Monday, February 19, 2007


To avoid making exercise seem like a mindless pursuit but one with a purpose, it is important to have significant goals. They do not have to be as noble as raising money to cure cancer, or attaining inner peace and self-knowledge although that would be nice. They merely have to be enough of a motivation that it will drive you out of bed or away from the TV to work out. Because if you do reach it, you will be overcome by waves of satisfaction.

I am currently struggling to define goals that will produce this sensation. The debate centers on three choices;

1) Numbers. Given that I have completed a half Ironman and Ironman, and finally went sub- 3.30 for the marathon, any advancements in time for these distances will now be incremental. Setting personal records at any distance is satisfying. However, pushing myself on a 50-mile training ride in the hope of lowering my Vineman time from 5.47 to 5.35 seems slightly trivial.

2) Body. At six feet and 172 pounds, I am on middle ground. I am bigger than most competitive triathletes (a group to which I do not belong) but skinnier than the societal definition of buff. In short, I have recently been feeling too skinny. As I get older, I will start losing muscle mass and will probably become skinnier unless I change patterns. As in eat more and lift more to get to 180. Of course, this extra eight-to-10 pounds will directly affect my ability to hit the numbers.

3) Form. While I am a decent runner, I am a terrible swimmer, and below average biker. Rather than maintaining my asinine training approach to swimming of churning inefficient miles and expecting improvement, I should join a masters swim club and actually learn to swim. And even nail flip turns. Now that would be satisfying.

Choosing between the three does not have to be either/or. Step one in the process; go to Koret Center this afternoon, sign up for a masters swim program and weigh myself.


DSB said...

Duh, #2 for the ladies. Just keep yourself in decent enough shape to wreck shop in the senior games.

Steph said...

Goals can also be training-related too, not just race-oriented.

For example, I had a goal of slowly but surely (and smartly) reaching peak running mileage at 100 mi/week during last fall's marathon training. I didn't PR, but the fact that I maintained consistancy and didn't injure myself meant a lot more.

The tools we develop are more important than the actual race results. Having a perfect race day with perfect weather and a killer PR requires something short of the planets being in alignment. But you will always remember what it took to prepare for the race, and lifelong fitness.

Your perspectives on goals are really interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

No Wetsuit Girl... overseas! said...

I've read that you don't have to loose too much muscle mass as you age, you just have to work a bit harder to keep it there. If you're an ironman, you're no stranger to working hard. Have you read about how research suggests certain foods speed or slow muscle loss due to aging? I'm no expert, but maybe this article can help you with your long term goal of being the buffest 80-year-old on the planet.