The future, as the song goes, can feel so bright you gotta wear shades. It’s certainly important to think about where you want to take your training–goals drive progress. We like people to keep these goals front and center: on the inside cover of their training log, mentioned in conversation with training partners, dramatized in clay within painstakingly crafted dioramas, wherever. You should know where you want to go so we can plan how to get there.
But don’t sleep on where you are. It can be just as important to think about where you’d like to remain. We all have different reasons for training here; among the most compelling are the ones directly related to our everyday lives–have more energy to play with my kids, complete weekend bike rides with friends, be strong enough to lift x, y, or z on any given day in the gym.
It turns out that these stations are usually easy enough to quantify. When you feel yourself fitting nicely into the pocket of a good groove physically, take a look at what you are doing. Getting to the gym three times a week and going for a jog or a long walk once or twice? It is working. Maintain. Knees don’t hurt in the morning anymore and you’re falling asleep a little easier at night? Check the details–what are you eating and how are you training? Keep doing that.
This exercise can be a nice little psychological whoosh as well. As I enter this or that period of my life, what do I envision myself being able to do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis? Do I want to be able to run a 5k several times each spring and summer? Okay, get there and maintain. And so forth. What do I want to be able to say about myself physically, on twelve hours of sleep or five?
Establishing a baseline set of competencies isn’t, perhaps, as exciting as charting out new PRs, but it can be just as useful and sometimes more so, when things aren’t rolling exactly the way we want. Try it out–pick three things you’d like to say about yourself now and every day for the next year. Where do you want to be and what do you want to maintain?