Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Setting Goals

I wrote briefly yesterday about thinking ahead to next season and that I had a new set of goals.  My 2014 season was successful and I owe that to being consistent with my training and trusting my plan.  Now that I have laid a good foundation, it's time to build on that and improve.  When planning things out, I looked at my performances from this year to see what I want to improve on.  After some soul searching, I wrote up some goals.

Goal writing is nothing new for me.  I do this on a daily basis for my job as a PT, but it's for other people.  When a patient comes into my office for an evaluation, I have to diagnose the problem, identify impairments, create a 'problem list', and then write goals.  The goals I write need to be measurable and specific for that patient.  We follow a format of "ABCDE":
  • Audience - who is expected to change
  • Behavior - what behavior changes or results are expected
  • Condition - under what circumstance will the result be accomplished
  • Degree - how much change will occur
  • Evidence - how will the change be measured (outcome measures)
Insurance companies look for these when I submit my evaluations.  I need to be realistic when I write these up.  Insurance companies have a general idea how long the rehab process takes for certain injuries.  If a patient takes longer, they will question my effectiveness as a therapist. As you can see, goals need to be very specific.  Generalizations just won't work.

When it comes to my training, I try to be specific as well.  Very basic goals just won't work.  There's another pneumonic used to help with this goal writing: "SMART"
  • S - specific/significant
  • M - measurable/meaningful
  • A - attainable
  • R - relevant/rewarding
  • T - time bound/trackable 

I set short, medium and long term goals.  A short term goal might be on a week by week basis.  I review my workouts for the week and set a goal based on that.  I use a medium term goal that might be based on a month-long training cycle.  Long term might be a goal that I am working towards over a season or a long training cycle leading into a 'A' race.

I also need to be mindful about what is realistic.  I won't set a goal like "Finish an Ironman in 10 hours" when my last one was over 14 hours.  I look at my previous times and if I am racing a similar course (or an easier course), then I figure for maybe a 5-8% change. I have to look at my previous times when figuring all this out.

My goals for this year are based on racing times and power goals (cycling).  I also get an objective opinion on my goals as well.  It's important to have a detailed conversation with my coach to get her input on what I hope to achieve.  She will come up with the details to help me achieve my goals.  With each workout, we analyze the data and see if I am on target to making my goals. 

It's important to write your goals down.  I keep a copy on my nightstand or on my phone so I see it every day and am reminded about what I want to accomplish.  What are your goals for next year?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2015 is right around the corner

My 2014 racing season is finally over.  I completed the Army 10 Miler last weekend and squeaked out another PR.  That makes 7 PR's over 9 races this season.  There is no secret to my success.  It comes down to consistency in training.  I had a good buildup to my races and incredible recovery this season. I chose each race very carefully and had a purpose in mind for each one.  I didn't race just to race.

Each race was used to help prepare me for Ironman Lake Placid.  I didn't focus too heavily (mentally) on them and expend too much energy.  I can't handle too many ups and downs that come with racing. My main goal that I was gearing up for was IMLP so I had to keep my mental focus sharp for that race.  Any races leading into it, I didn't get too nervous over. I was able to tune-out the noise around me of other people training and not get caught up in what they were doing to prepare.  I knew what I had to do and I trusted my coach's plan.

When IMLP rolled around, I really felt sharp and well prepared, thanks to Danielle.  There was never a doubt in my mind that I wouldn't finish.  It was just what time I would finish in.  I went through just about every type of weather pattern that day, and I still managed to finish fairly well.  After that race I had a little downtime prior to refocusing my efforts for the rest of the season.  I used my Ironman training fitness to knock out a new PR in the Olympic and Half Iron distance events and then a few running races.

Right now I am in a month-long hiatus from any structured training. I am still training, but it's more of a "what do I feel like doing today?" and just doing that.  It's a great mental break for me as I don't have to worry about getting the work done.  I can relax and just enjoy the idea of working out.

