Setting Fitness Goals
Setting Fitness Goals avatar

Do you have a BHAG?

First, it’s important to know that I was born with what I would call a “bowlers” body. You know, like Barney Rubble on The Flinstones.  I inherited this specimen of a body from my father.  So, nowhere in my family tree can I find a speck of DNA that would lead even the world’s foremost geneticist to conclude that running is something I should enjoy or be good at doing.  However, my daughter Karli, currently a freshman in high school, runs cross country and the distance events in track.  And she’s very good.  However, she must possess a mutant running gene.

I can look back, however, to school days when I was on the wrestling team and played baseball.  I was a decent runner back then, but only weighed about 112 lbs.  It’s not like carrying 165 lbs today or 204 lbs ten months ago.  Back in the day, I could stay up at the front of the pack and was pretty fast when it came to sprinting.  That’s one reason my baseball coaches had me to bunt.  I had a pretty high on-base percentage and could advance the other runners.

35,000 runners will cross the "Yard of Bricks" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the half marathon this May.

Anyway, back to the present.  I have a BHAG.  What’s a BHAG? It’s a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  My BHAG is to put this stubby little body of mine through the Indianapolis 500 Mini Marathon.  “The Mini”, as it’s known in this neck of the woods, is a 13.1 mile run through downtown Indianapolis and around the infamous 2.5 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  And for the past umpteen years, I have sat in my recliner during that first weekend in May and watched the race on television.  And every year I’d say, “I’m going to run The Mini someday.”  Now, for the first time, I actually registered to run The Mini this May.  Because I’m healthy now, I want to be able to check this item off of my “bucket list”.

So there you have it, my BHAG.  But I can’t get there with a lot of LMEGs, or Little Manageable Easy Goals (I just made that up, by the way!).  I know that to finish the race, I need to be able to run and be cardio fit.  Therefore, I am doing a lot of cardio endurance training right now.  I’ve set LMEGs of increasing my weekly runs incrementally until I can do 13 miles.  Two weeks ago, I just wanted to be able to run a 5K (3.1 miles).  Last week, my goal was to run 4 miles, which I did in 42 minutes.  Today, my goal was to run 5 miles in 60 minutes at a 12-minute mile pace.

Here’s where breaking goals down further within a workout can come into play.  As I started running on the treadmill, I caught my second wind after about 10 minutes, or just before that first mile.  I was running at a 5.0 mph pace.  At that point I thought, “Hmmm… I wonder if I can increase my bace by 0.2 mph every five minutes – a new goal.  So, I kept increasing it until I eventually hit a 6.0 mph pace about half way through.  I reached the half way distance of 2.5 miles in about 28 minutes.  I then realized that if I could keep this pace, I could possibly finish in 55 minutes, an 11-minute mile pace. But to reach that goal, I’d have to have a couple of fast laps.  So, I kicked up the speed to 6.8 mph for about 5 minutes and then backed it down 0.2 mph every four minutes after that.  With two laps to go, I saw that I could beat my new 55-minute goal if I could just hang onto my pace for about three more minutes.  So, I dug deep inside, closed my eyes, turned up Clapton on Pandora and slipped into “the zone”. 

My time was 54 minutes flat for a 10.8 minute mile pace.  Not bad for a guy with a 27″ inseam who, just ten months ago, nearly had a heart attack walking for seven minutes on the treadmill at 3.5 mph and a 3.5% incline.  I reached and surpassed the little goals I set for myself today.  It was great to hit the goal, but it was even more rewarding to beat it.

Every day, when I train my clients, I push them to achieve something new.  I ask them to set goals.  I ask them at what level of intensity from 1-10 they would like to train this particular day.  I ask them what their long-term health goals are.  For some, it’s to lose weight.  For others it’s just to tone or be healthy.  One client told me that he was afraid he was going to die and so his goal is to be around to see his kids grow up.  Now that’s a BHAG that will rip your heart out!

Write down your goals, keep them visible and then do something every day to achieve them.

If you are reading this and you are not in good physical condition today, you need to set a goal – a BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL.  That BHAG must be realistic.  Maybe it’s to lose 20 lbs. by your summer vacation so you can look good in a bikini.  Perhaps you want to beat diabetes and get off insulin or medications in a few months like I did.  Write down that goal and tape it to your bathroom mirror so you can see it every single day.  Then, make a daily goal to be active.  Whether it’s a walk around the block, hiking a trail, playing catch with your kids, or running five miles, plan it and do it.   Make a game of it and time yourself, trying to beat your time or distance.  Set goals within an activity and try to achieve them.  If you don’t acheive a particular goal, try again.  If you do achieve or exceed it, great; still try to improve next time.

By the way, today was the first time in my life I’ve ever run five miles!

Trust me, if I can do it… YOU CAN DO IT!

To your health!

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One Response to Setting Fitness Goals
Setting Fitness Goals avatar

  1. Steve Hood says:


    Great job on the 5-miler. Your blog keeps me motivated. Slipped on my diet yesterday, but still got my workout in. Checking in with the blog gives me renewed energy to get back on it and reach my goals. Thanks for the motivation. BTW, I will never look good in a bikini.


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