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In 2008, I resolved to run 1000 miles.  This was a good resolution because it was quantitative, yet long-term, and challenging, yet achievable.  This year I want to resolve to do something that also meets these criteria, but I don’t want to just repeat my 2008 resolution.

I liked the running resolution in particular because I got something tangible out of it.  I’m in the best running shape of my adult life.  I feel good when I run.  I’ve improved my health and fitness.  Now I want to do something similar for my brain.

Recently, I realized that I’ve been learning more at the local trivia night than I have been working on my Ph.D. research topic.  This troubles me.  School is for learning, right?  So what am I doing wrong?  Part of the problem is that graduate research can have little tangible gratification along the way.  There are no grades.  We never feel the sweet release of final exams.  There isn’t always a clear measure of progress.

With that in mind, I wanted to make 2009 a year for learning new skills.  I made a list of goals for things to learn/practice over the course of the year.  It had everything from picking up a new instrument to doing 100 consecutive push-ups. This was a fun list to make, so I’m going to save it in a draft on my blog even though I eventually decided not to make it a part of my 2009 resolution.

Instead, I decided to take the practical route:

In 2009, I will finish my Ph.D. project, write my dissertation, and defend my thesis.

From my current vantage, this seems about as likely as a herd of cats carrying me to school tomorrow on their backs.  From your perspective, on the other hand, it may seem like a cop out to resolve to do something that I am pretty-much on track to do anyways.

But I assure you, this is not going to be easy.  I’ve been working on…  stuff…  for five years now, and I feel I have very little to show for it. Making this thesis happen is going to require discipline, planning, and maybe if I’m lucky, some learning. My running resolution was a success largely because of the logging and reporting I did throughout the course of the year. Completing my thesis will require a similar attention to progress.  I could record pages over time, or just blog more frequently about research, but I’m open to hearing any suggestions for reaching this goal.

What are your resolutions for 2009?

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Posted by on January 7, 2009 in Alchemy

 

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I Would Run 1000 Miles

Early in 2008, I made a New Year’s Resolution to run 1000 miles over the course of the year.  I liked this resolution from the start – it was quantitative, attainable, challenging, and spanned the entire year.  There were ups and downs, but with a few days to spare in December I hit 1000 miles (total mileage: 1013 miles).  I’m left with a really happy trend in my mileage over the last 8 years:

Milage_Per_Year_2008

I’m ecstatic I’ve been able to incorporate running into my life more substatially every year since I started grad school.  I’m not expecting another 30% increase in mileage for 2009, but I do think I can make good things happen by continuing consistent running.

An unexpected feature of the seasonal mileage pattern for the year was that I actually ran more in the winter-spring season than in the summer or fall:

Mileage_per_season_2008

In this chart, “WS” is the Winter-Spring season (January-April), “S” is the Summer season (May-August), and “F” is the Fall season (September-December).   Compare the winter of 2008 to any other winter and the difference is striking.  My mileage drop off in the warmer months is due to a number of factors — injury, illness, meeting my current girlfriend, but I’m really glad I put those hard miles in early.  Those up front miles made the 1000 mile goal possible.

I’ll close now with a collection of all my running posts from the year, but I promise another post with my 2009 resolution soon.

Running posts from 2008:

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2009 in Alchemy, No Easy Days

 

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Last New Years, I made a resolution that I would stand up to people more consistently, and try to voice my opinion.  I think I’ve been doing a good job with that, but really it’s hard to say for sure.  I certainly tried to meet my resolution, and I guess that counts in this case.

This year’s resolution is going to be more quantitative.  I’m resolving to run 1000 miles in 2008.

This is challenging, and will rely partly on staying injury and illness free (does that mean I’m relying on luck?), but I think it’s achievable given recent statistics from 2007, which was a phenomenal running year for me, at least in terms of consistency.  First, let’s consider my yearly mileage for the last seven years:

Milage_per_year_2007

I’ve definitely upped my mileage over the years, to a total of 740 miles in 2007.  Seeing how I ran almost twice as much in 2007 as in 2006, it’s possible that I may have hit a plateau, and that I won’t be able to run that much more.  So I took a look at the seasonal pattern over the last seven years:

Mileage_per_season_2007

In this chart, “WS” is the Winter-Spring season (January-April), “S” is the Summer season (May-August), and “F” is the Fall season (September-December). It’s immediately clear that I haven’t been running much in the WS seasons relative to the others. So there is definitely a good potential to increase my mileage by a few hundred in 2008.  Step 1 is just to keep running through the winter.

And so far that’s going well too.  In 2006 my final serious run was at the end of November, and I didn’t pick up running consistently again until April of 2007.  I ended 2007 averaging 25 miles per week, with a recent maximum of 30 miles.  I feel good about my training, and I sort of look forward to the runs even when it’s cold.  I’m not going to do anything crazy this season.  Just consistent, frequent, running to build a base for the Spring, and hopefully a foundation from which I can meet my resolution.

OK, maybe I’ll run a couple indoor track meets, too ;-).

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out, No Easy Days

 

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