Today is the last day of the year. Champagne has been acquired, and I am gearing up to see The Force Awakens tonight. These are the times that we look back on the past year. From a technical point of view, lots of things happened of course, such as PHP 7, new PHP and HHVM drivers for MongoDB, and many many more. But that is not what I want to focus this year's review on. Instead, I want to talk about running and setting goals.
Go back in time a year. A little more than a year actually. It is Christmas and the usual question Have you made any resolutions for the new year? pops up again. Well, for once, I had — and I don't mean 1024x768. With my circumference gradually getting larger, I had decided to do something about it: get fitter, and actually mean it. After seeing many of my family-in-law being addicted to running, picking up moving my legs really fast seemed liked a promising venture for doing something about my level of fitness (level 0, really).
I know that starting something is easy, but that finishing something is hard. I already dabbed with running when I was still living in Norway, but I was pretty good at coming up with excuses to not go running: oh, it rains, oh, it is cold (always works in Norway!), or oh, I got out of bed too late. One thing I did manage to do back in 2007, was actually buying running trainers!
Eight years later, I picked up these same running trainers. But I also needed a plan. A plan to follow to the letter. Without a good plan, I was doomed to fail. This plan came in the form of a Couch to 5K program—also promoted by the NHS. The NHS makes a handy podcast available, but I instead opted for using a C25K app on my Pebble. It is very basic, but it does do the trick. Couch to 5K requires you to do three runs per week, gradually pushing you from walk a few minutes to run for 30 minutes. I choose to run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and promised to myself to stick to it. And I did. I do remember my first run, not far from home in Queen's Park. The first run consisted of 5 minutes of warm up walking, and then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. By the third run for 60 seconds I thought I was going to collapse. But I persisted, and completed my first run. I nearly had to crawl home. But I noticed that with the second and third workouts of that first week, things already started to improve. So I continued with weeks two, three, and then four, only missing one Friday run because of PHP Benelux, where I instead ran on a Saturday. And then came the third run of week five. The dreaded run for 20 minutes without any breaks. I made it, with shaking legs, but I was so pleased with myself!
I finished the Couch to 5K in 10 weeks, instead of 9 as I went skiing in Norway for a week. By this time, I had also signed up for RunKeeper to track my progress. Of course also to drool over statistics—I am a geek after all! With encouragement from my wife, I also signed up for my first real race with The Race Organiser in Hyde Park on April 12th. They organise smaller races, with about 500 people showing up. Excellent for novice and experienced runners alike. I set myself a goal for completing this race within an hour. I managed to cross the finish line in 59m13s. Great success!
Since the first run on a cold January morning, I ran 846km and completed several races: A 3.2 mile race in Central Park with work as part of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, the Vitality British 10K London Run with 20 000 other runners in Central London, the Kew Gardens 10K, an awful Run the River 5K around Tower Bridge, and finishing with a last race in Regent's Park in the middle of December. I steadily improved my performance up to the point where my 10K Personal Best is now 49m17s.
I definitely got addicted!
But why am I talking to you about running?
It is all about setting goals and following them up with a plan. My first goal was to get off the couch, and used Couch to 5K as my set of milestones. Then I signed up for a 10K, and worked towards that. Setting a goal, with measurable milestones is something that does not only apply to running, but also to career development. Set a goal, figure out a plan how to get there with mile stones and then work towards them. And practice, lots of practise!
In 2016, I will continue to run, work on Xdebug, and perhaps work on a new project for whisky drinkers — stay tuned for that.
As a last note, and I don't know what overcame me, I have signed up for a half marathon in 50 days with the goal to complete it in under two hours! Wish me good luck! Perhaps a marathon later in 2016‽
Enjoy the last hours of 2015, and Happy New Year!