Friday, February 3, 2017

Short-term challenges vs. long-term goals


Care to grab a drink (coffee, water, Gatorade...#your choice), and have a quick discussion?

Let's chat about short-term challenges vs. long-term goals, shall we? What's your preference?



Myself? I'm a short-term challenge gal...and here's why:


First off, I do better with a short-term commitment. This is true with most of the "stuff" in my day-to-day life, but especially true with anything fitness-related. I had this epiphany many years ago when I did P90X for the first time. P90X is a 90-day program (affiliated with the Beachbody company**) that focuses on strength-training, but also mixes in various cross-training routines. The 90 day commitment seemed a bit overwhelming, but the program was broken down into 30-day increments. It was totally manageable for me, and I had awesome results (**Disclaimer** I am not in any way affiliated with Beachbody, nor do I have any interest in becoming a coach with the company).


Second, doing monthly challenges allows for some aggressive short-term goals. For example, in November of 2015, I took on the challenge of doing 200 total planking minutes (details HERE). To meet that goal (and surpass it!), I had to do an average of seven minutes of planking every day over the course of those 30 days of November. In other words, I planked in the morning, I planked throughout the day and I planked before bed. I not only surpassed my goal of 200 minutes, I whittled away some of the softness on my hips and thoroughly strengthened my core. I may have even gained a little more of a thigh gap .


 Thirdly, monthly challenges will give you some variety, and a chance to work different muscle groups. Did you know it does a body good to work all its muscles, not just your "favorite" ones? A lot of runners have strong legs, but very little upper-body strength. Or they may have thin legs (from all that running), but when it comes to strength, they may be lacking in muscle tone. Other challenges I have done involved push-ups, squats, and daily cardio.


Fourth, these challenges are great opportunities to test-drive something new or different. A lot of times, short-term things turn into permanent routines. For example, I have been doing daily forearm planks forever (seriously, I don't remember when I started doing them, but it's been a few years...at least), but when I started doing the (forearm) side planks, I could really see and feel a difference in a very short while. Now, I do side planks almost every evening before bed....and I can practically feel the fat melting away off my hips and inner thighs (not an exaggeration).


And, finally, the "finish line" is always in sight. There have been some challenges that have been tougher than others (like when I did 100 daily push-ups for an entire month). Obviously, I never did all 100 of those push-ups all in one setting, but it got to be a chore remembering to do them throughout the day. Another time, I tried tracking all of my planking minutes, cardio, and push-ups for an entire month...and grew to detest the daily "checking in" aspect of it. But, alas, the month drew to a close, I had finished the tasks, and I (gladly) moved on (to the next month's challenges awaiting me).


So, here's my February challenges:

February is going to be my base-building, prepping-the-parts month. I have a marathon happening in Mid-June (Grandma's Marathon, Duluth, MN), a few half marathons prior to that (in May and June), and a 10-miler in March (Chicago, IL). There are also a few shorter distance events in the mix as well. All of these races require distance training, so I'll be easing into longer runs and increased mileage in a few more weeks.


One of my challenges for January was 30 daily minutes of cardio. Some of that involved running (inside on the treadmill and outside on the streets), lots of walking (mainly inside, due to the cold & windy temps and/or icy conditions), and also some stair-climbing. I plan to continue the daily cardio, but am aiming for 20 minutes instead (though on my running days, it will certainly be longer). I'm bringing back the daily push-ups (from previous challenges), but keeping the numbers moderate. I'll also be doing leg work and abs on alternate days. I don't have planking listed, but that is such a part of my routine, I didn't feel it needed highlighting (I'm shooting for 5 daily minutes).

On a side note...I'm considering doing one treadmill "run" each week. Not because Dear Old 'Milly has won me over (quite the contrary, actually), but for the mental toughness aspect. I did a lot of hill training for my last marathon, and I believe that benefited my mental game as much (if not more than) my physical strength. Route 66 threw me a curve (hip/groin issues) on race day and I needed both the physical AND mental stamina to get me to the finish line. Your thoughts?

