Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Year in Review and A Year of Goals, SLAP-style!

Happy New Year from Sweat Like A Pig! I wish you all the very best for 2011! I also hope your hangover isn't so bad that you can't read this blog post.

(A random aside: I just now realized, after authoring this blog for nearly 10 months, that Sweat Like A Pig has the acronym SLAP (I know, I'm slow). I think it's rather appropriate, don't you? I know I've been SLAP'ed into shape!)

New years often mean new goals, but not necessarily in the form of resolutions (which I honestly hate because they are so often abandoned by February). No, I mean goals for the entire year. Goals that may have several sub-goals, and take months to achieve, but are specific and realistic enough that you won't give up on them.

Though you all know me best as a super-awesome ninja-runner, I am actually an engineer by day. At my job, I am expected to set goals at the beginning of the year, and then my boss measures my performance at the end of the year based on how well I achieved those goals. I can't just say something like "Design lots of tractor parts", because (1) what constitutes "lots"? and (2) is there really any value in designing lots of tractor parts? Only if they are actually manufactured and get used on tractors! We are expected to use a very specific formula for goal-setting, known as SMART. That is, the goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and have a well-defined Time-frame for completion. As you can see, "Design lots of tractor parts" doesn't really meet any of the SMART criteria. A more appropriate goal would be "Complete validation of a new tractor part design on 200 tractors by November 2011". And for the record (in case my boss is reading this by some strange chance), I'm not actually committing to that goal!

In the same way "Design lots of tractor parts" doesn't meet SMART goal criteria, neither do "Lose weight" or "Run a marathon" or "Get organized" or any of the other things people typically come up with for resolutions. So if you must make "resolutions", I encourage you to make them in the form of a SMART goal.

I already have a few running-related goals in mind for 2011, but today I want to look back on the accomplishments (and failures) of 2010 because that will help me figure out what I want to focus on this year. Fortunately, I have a lot of nicely-organized data and results (hey, I told you I was an engineer!).

So let's start with the summary of my Garmin data for 2010. Survey says...

I ran 1,417 miles (that's like running from my house to Yellowstone National Park!)

I ran 226 times (that's 62% of the days of 2010)

I ran for 265 hours, 48 minutes and 53 seconds (that's over 11 solid days of running!)

I burned 127,273 calories just from running (that's 1,178 Toll House Cookies!)

For the record, I did not eat 1,178 cookies. But I could have if I wanted to, and that's what matters!

Additionally, my average run speed increased from 5.1 mph in January to 5.7 mph in December, while my average heart rate dropped from 157 bpm to 155 bpm. What does this mean in plain English? It means I can run faster without having to work as hard.

My race results also show huge improvements. In 2010, I set 12 new PR's in 6 different race distances (I broke my 5k PR 4 times)! I ran a total of 18 races in 2010, which means that I PR'd in 67% of the races I ran. I also brought home 3 age-group awards, including one 1st place trophy. First place! ME!

Yes, 2010 was a very good year for running - I achieved things I never dreamed I could achieve. I owe a lot to FAST for keeping me challenged and motivated. I couldn't have done any of this without my incredible coaches and amazing teammates.

So how can I possibly top that in 2011? Well, I don't really expect to top it. 2010 was a breakthrough year - I figured out what I am truly capable of and I pushed myself to the limit. I expect improvements in 2011 to become less profound, and be fewer and farther between. But that doesn't mean I won't set new goals and keep pushing. To the contrary.

Here are a couple of goals I have right now: I would like to run a sub-25:00 5k and a sub-2:10 half-marathon. I suspect I will have plenty of chances to meet that 5k goal; there is no shortage of 5k races in this area in the warmer months. The half-marathon goal is a little trickier, as I haven't yet identified a target race (I am running the Flying Pig half and the Indy Mini-Marathon, but not planning to race them since they are on consecutive weekends). So, help me out, friends! Help me pick a good half-marathon (preferably one within driving distance of central Illinois) to meet my sub-2:10 goal!

I would also like to eat 1,178 cookies in 2011. It's a pretty lofty goal, I know, but if I work really hard, I think I can do it. I will have to eat over 3 cookies a day to reach this goal. I have not had any cookies yet today, so I'm already off to a bad start.

It's pretty likely that as the year progresses, I will come up with new goals. And that's the way it should be. One shouldn't only set goals on New Year's Day. Goal-setting should be an ongoing, never-ending activity. When you meet a goal, set a new one! If you have a SMART goal and you work hard, I have no doubt you can achieve it.

And by the way, I was kidding about the cookie-eating goal. Sort of.

Peace. Love. Train.

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