Don’t Forget Your Odometer

Last week I talked about how it’s important to set reachable goals and to plan on how you would get there in smaller increments. Justin pointed out that I only gave you part of the equation.

After I read his comment, I realized that I did have a great idea of where I was going, but I didn’t have ways to make sure I was going there. I talked about making measurable goals. I even asked you to post *your* measurable goals in the comments. But I didn’t even talk about how I’ll be measuring those goals.

To extend my trip analogy from last time, you’ve got your map (goal). You’ve got your directions (short-term goals). If your directions say go 10 miles, how do you know that you’ve gone 10 miles? You track it, with your odometer. Sure, you could eyeball it, but how would you know for sure?

Marking your bench

It’s important to have ways to measure the things you want to measure. After reexamining my goals, I realized that I had an idea of how to measure most of them, but it would be a good exercise to actually put in writing what those measures would be. That way I’ll always have something to look back at to keep taking consistent data.

Get to 200 – I said that my plan is to lose 10 lbs a month. The way I’ll measure that is kind of obvious: I’ll weigh myself. However, I also don’t want to just be keeping data points about my weight. I will also be measuring my arms, legs, waist, hips, and neck. I want to make sure that if my weight doesn’t move much that my inches are also moving.

Run a sub-8 mile – Last week I mentioned that my wife and I will be walking, eventually jogging as it gets easier. That’s a pretty ethereal way of saying I’m going to track my goal. One great way to measure it is to hit the track once a week and time a mile. I would only need to spend 30 minutes on this. I know I can get a mile walking in under 15 minutes, and I can get to a track in 5.

Run an entire 10K – I probably won’t be able to run it this year (it’s only a month away). I have found, though, a running plan that takes you from sedentary to jogging a full 10K. It’s allegedly 13 weeks, but I think it’ll take me longer. But I know that if I follow it, even if I have to repeat some weeks a couple times, I will eventually be running a full 10K. There are several races throughout the year, and I plan to do many of them.

But tracking is SO BORING

Usually statistics are boring. But how many statistics will change your life?

You don’t need a math degree to track progress. If you’re an artist, you can do it with pictures (like one of those thermometer posters). The point is to be able to see the progress your making. When you are able to compare this month to last month and see dramatic progress, you’ll gain a renewed sense of vigor! You’ll feel much better about this boring tracking business. Even more, you’ll feel amazing about having attained some of the small goals in your life.

As you’re tracking and bust down a goal, mark it so it stands out. Maybe in a spreadsheet make that cell a gold color. If you’re just writing it down on a piece of paper, get yourself some star stickers and put them on the entry that beat the goal you had. PS, that’s another reason why incremental goals are important. Not only can you make sure you’re going the right way, but you can also reward yourself more often.

How are you tracking your goals? Do you have a favorite way to reward yourself? What’s the link to your progress bar? Let’s fill the comments with them!


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  1. Another good post Jason, mostly because I am referenced in it :).

    This got me thinking that I have been really slacking on tracking progress accurately myself. I am paying for dailyburn pro but not using it very much 🙁 I will start getting that going again for sure.

    One suggestion to help with your running. Skip the walking and start jogging, even if it is only 100m intervals. Also keep track of how long you run for not just how long your mile takes. An easy goal is to run just a little bit further each time until you can run the whole mile.

    Good luck.

  2. Thanks! So for keeping track of how long I run, do you mean like I ran 400m w/o walking, and the mile took 12 mins? That’s a good idea. On a track that should be fairly easy to estimate…


  3. Yup that is what I mean. Then your short term goals can be to run 100m more every time or some short distance like that.

    Tim also talks about interval training in the Ultraendurance chapters.

    For tracking if you have an Iphone or Andriod phone you can use Runkeeper, it use it and it is a really sweet app, and makes tracking really easy.

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