Friday, December 31, 2010

Now For the Easy Part, or So I'm Told

If you’re still reading after the past couple of days, I want to thank you for allowing me to talk about my thought process – at least the one that I should have done when setting last year’s goals. What started out as the FAIL whale a few days ago has morphed into something that should keep me moving in the right direction.

Today I'm briefly going to talk about the final part to the puzzle - the day to day steps that will make my goal a reality. This is where we all live. Daily steps. One day at a time. The important thing is that if your plans are aligned with your strategy, and your strategy is aligned with your goals, then there is no way you can't be successful!

So let's see here - from yesterday:

Strategy: Develop an exercise plan that delivers cardiovascular benefit, hill climbing, altitude preparation, and calorie burn.
Plan: The trick here is to choose something that delivers the strategy while keeping it fun. I could row, but the thought of hours in the garage just isn't enticing. I could cycle, but that would involve an investment. Besides, ever since my little incident, I've been a bit hesitant to climb back on a seat. Really, when I look at all my choice, running is the one I enjoy the most. Not because I love running, but because I can be outdoors and enjoy the sights and sounds of the world around me.

So, I will undertake a training plan starting on Monday. The first order of business is getting back into shape. My thought is selecting the Higdon Intermediate Spring Training plan for the next 12 weeks. That should ease me back into the swing of things and get my legs back under me. I will make at least one day per week on the trails to add the hill climbing into the mix. As far as altitude training - right now with the tall mountains covered with snow, I'll need to wait until spring to do anything about that.

Strategy: Implement a calorie tracking system that allows accurate tracking of intake and burn resulting in a caloric deficit of 10,500 calories per month.
Plan: I need to deliver a calorie deficit of 10500 calories per month to deliver my goal of 3.5 lbs per month. My BMR is 2900 calories per day. I burn an average of 125 calories per mile run. So to deliver my calorie deficit, while maintaining my current calorie intake, I would need to run 84 miles a month. That's (in theory) all that's required! So all I need to do is track them. So the plan is to use LoseIt! Religiously.This is something on me. It's my fault that my earlier attempts to use LoseIt! didn't happen. I guess at some point I need to take *some* accountability.

So there you go. Just in time for my East Coast readers. Finished before the New Year rings in!

To all my readers - thanks for a wonderful 2010, for all your support, and all your motivation! Happy New Year!!!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Now That That is Done

Thanks for sticking with me this far. I fully expect my blog readership stats to suffer by the time I'm done, but I guess that's the price I'm willing to pay to keep 2010 from happening all over.

So yesterday, I set my two goals for 2011:

(1) Lose 40 pounds by 12/31/2011, and
(2) Make it back up to the top of Mt. Whitney by Labor Day

Today I want to touch on the second thing that will help insure success in the goal department - strategies. "Strategy" is defined as An elaborate and systematic plan of action.

I'm going to start today with a quote from my blog, Facebook, and real life pal Slomohusky

"I say all this knowing many who have met weight loss goals, changed eating habits and lifestyles just by doing the above. Without beating themselves up doing/training Marathons. Which less face it - if you do NOT like/love it - why on earth would anyone do it! Running 26 miles is HUGE! It really is and nothing short of that. I would not think about doing it, if I did not love doing all this. Complete waste of time if I did not."

Thanks for being the straight man Slomo. You are absolutely right. There are many ways to skin a cat. I can lose weight by watching my calories. Or by hitting up the gym every night. Or by taking up cycling. Or by going on Nutrisystem. Or by getting a gastric bypass. All are legitimate methods to lose weight. Each is a strategy to achieving my goal of losing 40 pounds.

The point here is there is no one right or wrong answer when it comes to devising a goal achieving strategy. One of the keys though is to realize that a strategy is a long term plan of attack. It better be comprised of things you like doing. Not only for a week or two. For example, a strategy of cutting sugar out of my diet as a means to reduce daily calorie intake isn't going to fly. Likewise, a calorie deficit that leaves me eternally hungry isn't going to cut it either.

