Friday, August 25, 2017

Counting steps again

Having fixed my old pedometer, I stuck it in my pocket and have let it count my steps for the past week. Apart from Saturday, when I went for a walk intentionally, I've just let it measure the steps I do as part of my daily routine. Given that I've done quite a bit of coaching, it's not surprising at all that I've passed 10k every day. In fact I've averaged around 13,500.

So I'm trying to think about what my goal ought to be when we start the challenge in September. Given what I currently do, I can't see any value in simply adding more steps, but maybe I could try targetting "aerobic" steps. When I first suggested doing the challenge again, I thought that maybe I could set a target around what proportion of steps come from simply walking. That would mean I would have to go out each day for a walk rather than just relying on being active enough to do my 10k.

Of course this is me just musing about things, knowing that I'm in quite a fortunate position by being as active as I am. It's not the case for everyone. It's also about these pesky "smart" targets too. You know the routine: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. But maybe smart needs a little more, a little extra. I'm trying to think about what other words to use. So far I've come up with "Stretching" and "Meaningful".

I think a target needs to stretch you. It's not really a target if it's easy to do. If it's easy for me to do 10k steps then it needs to be higher or simply different in some way. Not sure how meaningful fits in except that it begins with "m"! Perhaps it's about it having some purpose. Weight loss, heart health, part of a training programme to trek the coastal paths of the UK or the Great Wall of China. Motivational might another m-word. It has to be something you want to achieve, something that will drive you forward when it's raining and cold and you don't "feel" like going out or when things simply try to get in the way of achieving your goal.

I guess "a" could be ambitious or even audacious, but that moving beyond something objective which is the fundamental principle of smart. Sometimes it's "agreed upon", which might mean sharing your goal with someone to you can be accountable-which also starts with "a"!

That's it, I'm out of ideas. Time to stop typing and go for a walk instead!

PS Greg Whyte's book "Achieve the Impossible" is all about taking on a  challenge and he has a wider definition of SMART. I'll try and find it and post it.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Pedometer update!

So, I had a quick look at new pedometers and discovered that many now have a reset button on the front. Why? Why would you want to reset it? I have a feeling that mine would continually be resetting itself as it bumped around in my pocket.

Anyway, I got out my screwdrivers and dismantled my old pedometer and cleaned up the contacts and now, with a bit of fiddling, I've been able to set the time and other parameters and I'm all set to get recording.

As a matter of interest, I did a quick check. It was 2014/15 that I last did the challenge. I managed 183 consecutive before a calf injury ended the run. That was in March 2015 and for some reason I stopped recording the data too afterwards. I think it might be because I got my new Polar A360. That and the battery might have run out!

I think my plan will be the record the data over the next couple of weeks to see what's currently normal/typical and then plan to get out walking in September. I haven't yet decided whether I'll use tennis as part of the 10k or not. It would be interesting but possibly impractical to try and do 10k walking steps in addition to all the stuff I do on court. I will have to think about that carefully.

One solution would be to set a minimum walking target, say 6.5k steps. At a guess that's around 3 miles or 5Km and might be achievable even on heavy tennis days. I could work out a simple route that would hit that goal.

If I start on September 1st, 100 days takes me to December 9th, but I might be a bit later starting this year because of other commitments. Still, it would be nice to hit the target by Christmas. In 2014 I even did my 10k on Christmas Day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Get up, get out, get moving!

It's never a bad time to take on a challenge to get a little more active. I'm probably the most active I've ever been, what with all the coaching I now do. But I still feel the need to "do something". Quite what that is, I don't know.

So it could be time to hit the walking challenge yet again. It's simple, 10,000 steps a day for 100 days. I've blogged about it each time I've done it, and somewhere on my computer are the spreadsheets with all the data of my previous cycles. I've even put a new battery in my old pedometer. Sadly it doesn't seem to want to allow me to set the time etc, but maybe it's just sulking a bit having not been used for 3 years!

If I'm really honest, the thought of doing this again does not fill me with excitement or anticipation. Instead I feel a certain about of something between doom and lethargy about the whole idea. But I know how good it is to set a challenge and actually hit the target. I also know that once I get started it's a lot easier to keep gong than it is to take the first step. 

If you decide to do something similar, you need to know upfront that there will be days when you don't feel like do anything. Days when you will literally have to drag yourself out of bed and out of the house. If you could get fitter just by sitting on the sofa, we'd all opt for that. But the other day I was chatting to someone at the gym and they asked how I felt when I did the challenge. I couldn't quantify my response, it's been 3 years, but I know that there was something special about the experience, even on the hard days. 

Maybe that's it. Maybe it's having done something that wasn't easy, maybe it was persevering when you really wanted to stop. So maybe I need a new challenge, or the same challenge but done in a new way. I don't imagine there are many days when I don't do the equivalent of 10k steps. I might need to think more in terms of simply making sure I do a certain amount of walking each day. Set a percentage of total steps to have to come from walking alone. I don't know. I think I'll need to experiment a bit to find out what an achievable target might be. 

I'll also plot a few routes. I found it really useful to know that if I wanted/needed to do a certain number of steps then this or that route would give me that number.

Well, time to stop thinking and time to start planning and more importantly time to start walking. September will soon be here, and that's a good month to start a new plan.