Resolutions and Goals: On and Off the Pavement

If you don’t like something, change it.

Through my efforts, I gain the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Whether concerning running or other aspects of life, there’s a lot I’ve learned from 2012. On the upside, the personal drama was at a minimum compared to 2011. I earned a promotion at work and gained more challenging assignments which I embraced. Socially, I met more friends through running and after the dissolution of my last relationship, realised I needed to spend more time with my friends in general.

Setbacks? The big one was school. My academic performance is fine, however, the amount of work required of me in my second year tripled. Last year I felt I was able to juggle so much more on the same credit load but this year I learnt the very harsh lesson that not every credit unit is created equal. The combination of classes (comprising a schedule which I was forced into due to my work travel) required a disproportionate amount of time that forced me to cut back on the training I could devote as well as the amount of sleep. Between ridiculous lack of sleep (averaging 3 hours or less) and stress overload, I wound up in the ER and later contracted a lung infection that had me sick and off the pavement most of October.

I managed to rebound just in time to roll light training and recover to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon, which was a sort of victory. I was supposed to run – and registered for – the full marathon but illness had me questioned whether I could do anything at all in November.

This year Problem #1 for me is to get school under control by looking for more flexible, weekend only strategic management classes and knocking out finance so that I am not stuck taking it in the summer. I took corporate finance last summer and the pace of the class nearly burnt me out. I need the full 15 week semester to properly absorb what I need to learn, and I can learn the strategic management (generally more qualitative, although some of the classes stress financial and mathematical nous) quickly and on the fly. I feel I’ve taken that first step through the way I’ve staggered my classes. Two accelerated classes in January and only one in early April. That frees up the ability to take one finance class during the week, international financial markets. I could have pushed for private equity but I backed off, as I was more interested in portfolio management and derivatives, both of which are only taught in the fall. Plus 5 classes might have been suicide.

This leads to my second resolution: Stick to a more disciplined running schedule, namely, more sprints, hills and weighttraining. Realistically, I need to start with the weighttraining before I put all that stress on my legs/quads/knees. I want to drop my time but the muscle buildup needs to occur. Diet is mostly under control, and alcohol at this point is slim to none. (Case in point: number of drinks downed on New Year’s? Zero. Dead serious.) Now with the class situation a little more in my favour, the open time frame also helps with my running and training as I don’t have to formally train for the NWM13 half until the end of January, after that second accelerated class will have finished. So during January, I can focus more on offseason conditioning, with maintenance runs of 3-4 miles and a greater focus on sprints and weighttraining. If I can moderate my runs with 2x/week strength training I should be well on my way, but even once per week is much more than what I’ve done all of last year.

The key is I need to be patient and that I’m not going to drop fat and my times right away. The muscle needs to build and I need time.

Now the second major issue to tackle that was a problem the last few years is my social and personal life: namely, being able to forge and maintain relationships. After life in the trenches for the six years after university, running has allowed me to meet people and train for events with other people. However, a revolving travel schedule for work combined with part-time graduate school often forces me more to train on my own and that was painfully evident this past semester. Any gatherings with my non-runner friends has really taken a hit more so as every single one of them are coupled up (meaning weekend outings are generally out of the question) and we generally can only meet for potluck dinners during the week. Unfortunately some dinners were scheduled during class nights or I was unlucky on the weeks I was forced to travel. And while I love my career, I also get the sense that those that might not put as much emphasis on their career are getting frustrated with me.

On another front, I have joined my school’s Graduate Student Association to increase my social opportunities through school, but I am also finding out that the part-time students are very fragmented from the full-time students and even amongst each other. On the upside, being the liaison for the part-time students has allowed me to connect to students and connect students with each other in getting more events through to everyone. Meeting people through this group is probably going to take more time.

On a separate front, a number of people are trying to push the concept of dating on me but regardless of what others are doing out there, this is clearly one thing that will cause me more stress than it’s worth, at least whilst I’m in graduate school. If I was in school for another 5 years, it would be a serious problem, but since I graduate in May 2014, this is an area where I can wait because knowing my limits, I would be biting off more than I can chew. If I randomly meet someone appealing, I’ll figure something out, but I’m not going to actively seek someone out or get myself on online dating sites, for example.

The way that looks more feasible for now to maintain my relationships is to focus on the ones where there’s the most in common in terms of values, whether the friends live in Philadelphia or in other cities. If out of town, just keep pounding away those texts and plan getaway trips around where people live (particularly in the case of NYC and Boston). As work will be sending me back to some of these cities, I will also use opportunities off the clock to meet up as well. (And this illustrates a way I will make my travel schedule work for me!) For everyone else, simply I’m going to cross my fingers and see if I get lucky. The harsh reality is that I can only do so much.

Continued communication with immediate and extended family. Not only is this to prevent any of the disasters that occurred in 2011 and prior to then but also to keep in touch with cousins who also share higher career aspirations and their love of travel as they are also goals and values I share.

So to recap, things I need to improve on:

1 Manage school more effectively (in progress)
2 More ambitious training schedule which includes weightlifting and strength training
3 Focused relationships
4 Continued communication with family

I think if I can work on #1 and #3, then I can enjoy life a little more personally. But the above four are all sustainable, realistic and attainable and I just need to focus on the things I love and value most. In some cases I can kill two birds with one stone so I will use any advantage I have.

What are your New Year’s resolutions (running-related or not)?

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