The bottom line is that to be successful, my weight loss strategy will need to involve the following:

(1) Combine diet and exercise to create a weekly calorie defect resulting in a 3.5 pound per month weight loss

There's also a second goal that I need develop a strategy for as well. Suffice it to say, if I'm going to hoist a 30 pound backpack 11 miles and 6500 vertical feet to a 14,500 foot summit where the is 20% less oxygen, I better be in great cardio shape. So this strategy should involve:

(1) Undertake an exercise program that provides excellent cardiovascular benefits. The program should also provide opportunities to strengthen muscle groups involved in hill climbing and provide opportunities to exercise at altitudes exceeding 10,000 feet.

Combine the two and the plan is becoming pretty clear:

(1) Develop an exercise plan that delivers cardiovascular benefit, hill climbing, altitude preparation, and calorie burn.
(2) Implement a calorie tracking system that allows accurate tracking of intake and burn resulting in a caloric deficit of 10,500 calories per month.

Yes Carol (another of my blog, Twitter, and real life friends). Starting to look more and more like your suggestion.

Tomorrow: putting it all together. Tactical plans.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Goal Setting 101

We’ll start with a picture:


Got my shoes on. Standing outside. Gotta run right? Well – let’s slow down a bit (no pun intended). Why am I running today? What is my goal? Ever feel like this?

The word “goal” is defined as “the state of affairs that a plan is intended to achieve and that (when achieved) terminates behavior intended to achieve it.” Hmm. This really means that a goal needs to be (1) achievable (intent) and (2) measurable (otherwise we never terminate the behavior and never can get better). One “goal” I see often while perusing the blogosphere is: “Eat healthy”. Is that really a goal? What does that mean? Eat one fewer French fries? Ten fewer M&Ms? A professionally developed menu? How do you know when you’ve eaten healthier so you can move on to the next goal to make yourself better?

So – to bring everything back to square one – running has become drudgery for me because I have no achievable future state of affairs and plan that involve running. I’m just running. Kind of like just going to work. My goal ceased to be back in March when I completed the L.A. Marathon. I tried later on to set another goal – running a 50 miler come May. But where was the plan to achieve that goal? Is that really achievable in my current state? How am I going to solve this problem?

Setting realistic goals requires two things. First and most important – you need to be honest with yourself. I mean – don’t lose sight of your dreams, but be honest about what you can do. For me, that means I really need to take a step back and figure out if a 50 miler (and here’s the key) by May is realistic. Second – setting goals really requires some introspection. Why am I doing what I’m doing? Really?

Personally, I’ve been thinking for the last month. The honest fact is I *really* don’t enjoy running. It’s hard. It requires a lot of effort and discomfort. I run because it beats the alternatives. But – why am I really doing this? I’m not doing this because I love travel, or crowds, or runner’s high. I’m doing this to lose weight. So – the first problem is Goal #1 is really not running related at all.

Reflecting back on my running history, I had the most success when I was getting in shape to climb Mt. Whitney. It wasn't about PRs or anything. It was about doing something I really love - enjoying the alpine reaches of the Sierra Nevada. Goal #2? Maybe another assault on Whitney?

After a month, one thing is pretty evident now. I’m not being successful in my running because there aren’t any “running” related goals involved. It’s not about running a marathon a month. It’s really to drop weight and get into/stay in shape <<raising eyebrows>>.

So – here are my 2011 goals:

  1. Lose 40 pounds by 12/31/2011. There you go. Achievable (3 lbs per  month). Measurable (40 pounds, needs to be done by 12/31).
  2. Climb Mt. Whitney by Labor Day. Achievable (did it before – it wasn’t easy though. Almost turned around day 1). Measureable (make it to the top, needs to be done by Labor Day).

I know I know. So how does running factor in? Well – that’s tomorrow’s discussion – “Strategies for successful goal achievement”. Thanks for reading and hanging in!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Now It's Time to Deal With It

Sorry for being Peter Poopypants yesterday. I'm writing today's blog post as a cathartic exercise. Something to help me to get my head on straight. Hopefully this will also help others. If not, you're allowed to press the "skip" button. I'll understand.

