It is time of the year for me to “review” my efforts at maintaining my fitness and health. “How did I do?” is a pretty weak question to ask, as is “am I OK with my effort?” Granted, we all want to be judged by our intentions and not our work. We throw out any grading of intention and shall review only the differences is what we can objectively measure. There are no, “so how did this make you feel?” in the question and analysis.
None of this analysis could be done if I didn’t have a metric to measure. I have a great precedent to follow when it comes to establishing the importance of measuring: God! He measured the number of days, the dimensions of the ark, the size of the temple, the height of Goliath, the number of doors, etc. Contrary to the mass belief that we should, “Just do your best,” you need to measure your effort to see what your best is! God doesn’t reference comparing ourselves to others as part of His metric. But we should compare ourselves to our previous selves to answer the basic question, “How am I doing?’ Let’s jump to the numbers, add in my circumstances, and plan for 2021.
The Outcomes of the plan for 2020.
I established a plan last year. Let’s look at how I did.
I biked about 4500 miles. I planned to bike 5250 miles. I did 86% of what I said I was going to do.
I ran about 470 miles. I planned on running 688 miles. I did 68% of what I said I was going to do.
I did strength training for 36 hours. I had no set goal for the amount of time I would spend in a gym or doing strength training. I did not have this metric last year other than to say, “Gee, I ought to start measuring that, too.” Now, I have measured it and have a baseline.
I only had 11 hours of Pilates. This is less than half of last year.
I only did 3.5 hours of dedicated walking. Dedicated walking/hiking was greatly down.
I canoed about 8 hours. This was not planned but it happened. My brother suddenly died, and my nephew and I took my dead brother’s ashes to northern Minnesota to spread them out in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
Let’s compare event participation and baseline metrics in 2020 to 2019.
First, a good note. I averaged about 19 mph for all rides. That includes rides on the flats, the long trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway and some Gran Fondos. I averaged 17.6 last year. I didn’t ride as much in2020, but I rode faster by nearly 10%. That is a great outcome.
I competed in two running events (both before COVID) as well as three duathlons (one before COVID). The number of competitive runs was the same as last year. Duathlons were down from 5 in 2019 to 3 in 2020. When the government and media tried to bring the world to a halt, there were overcomers who brought us together in big groups, nonetheless.
Last year rode in only three bike events. I did two bike tours, one in Spain and the other on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Compared to 2019, the number of cycling events were down, but the number of days spent on overnight bike tours increased. I had planned two tours and we completed two tours. This is another good outcome!
Now that the data is out there and I have made some judgments, I need to add the “constraints” that impact analysis of these numbers.
- Obviously, COVID comes to mind, as it affected nearly all of us. It didn’t impact any of my volumes or intensity numbers except the strength training. Our local fitness facility was forcefully closed, so I had to improvise. COVID didn’t impact cycling and running, as those can all be done independent of any gym or organized event. Our Pilates studio went on-line/at-home, and the ambiance and social aspect of it removed my desire. I went back once about a month ago, and decided it wasn’t worth the value anymore. I pulled it from the menu.
- My story of flying over the edge of a bridge while descending off of the mountains has more people read it than I have met in my lifetime. I had no choice but to take most of April off as I broke 7 ribs and my A/C Joint. My pneumothorax made breathing anything but normal, and it took a long time for my lung to acclimate to the “different living space,” that it now calls home. That time down only lasted a month. What isn’t documented from the wreck was the trauma therapy that was urgently needed as I relived an event that should have killed me every hour or so for the first few weeks. With the help of some counselors, I came to peace with that my brain chemistry will forever be different as a result of the trauma, and there is no pathway back to the old Jeff. Efforts to try to will lead to negative outcomes for everyone in my life. That conclusion greatly impacted me. It pushed me to overcome the temptation and social pressure to avoid my bike; instead, I got better on the bike, and the results show that.
- Concurrent with that injury, the impact of my blown AC joint in the right shoulder made running more awkward. Physical therapy lasted for 16 weeks, and my shoulder is rehabbed. But it will never be like the left one, and surgery won’t improve the outcome. I ran less, as I tried to fight through the injury. I am on the other side of that running impact, now but I have reduced running fitness from the lack of miles and hard efforts.
- I experienced the loss of both of my siblings in 2020. Last year, I had a father, brother, and sister. Now, there are none. This created some great opportunities for introspection, and I wrote a 15 chapter memoire that would not have otherwise happened. However, those events were unexpected, and they tapped my emotional reserves. I did no hard workouts during that period of mourning. That took the better part of 2 months to reconcile. Truth be told, it will never reconcile; I must make peace with this outcome and progress through it.