I learned a few things this season that will hopefully stick with me to next season. I've been racing since 2003 and I think this season is where I finally learned a lot about myself (better late than never I guess).  If you race and never learn anything or take anything away, then I think you are really missing out.  It helps me goal plan for future races.

For 2015, I have a few races already in mind.  I am using the same philosophy as I did this season: I will not race just for the sake of racing. Each race will have a purpose/goal that will help me improve. This process takes a lot of self-reflection on my part.  Last month I sat down and mapped out what I want to achieve next season with my racing and what do I think I need to do to get there.  It was fairly detailed and some honest criticism of myself.  I typed up my goals and tentative race list and sent them along to Danielle.  In a few weeks she and I will sit down and figure out what exactly I will need to do to hit my goals next season.  I was very specific with where I want to be and am excited about my journey to get there. Next season won't be as long as this one was, but it will be just as important to me. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

It's been a while.....

I haven't updated this blog since January of 2014 and it's time to 'dust it off'.  Last I left off I had 2 PRP injections in my right patella tendon.  I am happy to say that it healed quite nicely. Many things happened over the course of the year.  One of the most important changes I made when it comes to my training and racing was to work with Danielle Sullivan as my coach.

I was going to go the self-coached route, but coming off the knee injury I knew it would be wise to have someone objective leading the way. I spoke with her on the phone in early January and then we met in person. I knew after that meeting that she was a good fit for me.  I had some ambitious goals for the season and I was concerned about how I was going to hold up.  She let me dictate my run schedule for the 1st month as I eased back into running while she handled the bike and swim.  After that, I was completely in her hands.

She's a very 'hands on' coach and I like that approach.  Her attention to detail is amazing.  She carefully tracked my progress and had me ready to go for all of my races.  What I loved the most was the group atmosphere she creates with all of her athletes.  I've met a good number of them and have the good fortune to consider them friends.  Jose and I met up for track workouts and open water swims with Danielle in preparation for Ironman Lake Placid.  Christa and I get together and do various workouts as she prepares for Ironman Florida.  It really is a fun group to belong to.  The group rides and swims are awesome.  I love being part of the Iron Fit Endurance Team.

This season I had a full schedule:

Long Island Half Marathon (had a PR)

Quassy Half Ironman (solid race all around)
Challenge AC (aquabike Iron distance)

Ironman Lake Placid (had a PR under some epic weather conditions)

Springs 10k (had a PR)
Mighty Hamptons Olympic Distance (had a PR)
Princeton 70.3 Half Ironman (had a PR)

Entenmann's Great South Bay 10k (had a PR - you see a trend here?)
Army Ten Miler (next week)

This was by far my most successful and longest season since I've been racing (2003).  I can't wait to see what improvements I can make next season.  There's a lot of work to be done.  I will sit down with Danielle next month and review my plan and goals for 2015. I already emailed her a tentative race schedule with some goal times/power on it.

So far this off season she has taught me some new swim strokes to break up my workouts.  She's also added a weekly group swim workout starting this month. I love the idea of getting a 'push' in the pool from others in the lane. Anything that will make me faster........

I also worked with Dina Griffin to clean up my race nutrition.  Over the last year I had cleaned up my daily nutrition, but really needed help with my training/race nutrition. Dina was very instrumental in helping me with that.  My race nutrition worked very well. No stomach or intestinal issues.  She helped me come up with a detailed plan and it was actually quite simple. It worked like a charm and I was able to train and recover very quickly from my long workouts (and boy did I have many long workouts).

I had the opportunity to change jobs.  I worked with Sinead when she owned the PT practice, but she left in December of 2013 to pursue new opportunities.  I saw the writing on the wall and knew it was time to get out.  I found a new job that is much closer to home. The added bonus is I work 4 days a week and have Friday's off. So far things are going well at the new job.  They keep me busy and don't micromanage me.

Currently I am taking a few weeks off from structured training to give my mind and body a rest. I was very focused all season and need this downtime to avoid a burnout. My goal is to get back into the swing of training in November. I am really excited to see what is in store for next year!!