Every New Year’s Eve I write down my goals for the upcoming year in a small leather journal. Five to ten challenging, long-term goals. Here is the first goal in that journal from the year 2000
It was a ridiculous goal at the time. Still is. I had just done my first Ironman a few months prior, way off in New Zealand, and barely survived. But I had also recently made the life decision to pursue fitness as a career, and I knew that setting big fitness goals were a necessity to my success on so many levels. So I set this ridiculous goal of getting across the finish line of the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
Every year since then I have done an Ironman. Or three. Traveling around the world in pursuit of this goal, with each race I got a little better and a little closer to Kona. The journey was far from perfect, however: I had an epic bonk in the heat and humidity of Ironman Malaysia, I swam face-first and open-mouthed into jellyfish the size of my head in the South China Sea, I crashed hard during the bike in Ironman Australia. I went back to New Zealand and raced in a typhoon, I went to South Korea and raced in another typhoon. I broke 10 hours at Ironman Arizona but didn’t qualify, then went back to Arizona and missed qualifying by seven seconds.
Every year the goal was not realized, I wrote it in my journal again. I also put this screen saver on my computer, a picture of the swim start in Kailua-Kona.
Now, 13 years, 20 Ironmans and over 2,700 miles raced later, I am going to Kona to finish what I started over a decade ago. What I naively wrote in that journal on New Year’s Eve 1999 and have been pursuing ever since. I have learned so much about myself along the way; these races have given back in ways I could never have imagined.
I learned how the simple act of writing down your goals and visualizing them every day is key to success. Other goals in that journal were to become a published author, host fitness DVDs, host a radio show, and sign with a top agency.
All these goals took time. A long, long time. Some 20 years. But they have all come true.
But the most valuable lesson I have learned from these suffer-fests around the globe and the training that went into preparing for them -
Keep moving forward and never, ever give up.
Believe in Yourself.
So often I hear people say they can’t do certain physical things because they have “bad knees.” As an exercise physiologist who has worked in the fitness industry for decades, I know that this is most commonly due to muscle weaknesses, muscle imbalances, and poor program design. In other words, these are all things that can be fixed.
The sad thing is that the less the lower body is challenged, the weaker the muscles around the knee joint become, and the more pain that will follow. Quite often the very movements and exercises that are thought to contribute to bad knees are the very prescription to fix them. Use it or lose it, as the saying goes.
It seems that year after year, more and more people avoid any form of running because of various knee issues. Many doctors are the cause, telling these people to avoid running altogether rather than trying to figure out why they cannot perform this natural, basic, evolutionary movement pain-free. One of the top myths about running is that it causes “bad knees,” yet there are now definitive longitudinal studies that clearly show that runners have a lower incidence of osteoarthritis than non-runners.
I am currently working with a client who had 5 knee surgeries. One of them was an osteotomy. If anyone could have thrown in the towel and eschewed exercise altogether because of the proverbial “bad knees, it is her. But it’s not in her nature. She spent months building up slowly. Walking. Strength training. Stretching. She set a challenging long-term goal for herself, and short-term goals to help get her there.
Tomorrow, she will achieve that goal. A huge one for her and the first of many more to come. She is participating in the Nantucket Triathlon, a .33-mile swim, 14-mile bike and 3.4-mile run. She has done the work, and she will finish. And when she does, she will also set an incredible example for her six, yes six, young kids.
Go Get ‘Em, Nicole.
An email I received today. I truly have the greatest job in the world -
I read your book the Marathon Method and inspired me to complete one of my dreams: finishing my first Marathon. I did a 3:45 in the LA Marathon last Sunday and felt great!, physically and mentally, and I loved and enjoyed the experience, thanks to your book and all your recommendations.
I feel like I know you and you are my friend, you helped me throughout the whole training with great advice.
My wife and four kids were waiting for me at the finish line that I crossed thanks to you!
Attached a picture of the race with “a smile on my face”
I would like to buy 10 books to hand over my friends and family in Mexico City, they need to be motivated like me when I read your book.
I am in the gym almost every day, oftentimes twice a day, especially when I am getting ready for my next event. Shocking, right? I obviously love working out, but I also love observing people work out as well. I’ve been doing both for decades.
Over the past few years I have observed one woman in particular at my local gym. She takes a class every day in the evening, Monday through Friday. Whatever class is offered after work, she takes it. Every day.
I’ve watched her take Bootcamp, Boxing, Pilates, & TRX. Yoga, Zumba, Tabata. Whatever is offered in Studio 1 at around 6:00 PM, she’s there and ready to go.
She doesn’t stick to one thing and do it exclusively. She takes whatever is offered, whether she likes it or not. She gets outside her comfort zone, and she pushes herself. She leaves the routine to the fitness professional teaching the class. She doesn’t have to think, she just has to do.
She’s a mother, she’s 40+ years old, and she is ripped.
Insanity = Doing the same thing and expecting different results.
There’s no confusion. It’s called variation. And it works.