So, there you have it. My strategy for doing monthly challenges, and a peek into what's happening in February.

Have you ever done a short-term challenge? Were you able to stick it out to the end? Did any of the challenges become favorites to your ongoing (or current) routine?

I'm linking up with:
Lacey and Meranda and Rachel for the Friday Five 2.0
Deborah and Coco for the Ultimate Coffee Date




65 comments:

  1. I've done the plank challenges and some yoga challenges, which I've enjoyed. But the pressure of posting a picture every day? Not so much! I do need to get back at the push ups, tho.

    I'll never have a thigh gap!

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    1. I'm with you on the daily "challenge" pics. Even if I'm hosting a challenge, I'm leery of posting everyday about it #overkill

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  2. You're basically breaking up a big goal into doable chunks, which to me, is the best way to go about achieving something.

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    1. Shhhhh! That's my secret! I disguise the big goals into smaller, bite-size morsels ;-)

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  3. I love your take on this subject. I also think that short term challenges can lead to better habits overall.

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    1. A lot of my daily rituals have evolved from these short-term challenges ;-)

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  4. I agree with you that small challenges are easier for people to stay on and feel that they have achieved a goal. I need to get back onto the planking though! February is also my base building month for early tri season. Thanks for joining us for coffee!

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  5. I do like a short term challenge every once in a while. When my work did the step challenge for a month I was all about that! I didn't keep it up after the challenge was over though...womp womp. Thanks for linking up!

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    1. Some of the short-term challenges promptly end as the new month begins....but others stick around and become permanent

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  6. I definitely need to get better with my planking for sure! And, with all the prep your going to crush grandmas! Can't wait to meet up! I need some of your challenge discipline. I usually fall off the wagon mid way through.

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    1. The "half way" is usually the turning point...to continue on or call it quits. I've been there, too!

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  7. I love your "mini challenges" ..they have inspired me to do similar things. I've always tended to make more long term goals and then get overwhelmed by them or let time slip away before I realize that I've made no real progress. I like your style girl!

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    1. It's hard to see the progress over the course of a long-term goal...even though it's there, it's usually very minimal on a day-to-day basis

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  8. I don't like esp long term ones. I do like challenges but I'm not good at keeping to them. Mini challenges I guess are the best.

    You are so inspirational!!

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  9. I like having a long term goal, but I split it up into smaller, more manageable chunks. It's the baby steps that help you get to where you want to be :)

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    1. Exactly....baby steps are doable for most of us ;_)

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  10. I think I'm a small goal, short-term girl but for a big goal like a marathon it's long term for me.

    I need to get back on the plank-bus. I had such a rock hard core (under my mom pouch, of course) last year. This year it's just mom pouch. Haha.

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    1. Yes! Get back on the plank bus!! You can share a seat with me ;-)

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    2. Ok it's on. I started yesterday after I read your post!!! I got 3 30 second planks in.

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  11. I like the idea of trying something new just for a month. I did that one year. I've heard good things about Grandma's Marathon. You'll have fun!

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    1. Grandma's Marathon is a blast...I ran it in 2015 (with two hours of almost torrential rain. I'm looking forward to going back!

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  12. You know, I actually have never done a short term challenge! You definitely lay out compelling reasons to do one, though. :) I guess all the things I feel like I should do are important enough that they shouldn't be short term but long term. HOWEVER... I have definitely seen a different perspective now. If I want to try something out, I can just make it a short term challenge in case I find I am not into it.

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    1. I love monthly challenges! So easy (usually) to attain, and I think you wind up getting great results! Great post!

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    2. A lot of my short-term challenges usually yield long-term results ;-)

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  13. I am really starting to like short term goals! They are so much more manageable than long term ones.

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    1. Aren't they, though! It's a lot easier to gauge your results!

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  14. I like to make both short term and long term goals. The short term ones keep me focused and give me that sense of accomplishment on the way to the larger, long term goal.

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    1. I agree...short-term goals keep the momentum en route to bigger things ;-)

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  15. I suck at sticking with a monthly challenge. Maybe I need to set up some weekly ones because my attention span is so short LOL.

