Tuesday, January 24, 2012


(Apologies - it's a long one).

Big hairy-assed goals, or BHAGs, are a recurring feature in my life.  If I'm feeling down or just a bit meh, that's the time to catch me.  Suggest something crazy to me, anything crazy, and I'll do it.

Generally it works.  I've LONG been a believer in the Opposite of Me and while BHAGs aren't necessarily the opposite of me they tend to serve the same function of shaking something (me) loose and up and onward.  They basically kick me into action when I need it.

But the thing about BHAGs is they are all those things - big and hairy-assed - scary.  And so right now I'm staring at two great BHAGs and trying to figure out how to tackle them.

BHAG number 1 is setting up my own business.  Oh, I've sort of dabbled in that before but not in any concerted way and not with something I felt as passionately about as my personal training.  It matters so much more, and is therefore so much more scary and hairy-assed.  I waste enough of my life over at lifehacker.com to know that the way to handle panic-inducing goals is to break them down into doable steps.  I'm doing it, folks.  I've qualified, applied for my certification and insurance, am seeing the bank on Thursday and am working on a website.  Making everything into lists is helping me enormously - keeping my head down and working through stuff point-to-point is going well and it's only when I look up that I am caught in the headlights and start panicking (what if nobody wants to hire me?  what if I'm no good?), so I'm trying to avoid looking up too much.

BHAG number 2 - ah.  Waaay back in late November I was getting frustrated with the lack of structure in direction in my training.  Although I had the London marathon on my horizon this April, my training was not happening (enough) and I felt I lacked purpose.  You might have told me that I didn't lack purpose, that traveling up and down to London and doing this course and the studying and being away from my family and all was kind of eating up my time and energy and that this was okay.  And you would have been right.  But you weren't there when they emailed me that the Vitruvian half Ironman was expected to fill up within a day of opening.  Nor did you hide my credit card.  So yes, I signed up for a half Ironman in September of this year.  And all through December it seemed to be working - as a kick.  I got stuck in and started an 18 week 55 mile per week plan (from my beloved Advanced Marathoning - it really does work for me) and contacted the local Lincoln Tri club and asked to join their swimming lessons.

(Quick aside - I've mentioned before how I am really not much of a "club" person.  I like to run alone and train alone, at times that suit me and that fit in with everything else in my life.  I do realise, however, that I need "proper", "good" swimming coaching.  And oh my word - have I found it.  I am the slowest, worst swimmer in the pool and yet, and yet - I am getting great coaching from the coaches and everyone else is incredibly kind and encouraging.  So far, I have not missed a session and most weeks I've managed to get to the pool for a practise session as well.  So this bodes well!)

But yes.  There is a very big hairy-assed element to this half ironman.  In September of this year I want to get through a 1900m open water swim, an 81km bikeride and a 21km swim without falling to pieces.  I am realistic enough to know that just getting round is going to be my goal.  And the 21km run should be fine.  The 1900m swim and the 81km bikeride though - there's a different thing.  At present I can't actually swim that distance, nor ride that distance.  And I'm going to have to change that.

I hadn't really focused on the training until last week - Christmas got in the way, I was running well, the kids were home, I was finishing my course work..  Oh yes.  The coursework was what got me going.  Doing a case study on a newbie triathlete aiming to run a marathon and do a half ironman this year  (who could my subject possibly be?) got me diving into Joe Friel's Triathlon Training bible.  And panicking about the amount of biking and swimming I should be doing..  I'll spare you the full panic blow-by-blow but basically I spent a week running around flapping hands in the air saying "I don't know how to do this" and doing surprisingly little in terms of training.  And this week I am beginning to sort of come down to earth after some good chats with my tri coaches and particularly one with my life coach or BFF, Dawn.  Things pointed out to me include:

  • I can't do it all as an "A" goal.  I can't train 5 days a week on Pfitzinger towards the marathon and then add 2 swimming workouts, 2 biking workouts and 2 strength / conditioning workouts to that.  
  • I tend to overcommit and then exhaust myself and then get sick / injured.  Yup.  
  • Am I going to be a triathlete who's running a marathon or a marathoner who is doing triathlons? 
Okay!  I know!  I need to make a decision and adapt my plan accordingly.  A bit of soul-searching revealed to me that I was really, in all honesty, gunning for my 3:40 in London.  I didn't get near it in Boston last year and feel I could get it.  However, it would take everything in the next 12 weeks to get there.  And my triathlons (am doing a sprint in May, an Oly in June) will most certainly suffer if I don't spend more time on my bike and in the pool..  Moreover, the 3:40 - why?  Well, honestly, because it would be Boston qualifier and I could also use it for a Good for Age place in London.  Both of these are goals I've already achieved, actually.  

So I've decided to be a triathlete running a marathon.  And London is now a B (or even a C goal). I'm going to have to run less (makes me nervous).  And cycle more (I'm still struggling to fit my bikerides in).  And swim more.  And do weights consistently for the first time in my life.  And - more importantly - be okay with not beating my PR in London this spring.  It might happen, but it might also well not.  And I've got to get my head round to being okay with that.  

So training is a work in progress...  More on that next time.  Till then I hope you feel more confident about what you're doing than I do! 


Susan said...

A triathlete running a marathon -- YOU GO GIRL. You never cease to amaze me. YOU CAN DO IT. I am 100% behind you. Making London a B or C race is a big, big step. Dare say, all of this branching out will make you a better personal trainer. YOU GOT THIS!!! :)

Jill said...

I think it's an excellent goal! You gotta do what works best for you and this just feels right and know you are going to rock both of these big events! These tough decisions for you personally are really going to make you a more knowledgeable trainer, too....I have many clients who throw so much stuff into their schedules for me to squish in and I have to tell them sometimes that they can't all be A races, some of them have to be used as training for their A race. Experience taught me that, and it will help you with your clients, too!

I'm so proud of you for going after your dreams! I know I got your message on FB about finding a name for your business and I just chuckled because I am the WORST at that. Mine is pathetic, at best, and I was so stressed over it all. I am sure it's going to be great! Wish I lived closer so you could get my sorry butt into shape! Maybe you can do that for me virtually :).

Love ya, girl! Wish I were running London with you! One day!!!!


Emily said...

Your worst case scenarios are not bad so I say go for it all! (Delivered in an Oprah-like crescendo.)

pensive pumpkin said...

Setting up a business is so stressful. My big decision right now is whether to wind down my law practice simply because it does not make me happy. I think life is too short to spend so much time unhappy but, um- that's about fifteen years of my life I'd have to put to bed. If you want to talk about the business stuff, feel free to email me.

As far as your BHAGs- you are a rock star. Seriously. Don't forget that part. : )

.:Ash:. said...

Your BHAGs put my goals to shame. That's inspiring, Petra! I can't wait to read how your progress toward achieving these goals develops.

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

your debate reminds me of myself....I'm always either a marathoner running 5ks or a 5ker wanting to run marathons.. URGHH! I like the variety of suppose. but, this past fall, I did run a 5k pr while training for a marathon, sooooo....... it's all good. it's important to keep it fun and entertaining, right? good luck Petra!