Saturday, February 25, 2012

Time to Get Serious - Action Items Spring 2012

Sometimes you're the foot, sometimes you're the ball
Here in Iowa, we have had one of the most mild winters in recent memory. The pond that sits next to our house has started to thaw out, and liquid water has breached in a few spots. There are few, if any, piles of snow in any of the yards in the neighborhood. And the most telling evidence of all that Spring is only a month away - kids walking to school in shorts and a t-shirt. In 30 F temps (already covered my thoughts on this End of the World (Part II)).

((((UPDATE)))) I wrote this before we received a few inches of snow and temps went from 40 F to 20 F overnight

Typically, I don't get my fifth run in shorts (outdoors) in until late March or early April. I hit that milestone Thursday. In fact, I ran in only a lightweight half-zip. And was a little warm. Times are good. So good, in fact, that my wife asked me if it was time to start going on my three hour long runs again. No honey, no its not.

To celebrate the break in the weather, I spent some time last week building a list of races in my area. I counted twelve between last weekend and the end of June, just within a half an hour drive of my house. And that was only distances between 5k to 7 miles. That didn't include a few marathons, half marathons, triathlons, etc. Needless to say, this could build a very fun, challenging season. As I wrinkled my brow looking at the opportunities to test my progress towards my goals for the year (2012 Goals), I began to wonder - will I be able to turn the corner and take my training a little more seriously? And if so, in what specific ways will I be able to actually enact those changes?

This is a job for....ACTION ITEMS!!! If you've ever heard your boss talk about how he or she wants to be the best call center, or have the highest customer rating, or sell the most widgets, or be the smartest engineers in the company, you've probably thought, "OK, great, so how in the hell we do we do it?" Action items, my friend.

First, my primary goal this year:

Race five to seven 5ks, and win once or place in the top 5 twice

How to do it? I need speed. My aerobic capacity has been awesome the past few years, and I am very grateful that my body has allowed my to build some decent top end speed (TOS) and maintain it for a long period of time. But that isn't my goal. The TOS needs to break out. Essentially, I need to drop about one minute per mile from my 5k time from last fall.

My action items are:

1) More short, quick workouts. Instead of lumping miles upon miles to build up for a marathon, I'll be hitting lots of hard workouts, which will require less mileage and more recovery. My miles could be way down this year.

2) Lose weight. I hate to admit it, but this is a requirement. Some very hard decisions are going to have to be made. Buffalo Wild Winds, I will miss you my friend. Longbranch, your $3 all you can eat wings will have to wait. And craft beers, I'm sorry, get the point. Seventy L-B's from my peak weight of 240 lbs just six years ago, and another ten need to go. Won't miss them.

3) Race more - a lot more. My last 5k, the first I had raced in about, oh, a long time, was the antithesis of strategy. I went out the gate at the pace that is my goal pace for this year, and although I didn't crash that hard, I didn't finish well. Getting more experience should yield better pacing strategy and ultimately better finishing times.

4) "Shorter" long runs. During the early part of the season, my long runs will top out at 16 miles, right now at 10 or 12. This way I can log more hard workout without needing the requisite recovery time.

5) Better time management - I believe it was Dave Scott (dude finished 2nd at Ironman World Champs - at age 42) who said that all of our time in a day is like a jar. Put a few large rocks in to represent the big things we do - sleeping, take care of the kids, work, commuting - things that take up big chunks of time during the day. You'll notice that, although the jar may appear to be full, there are lots of smaller spaces between those large rocks. If you fill the small spaces in with pebbles or even sand, you'll find you can fit a lot more volume of material into the jar. It is all about how we use our time. For instance, in the evenings (when I am not running, writing this blog or working on other writing projects), I try to cook dinner and prepare the next day's lunch at the same time. 

I was reluctant to take my shirt off at first...
Be sure to check in again this weekend as I preview some new programs coming from  Beachbody  (the makers of P90X). Cara over at Beachbody was kind enough to send me some promotional information, and I think you'll find it worthwhile to at least give this a look. Beachbody produces some great fitness DVDs, and if you've ever known anyone who has done P90X, you'll know how fanatical its fans are. (Disclosure: I received NO compensation or merchandise from Beachbody, Cara and I thought this would make a great platform to promote some awesome fitness DVDs).


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