Thursday, 9 September 2010

A mighty torrent of mental effluence

Its said that a key feature of goal setting is that of time: if you don't set a time limit or a target date then you won't push yourself and may not reach your goal at all.

I've been thinking about this the last couple of days. Not all the time you understand. That would be weird and a bit scary. Like Jimmy Saville.

I digress.

The thought process started on Monday when I looked back at the weekend's highs and lows. I knew - even without feedback from the scales - that Tuesday to Friday had been good. I could see it in the mirror and I could 'feel' it, but Saturday and Sunday evenings I'd over eaten. That didn't bother me too much. I decided there were specific circumstances (Saturday's meal out and theatre, and Sunday's race) that made my actions understandable or perhaps just 'normal' and I rather revelled in that lack of pressure or guilt that the scales normally induced. I decided that was a healthy way to be and something I might benefit from taking further still.

Having reached that conclusion I then thought about goal setting, as taking such a laissez faire attitude provides goal setting challenges - no time limit and no pressure.

At the moment my (vaguely) specific goal is/was to reach about 11st by about mid/late November, in time for one last tilt at a PB in a 10k race then. The lack of knowing the start point weight wise is one reason for the vagueness but it rests on a rough idea of where my weight was likely to be and a 1.5 - 2.0lb a week rate of loss.

By necessity though, that meant I wouldn't be near target for the other races I had planned - something I'd aimed for since the spring. Does that matter? I'm not sure but its a moot point anyway - barring liposuction or amputation I won't reach 11st by then.

If they don't matter though, then does the November one?

In some respects no. Looking at the wider objectives I want to be fit and well enough to run Paris in April and to run it close to or beneath 3:30 so there's an argument that being at 11st for April is the bottom line but, working backwards, it would be preferential to have reached that rate before training starts in December (as lower weight reduces injury risk and allows a bit of leeway for Christmas excesses), and that would mean another 4 weeks available in which to reach target if I wanted/needed to use it.

However, the race time from November is probably what will determine my training intensity and target marathon time so I do want to give it a pretty decent shot.

So where does all that leave me? My mental meandering left me feeling like I'd taken a long journey but wasn't really sure I'd arrived anywhere - a feeling anyone who reads my blog entries will be familiar with.

This was probably compounded by my over eating on each of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings - though again I could rationalise that to some extent and so not beat myself up too badly because of it.

I think though I've reached a conclusion of sorts:

Change my rate of loss to 1.5lbs a week to give a little more leeway to accommodate rest days or days where work/life just make restrictive calorie consumption difficult...that will have me hitting target (at a guess) in early December...i.e. before marathon training but not long after the PB attempt...meaning a PB is still very possible, nay, likely.

If anyone is still reading this does that sound like a plan? Am I thinking along sensible lines or am I on the slippery slope of having my cake and eating lots of it? Do you set very specific weight loss goals and do you adapt them over time? How does it work for you?


Alison said...

I think if allowing yourself a little extra leeway will mean you are more consistent overall then decreasing the rate of loss slightly is sensible. Slow and steady, and all that.

Also, 11st is a fairly arbitrary number, so why get hung up on it for one race. If you are a few lbs above that for the 10k, is it really going to make all the difference? Far better that than continuing in a cycle of strict restriction and then bingeing.

As a woman, I'm slightly mystified by all this rationalizing, but am definitely a supporter of staying off the scales. Going by how you *feel* seems a much better option ;)

TOTKat said...

On the flip side to Alison, I'm all about the rationalisation and coming at it from a totally science and statistics rather than gut-feel. However. There is a lot to be said for taking things a bit more loosely overall unless you're making a living out of this sports stuff. Yes, we all want to do our best, but there's personal well-being to consider too.

Dropping your rate of loss is probably a good idea. Aggressive goals are great in the very short term, but long term there are always things that you want to do that nudge things in a certain direction and it's better for your mental well-being to take things a bit easier.

I know damned well how hard that can be, as a hard taskmaster on myself, but the better long term results are to be had when you're a bit more gentle on yourself :o)