Big goals broken into bite sized chunks
Here we are at the end of February. I set what I thought was a reasonably difficult goal at the beginning of February; I wanted 15k feet of elevation gain. I am focusing on elevation gain a lot this year as a metric because it is:
- Excellent strength building exercise
Plus, where else can you get this sort of view?
As we finish up these last days of February I’m thinking that goal might have been a little light, because I just wrapped up a little over 18k feet for the month. I feel pretty good about that, probably because I am starting to see the results of these stupid wonderful hill repeats. I’m feeling stronger and faster with these last few runs, and there aren’t many greater joys than the effortless floating feeling on your feet during a strong run. Now that February’s goal has been crushed I think I need to come up with one that’s a bit more stout.
I use goals to motivate myself, each one can be an accomplishment, a learning experience or both. Sometimes I like doing dumb, difficult, daring and sometimes dangerous things (see https://www.orangemud.com/pages/adventure-project-badwater-to-telescope-to-badwater-josh-grant for reference), and other times I like to sit on the couch for hours with a laptop and not move, I think that’s called variety and I like it. I setup big goals and little goals, short term goals and long term goals, achievable goals and very, very difficult goals. Sometimes I put a lot of effort into crafting them, and sometimes (read as: 95% of the time) I fly by the seat of my pants and make it up on the fly. That feels like where we are at right now with this next one.
This next goal will hopefully help deter me from couching too much as I ramp up for this Badwater Project. I want to knock out 100,000 feet of elevation gain by July 7th. I’m running Tahoe Rim Trail 100 on July 21 so the 7th allows for a good taper before that and should have me super ready for that mountainous route. It will also help get me ready for the aforementioned Adventure Project later in the year.
Now, since July 7th is so far away and 100k is such a big number I need to break this down into bit sized goals, otherwise it’s overwhelming. If I do it on a day by day basis (~81,000 feet left/130 days left) I would need about 620 feet of gain per day, without a single rest or flat day in there. That breakdown seems a bit too granular, with too many days where I’m likely to fail to meet the standard. It might be better as a bi-weekly goal of about 9,000 feet. Or there’s the monthly version of trying to hit about 18k, like what I did for February? Again, flying by the seat of my pants is my speciality and this will probably take a little tinkering before I find something that fits well.
Speaking of erratic plans, in March my backpacking partner/pacer and I are supposed to tackle the Mt San Jacinto Cactus to Clouds route. But California is looking at a pretty major winter storm hitting over the next few days, just before our planned trip. So, we are trying to fire up some backup ideas. Thankfully, the world is an amazing place so we have tons of options from the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim route, or maybe some peakbagging and/or canyoneering out in Death Valley. By the next update I write, I will hopefully have done something more than sitting on my couch...
But that’s one of the overarching ways I plan and try to stay motivated. Making big goals, and trying not to get overwhelmed at the size and scope of them. Like with the Badwater project, I’m going to break that big, bad beast into smaller bite sized chunks, four of them to be precise:
- Salt Flats: ~6 miles of super flat terrain, just don’t trip over the salt lines because it is dark out there before dawn.
- Hanaupah Canyon Road: ~9 miles of grinding uphill on an old dirt mining road. Here I’m just going to concentrate on controlling my pace, keeping it slow and easy.
- THE CRUX ~5 miles, off trail and stupid steep. Don’t blow up the quads, don’t blow up the quads, don’t blow up the quads. This is what all my hill work is building up to.
- Final Ascent: ~1 mile on trail but still steep.
Now reverse those four on the descent, trying to keep the quads alive again through the crux on the downhill so I’ll be able to blaze through the final two sections which are eminently runnable.
Big goals broken down into bite sized chunks is life.