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For most of my adult life, I’ve made a serious effort to be consistent with exercise and diet.  But somehow or other, I’ve just let things get totally derailed. I don’t feel like recounting my entire history in this post. (It would probably take several posts to share everything and I somehow doubt anyone would be that interested in reading about it.) Let’s just say right now I need to pull things together and fast.


The past year has basically looked like this: for a week or two or three, I am fully committed to working out. Then something happens – be it overtraining causing an issue (my brain still thinks I’m fit, my body disagrees) or a health issue pops up or work gets in the way. It’s been a never ending cycle of stops and starts.

I made a decision to run a 5k (3.1 mile) race this year. I’m registered for one in the  U.S. at Thanksgiving. I thought that registering for it and making a public declaration on my Facebook personal page and to my Twitter followers would help make sure that I stuck with training.

It hasn’t happened.

At the time of writing this, we’re now 6 1/2 weeks away from race day. I could probably walk a 5k. Maybe the endorphin rush of the race would mean I could finish it in an hour. My original target had been to run it in 30 minutes.

Woe is me.

I don’t get it. I’m probably one of the most motivated people you could come across. I set goals. I reach goals. I usually surpass my own expectations.

I’m dealing with some block here. I’m letting excuses derail something I really want to do.

The 5k was originally a goal to make sure I stayed consistent with working out. It was just something for me to shoot for. There was no particular reason for it other than I’ve always felt that someone who is fit should be able to run 5k. It’s a good benchmark for fitness.

But things have changed. Now I want to do it because I have self-sabotaged until now.

It wouldn’t be as bad if I hadn’t registered for a second race a mere 6 weeks after this one: a 15k!! There is no way I could even walk a 15k without training. So now I’m looking at 13 weeks until 15k when walking 5k would be difficult for me.

I had mapped out my original training schedule. I do have a bit of a history with running so I know what is realistic for me and what isn’t. I should have been able to complete both races in reasonable amounts of time if I’d actually stuck with my training.

So what happened? How did I get so derailed? Knowing what I do about goal setting, being self-motivated, and having a strong fitness background – what went wrong? The answer is pretty simple and it explains why so many people struggle with doing the things they want to do:

  • At the first sign of injury, I used the injury as an excuse rather than change to low-impact exercise until I was recovered.
  • Because I let myself quit once, every time I got started again and something happened, I’d quit again.
  • The act of repeatedly quitting made me feel like a failure as I knew that reaching my goal of a 30 minute race was becoming less and less likely resulted in me losing my motivation. It discouraged me from getting back on track. You get to the place where you ask yourself, “What is the point?”

This is the exact same pattern I’ve seen hundreds of friends and clients fall into.

Because we know better, it doesn’t mean we always do better 100% of the time. I’m human and the first to admit that I’m far from perfect.

So with 6 1/2 weeks to go before my 5k and 13 weeks before my 15k what do I do? I’m going to walk myself through exactly the same steps I’d advise a client or friend:

1. Evaluate options given current condition and constraints

First, I’ve had injuries before from overtraining. Several years ago, I was training for a marathon and suffered a serious knee injury from increasing my mileage too fast. A specialist’s recommendation after having had an MRI done was knee replacement surgery. Fortunately, I recovered without it. But I’ve learned my lesson from it. I’m also older now and in much worse physical condition. This means that I need to be realistic.

Second, being realistic means there is no possible way for me to hit my 30 minute time with 6 1/2 weeks to go. I could do it in an hour in my current condition. With 6 1/2 weeks to go, I think that targeting 45 minutes would work well. This means averaging a bit over 4 mph which I believe I can hit alternating between running and walking.

Third, the 15k race in January also has a 5k component. It’s more important for me to get back to regular exercise than it is for me to be able to do 15k. I feel that right now, switching to the 5k option for January is a better choice for me. I will then target reaching the 5k in 30 minute goal I had for the earlier race.

2. Break down week by week what I need to do to reach my goals

I have 13 weeks to work with.  I’m familiar with the couch to 5k programs. There are a lot of great variations of it. I’ve successfully used them before (although I’ve never run in a real 5k).  But my current fitness level is such that it’s not realistic for me to just jump in. I need to build a base first.

I’m going to start off by building a base over the next week by walking for 30 minutes Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Week 2: I will repeat and this time I’ll try to improve the distance I cover each time by a bit.

Week 3: Monday 1.25 miles, Wednesday 1.5 miles, Friday 1.25 miles and Sunday 2 miles.

Week 4: Monday 1.35 miles, Wednesday 1.60 miles, Friday 1.35 miles and Sunday 2.25 miles.

Week 5: Monday 1.45 miles, Tuesday HIIT (5 x 30 secs), Thursday 1.70 miles, Saturday 2.5 miles

Week 6: Monday 1.50 miles, Tuesday HIIT (6 x 30 secs), Thursday 1.75 miles, Saturday actual race path trial

Week 7: Monday HIIT (6 x 30 secs), Tuesday 1.5 miles, Thursday race

I’ll take Friday through Sunday off and then on Monday start a 6 week program in preparation for January’s race.

3. Create accountability

I have an account set up at Daily Mile and will log my progress there.

I will also post an update here every Sunday.

4. Get support

I have a friend who will be nudging me along but I’m really hoping that all of you reading this will be encouraging me to stick with this. 🙂

Let me know in the comments if you are participating in upcoming races!!

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