My circumstantial events took away about 3 months of meaningful practice, and I missed it. I like being fit and strong; I LOVE the benefits.
The choice to see good
In retrospect, I experienced some folks with great courage. The fear of this virus created a perceived liability for many race directors and organizers, so we saw a lot of event get cancelled. That said, there were some thoughtful and courageous folks out there who pushed forward with their events, seeing that the “playing it safe,” card was not a way to write history. I am grateful for their wisdom in creating a meaningful plan B that wasn’t “virtual.” God didn’t make us to be virtual.
I should not have my health, according to conventional wisdom. Sure, I got vaccinated about 30 years ago from this “new” virus, but I should not have lived through my bike wreck. That wreck did some wonderful things for me, the greatest of which was to fast track my writing career. Book 1 is out and available for purchase. Book 2 is complete and currently in the hands of the illustrator and editor (McKenna and Zack, respectively), and I am blessed to have all their support. Book 3 already has some sentences to it, and I can tell it will be good, as I have no idea how it will end! Creativity has a mandate, as I promise that the final book in the trilogy will be available before next Christmas.
Next year will have a change to it that I cannot yet predict, namely, our son and daughter-in-law will be having their first child. We are the only non-working grandparents, so we are the first on the list to get the “help” call in the morning when things go sideways. I am already committing to extending myself grace when I have to cancel everything to drive across town to watch our granddaughter. I will keep a pair of running shoes in the car at all times, just in case. This child shall be a good thing, no matter what happens.
The changes for 2021 and the new plan
For next year, here are the changes, and I follow that up with a plan.
- I both need and want to get back into running. I love running when I am run fit. The verdict is out as to which part of running is addictive. Is it the feeling of peace while running or the satisfaction that comes with completion and the associated endorphin rush? I don’t know. Run stabilizes my brain chemistry, no matter how crazy the world around me may be. I missed it the most when I was recovering from my wreck.
- I am doing more, with others and for others. My son and I have organized three cycling trips as part of Threshold Academy, and people are interested in coming with us. Alaska and Nepal already have enough participants who have booked, and I have my airfare in place for all those places. We have three bike tours on the calendar, with two on the Blue Ridge Parkway and one in France. There is a lot of interest on all of them. Consider joining us.
- I am doing more with my wife, starting today, as we both go to the Whitewater center to run/walk. She is my rock through all my losses and change.
So, what does my plan look like for next year? The temptation that the world is subliminally suggesting is to wait and see how everything unfolds. That is the equivalent of “don’t have hope,” self-talk. That choice to leave your destiny and your calendar of dreams to the fears of the world isn’t healthy, and despite the temptation to claim it is psychologically healthy to leave room for “what becomes of corona,” it isn’t. You need a plan that includes how you will measure if it was successful or not.
I have 5 organized competitive running events, all of them done by the end of February of 2021. I may add an Ultra marathon near the end of the year, but right now, there is no available time to train for and race an ultra and be competitive.
I have 6 duathlons on my calendar. Two of them are national championship level events and two are world championship events; these organizers are the least likely to be lead with courage and more likely to be cancelled over fear/perceived risk. As such, I am extending grace if those four events do not come to pass.
I have put together 3 organized, overnight cycling tours, and I have created a COVID protocol for others who join us to help them feel safer than they otherwise might. I have sent it to others in the sport for review and approval; others who know more than me can provide great insight!
I have registered for 5 charity-based bike rides that I have on my calendar and paid for. Those, too, may be cancelled, but as Alex and I figured out last year that we can do the Blood, Sweat, and Gears ride independent of the organizer. Sure, we had to plan a bit more, but we did it!
I have a Himalayan trek on the books for October/November of 2021 that already has a lot of participants signed up. From there, we will go back to my village for the Hindu holidays as a group. That has me out of the country for 18 consecutive days-the most I have been gone in many years.
All the base metrics (time and distance) for cycling and running should increase. To help handle the upcoming increase in training load, I will be increasing my strength training to 2 hours a week all winter long; between good nutrition and strength training, I am doing the best that I can to avoid injury.
I have not included any professional goals within my consulting practices; this is already a bit long to include them all. That said, I am interested in hearing how your analysis of 2020 went and what you are going to do differently in 2021. Chime in!