As many of you so rightly pointed out yesterday, the real issue is that for the past couple of months, running has not been fun. Many of you have offered some pretty great ideas to get things back on the straight and narrow. Thanks! I really do appreciate your concerns and suggestions. But, I'm going to attack this a little differently.

One of the reasons for the visit from the FAIL whale was because I allowed myself to become results oriented. Being results oriented is what happens when you concentrate on results instead of concentrating on the process to achieve the results. With my mental state of being and (later on) injuries, there is no way that the results I was aiming for at the beginning of the year were achievable. Back to goal setting 101.

I mean, I should know better. In my career as a Management Consultant, I have helped numerous businesses solve their problems through a series of goal setting exercises. The basic exercise is (1) set goals for the organization (business plan), (2) create some strategies that are congruent with the goals of the organization, and (3) create the tactical plans that keep everyone marching in lockstep with the goals set and strategies created. My problem is like the cobbler's children without shoes. It's easy to give the advice. It's an entirely different issue to take the same advice.

So, tomorrow's exercise is about setting some goals for the coming year. Something that is measurable. Something that is achievable. Something that keeps the FAIL whale away. I promise the are some surprises in store...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Time to Come to Grips

As we get ready to turn the page on 2010, it time for me to come to grips with the year that was. In one word - disappointing.

Everything started out pretty well. The battleship was turned the right direction and all systems were go. Out of the gate I was able to start hitting my goals. I set a new HM PR in February, followed by a new 5K PR. Through first three months of the year training was going well. My goal of 1250 miles on the ground was well within reach. Weight was down into the 2' teens. Bottom line was everything was pointing to another year of success on the trails of Southern California.

Little did I know that something had broken though in March. There was this little death procession in late May that broke something. I'm not sure what happened, but it's been a struggle ever since. First it was getting my head back on right and treating training like training and not like a job. Once I got that settled then the tweaks and niggles started. And eventually they progressed into full blown pain. Then it became the harder I tried the more it hurt. The final injustice was having to shut things down around he holidays and just taking the time to heal - both physically and mentally.

Here's the ugly truth when I look back to my 2010 goals:

1. Lose 30 pounds and rename my blog: FAIL. Not only did I not lose, but my extended time off has allowed me to put 20 pounds back on to my already Clydesdale-esque frame. At least I have my new blog title reserved...

2. Run 1250 miles and row 310 miles: FAIL and FAIL. With one week left in the year, I'm at 928 miles run. Wow! That many? That's somewhat amazing taking into account how inconsistent my running has been the past few months. I'm also sitting at about 130 miles rowed - quite an accomplishment in itself if you've ever sat on an ergometer for more than 15 minutes. All thing considered, I'm not entirely unhappy. Sure - this is well below my 2009 total of 1500 miles on the pavement, but everything considered.... So why am I 20 pounds heavier?

3. PR at 5K, 10K and Half Marathon distances: Okay. Two out of three isn't so bad.

4. KEEP IT FUN!!!! This is what has me most concerned. I can say without a doubt, running has *not* been fun for a while. During the summer it was the boredom of the same trails over and over again. Then it got worse. Drudgery followed by the pain of knees and the dejection of not
getting stronger and faster. In short a real bummer that turned a great healthy hobby into abject drudgery.

That was my year. Sorry for being such a Nelly Naysayer...

Tomorrow - what I'm doing about it....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Weather Made Me Do It!

I’m still here. I’m also pretty happy about now that I don’t have a goal race soon.

The weather has been awful here in Southern California. The rain started Friday. Today is Tuesday. It hasn’t stopped. I keep looking for the line for the ark. To put things in perspective, a “normal” rain year here would be somewhere around 13 inches. It’s rained 5.25 inches since last Friday. The forecasters are saying another 5 (inches) before the storm blows out of here day after tomorrow.

