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

I’ll turn 50 years old this year and I need to start paying attention and embark on a transformation. I’m giving myself the next 9 months to get it all done–introducing Project 2021: Designing The Healthy Middle Age Man. 

“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 March 2021). 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

High Level Goals

Theme 1: Basic health and fitness

As of March 2021, I’m 80 lbs/36 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 80+ lbs/36+kg fat by (about) November 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)
  • Improve my overall fitness to meet the standard of the U.S. Navy Seals physical fitness test by the end of October:
  • Consistent strength training to ward off the sarcopenia and mobility work to help maintain a good range of motion. Lean muscle mass naturally drops off in middle age and can lead to bigger health issues later in life if I don’t correct this now. I will also maintain connective tissue health and mobility work to improve range of motion

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
  • Prepare for a return to Ironman in 2022 by building a solid swim, bike, and run fitness. It’s been a few years since my last triathlon and I missing the training and race atmosphere. The race calendar is still uncertain, but I may update this goal to include some sprint or Olympic races in the summer/autumn

The aBetterAnimal framework

I’ve created a framework called aBetterAnimal which helps guide me to achieve goals, by incorporating all areas of my life which contribute to the goals and creating a strategy which is unique to my own strengths and weaknesses.

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

About Me

Hi, I'm Scott Herrick and I am an amateur triathlete and this is my place to create some accountability for my health and sport goals. Project 2021 is in progress and I'll share some tips, lessons learned and some Swiss scenery with you along the journey.