338 days: Step 4 – Commit

Quick recap: I have a plan to raise $10,000 for some awesome organizations by Sept. 22, 2013. Tally so far: $925. I’ll be doing a bunch of races along the way, capped off with Ironman Lake Tahoe.

Ragnar Northwest Passage registration is open. Four commitments are in, 8 more to go…

This week I’ve been sharing the steps I consider when accepting and taking on a challenge. Three steps down, one to go. So far…

Step 1: Set a TARGET. Some key points included…

  1. I set my target high. Make it scare me a little bit. Or a lot.
  2. Go ahead and set a ridiculously lofty target… but build up to it.

Step 2: Establish FOCUS. Some key points included…

  1. Make a structured plan focused on reaching this target.
  2. The plan should be challenging, but not overwhelming.
  3. Write the plan down. Now you own it.

Step 3: Attack the plan. Some key points included…

  1. Stick to the plan.
  2. But be smart about sticking to the plan.

So far you’ve formed a challenging TARGET. Determined FOCUS on that target followed. Then you go after your focused plan with a brutal ATTACK. What else is left?

You need to COMMIT.

And you haven’t really done that, yet. If your target is really challenging enough there will be days that you want to give up and you lose sight of your target. If your plan is really aggressive enough you are going to have a time where one throw-away day leads to another… which leads to another. If you are really attacking your plan there will be days that you just simply get tired of pushing, or rolling out of bed at 4:30am, or the late nights.

What pushes you through this? A commitment. Here are some of the tricks I use to stay committed:

1) Drop the green.

If your target is a race or some other event, pay the registration fee now. Don’t wait. If it requires travel, pay for your airline tickets and book the hotel/car. NOW. With a lot of athletic events, in particular, there is a risk of the event selling out… Don’t give yourself an out. The almighty dollar is a mighty good incentive. If you have $400 invested in race registration fees and logistics costs you aren’t likely to step away.

2) Track your progress

You’ve taken the time to create/adopt a plan that you’ve bought into (partially because you’ve written it down, right?). Track yourself against that plan every day.

Whenever I put together a triathlon or marathon training plan, the first thing I do is build a spreadsheet detailing every workout I am going to do between today and the day of the race. From that day forward, I know exactly what is on the schedule for today, tomorrow, and the rest of the week. I keep track of each workout in that same spreadsheet writing down what I actually did – those days I met the workout target I highlight the day in green. Those days where I mostly met the target is in yellow. Where I failed, I use red. There is a very high correlation between my race results and the amount of green or red on my training plan.

Additionally, for the past 8 years I’ve been using a GPS device on every run and bike ride, and download every workout to a tracking system. Every run, bike, and swim since August 2004 are captured on my computer in a program called SportTracks – I know how far, how fast, heartrate and performance metrics, elevation, what equipment I used (and how many miles/use rate for each piece of equipment). It’s all in one place. You don’t need to go to these lengths, but give it a good think – it is highly motivating for me to compare my current speeds on my standard 5-mile loop along the beach to what I was doing 5 years ago (I am much faster now)… and this past summer (I was really fast this summer, and am motivated to be that fast again).

You don’t need to use SportTracks – there are plenty of great alternatives that are easy to use: Garmin Connect, MapMyRide, MapMyRun, TrainingPeaks, and Strava are all great and very popular. Many of these don’t require a dedicated GPS device – if you have a smart phone you can download, for example, the MapMyRide app and capture your workout metrics, with your training log accessible via the website and app.

Even though every single one of my workouts goes on SportTracks, I also additionally track some of them on MapMyRide (I like the Climb Rating feature) and Strava (where you essentially race yourself and others on course segments). Pick a training log mechanism and use it religiously, but feel free to dabble with others.

3) Take your target public

Don’t keep your target and your focused plan a secret. Tell others about it. Let them know what you’re trying to do and how you are doing in reaching that goal. This serves many purposes:

  • There are now others out there who know what you’re trying to do, and they’ll know if you met your target (and they’ll know if you DIDN’T meet your target).
  • Sometimes that is the spark somebody else requires to get or stay motivated. And they reciprocate by keeping you informed of their targets and progress towards those goals. Which motivates you. Which motivates them. Pretty powerful stuff… And this is the reason for the last part:

4) Find a support group

The self perpetuating motivational machine I just described is a support group. It could be a friend or relative that you talk to about this stuff. You know they’ll ask how it’s going… and you can’t let them down, can you?

A training buddy is a WONDERFUL thing to have. There is no greater motivation than knowing your buddy is waiting for you to go on that long run… in the rain… when you both would rather be watching the professional bowling tour (yeah, running in the rain or searing heat can suck that bad sometimes!). But if your buddy (or buddies!) is depending on you, and you on your buddy, you will persevere. Find a training buddy or two or ten that will help push you, will keep you motivated and honest, and who you can push and motivate. If you don’t have such a buddy, there are plenty of clubs and groups that would be more than happy to welcome you with open arms.

Full disclosure here: those who know me athletically know I don’t use training buddies. I really prefer to train alone for a whole slew of reasons (I won’t share them here today, as I don’t want you to adopt any of them after that last paragraph I wrote espousing the virtue of training buddies – for almost all of you, training buddies will be critical). But at work, and in accomplishing my professional goals, I have an absolutely killer support group and a couple of fantastic “training buddies” – I guess you’d call them professional mentors and peers in the workplace. I can’t do my job and reach my workplace and career targets without them.

So, there you have it… and here is how I personally use these commitment tools toward this fundraising challenge:

  • I’ve “dropped the green” – my seed money toward the fundraising challenge is a HUGE incentive to keep going. I have a lot invested in this. I refuse to let it go to waste.
  • I’ve been tracking my progress – all of the donations toward this goal are being recorded and tracked on Crowdrise, and specific events are being planned as I write this post.
  • I’ve most certainly taken this public – to a very wide audience. The fundraising challenge and Ironman goals are being broadcast on this blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • And I’ve got some support groups – all of your support and enthusiasm in this journey has been fantastic. But, frankly, this has been hard – and I have a support group of close friends and family that help me get through those rough training days and fundraising events/challenges, and those days when I hear, “Hey, THAT is a really great idea!”, but it falls flat. It can be demoralizing to see a blog post that you worked really, really hard on and are really proud of get only a handful of views, or a fundraising event fall short of your goals… but my private support group helps me pick myself up, brushes me off, and sends me back out to the playing field to give it another go. I can’t do this without a support group – and you are part of that support group.

Next week I’ll do a quick recap of these 4 steps. And then I’ll introduce you to one of those people in my support group – a truly awesome friend that feeds me energy and motivation by the scoop full.

This entry was posted in Van Down by the River. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 338 days: Step 4 – Commit

  1. johnrieber says:

    Um, when did you become a LIFE COACH?

  2. ProofQED says:

    All shall be revealed on Monday! Stay tuned…

    (OK, maybe not ALL… probably just SOME…)

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