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  16. I'm more an eye on the prize gal, meaning that I'll do what I need to do to support my long term goals, and that rarely involves short term challenges -- I find them to confining!

    Our differences are what makes the world go round. :)

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    1. I do a little of both, but have found the short-term thing gives me a bunch of "shorter" goals en route to the bid daddy's ;-)

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  17. I've always had a thigh gap and don't like it at all (can you say bow legged?)! LOL. I get overwhelmed when something is too far away so I do enjoy shorter term goals. Some people have their races planned years in advance. I'm a 3 month kind of gal.

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    1. I have never registered for a race farther out than 8-9 months(usually because I want the early bird discount)...but it's hard to know what will be happening that far down the road.

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  18. I love a good short-term challenge for many of the reasons you mentioned. I'm also planning a 5 min/day plank challenge for this month - sounds like I'll have to remember to incorporate some side planks!

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  19. Agreed... I find short term challenges more rewarding and it mentally helps you achieve them!

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    1. Exactly...smaller goals are still fulfilling and usually lead to bigger things ;-)

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  20. I admire your challenges and determination to stick with them! My main challenge right now has been preparing to teach my first group exercise class. And that is happening on Monday! Wish me luck! :)

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  21. Very cool. I am more of a long-term challenge person. I like short-term goals, but I always like to keep the big picture or end game in mind. It's more motivating for me in the long run (pun intended).

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    1. I do a little of both...I got to have the short-term challenges to chart my progress, though...otherwise it's difficult for me to notice if anything's changing

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  22. I did a plank challenge once and actually was able to hold a 3:30 plank by the end of the month. I was SO SHOCKED! I love your monthly challenges!

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    1. Planking is an easy way to see progress if you stick with it ;-) Awesome for you...3:30 is great!

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  23. Small challenges help you get to the big challenge i think! I love all the challenges- sometimes the posting of pics is the hard part! thanks for the coffee!

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    1. I agree....I kind of falter on the daily pics after awhile (and I'm sure people get tired of seeing them anyways) #reality

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  24. I have so much variety in my workouts, I think I'm pretty good at balancing out my muscle groups, but then I try something new and ... yowzie!

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    1. Isn't that the truth? I'm pretty active, too, but it never fails...I'll do something just slightly out of the ordinary...and BOOM! 14 hours later, I can hardly move.

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  25. I really like short term challenges- even if they start out super small, like a week and then build from there, I think they keep me motivated to focus on one part of the body, like abs, that I otherwise tend to ignore. I am doing Diatta's Abs focus this month, and I like the reminder that I have them and need to do some work!haha! And yes, I completely think the mental training is key. I think that it's meditation for runners- it gets you to a place to work through and out the other side, a stronger person~

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    1. Exactly...the short-term give us a chance to try something different and focus on a different set of muscles (that probably need some attention).

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  26. I'm with you - the short term challenges can be really motivating. I haven't done side planks in awhile and I've been thinking of adding them to my routine...I'm going to keep trying to do 2 minutes of planking a day and no excuses!

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  27. I love short term challenges that propel me forward to my long term goals.....

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    1. YEs, the short-term things usually lead to long-term results ;-)

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  28. I have always been a long term goals girl. However, I have been considering a new approach. I really like the idea of seeing the finish line and the motivation that goes with that. I just recently did Whole 30 and I found it very easy to follow because I know it would only 30 days. You have me thinking!

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    1. I have to have something short-term to keep my motivation going, even if I know it will lead me to bigger things.

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  29. I like both short-term and long term. I think that the short term ones help especially if it isn't something I like to do like strength training. I totally need to get back on the planking!

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  30. So glad I found your blog! you are so inspiring!

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  31. Great Post!!!This is amazing and really inspiring post about goals.

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  32. Awesome post!I love the idea of a Career Goals.Thank you for the valuable information on this tips.
    http://www.mindvalleyacademy.com/blog/impact/short-term-goals

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