The Process Behind the Goal: 2016 Resolutions

Internet-running-friends, I have loved reading about all your goals and resolutions for 2016. They are awesome and ambitious, and while I find myself dreaming along with you, I’m a little jealous.

2015 brought me more injuries (2) than PRs (1, by 19 seconds). Sure, getting injured sucks and I wish it had been different, but I hope 2015’s lessons will endure far beyond the 12 weeks those injuries kept me away from running.

I have one important goal for 2016: to make it to the finish line of the Paris Marathon healthy. More generally, I want to steer clear of running injuries entirely so that I can run more consistently and hopefully get faster long-term. (ETA: I would like to PR in the marathon, but that goal is so secondary to getting there healthy that I don’t consider it important by comparison.)

Goals are great – yay goals! – but how make them happen? I bring you the unlikely inspiration for this post, who popped into my head as I was waiting for takeout.

The devil himself.* And his process.

nick saban process

Photo credit: ABC 33/40
*Joking aside, I think he is a great coach and not actually the devil, but I’m obligated to dislike the guy. My brothers went to Auburn and my boyfriend to Tennessee.

For those of you who just got a little lost, Nick Saban is the head football coach at the University of Alabama, and the winner of four national championships. He’s been kind of successful. And he attributes this success to the “process.”

“[The Process] basically means just focusing on the little things and not getting wrapped up in the big picture.”

– Barrett Jones, former Alabama offensive lineman

That quote perfectly articulates how I want to approach my training to meet my goal for 2016. I went through a few basic steps to craft my own “process:”

  1. Listed out all of the “little things” that were important to meeting my goal
  2. Identified the most critical items based on importance and/or those I was least likely to do, to come up with a manageable number of items to focus on
  3. For the “little things” I deemed critical, I reflected on the underlying causes of why I’d struggled with them in the past
  4. Determined steps I could take to address the past struggles: my personal “process”

My 2016 resolutions are each of the items critical to achieving my goal. The “process” is my roadmap for achieving success with each resolution. Without further ado, here they are.

Strengthen the weak links

In 2015, I discovered that I enjoyed strength training, with an emphasis on fewer reps and heavier weight. One or two days a week, I’d run in the morning and strength train in the evening. The more I enjoyed feeling like a badass from lifting heavy things, the less I enjoyed the basic core/pre-hab work by comparison. I deluded myself into thinking that the strength training would take care of those areas too. Maybe that works for some, but I learned the hard way that I need to keep doing my clams and glute bridges religiously.

Often, I wouldn’t allow for enough time to fit in these essential “ancillary” exercises. GUESS WHAT? This just happened to me yesterday. Maybe one day I’ll learn. To change this bad habit, I have to accept three things: 1) these exercises are essential, 2) they take extra time, which is time invested in my health, and 3) I have to plan for that extra time.

RESOLUTION: do rehab exercises at least 2x/week, 15-20 min of core work at least 2x/week
– do exercises as run cool-down. (Or if I’m truly strapped for time, do a couple exercises as a cool-down then the remainder while watching TV or something.)
– add 30 minutes to the total time I plan for each run.

Sleep like a champion

In the past, I haven’t struggled to get enough sleep, but I’m including it as a part of the “process” because it’s so important. After being chronically sleep deprived for nearly 6 years in my old job, I treasure the feeling of being rested and refreshed. I generally sleep about 8 hours when I don’t set an alarm, so I just want to keep that up.

RESOLUTION: average at least 8 hours of sleep per night, add more if necessary as training increases
– limit caffeine to before 3 pm.
– cut off TV before 10 pm.
– finish eating by 9 pm (I tend to be a late eater, so this would be an improvement!)

Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition

Although I would like to lose a few holiday pounds, this resolution is more about making sure I’m getting all the nutrients I need than it is about cutting back.

I don’t like labeling foods as “healthy” and “unhealthy”. I’m of the mind that foods exist on a spectrum of nutritious to…not so nutritious, and true “healthy eating” comes from eating a mix of foods that together meet all our needs. For further reading on this topic, I can’t recommend Matt Fitzgerald’s Racing Weight enough.

I’m focusing on vegetables and fruits, because I’ve been inconsistent about getting enough fruits & veggies in my diet. I don’t like tracking food, so the less I plan to do, the more likely I am to succeed.

Don’t worry, I’ve carefully crafted this process to accommodate my love of pizza.

