A Facebook friend of mine recently suggested that we identify a key word or theme to guide us through 2014. After focused consideration, I decided Discipline will be my theme.
I will turn 59 years old this May. It’s hard for me to accept that. Fifty-nine! I could sit here and count all the ways that sucks! It’s still more than a year from my 60th birthday, but I could already let myself feel sad and fearful about it. But I resist those emotions in my everyday life. Instead I count blessings, find the things for which I’m grateful, live in the moment, and take good care of myself in general. I learned to discipline myself in those ways when I finally conquered my midlife demons ten years ago.
Though I’m 58.5 years old, one of the things for which I am truly grateful is my good health. Apart from being sidelined by a few sports-related injuries, I have been healthy and physically fit for practically all of my life. Right now, after gaining three holiday pounds, I am 5’8″ and 170 pounds, for a BMI of 25.8. I need to get back to 164 to be in my target BMI of 20-25. I have the discipline to do that with a good-enough diet and regular exercise.
Today, I did a treadmill 5K run-walk in 30 minutes flat. I’ve been easing into that to avoid knee troubles. As a younger man, I could seriously kick up my training program in a matter of days/weeks. In my fifties I was forced to moderate because of knee pains. My knees are my weak link. Aerobically, I could go faster and longer. This year, I will discipline myself to slowly, gradually escalate my training, hopefully avoiding injury time off. The goal is to run a 5K later this year under 25 minutes. That’s an 8.0 minute per mile pace, which is realistic for me. That’s a far cry from my PR, but I’d be happy with that this year, at this age.
I’m doing that in preparation for my real goal, which is to do an Olympic distance triathlon (1.5K swim/40K bike/10K run) after my 60th birthday in 2015. I competed in many triathlons throughout my 30′s. Then I tore an Achille’s tendon playing soccer when I was 40, and somehow triathlon left my life! It’s funny how athletic activities come and go. But I have run so many triathlons in my life that the distances are not daunting at all. I have run a marathon, so a 10K distance doesn’t scare me in the least. Again, keeping my knees healthy is the challenge. I have bicycled the WAM-300 (300 miles) five times, so a 40K bike (25 miles) has often been a routine training ride for me. The 1.5K swim will be the biggest bummer, mainly because I don’t enjoy swimming. Swimming is really good for me, especially my upper body, but I don’t enjoy it. I will have to discipline myself to hit the pool twice a week later this year, probably starting in the fall/winter. Putting the three events together is the beauty and the challenge of triathlon. It will be fun! I don’t plan to kill myself, trying to beat my PR like I always did as a young man. Now I will simply do the best I can and enjoy the experience, participating rather than competing. I am really looking forward to it!
Switching gears, there is one other part of my life I plan to discipline: I want to read more and I want to write more. I’ve set some goals, which should be easy to meet on most days. On my work days, I want to either read or write for one half hour a day. On my off days, I want to either read or write for one full hour a day. That probably sounds like chickenfeed for my reader and writer friends, but it will work for me. I am the sort of person that can chip away at a project. So a little reading here and a little writing there will gradually add up, and it will probably be more than what I am doing now. Of course, there will be those days when I can’t meet my goals, and others when I exceed them. But setting a goal is essential to the idea of discipline.
And that’s all the goal setting for now. If I do a good job with diet, exercise, reading and writing, the discipline will probably spill over to other parts of my life. Fortunately, I’m not starting from zero. But I can definitely improve!