I know a lot of people do this at the end of the year – review all the stuff that happened in the past 12 months. It can get to the point of being cliché. However, it can also be a pretty good time to take stock in the goals you established and how well you did in terms of achieving them.
A year ago, I found myself a bit overweight (maybe more than a bit) and in need of taking my fitness to a new level. Or more accurately, get it back on track to levels where I’d been in previous years.
I also had a pretty strong desire to seek out new outdoor goals by tackling tougher challenges that could open doors to even more exciting adventures in the future.
Here’s how it went:
First, I dropped about eight pounds. Pushing harder in workouts and getting my diet in control has helped in this regard. I’ve often found that people tend to vastly underestimate their caloric intake. I’m no exception. I’ve heard it said that when it comes to getting leaner, it’s about 20 percent training, 80 percent diet. There are a lot of elaborate diet plans out there that promise the melt away pounds, but here’s a cold, hard fact: For most people, it’s as simple as consuming less food and expending more energy. Sure, there are nuances. But that’s the basic formula for anyone who is serious about getting leaner.
For the future, I’d like to drop about nine more pounds. That would put me at a pretty ideal weight for my frame.
Second, I did manage to take my running and lifting to another level. On the lifting side, it’s not so much about the numbers, but more about the way I lift, and it has produced better results. That’s something I’ll be writing about in a later post.
On the running front: Still slow, and not the uber runner you see in a lot of running and fitness blogs. But the key for me has been consistency. I’m usually out there five times a week, pounding out anywhere from two to 10 miles a pop, depending on what the workout calls for. I’ve been very intentional about using specific “courses” to achieve certain goals. Short, flat courses are for speed. Medium-sized routes are sprinkled with numerous hills so I can work on that particular weakness. Longer runs have been growing in length. And of course, trail runs. Those are a little of everything and make for some of my best and most important workouts of the week. I can’t stress that enough. I don’t just run trails to mix running with my inner granola-head. Trail running – real trail running, the kind that has big hills, exposed rocks and roots and all of that other mess – is about as good of a workout as you can get while running.
My races for the year are admittedly a modest collection: four 5Ks and the Tulsa Run 15k. I did these more for fun than anything else (not a big race guy), but there was also a sense of trying to measure my progress. I have managed to shave more than two minutes off my 5k times, so there’s that.
Next year, I am planning on a whole different slate of goals, including bigger races. In the immediate future: perhaps a 10k in January, a 3-hour time trial trail race in March, the Oklahoma City Memorial in April (probably the half marathon for that one) and then an adventure race in May. Next fall, I plan to be in the Route 66 Marathon. We’ll see how that goes, whether I end up doing the half or the full.
Success in these areas will depend on wisely and incrementally pushing up my weekly mileage. I can’t do what I did this year by increasing too much, too fast.
Lastly, there are those fun outings outside. Here’s the rundown:
The Granite Mountain and Twin Rock Mountain two-fer, Wichita Mountains, southwest Oklahoma. That was some fun hiking, bushwhacking and scrambling, with a little bit of unroped semi-technical climbing on two of the range’s wilder, slabby, granite mountains. There’s more to explore on both of these peaks, and I’d like to return there soon. Needless to say, I probably would not have seen a quarter of the Wichitas if not for hiking buddy Johnny Hunter. The dude’s a stud.
Torreys Peak, Colorado. This Front Range 14er is one of the most commonly hiked and climbed peaks in Colorado, but the vast majority of people go up the standard hiking trail. I was fortunate to join a group that went up Torreys’ Kelso Ridge, a Class 3 climb that includes some dramatic views, some airy sections and several fun scrambles, including a traverse of the route’s famous Knife Edge just below the summit. If you like scrambles and don’t mind some exposure, this is a must-do in Colorado. While not my first Class 3 climb, it was my first Class 3 14er, and had the biggest exposure of anything I’ve done in Colorado.
Quandary Peak, Colorado. This was a repeat for me, going up its standard route along the East Ridge. I got to do this with my brother Steve and his entire family, plus my niece Liz. For everyone but me and Steve, this was their first 14er. My oldest brother Mike loved doing repeats like this when it involved taking people on new adventures. I definitely see the allure. Sharing the outdoors with family is nothing short of awesome.
Mount of the Holy Cross, Colorado. In a rather unique solo road trip to a mountain just west of Vail, I set out to drive from Tulsa to western Colorado, climb the peak, then head back home in a span of less than 60 hours (half of that was on the road!). This entailed a 12-mile round-trip hike that went up an 11,000-foot pass, then back down before heading to the peak’s 14,000-foot summit. That was more than 5,000 feet of elevation gain when it was all said and done, and being there with a friend as he and another fella completed all 58 14er climbs. That was one heck of a trip where the toughest part – physically and mentally – ended up being the drive home. No joke. It took me a week to recover from the sleep deprivation I experienced.
That about sums it up. So much done, but so more that could have been done. I’m grateful to God for the journey that last year represented, one that is hopefully a foundation of bigger things to come.
How was your year? What did you get done or wish you got done? Let me know in the comments section.
On Twitter @RMHigh7088