RESOLUTION: eat a balanced whole-foods diet
– track servings of fruits & vegetables: 3-4 servings of each per day (veggies can be put on pizzas and eaten with salad).
– limit myself to 7 meals/week at restaurants by staying on top of grocery shopping & food prep

Give love to hardworking muscles

I am an admitted hater of foam rolling and stretching. I’m also not an expert on which body aches and tight spots are serious and which ones aren’t too much of a concern. I am, however, an expert at ignoring issues until they become injuries. All of this shall change.

RESOLUTION: proactively identify and address tight/weak/sore areas.
– foam roll/stretch every other day or more as needed. if necessary, self-bribery with beer or TV is acceptable and encouraged.
– see sports chiro/PT at least monthly or as needed
– practice yoga at least once a week

I just re-read all of these process points, and dayyyum, that’s a lot. I have been doing some of these things – just not consistently – others, not at all. It’s entirely possible that some of these resolutions are too ambitious, and others not ambitious enough. Time will tell, and I’m willing to make adjustments as I see room for improvement.

Because I think that each of the four resolutions are essential to my goal of running healthy in 2016, I’m going to keep myself honest in these areas by tracking them in my weekly training posts.

How about you – is there an area of running/life that is important but hard for you to stick with consistently? 

Do you set resolutions or goals at the beginning of the year? If so, what’s on tap for 2016?


A New Year Approaches: 2015 Goals & Wild Dreams

‘Tis the season for reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the new year. The pinnacle of my year in running was two weeks ago, and I’ve recapped and analyzed it to death, so I’m going straight for the 2015 goal post.

I’ve found that going public with goals is helpful with enforcing discipline. Early in my marathon training, there were times when the only thing that got me out the door to train was the fact that I’d been open with the whole of the Internet that I wanted to beat Oprah.

Last week, Elizabeth had a get-together for a group of Atlanta female running bloggers, and spending just an evening with these ladies was inspirational. This group of women had their first BQs, their first children, ran ultras, got massive PRs, and started training for their first marathons and triathlons. This brief summary isn’t even doing the accomplishments of the group justice.

Believe training journal

To add inspiration to inspiration, I was lucky enough to get the Believe Training Journal as my gift in the dirty Santa game (thanks Amy!). I’d heard good things about this journal, but even flipping through it has exceeded my expectations. There’s a goal-setting section, and this quote really stood out to me: “Give yourself the freedom to dream without regard for what is or isn’t possible.”

That is 100% not my M.O.

Not even a little bit.

In an earlier post, I described my goal-setting process for the St. Jude Marathon. It’s very practical and attainable, not bad qualities for a first marathon time goal, but my goal-setting process is always that conservative.

So today, I’m going to throw out some practical, conservative goals and some wild dreams. I’m going to put myself out there and flex my oft-neglected dreaming muscles. It’s both freeing and scary!

  • Strive for balance. I left a job that ruled my life a year ago, and I’m not going to let anything take its place. This past fall, I struggled with letting go of training while on an awesome vacation. I’m not letting that happen again. My goal is to be a better friend, girlfriend, sister, daughter, cousin, coworker, cat lady, and member of the community. Running has enriched my life, but I don’t want to become so singularly focused on it that it crowds out other important things.
  • Run a 5k in under 24:28. The Peachtree Road Race is one of my favorite events, but I always get bogged down by the crowds in the first half mile or so. The corrals are assigned based on qualifying race times, and by last year’s standards, a 24:28 5k would move me into a higher corral. A 24:28 5k is 1:03 faster than my 5k personal best, which happens to be the only 5k I’ve run. Anyone in the Atlanta area with suggestions of fast 5k road races in January-March, send ’em my way! I’d like to run 3-4 races in the next 3 months.
  • Avenge the Publix Georgia Half Marathon. I had a bad race last year. I want to avenge it. No specific time goals, just run a race I’m proud of.
  • Run a fall marathon. This goal is contingent upon being consistent with goal #1 up above, but I’d love to get another crack at 26.2 in the coming year. The most important goal will be training smart and doing my best, but if I could break the 4 hour mark, I’d be thrilled.
  • Contribute to the running community. Running has been a solo pursuit for me so far, but I’d like to expand my horizons: volunteering at races, running with buddies, pacing, etc. I think there’s a lot of support and camaraderie that I can give and receive by investing in the community aspect of running.

Wild dreaming time:

Atlanta people: I’d love your help with meeting my goal of becoming integrated in the running community. Give me a shout if you want to go for a run or volunteer at a race!
Also, let me know your 2015 goals!  Leave a comment or tweet at me – @racingoprah 🙂