I've been procrastinating a lot about goals for next year... I suppose I'm reaching that time of life where your age has actual physical implications, and I'm keen to do as much as possible to delay onset of any health issues. It's fairly well documented that on average, from the age of 40 onwards you lose ~1% of your muscle mass/performance capability per year... I'm now in that age range, and I can expect to find training harder and harder each year. As such, I'm adding in a potentially quite high-impact health-related goal.
1) Beat last years points total - 28 points to be specific. I don't want to say "go up to cat 2" (which is 40 points), as I only want to be there if I can realistically maintain the category next year. My general cardio-fitness is more than enough, however I need to improve my strength and position for the last 5-6 minutes of races. There are a myriad of secondary goals based around this, however the points total will be the key metric.
2) Top 5% in Closed Roads Sportives - I have my name down for 2 this year..RideLondon (again...this is a ballot, with results of that due in February), and Velo Birmingham. This is already booked and paid for...totally overpriced, however I have free accommodation.
1) Improve the quality of my sleep - I've been wearing a fitness tracker for the last 6 months. It keeps note of a number of different metrics...some useful, some less so. I've already seen that the HR monitor is not entirely accurate for training with, and the movement tracker doesn't really cope with cycling that well...however one thing that has come out that definitely links up to how I feel is the sleep-tracking capability.
There has been a fair amount of research recently on the impact of sleep on stress levels, cognitive ability and sports performance, and (shock, horror) high quality sleep is really good for you. I've definitely seen a correlation between poor sleep (small amounts of deep sleep, high levels of movement, awakened periods) and how I feel and perform the next day, so this year I'm going to take steps to reduce external factors that can impact sleep;
- I (like many) have a phone on charge next to me...and a tablet, kindle etc. Even small light sources can be seen through closed eyelids (checked this myself, I can tell when my phone has a notification light flashing with my eyes closed). All items are going to be placed in a drawer (which I'll modify to run all the cables into).
- Sort out blackout curtains in the bedroom (currently they are just lined)
- Limit use of self-lit screens for 1-2 hours before bed. Invest in physical blue-light screen-filters where appropriate (the digital ones I've tried tend to screw up phones)
- Limit caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon (or 6 hours before sleep). I've done a lot of reading about caffeine recently, mainly as I've been working on a heavily caffeinated fudge recipe. One thing that came out of this is that caffeine has a 5-hour half-life in the blood...you get peak blood levels 1 hour after consumption, then it will take ~5 hours for that level to go down by half...so,if you're taking a serious dosage (for enhanced physical performance, 150-200mg is suggested (for reference, a double-expresso has ~80mg), you're looking at 11-12 hours before you start to clear your system. I can say first-hand that this can wreck your sleep (my caffeinated flapjack is well-named)
- Limit sugar intake in the afternoon/evening. Similar to caffeine, a high GI product will raise metabolic rates.
1) Discover 4 new authors - I've had this for the last couple of years, and it works really well. I always exceed the target, however it encourages me to keep checking out new books
2) Do some console gaming - Final Fantasy XV has encouraged me to step back into console gaming, something I've dipped in and out of in the last couple of decades. There are a few games out there that grab my interest, and there has been a reasonable tech-step forward with HDR graphics (something that PC gaming has lagged behind on for once!). I sold my foosball table, and the (fairly large) space it took up is in the process of being converted into a chill-out area. I've inherited Gill's sofa bed (she wanted an oversized armchair instead), and I've splashed out on a big screen and a PS4 Pro (both being delivered today). I want to get back into the relaxed gaming style I used to have (sofa, tea, feet up with cushions!)
1) Put 10% of gross earnings into savings - I was able to do this last year, and not really feel any particular squeeze. I've done most of the big purchases, so I should be good to continue this. Last year I had concerns over the stability of my job. I think that has diminished to some extent for the next 12-18 months, however the Uk generally is going to under-go a significant financial change (Brexit), and as always a financial catch-net is a good thing. This latter part of this year sees the end of a few bit of financial jiggery-pokery we did to get the house, so that should mean we can do some more saving hopefully.
2) Continue to improve my baking - Last year for baking was all about improving my background knowledge of techniques and skills. This year I want to work on filling in some gaps, and getting the core techniques down very precisely. A big part of that will be documenting out various techniques (I'm already in he habit of baking with a camera-phone nearby, and a notebook to write down any changes or alterations).
I'd also like to clean up the blog a bit...there is a lot of useful information in there, and it's big enough that some kind of index may be in order. I'll keep it on the Blogger back-end, as that's a really simple system to use (especially with an Android phone, as linking in photos is a doddle)