Now I know what you’re saying – “Pshah! It’s only rain!” Yes. That’s true. But my attitude of rain (and weather in general) in Southern California is “Why run in foul weather today when tomorrow it’s going to be nice?” Of course I wasn’t anticipating seven days of rain when the storm started….

There’s other good news too. My knee is doing much better. Last week I got out for three days of running (somewhere around 12 miles) and the pain that has been dogging me the day after is abating. Yes! Now all I need to do is start working off the extra weight I’m dragging along and get back into shape. One step at a time.

I’m not posting a training plan for this week because, well, it’s going to rain until Friday! Yes sir. That’s what the weather person thingy on TV keeps saying. And then, this being Southern California and all, it will take a day or two to dry out (my normal running route in the Back Bay is currently closed due to flooding, and the trails in the local wilderness parks will be closed for a few days due to muddy conditions – yes – that’s they way we roll here in Southern California). I’ll take it as it comes.

And just in case you think we don’t know what bad weather is here in Southern California, I leave you with this photo:


That’s one night’s worth of snowfall in Mammoth Lakes (about five hours north of here) where they have had a mind boggling 12 feet of snow since last Friday!

Stay warm! Stay healthy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And So Another Week begins

I’m not trying to set a new record or anything – but this is my second post in two days.

Yesterday was a non-run day. Went out with my youngest son (who is now at least two inches taller than I am) and shot some hoops instead. It’s nice having the clan home for the holidays.


(Note: This photo was from my youngest son’s High School graduation last spring. The two on the left are both at UC Irvine, youngest at UC Riverside, and the one on the right is some fat guy trying to steal the spotlight).

This week’s workouts will be more of the same of the past couple of weeks:

  • Monday: Scheduled rest
  • Tuesday: 4 to 5 easy miles
  • Wednesday: Scheduled rest
  • Thursday: 4 or 5 easy miles
  • Friday: Scheduled rest
  • Saturday: 4 or 5 easy miles. Going to see if I can handle an easy trail on Bommer Ridge
  • Sunday: We’ll see how Saturday goes.

In addition, I’m doing some quad strengthening exercises (from Cool Runnings). I’ve got to get some core work started as well. Perhaps this week. At least the cruiser is turned and heading the right direction.

One of the reasons I haven’t started the core work yet is really a lack of available time. The time suck that I’ve been engrossed in is fellow blogger Patrick’s little project. He has resurrected the Endurance Athlete Project. This has some serious legs!  I look for it to be the Facebook for the Endurance Athlete. And before you poo poo the fact that he’s a triathlete and you’re not, EAP is flexible enough that anyone who runs more than a half marathon qualifies as an Endurance Athlete. Come on over and join in the fun! Look me up (gwjones) and friend me!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Hello folks. I’m still around. Been in serious lurker mode for the past couple of weeks. Couldn’t do a whole lot else that was very exciting.

Here’s where things stand – I’m back to running. Sort of. First off, if I try to run every day right now, I end up paying for it by the end of the week. So – I’m running every other day. Second, since I have been a little (okay – a whole lot) less than disciplined with my diet, the extra poundage I’m carrying around makes it difficult to go a whole lot further that 4 or 5 miles at a time. But – I’m at least moving.

One other thing I learned is that right now I’m not in shape to do anything serious. As a result, I passed on my opportunity to run the Crystal Cove XTERRA 17K on Sunday. Luckily TeaTime was able to take advantage of my absence in the race. All was not lost though – if you ran the race I was the guy behind the table at the first aid station (just past mile 3) filling the water cups. Hope you had a great time running!* I know I did just helping out:

* Note: We had an unseasonably warm weekend here. At our aid station, the temperature was pushing 75F when folks started showing up around 8:45 AM under sunny and breezeless skies. We heard of two cases of heat exhaustion, and while the ranger was driving us back to the start area, we had to stop and assist a hiker who was in heat distress. Glad I was just volunteering!