How Do You Run Out of Time With Your Fitness Goal?

by Juan Antonio

A part of me just wants to crawl into bed and wake up on December 13, 2017. I think it’s because I’m grieving.

I find myself a little less spunky. More blue than red. Numb. Distracted > focused. This weak part of me tries to speak louder and make it’s presence known.

I hate that weak part of me. I’m systematically trying to get rid of.

One way I tried to rid myself of my inner weakness is by doing this ridiculous 24hr obstacle course race called World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM).

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“I did a 24hr race and I all I got was this head band.”

I’ve done it subpar consecutively the last three years. Come race day, it has never gone my way.

I’m forever the guy with a nagging injury stuck in the 50 miles-ish bracket.

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I’d like a red one please.

After breaking my ankle during the course last year, I retired. I had enough. I didn’t go out on my terms, but I couldn’t bear it anymore.

Then I unceremoniously thrust myself back into action 7 months laters. I felt compelled to run one last race to honor my fallen friend Brian.

What better way to close this story of my life than giving my “best performance” for the guy that got me started on this path?

If Brian thought I could finish a traditional Tough Mudder in 90 minutes, surely he thought I could break into the coveted 75 miles category.

It all looked so great in my mind’s eye, but it didn’t come to fruition as I didn’t even participate at WTM 2015 last weekend.

Six weeks prior to race day, I tore my right plantar. Good luck running on one foot.

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I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t accept it either. I desperately tried to rehab/strengthen my foot for 2.5-3 weeks to no avail (normal human tears take 8-12 weeks to recover).

Sometime around Halloween, I went on a 3 mile treadmill run. My foot did okay…until the next day: plantar pain city.

Finally, after endless internal debates, I did what Ashton Kutcher in the film Steve Jobs couldn’t do: I waived the white flag.

It was the smart thing to do for my body, but it cost me major mental points. And probably some street cred too.

I keep coming back to this question, “How do you run out of time?”

I had from January 13, 2015 until November 13, 2015 to get into WTM/superhero shape. That’s 10 months folks – 40 weeks!

40 weeks that magically slipped passed me. How?

One day at a time.

I made three critical training mistakes that lead to my downfall and eventual withdrawal from WTM:

  1. No strategic, streamlined game plan.
  2. “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
  3. Too fast, too soon.

I hope you do everything possible to avoid these mistakes that rob you from your training goals.

24/7 Coach was created to help people avoid these costly mistakes. If you need help, this software is here for you.

No strategic, streamlined game plan.

My first mistake occurred right at the beginning of my training. I did some fitness assessments to see where I was at, and to my surprise, I was still Marine Corps ready. I couldn’t run (ankle not a fan yet), but the rest of me was good.

I was supposed to sit my ass down and figure out what I was training for. Not having WTM 2015 on the horizon at the time, I chose to just get back in the game: rehab my ankle and get back to running.

Speedometer - Reaching Your Goal
I did stellar.

I went from the pizza-beer-donuts life to dominating the treadmill. I walked slow and flat at first. Then walked uphill. Then walked/jogged. Then came jogging, running, sprinting and finally, uphill sprinting. All in the course of 4 months with a reasonable level of effort.

Once I could run 9.0mph on the treadmill, I defaulted to the goal of “general fitness.” Serious mistake.

If this is you, I highly suggest you try to improve your 5k run time, aim to squat heavier weights or improve how many push-ups/pull-ups you can do, because although I equated “general fitness” to “maintaining my current fitness levels”, I too often defaulted to skipping training days, doing less, eating subpar and not pushing myself to what I was used to.

If I was used to putting out A level work, I was hovering around the B/B- levels.

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Normally this would be okay as I wasn’t trying to get to 5% body fat or lift 400lbs.

With so much work to be done, I chose to do the absolute minimum work required to get and maintain results.

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What is “fit” to me?

Sure, I ran hill intervals, mid distance outside runs, did metabolic circuits and Navy SEAL bodyweight conditioning, but I crammed them all in 20 minute, focused power sessions, 2-3 times a week for two months.

This is great if you’re a busy executive, student or parent, but terrible if you’re going to embark on a 24hr race.

It even took me two whole months to decide to commit to doing WTM 2015. And by commit, I mean fork over the $500 just to register for a race. (Yes, 24hr races are expensive hobbies)

On June 13, 2015, I was officially “all in” on doing the race. I had 5 whole months to prepare for WTM 2015.

Right then and there, I should have mapped out my training strategy over the next 180 days and streamlined exactly how all the training sessions were related to my goal and the demands of the race (what I had done the last 3 years).
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I didn’t do it. I never made it passed the intention to put the plan into crystal clear writing.

Intentions are not enough.

“I’ll do it tomorrow.”

My second mistake was I fell into the trap of living in the future. I trusted that my future self would be better than my current self.

If you’ve ever skipped the gym and said, “I’ll just do it tomorrow”, you know exactly what I mean. My plan was to build up my interval running and circuit training in 10min chunks each week, to go from 20min to 120min.

Three months in, I only made it to 30 minutes sessions, always sure that “the next one” would be the one where I finally stepped it up.

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Sorry self, I failed you.

On September 13th, I miraculously pulled off 40 minutes due to misreading a stop watch. That felt good and I could have done more, but I never truly committed the time demanded by WTM.

I chose the startup life each and every time.

When it came down to training or working, work always took home the prize.

The mission is more important – that matters more than my personal ambitions or having a personal life.

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Somehow, magically, my race countdown timer told me: “61 days until WTM 2015.”

“Fuck, I SERIOUSLY need to start training.”

Too fast, too soon.

That 61 days reminder was the beginning of the end. That weekend I ran 13 miles to kick myself into high gear. The following weekend I churned through a 20 mile run like a WTM veteran. And the next weekend I blasted through a 30 mile run like my life depended on it.

In my mind, two uphill interval runs mixed with pull-ups/lunges (20-30min) and one long weekend run would be enough to carry me through race day.

I believe focused intensity trumps volume in most training scenarios. And if you’re pressed for time, this is best hope for results.

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My mileage for the long run would go: 20-30-40-50-60 miles. You know, just adding 10 miles each week. Nevermind that it meant my intensity increased 33%, 25% and 20% each time.

Note: Most general running programs recommend no more than a 10% increase in intensity per week. But that only applies to humans.

I ran into to the classic fitness rookie mistake of going too fast, too soon.

If I had respected the fitness math I would have prevented getting injured. If I had respected the time investment required to compete in 24hr races I would have invested more time.

smart goals

The only way to set goals.

That’s life and shit happens. But I’m lucky. I don’t have +15lbs of body fat to lose. I may not be able to run, but I can bike, strike, swim, yoga or lift heavy weights.

And I don’t have to do 24hr races, I just feel like I do.

If you find yourself circling or trapped in any of these critical mistakes, please do something, anything, to get out of your own way. 

Reach out to someone who genuinely wants to help you. Your results are counting on it.

 

There is only trained and untrained.

JASignature2Blue.bringbackfit.com

Saul Juan Antonio Cuautle
Founder & CEO

Friends don’t let friends mindlessly “workout.” Friends help and support each other. Help your friends as they try to make positive changes in their life. Give them the gift of 24/7 Coach. If you know of anyone who may benefit from this content, please share it with them. 

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