As we near the end of the first full week of the New Year, I have been thinking a lot about what this year will hold for me. What new things will I try this year? What can I accomplish this year? I am the type of person who requires a goal; whether it’s fitness, career or finance related, having a defined finish line helps me stay focused. When it comes to fitness, it is usually an event or competition that I have registered for that keeps me motivated to train.

Signing up for an event helps me stay focused on my training and brings meaning to each of my workouts. Over the last 12 years of competing in endurance events, I have found that nothing motivates me more than clicking that registration button, but I also know that I can quickly “fall off the wagon” once that event has come and gone if I haven’t already been thinking about what will be next, even before completing the current milestone.

Many people like to set New Year’s resolutions and a very high percentage of those will involve losing weight, and majority of people will fail at keeping their resolution for more than a few weeks.

ironman2[highlight color=”yellow”]So what I would like to propose to you is instead of setting a single goal like losing weight, find an event that will challenge you, and sign up for it.[/highlight] Think about doing something you have always thought you would like to do, or even better, something you think you can’t do. For me it all started 12 years ago when I decided I wanted to complete a sprint triathlon. At the time I hadn’t swum, biked or run in years. This simple goal transformed my entire outlook on health and fitness. I started with the goal of wanting to finish a sprint triathlon, and within a few years I had finished four Ironman events and numerous triathlons and running races.

I didn’t know anything about CrossFit until four years after completing my first triathlon when my brother-in-law who was in the Army told me to try these crazy workouts. I started adding these CrossFit WODs into my training three days a week while slowly cutting back my swimming, cycling and running distances with the hope that adding strength training and high intensity workouts would help me become a better endurance athlete, and it did.

It’s interesting how consuming CrossFit can be. Soon after starting CrossFit, I started doing less long endurance training and eventually none at all. My last Ironman ended up being the one I was training for when I started CrossFit. I went from training 25 hours a week for 5 years to training 7 hours a week. The most amazing part was that I finished that Ironman at a personal best, cutting 45 minutes of my fastest time.

At the end of 2013 I realized that it had been be 5 years since my last race. I began thinking about how I started CrossFit to improve my racing and how that decision ultimately ended my racing endurance events. During that time I thought many times about signing up for another Ironman, but the challenge just wasn’t that interesting anymore. I knew I could finish the event if I decided to do it.

Like many CrossFitters I have spoken to, I slowly started to feel bored with my “constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity” 3-4 day a week workout routine. I realized that I was always trying to improve, but I hadn’t been setting what I consider bigger/long-term goals. I realized that I was starting to lose my passion for CrossFit because I had stopped applying its benefits to the thing I really loved: endurance training. That’s when I started looking for something new, something big that would challenge me both mentally and physically.

At the end of 2013 I signed up for my first ultra/stage running race. That August I ran a six-day, 120-mile race across the Colorado Rockies. This was something that scared me, something I truly wasn’t sure I could finish, but I did. I spent the next year focusing on my running and CrossFit, and in 2015 I competed in two events that scared me: The Spartan Ultra Beast, which is a 31-mile obstacle course race, and then finished the year of with a 24-hour obstacle course race called the World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM).

After finishing WTM, I started to feel the post event depression which comes for many people after completing a big event and realized I hadn’t figured out what was next. So after doing some searching for the next big thing, which as stated before…has to scare me, I found two things to help me maintain focus on training. One is a goal, which is to run 2016 miles in 2016. This breaks down to running 38 miles a week. The second is an event called the Beyond Limits Ultra which is a 72 hour run race where competitors see how many miles that can run in three days, and this definitely scares me.

And for 2016, I hope that you choose to push your limits, too. Of course set a goal to lose weight if necessary, but set a goal to conquer something new… something that scared you in 2015! Maybe you think you can’t run a half-marathon, compete in a local throw down, or complete an open water swim. Perhaps you have been hesitant to enter a triathlon, a SUP (standup paddleboard) or Kayak race, a rowing/erg competition, a snowshoeing or cross-country skiing race or an obstacle course race. Whatever your fitness goals are for 2016, the options are endless for finding a challenge that will help build a better you.

In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility. -Eleanor Roosevelt

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