video that brought up the following 2 points…
- Don’t wait until January to set your goals for next year.
- Set goals that you can fail at, if you don’t put in the work.
My Approach To Setting Goals
For a long time there was this idea that you set a specific long term goal and then back out your shorter term goals that need to be acheived to reach the long term goal. I still think there is some merit to that idea but I also believe it becomes more irrelevant as we move into the future with how fast the world around us continues to develop and change.
I tend to think in the form of the person I want to be and how I want to live my life long term and then set goals or acheivement challenges that support how I want to live. I think the former mentioned way of thinking, leaves you continuously chasing a moving target as you most likely have to continue changing your long term goals to keep up with the world around you. The person I want to be and the way I want to live my life is more consistant over time.
If you continue to challenge yourself in all areas of your life each year in a way that supports the larger picture of who you want to be and how you want to live your life as a whole, then that I believe will bring you closer to where you want to be in the long run. Plus, I believe you will find more enjoyment and purpose in the journey. I am not trying to get phylisophical with you, but it probably is important for you to know my perspective on the subject.
Coming back to fitness specifically… In my recent years, I have become a believer in challenging yourself in some type of physical test, more specifically endurance as I believe it makes you both physically and mentally stronger; coincidentally making you stronger in other areas of your life. I think the mental challenge of endurance racing and training for an endurance race, changes what your brain has been programmed to think is difficult and makes other things in life seem less daunting.
Don’t Wait Till January To Start Setting Fitness Goals For Next Year
I am probably writing this too late as it is, since January is less than 4 weeks away already, but there is still time to get a jump start on your plans and targets for next year. I’d say, split the next few weeks up like this… Take the next 2 weeks to dial in what you want to accomplish fitness wise next year and that still leaves you with a week to put a rough plan together and at least figure out what you need to be focused on as the new year turns.
If your big goal is tied to some winter sport, such as fat bike racing, then your fitness activity in January will be much different than if your goal is tied to a spring/summer activity. If it’s tied to a fat bike race, then your January fitness will likely be tied to some more focused race specific training vs early base training. If your goals are tied to spring/summer activities or especially the fall, then your January activities will likely be tied to some base training and overall functional fitness, which could include some other cross training activities. The latter is closer to where I am at right now.
Or, you could also be in a situation like myself where you are looking to add an entirely new discipline or sport to your physical activity. That can change things big time. If I was talking about 5k only races and a couple short cross country mountain bike races, things would be different and not so complicated. But, I’m talking about doing 100 mile mountain bike races, plus adding some long distance trail running and maybe even throwing myself into a cross country ski race or 2. Both of these take some recovery time and a lot of prep.
Set Fitness Goals Early And Own Your Diet
The other reason, I think it is important to know what your goals are prior to January is that you can go into the holidays with those goals in mind and it might keep you a little more honest about your diet. I have been guilty of this myself in the past, but it drives me nuts to hear people say that they are going to get focused after the holidays. You are just kidding yourself. I know, because I said stuff like that for years.
It is easy to get focused after Christmas and New Years, at least for a few weeks… But, if you really want to win over on your will power, get your goals set and have them in mind during the holidays. By the time you hit January, you’ll have momentum and you won’t want to quit come February and make skipping that 3rd or 4th cookie on Christmas Eve all in vein.
Setting Fitness Goals That Make You Work Hard
Plain and simple… Don’t set easy goals just to make yourself feel good. Sure, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure all the time, but if you truly want to get stronger in whatever you are doing, you need to stretch yourself and sometimes fail. I will write up a seperate piece about this, but I usually set 2 goals for something. Not that one of them is easy, but I set a stiff bottom line target and then a knock one out of the park stretch goal.
The stretch goal is what I am racing for, how I leave the start line and how I plan my nutrition for the race. It mentally allows me to take chances and really test myself at the start of the race while the bottom line target keeps me in the game if things fall apart. Like I said, I think I will come back and expand on this idea in another article as this would otherwise turn long winded.
Fail Stronger With Lofty Fitness Goals
One of the reasons I set lofty goals is that whether I succed at them or not, I win. Missing a lofty goal by a little bit, usually means I end up in a far better place than I was anyways, so it is a win win either way. Plus, I don’t like failing and when I miss a goal, it just makes me want to work harder to not miss it again. Additionally, after I chase a goal that maybe I wasn’t quite ready for, I start finding out real quick where my short comings are in order to acheive that goal.
I will be the first one to tell you that I don’t always race the smartest, I am not trying to either. It is all about the test for me. I usually try racing at a level above where my capabilities probably are at and that’s how I learn. I blow up, run out of nutrition or water, crash or something and I find my weakest link. It is not the most fun way to do it, but I am not in it for the fun. This again is leading to another article.
The point is, when you push yourself to failure, you learn what your limits are and what to improve next. You can’t do that if you always aim for what you know you can already do. Plus, you will usually find that your body will take you a little further than you thought to begin with. I have finished races with extra left in the tank and I honestly hated the feeling. It was worse than blowing up because I knew I did not lay down my best performance or push my limits.
I suppose this may still have been a little lengthy, but it is definitely shorter than what you are used to getting out of me. Like I said, I’ll circle back and expand more on the 2 sets of goals and maybe talk about some specific examples. Thanks for reading and feel free to send any comments my way.