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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Goals-Staying on Track

"If not now, when?"- Hillel the Elder, Jewish Scholar

Last week I wrote about using SMART goals to set goals for the new year.Setting a smart goal is important but not the only thing you need to do to be successful.

Every year at this time the gyms are packed with people that made a resolution to get in shape.I've seen it for years.  After a few weeks most of them are never seen in the gym for the rest of the year.

It is easy to give up when things get tough.  So here are a couple of more things you can do to achieve your goals.

My coach always asks me to remember why I race and do triathlons.  I do it to stay strong and healthy despite having CMT.  I want to retain as much function as long as I can. I also race and do events to raise awareness for CMT.  When things get tough for me, it always helps to remember why I do this.  Think about the reason why you want to make a change.  If you don't really want to change, no amount of goal setting will work.

Motivation for me also means devising strategies to get me to my goals.  There is nothing like a race coming up to keep me focused on  my goal. When I don't feel like working out I imagine my competition swimming, lifting weights or doing some other workout.  I know to be ready to face them I have to work out consistently.

Last year my workouts had a swim focus. I knew I needed to swim longer.  I decided when I was able to swim a certain distance in open water I would sign up for the National Aquathon Championship in Oklahoma.  That reward of the race was a great way to celebrate my success, kept me motivated and helped me achieve a goal of making Team USA.

Anticipate Obstacles
Making a goal can involve making changes. Change is hard for a lot of us.  What is the positive benefits of making a change to reach your goal?  What is the negative consequence of not making your goal?  What is hard about making the changes you need to do to meet the goal. The answers to these questions may help you come up with startegies to deal with any obstacles.

I know the cold and dark in winter is an obstacle to me going to the gym. So my strategy is to use the gym at work or stop at the gym on the way home. I also have some equipment at home so I can workout at home on the weekends. That eliminates the obstacle of a cold and dark winter night getting in the way of my workout.  So think about what might be keeping you from following through on your goal and devise strategies to overcome the obstacles.

Self Talk/ Visualize Success
We all have an internal dialogue. Keep yours positive. No lectures or you will put up barriers to your success. Any goal should be stated in positive terms.  Remember to believe that you can reach your goal and affirm yourself when you do.

It is also important to see yourself accomplishing your goal.  When I was training for the Boston Marathon in 2012, I set a goal to finish in the top 3 of the Mobility Impaired Division. Every night before I went to sleep I visualized the winning medal being put on my neck.  I visualized every detail.

I made that goal despite 90 degree tempeatures on race day. I was ready mentally and physically.

Most athletes use this skill before they race.  As a triathlete, I visualize the swim, go though transition in my head, visualize the bike and the run.  Use visualization to your advantage. Your brain cannot tell the difference between visualizing success and the actual experience. See it in your mind to make it happen.

Have you given thought to what you need in term of time, money or other resources to make your goal?  For triathletes we have to be sure we have enough time to workout to achieve our fitness goals.  I  have to have enough money to pay for a coach, pay race fees and travel to races.  So make sure you are considering the cost to reach your goal

Also do not try to do too many things at once.  You only have so many hours in the day and so much energy. Prioritize your time, energy and money for the things you want to accomplish.

Go  Public
Share your goal with friends and family. Enlist their help, especially if your goal is going to impact their life. You can put your goals up on facebook and celebrate your success on facebook as well.  It can be very powerful to know others are watching. I was very public about my goal of running the Boston Marathon.   I carried a lot of expectations in the CMT community. I knew I could not let them down. That helped me though some tough workouts and tough races.

Take Action
I keep a To Do list everyday. I put down short and long term tasks that I need to do to reach my goals. Let's say your goal was to drop 20 pounds by June.  That meets the SMART criteria. Your motivation is to have more energy and lower your blood pressure. Next start taking actions. Those might include:

  • Hiring a fitness coach
  • Getting a medical exam
  • Joining a gym
  • Buying exercise equipment at home
  • Joining weight watchers
  • Buying some books on healthy eating

The tasks you come up with should be in line with your goals, your motivation, and the resources you have available.

So let me share one of my goals for 2015

Goal:  Top 3 finish in an Age Group USAT National Championship in 2015

So this meets all the SMART criteria. I've done a bit of research and found two races where I have a shot;  USAT Winter Triathlon and USAT Long Course Triathlon

The winter triathlon is a 5 K run, 12 K Mountain bike and 5 K Nordic ski.

 Winter Triathlon Actions:  Signed up for race in Boise in February, bought new nordic skis, bought roller skis to practice on dry land, ramp up running program, added strength focus to program.  Entered a local nordic 5 K race to get some experience. Planned the trip to Boise.

So you get the idea, Someone else participating in the Winter Triathlon National Championship may have different motivation and different tasks to reach their goal. To be successful you must understand your motivation, take action by planning tasks, involve others and take action!


Chris Wodke and Karen Cook at 2013 Boston Marathon

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Chris is a triathlete and long distance runner. She is a three time participant of the Boston Marathon.  In 2012 she finished 2nd at Boston in the Mobility Impaired Division. She was on the course in 2013 when the bombs exploded.

She has appeared three times at the Paratriathlon National Triathlon Sprint Championship. She was the 2012 and 2014 National Champion Paratriathlon Open Division Champion.

In 2014 she was the PC Open Champion at the Duathlon National Championship. She has qualified to represent Team USA at the Aquathon ITU World Championship in Chicago in 2015.  

 In 2014 she represented  the U.S. as a paratriathlete at the Pan-American Triathlon Championship in Dallas, Texas.

She travels around the country raising awareness of CMT.

She is the author of the book, “Running for My Life” that details her experience as a CMT affected athlete.

You may visit her author page at:

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 159 members in 32 states. We also have members in Australia, Scotland, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site; or

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Additional Link
Follow CMT affected Paratriathlete Timmy Dixon

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