2017 - New Years Resolutions

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.

Cycling Goals

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.

Health Goals

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.

Entertainment Goals

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!)

Personal Goals

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)


Some excellent goals. Is the high impact one the Ride Across Britain?

brainwipe's picture

No, that's been cancelled as not enough sign-ups. The sleep one potentially could have a lot of impacts,cwith changes to diet and day-to-day habits

babychaos's picture

OIC! I thought when you meant "high impact", you meant "doing something mental". I'll be interesting to see what you come up with on the sleep front.

brainwipe's picture

Hot on the heels of Rob's update, time for my quarterly check on how the year is going. This is a couple of days early as I'm nipping over to France at Stupid O'Clock on Wednesday morning to burn up some holiday and get some cycling in.

1) Beat last years points goal - I've had an average start to the racing season. I did the Hillingdon Winter Series, racing with riders significantly stronger than me, and on a less-than-ideal set-up (random aside...I've been doing investigation into equipment efficiencies in cycling, alongside aerodynamic position adjustments. It turns out you can lose a remarkable amount of power with some quite basic equipment changes. Winter tyres (typically a firmer rubber compound and a protective layer) can lose you about 10% of your power output!). I didn't get any points, but then again I wasn't expecting to...I treat it as base training.

I'm now on my race bike, and my training has put me back into race performance... I've had one road race, and picked up 7th place (same race last year I was down in the pack, so a definite improvement). Racing kicks off properly once I'm back from France, so now it's very much about keeping my fitness consistent and high for the next 6 months!

2) Top 5% in closed-road sportives - Won't be hitting these until end of July.

3) Discover 4 new authors - reading has been a little slow. I've read a few books, however they tend to have been quite "chuggy", and not the sort of thing I can read chapters at a time. I should have a bit of a catch-up in France, as it will consist of cycling and recovering for a week. Bliss!

4) Do some console gaming - This has been a great success! The chill-out area has been completed, so I now have a sofa, bloody big 4K HDR TV and a PS4 in the space my foosball table used to be. I've actually finished 3 games (virtually unheard of...I'm notorious for leaving games half-finished). There is a specific feature of the PS4 which is perfect for me...you can simply stop playing a game, and then pick up the controller and start up again...no saving, save points etc. This works superbly for me, allowing me to do short sessions in between everything else, and keep up a decent pace on games. The 3 games I've completed;

  • Final Fantasy XV - loved it. Really enjoyable, and never felt like a grind to keep up to level, a pet bugbear of mine. There is additional content coming out, however I'm going to wait for it all to land before going back.
  • Diablo III - I picked this up as it was cheap. I avoided this on PC as it was up against Torchlight 2, which I felt (and still think) is the better game. D3 felt very easy...I picked up a fairly strong Legendary Weapon about halfway, and focused all my enchantments on health regen, and ended up just punching all the major bosses in the face until they died, no tactics involved. Inoffensive fun.
  • The Last Guardian - ohh...this one is hard to do a mini-option of. It's a beautiful game, and the two main characters are genuinely fantastic. I'm a bit of a pet-person, and Trico (the giant cat-bird-thing that accompanies you) really triggered all my pet-liking nodes. This was in spite of some jarringly annoying technical issues...the camera is bloody awful sometimes (while you have nominal control of it with the right thumbstick, it often drifts or snatches away to something the game decides you may want to look at...sometimes useful, sometimes extremely badly timed). There are 3D platforming sections which were infuriating in combination with the camera issues, and some of the puzzles were so non-logical that I ended up playing with a guide to hand. The design of the game is stunning in approach (and I can see why it got so many glowing reviews), but there were a few times when I came extremely close to throwing in the towel.

Next up is Nier:Automata, which looks promising. I'm trying to pick games that make good use of the "Pro" bit of the PS4 Pro, and avoiding game genres I know I dislike (Survival Horror, for exmaple), or genres that simply work better on other platforms (First person shooters...)

5) Put 10% of Gross earnings into savings - I've spent a bit in the first couple of months...new race wheels for my bike, and the trip to France. We've tweaked the household income, and savings should recommence in earnest next month, as everything is then covered. My stand mixer is making funny noises, and might be about to give up the ghost, but thats not the most expensive thing to replace.

6) Continue to improve my baking - this has been going OK. Without going into too much detail I got further in GBBO this year, passing the food test, and getting to a camera test. I'm not in the process anymore, which may be for the best, given the new presenters (I'm sceptical). I would suggest I got into the last 100 or so, which is not bad. I'll now focus on improving my presentation skills, and a continued focus on core technical skills. We did a bake sale at work last week for Comic Relief, and I impressed/horrified everyone by turning out 160 portions of cake, tart, traybake, sweets etc etc. Needless to say we broke the company record for bake sale proceeds (not bad, when you consider the headcount is about half what it was last time we let loose!)

I've skipped the sleep one...it's the vaguest, so hardest to quantify. I'm regularly getting at least 8 hours sleep a night, and aiming to be in relaxation mode by 10pm (check watch...40 minutes to go), and I'm definitely the better for it. I can also confirm that high caffeine doses (normally for races) really trash my sleep pattern. In the month we will probably start to hit "waking up in daylight" time, and I'm going to look into blackout curtains for the bedroom, to see if we can keep it dark. I'm trying to avoid caffeine of any sort in the evening, though I drunk so much during the day I'm unsure what impact that is having.

Race season is going to have an impact on my sleep. Pretty soon I'll be racing Tuesday and Wednesday evenings...that means high intensity exercise to 8-9pm...realistically it takes 2-3 hours for your body to drop back to normal levels, and decent quality sleep is hard. Taking caffeine on in those races will only exasperate matters. It's stuff like this I really need to work with, and make sure I keep myself as balanced as possible.

babychaos's picture