Having a hard time meeting your fitness goals, or even just getting started? I realized I've been following the same process year after year to achieve my fitness goals. Below I explain this process, called the 'Durable' Process where DURABLE is an acronym for each step along the way.
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What is The D U R A B L E Process?
Determine A Goal
Understand The Reasons For Your Goal
Action - Move Towards Your Goal
Bring it! Achieving Your Goal
Evaluate Your Next Move
I completed my first 5k by following the DURABLE process. I executed it again for my first marathon, to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and to finish an ironman distance triathlon.
This is a process anyone can follow. The hardest part is starting. I also included motivational info in the right side bar which may help you get started.
The DURABLE Process can be applied to achieving any health and fitness goals you have set for yourself. In fact, I execute the process to significantly impact my life in other areas as well including career and personal finance. Below I explain the DURABLE Process in the context of running a race or completing a triathlon.
D = Determine A Goal
No, not a basketball goal but a SMART goal. What is a SMART goal? SMART is an acronym with a number of slightly different variations. I prefer this one:
A good example from my past was to finish a marathon. More specifically I set out to complete the Chicago marathon. Later on I set an even more specific marathon goal - to complete a marathon under 3:25 which was the cutoff qualifying time for my age group to be accepted into the Boston Marathon. If your goal is not specific, like getting in to shape, you won't be able to measure your progress and achievement.
So how will you know if your goal is obtained? It's needs to be measurable. The goal of becoming a runner is not a measurable goal. However, finishing a 5k is easy to measure, you either finish or you don't.
I like this one from the standpoint that your family may have to make some sacrifices to enable you to achieve your goal. At minimum they will be impacted in some way. So ensuring your goal is agreed upon to those close to you will improve your chances of success.
There are some things we just won't be able to do. For example, I won't be an Olympic marathoner. But you have to be careful with this one. If you're too conservative you might not venture out of your comfort zone. For the goal your considering, see if there are examples of other people similar to you or your situation that have achieved this goal. This would give you a good indication that you could do it as well.
There needs to be clear time frame for completing the goal. Using the 5k example, just setting a goal to complete a 5k is not enough. You need to set a date for completion of your goal. Signing up for a specific race well in advance is even better.
U = Understand The Reasons For Your Goal
Said in another way, "Why is it important for me to achieve this goal?" When you are in the middle of working towards a goal, a.k.a. the point of no return, but not yet close enough to see the finish, you'll need to draw upon the importance of achieving your goal.
For example, after completing a few marathons, I had the goal to run the Boston Marathon. To get into the Boston Marathon, you have to qualify based on your age. Running the Boston Marathon is a sought after goal for many runners, kind of like the Super Bowl for football. So I targeted a marathon where I would attempt to beat the necessary qualifying time for my age, and allow me to sign up for the next Boston Marathon.
It was easy to sign up for this qualifying marathon. To be honest, it wasn't all that difficult to run it in the time necessary to qualify for Boston. But the extremely hard part was all the training I completed in between. I estimated I trained close to 150 hours. It's during that time when no one is there to cheer you on, your tired from working all day, and the weather doesn't always cooperate that I had to draw upon the importance of meeting this goal.
R = Remove Obstacles
Chances are with any goal you set there will be obstacles in your path. Some obstacles are pretty clear from the beginning. For example, when I signed up for my first half ironman distance triathlon, the biggest obstacle facing me was the 1.2 mile swim. Not only did I not know how to swim, but I didn't have access to a pool at the time.
I took a number of steps to remove those obstacles. I joined a fitness facility with a pool and invested in a swimming instruction video to get started. I had to learn how to swim first before I could train to swim the race distance. Fortunately I allowed myself the time for both.
Sometimes, however you can't see the obstacles ahead of you at the beginning. But you may be able to plan for the unknown. For example, when I train for a marathon I always allow an extra two to three weeks in the training program in case something unexpected pops up like a business trip, a cold, a family emergency, or whatever. Scheduling extra time in the plan up front allows me the time to get back on track when these situations arise.
A = Action - Move Towards Your Goal
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
To train towards your goal, you need to have a plan. This plan should be tightly aligned your goal in step 1.
If your goal is to complete a 5k, for example, then you should follow a training plan for running. But any running plan won't suffice. More specifically you should follow a 5k running plan, and even more specific than that, if it's your first 5k you should follow a beginner 5k running plan.
I know these statements are pretty obvious, but following a plan that is slightly misaligned to your goal can make the difference between success and failure. What if you decided to follow an advanced plan when you're a beginner? The training may become too difficult, or worse could result in an injury. Following the right plan will give you small, quick successes during your training, and fuel your motivation towards your end goal.
B = Bring It! Achieving Your Goal
The event has arrived. You spent weeks preparing and have the confidence knowing that you’re ready. The excitement is building, and along with it a tinge of nervousness. Your coworkers, friends, and family members are asking you if you’re ready – no pressure.
