Saturday, March 31, 2012

Texas Senior Games Update and Goals

In my February 11, 2012 blog I promised a late March update of my participation in the Texas Senior Games. I want to share the results of that effort and expand my thoughts about goals from February’s blog.

Goals should be realistic first of all and meaningful. Failure and disappointment are inevitable if the goals are unobtainable or have no personal value or reason. My initial goal was to participate in the 5K Racewalk and 5K Roadrace. After a few training sessions in Racewalking I decided not to continue that event. Tennis and racquetball are similar but mastery of either involves somewhat different skills. So it is with Racewalking and Roadracing; the techniques are different and I felt that I needed to concentrate on one style, rather than two. I took the easier path (appropriate pun for walking or road racing). The road race only requires the racer to finish (running not required), perfect for my level of training and conditioning. 

Bib Number
This proved to be a good decision. I originally had two basic goals: one was to finish and the second goal was to finish in forty minutes (my best unofficial previous time was 41.5 minutes). My official race time for the Texas Senior Games was 40 minutes and 12 seconds; this was close enough since I stopped once to grab and drink a cup of water. The truth is I finished last in my age group but more importantly my personal goal was achieved. I wasn’t racing against others; I was racing for my own health and self-esteem.

What do you want to do? Do you want to finish a quilt you started months ago, reorganize the kitchen, take a vacation, clean the garage, build a gazebo or do something else? Articulate your desire and proceed to step two.

The second step of goal reaching is to layout the steps needed to achieve the goal, whether it is a race or any other life goal. In my case the plan was to walk three or four times a week and at least one of those walks to be a 5 kilometers long effort. Action items on the road to achievement are needed: items for today, the week ahead, the upcoming months and the year. Sometimes larger goals need milestone events along the path to attainment. Creating and implementing a plan is essential. Write the goal down and the major steps required. If it is obtainable and meaningful creating the written plan should be easy.

Reaching My Roadrace Goal
Goals may change or the plan adjusted because conditions and circumstances change. Most weeks I made plans around my weekly training sessions. When there was a significant conflict I altered my training schedule to fit. Rigid schedules are unnecessary obstacles because things happen. Life happens. 

People are social creatures and having a partner is a plus. My wife was an encouraging partner, my personal cheerleader. She knew my schedule and worked around it, without complaint and would sometimes accompany me on my weekend long outdoor walks. My niece gave me advice from time to time; she lent me her GPS training watch for the 5K Roadrace and met me at the course on race day. She helped set my pace and encouraged my efforts. Writing is a solitary activity but all writers have friends and colleagues to review and help them with their work. Teams have coaches. College students have study groups and advisors. Life is a partnership with others. If you want to take that dream vacation find someone to make the plans with, share the required tasks, set deadlines or just call your travel agent.

Recognition of achievement is important. My wife, sons and niece have remarked during the past two months how proud they are of my training efforts. On race day hugs and kisses waited for me at the finish line. Other runners cheered each participant as they crossed the finish line and their times were announced. Peer recognition was an unexpected and heartwarming surprise at the end of my initial foray into the Texas Senior Games.

Now I look ahead and plan to continue the walking regime as part of my regular routine. I am looking ahead to May and a probable 5k charity walk. My goal is to finish in less than 40 minutes and get one or two others to participate with me. A new plan is needed if I want to reach my new race goal. I’ll now proceed to step 2, creating a plan.

I heard a quote that if you stop someone will run you over. That noise behind you is encouragement to keep moving.

KISS: Kick in Steady Strides.

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  1. I am so proud of you Dad. I wish I was as motivated as you. Wow!

  2. Re-read the article. Set a modest obtainable goal: for diet, exercise, work, or anything. Then go to step two.


  3. Well, I joined the gym again last night. I really want to get off my meds and walking and trying to eat better will help me achieve it. I am planning on gymming 3 or 4 times a week and maybe once on the weekend for starters.

    If I am doing good, I will likely join you on May 12th for a 5k.