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I’m preparing to move back into routine life after nearly 8 weeks of bicycle touring. I’ve ridden 1172 miles with over 44,000 feet of climbing; most of it within the first 6 weeks. (I spent most of the final 2 weeks with my kids)
I’m aware that most people I know are a little awed by that; especially at my age.

But as is typical of reaching any long sought-after goal, now that I’m here, it doesn’t seem that incredible to me.

I know that  you and many others could do similar things by setting a goal, putting the pieces in place and working consistently toward it. (Sound familiar?)

And, like many goals in life, worthy goals spill over and bring more positive change to other areas of life as well.

So today, let’s outline a few things:

You don’t have to be (and I’m not) some great accomplished athlete.

Just acknowledge where you are in relation to where you understand that you need to be. But, where you need to be is not a finite point. It will evolve & adapt as you and your life do. 

When I left on this trip, I knew I wasn’t in as good shape as I had been when I toured a year ago or as I thought I should be.
The trip had also evolved and had at least 3 different iterations before I left

But here’s the thing: everything you do while working toward your goal is an intimate part of the process that helps you succeed.

What do I mean? It’s kind of like the ‘Just do it’ adage. The first days of my tour served to get me in shape for the rest of the tour. There was a certain minimum fitness that was necessary (for example, the ability to ride 25-40 miles/day).

But I didn’t need to have the capacity to accomplish the most difficult climbs at that point. I could compensate by slowing down, doing less miles in a day and even (heaven forbid) walking & pushing the bike if necessary (and it was at times).

Set your goal: Your goal should be specific and measurable. 

My goal was to ride my bicycle on EuroVelo 1 through the fjords of Norway to Nordkapp (AKA North Cape, the northernmost accessible point in Europe). 

Your goal can be as audacious or as matter-of-fact as you choose (or anything in between.) 

A marathon or some other ultra-event?  

Being able to hike or kayak with the grandkids?  

What is meaningful for you? It’s your goal, you choose it & you choose its meaning. 

For me, this trip represented the challenges of a lifetime. 

I chose a challenging goal because I understood that the physical challenge would require a concomitant mental-emotional challenge and that those challenges would make me stronger. 

And  those capacities would spill over into the rest of my life and business. 

What is a goal that is representative of the kind of thing you would like to be able to continue doing for the rest of your life? 

That’s where my goal started from. 

Pick something that will inspire you and propel you forward for this and for future goals.

Start your training: {In this article, I’m going to address only the fitness aspect. 

Other articles, elsewhere, will deal with other aspects (nutrition, mental-emotional attitude & more)}.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. 

Physical Aspect #1: 

Aerobic training: Back to the above; start where you are. 

I was recovering from the broken wrist I sustained in January. And I had  not kept in shape the way I wished I had. I knew I needed an interim goal to help get me back in shape in time for my trip.

So, I registered for the 50-mile ride that was part of the SLOBC WildFlower Century when a friend offered me a ticket a mere month before the event. That jolted me into shape. I knew I had to get on the trainer (I still wasn’t cleared by my surgeon yet to ride on the road).

So, starting where I was at. I began with a 30-minute stint on the trainer (basically like 30 minutes on a spin-bike; hardly a great accomplishment). I worked on increasing my time on the bike while also increasing the level of difficulty. I disciplined myself to increase the time of my workouts consistently and in a short time, was up over an hour daily. This may not seem like a lot for someone planning a tour where they will ride 4-8 hours daily. But, touring or doing a 50-mile event is less intense than pedaling your ass off for an hour-long spin class. So it was a great start. 

So, look at where you are today and where you need to be and increase in slow and steady increments. Consistency is the key. Have your doubts? If you ran ¼ mile today and then increased by ¼ mile every day, at the end of a month, you’d be running over 7 miles/day. Then the task of a marathon would no longer look so daunting. 

Add other fitness necessities: Stretching.

Stretching is an important aspect to incorporate so that you don’t injure yourself. Stretch more than just the muscles directly involved in your activity. For example, for cycling, you want to stretch all the muscles in the calves, thighs & hips, the shoulders and upper back. That’s what will help you  be comfortable riding for 3-7 hour stints. (Need more detail? Let’s talk)

More fitness necessities: Strength -training. 

It’s important to build strength capacity, not only in the muscles you use in an exercise but in related groups and in your core. Many activities use very specific muscle groups and this can lead to imbalances. Those imbalances can lead to injury if you don’t  strengthen. Strengthening the surrounding muscles helps you perform with more efficiency. It also keeps you from inappropriate muscle recruitment which could result in injury. 

More:  Balance exercises.

These may be less important for your goal, directly, but should be incorporated to keep you moving properly for the long-term. Falls can be one of the leading causes of hip fractures and other serious injury as we age. Balance exercises can go a long way toward keeping you able to live independently as you begin to age; whether you’re 45 or 85.

Ok. So you’ve set the goal, started working on stretching, strengthening, aerobics & balance. 

What’s next?

Continue to increase capacity, consult with specialists as needed.

Whether it’s help with a bike fit, shoes or other equipment; help with nutrition, a physical trainer, or a health coach; or help with rehab and recovery; a professional consult can be an important part of the process. 

If you’re not sure which professional you need, set up a time to talk with me. If it’s something I can help you with, I will. If not, I’ll likely have a referral suggestion that’ll get you the help you need.

It may be that someone to hold you accountable day-in and day-out is all you need. I can be that someone for you.

My goal is to help you stay well and do what you love for the rest of your life. I can help you function optimally now and at age 90.

In conclusion: Doing what you want, physically, at any age, is possible for most of us. We need only put the goal in place and discipline ourselves to work on it continually; just as we do with other goals in our life.

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