One thing to remember is to enjoy it! The experience will go by so fast. I have a friend who would get so worked up before triathlons and marathons, that I don’t think he was able to just take it all in and enjoy the moment.
Here’s some tips to get the most enjoyment from your event:
Once you cross the finish line, we move to the next DURABLE step - Let's Celebrate!
L = Let's Celebrate
Congratulations! You achieved your goal. It’s time to celebrate your accomplishment. This is the time to enjoy your success with your friends and family. Usually this step is not so difficult to complete. Everyone has their preferred way of celebrating their accomplishments. For me, it’s going out to dinner with family and friends.
I typically allow myself a free pass to gorge on a high calorie induced dessert. I don't do this on a regular basis, otherwise I would become a dough dad, instead of a Durable Dad. So when I do partake at the completion of a fitness goal, it tastes that much better.
Something else to do when celebrating your success, thank friends and family members for their support. Their words of encouragement and the support they provide are strong motivating factors in your success.
After your celebration, you’ll need to decide what to do next. We’ll discuss that in the next DURABLE step – Evaluate Your Next Move.
E = Evaluate Your Next Move
You’ve been training for and thinking about this event for weeks. It consumed a large portion of your ‘free’ time.
But now it’s over. So where do you go from here?
Usually I move in either two directions:
You’ll need to assess your motivation level to determine which direction is right for you.
At the beginning of my DURABLE journey, my motivation level was high. I had found an activity I was excited about, and followed the first path above. After my first 5k I was so excited, not only from the event, but from the process of setting a goal, following a plan, and achieving the goal that I wanted to find out, by following the same process, if I could go farther. I trained for and completed a 10k, then a 15k, followed by a ½ marathon, and finally a full marathon.
However, after multiple cycles of goal setting, training, and achievement I noticed my motivation levels beginning to drain. When this happens, I hold off on the goal setting and go into passive training mode. Passive training is where I continue to work out on a regular basis to maintain my health, but it’s not focused on a specific goal. I maintain a workout schedule so that this habit isn’t lost.
Usually after a short period of passive training, my motivation levels increase again. Then I’m ready to establish a new goal and follow the DURABLE Process all over again.
Exercise Is a 'Keystone' Habit
I first learned of 'keystone' habits from New York Times writer Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit. Keystone habits create a chain reaction that can significantly influence the success of other habits. For example, regular exercise can lead to better nutrition. Better nutrition can provide you more energy and improve your work habits. In turn, this can lead to greater productivity and wealth, and so on. In The Power of Habit, Duhigg also explains why habits exist and how they can be changed.
How To Change Your Habits Using Lift.
This is a free app & tool I use to help eliminate bad habits and/or form positive new habits. I solidified a daily morning workout routine and eliminated soda from my diet using Lift.
If You Want To Be Wealthy, Do What Wealthy People Do
76% of wealthy people exercise aerobically 4 days per week according to Tom Corley in his book Rich Habits - The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.
Additional Apps For Changing Your Habits & Hitting Your Goals
Here's a link to an excellent article at Michael Hyatt's site titled, "7 Apps to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Build New Habits." I use Lift, (mentioned above) for habit changes and Nozbe for task management. The versions I downloaded are free. I'll list the other apps reviewed in Michael Hyatt's article on my Products and Resources page.
Understand The Reasons - Consider A Cause
One of the reasons I like to sign up for races is that many times the proceeds go towards a cause or charity. Consider this amazing story: I recently heard about Winter Vinecki on the Runner Academy Podcast with Matt Johnson. She is just 15 years old and recently set a record becoming the youngest person to complete a marathon on all 7 continents while raising awareness for prostrate cancer. Prostrate cancer, which took Winter's father at the age of 40, is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting 1 in 6 men (PCF). Her charity Team Winter has raise over a $500,000 for prostrate cancer research. Running for a cause will inject another 'reason' for pursuing your goal.
Think You Have Too Many Obstacles To Get Started?
I had the opportunity to meet and hear Scott Rigsby tell about his journey to setting multiple world records in running and triathlon events - as a double amputee. Read how he overcame 26 surgeries from a car accident, depression, prescription drug addiction, and an additional amputation to find success in his book Unthinkable.
Help With Goal Setting - And Not Just Fitness Goals
If you need help with goal setting and making a plan to achieve them, not just pertaining to fitness, but in other areas of your life too, try Michael Hyatt's Life Plan. It will give you clarity about the direction your life is heading, keep areas of your life in balance when times get crazy, and give you a sense of peace knowing your addressing areas of your life that matter to you most. Plus, it's free at michaelhyatt.com.
Hi! I'm Mike - a first time father at 46 on a mission to be fit long-term for myself & my family and help other mid-life fathers do the same. Here at durabledadsfitness.com I share useful information and products that will help you obtain and sustain a fit and healthy lifestyle.