Project 2021: Designing the Healthy Middle Age Man. Part 1, Defining The Goals

Project Brief and High Level Goals

In 2009 I was in peak health, but after 16 years of having fun in the middle of the triathlon pack, I became burned out on weekly training schedules and took most of the next decade off except for some random running, hiking, and skiing. It was an enjoyable break, but I have added more than a few pounds and have picked up too many lifestyle habits of The Sedentary.

It’s time to get back on the saddle: drop the fat, rebuild my fitness and along the journey, put in place long-term healthy habits.

“You get the first 40 years free and then you have to pay attention. Whatever you do at 40 determines what you can do at 80 and beyond.”

Lew Hollander, age 90 (as of June, 2020). Nano-physicist and once the world’s oldest Ironman finisher with over 2,000 race finishes, 58 IM finishes, with a first Ironman at age 55

I’ll turn 50 years old in 2021 and I need to start paying attention. I’m giving myself the next year to get it all done. Introducing Project 2021: Designing The Healthy Middle Age Man. 

Theme 1: Be healthy, fit, and happy

As of August, 2020, I’m 75 lbs/34 kgs over my ideal weight. Daily mojo has definitely decreased, training sessions are frustrating, and my blood pressure is just beginning to cross into the “high” zone.  Luckily, I don’t have any chronic injuries, and I’d like to keep it that way for a long, long time.

  • Lose 75+ lbs/34kg fat by spring 2021 (to weigh about 175 lbs/79 kgs) and bring basic biomarkers back into “excellent” status, (blood pressure, blood measures, body tape measures, resting heart rate)
  • High daily mojo
  • Improve overall fitness to meet the standard of the U.S. Navy Seals physical fitness test:

Theme 2: Return to the races

I’ve raced distances from 5K to Ironman, but likely never to my potential due to inconsistent training frequency and from executing just enough volume to get comfortably through the distance while having fun.  I don’t expect to reach levels of performance that would have been possible 15 years ago, but given my mediocre results, I think I can beat some of my previous PRs in the next 18 months.

  • A sub 40:00 10k (previous 10k in 56:30, PB 41:30). It will be a huge achievement to finish sub 40:00, but sub 45:00 should certainly be reasonable
  • Return to triathlon. Assuming race schedules are back on track next year, my race target would be a Ironman 70.3 (half Ironman) in August or September. As of project kickoff in September, 2020, it’s too early for a time goal
  • Lausanne Marathon. One of my favorite run courses, this would be fitting to return for my 50th year. I’ll set a time goal in spring, 2021

The aBetterAnimal Framework

In true strategy nerd style, I have created a framework called The Athlete’s Scorecard™ (in the spirit of the Balanced Scorecard) to capture all the elements which contribute to my overall goals.  There are 7 perspectives overall, and the first 2 primary categories that are typical drivers for athletes and overall health & fitness goals: The Animal (body and mind) and Competition (events, or self challenges)–we are normally chasing one or both of these items.

Next, to enable these two output areas, there are 3 action categories of Nutrition, Fitness, and Logistics & Life Integration.  Finally, to enable all the work to be accomplished I have the 2 last perspectives called Support System (coaches, teachers, cheerleaders, and other lifestyle support that enables time spent on health and fitness) and Environment and Tools, your sports equipment, training environment, and training data collection

In the next steps, I’ll use this structure to help guide goals into actions.

Goal Details and Gap Analysis

Now for a reality check on my 5 goals…how far away am I from reaching these goals?  Have I taken on too much change at once?

After analyzing the gap for each goal, I label the amount of change (either actual physical work or mental habits) needed.

  • Run the Animal means I just need to maintain my current state
  • Change the Animal means I have work to do
  • Transform the Animal requires that I spend an extraordinary amount of effort, attention, motivation, habit change, and monitoring to accomplish
Project 2021 Goals

Overall for Project 2021, I have quite a number of Transform areas, but lucky for me that they are all are related, and while I have Change goals in other areas of my life, there are no other Transformation goals.

I won’t be doing this alone…I’m lucky to be coached by Will Newbery at 9 Endurance based in the UK and to have great support and motivation from my partner Emily.

Next: Part 2–Deciding The Strategy