I have been pondering the role of measurements and goals in improving fitness. My friend Bonny Baker has been working toward a goal of a sub-30-second Time to Beat run with her small poodle DeeDee; when she told me about that, I started thinking about measurable big goals and measurable small goals that add up to that big goal (thanks, Bonny). I’m trying to run a sub-29-minute 5K (and after that, a sub-28-minute 5K) (and after that? guess!). I know people who want to get more MaCH points for each run and so are trying to run faster with their dogs. (For me, as far a MaCH goes, what I want is to have run every run all-out-trying-to-win, not trying-to-Q.)
These are measurable goals. There is a current measurement and there is a measurable goal. I can tell you what I weighed on pretty much any day of the last three-and-a-half years, and I can tell you what I weigh now. I know my body fat measurement, my BMI, and my weight goal. With those measurable outcomes, I know if I’m making progress toward that goal, and I will know when (not if) I’ve met my goal.
I have lots of goals, in agility, in running, in cycling, even in swimming. My goals vary in their level of ambition, but they are measurable. In swimming, for example, my goal every week is to swim at least once, for at least a half hour; speed is not an issue here, but showing up is. In cycling, my goal is to complete the 45-mile wine country bike ride the last weekend in July, preferably without whining too much. (There are sub-goals to that, because that goal involves training for it.) There are multiple steps in meeting some goals–for example, I’m currently working on running a little faster (and yes, I measure my speed and heart rate every run) and a little longer (of course I measure that too) in my daily runs. I have switched from saying “I think I can, I think I can” to myself as I run up hills–right now, what I say is “no junk miles”. “Junk miles” (as I’m defining it) is running without pushing myself just a little; “junk miles” is running without being conscious of how I feel and how hard I’m working.
There was an article in the New York Times a few days ago about tracking how you spend your time, with the goal (of course) of becoming better at spending time on the things you really want to spend time on. The author pointed out that she also recorded how long it took her to track her time expenditures. Yes, tracking goals takes time. However, I’m pretty sure it’s essential to track, that without tracking, you don’t make progress.