Goal Setting and Accountability

Bryon Powell sets some goals for the coming months.

By on December 14, 2022 | Comments

I normally try to tailor most of my column’s articles in the style of lessons I can extract from my own goings-on. That’s probably the case again this month, though as I set out, it feels as though this month’s piece is a bit more direct in “what’s in Bryon’s head” and a bit more inferential in “what’s to be learned.” Still, I trust you, dear reader, will find a few nuggets amid the detritus.

So, what follows are some of my goals for the coming months. The accountability part of this article’s title will hopefully come from my friends who read it.

My Running-Related Goals for Early 2023

I’ve got roughly three-and-a-half months to get ready for my return to the White Mountains 100 Mile in Alaska in late March, an event in which I first participated in 2018. My aim is to get to the start … and finish healthy and fit. Here’s what I’ll need to do along the way to meet those aims.

2018 White Mountains 100 - Morning 1

A scene from early in the 2018 White Mountains 100 Mile. All photos: Bryon Powell

Achilles Rehabilitation

First and foremost, I need to continue rehabbing my chronically problematic Achilles tendons. In less than six minutes a day, I can make my running and my life meaningfully better if I do three sets of 10 eccentric drops on each leg. It’s beyond reason that I don’t do this each and every day regardless of my running, but I don’t most of the time, especially when I don’t have a big goal on the horizon. Fortunately, I have a few of those next year.

Consistent Base Training

If one’s not aiming for the podium, I strongly believe that nothing beats consistent base training. For me, that probably means 50 to 70-something miles per week with a 15- to 25-mile long run thrown in there. There’s no hero work, but there’s no slacking either. I’m starting from what might be my worst fitness in 30 years, but, fortunately, I have little impediment to consistent base training and all the more reason for it.

A Bit of Pace

I won’t be hitting the track anytime soon to run 10 x 200 meters (I’ve left them in the past for good!), but I’m dreaming of adding some intensity here and there to my running. I hope that’s not for another few weeks, as I gain base and confidence as well as rehab my Achilles, but I’d greatly benefit from and even enjoy a bit of pace on some runs. Maybe that will involve some fartleks or it might just be pushing the final few miles on a run where I feel peppy. Fitness aside, I feel as slow as I ever have. Why? I think it’s a combination of living at 9,300 feet here in Silverton, Colorado, for much of the past five years and constantly being protective of my Achilles.

Learning From Past Lessons

I took good notes in the wake of running the White Mountains in 2018 and hope to put them to good use. Lessons to pick up on include running more on snow before the race (I do every day), some core strengthening, some calf strengthening, and a few small gear tweaks. Time to work smarter, not harder.

My Non-Running Athletic Goals for Early 2023

I took up downhill skiing in late January of 2022 and look forward to my first full season this year.

Skiing Purgatory Resort - April 2022

The views are pretty awesome when skiing at Colorado’s Purgatory Resort!

Ski a Black Diamond Run at Purgatory

Purgatory Resort is the “normal” ski area that is nearest to where I live in Silverton. It’s where I started my downhill skiing last January and where I skied my first blue run on my final day in April 2021. While it’s a big stretch for my naturally risk-averse, non-thrill-seeking self, I’d love to safely ski a black diamond slope by season’s end. That’ll mean working on skis and hopefully taking a bunch of lessons. Even if I fail to reach the goal, having it there will help me progress as a skier.

Head Out on a Ski Tour

I live in a backcountry skiing paradise. Here’s hoping that during my fourth full winter in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, I make it out for a ski tour. It’s gotta be more than some turns on the hill above my house (where I’ll likely practice), but it could be cruising up high near Red Mountain Pass or a simple loop on Lackawanna Road, a popular skin-up, ski-down old mining road just outside of town.

Skate Ski the Streets of Silverton

I suck at skate skiing, but I love it. And, I have no excuse, as for three to four months each “winter,” I can skate ski Silverton’s streets from my front door.

Silverton Streets Nordic Ski Area

My entrance to the “Silverton Nordic Ski Area,” aka the town streets all winter long.

Rest-of-Life Goals for 2023

So, going back to at least 2013, I’ve wrapped up every year filling out a Dreamline Worksheet from Tim Ferriss’s “Four-Hour Workweek.” I don’t do so in its entirety; however, I use it to collect all those goals/dreams/wishes that have been percolating around the back of my mind for a while, and sometimes I even brainstorm up a few more. That’s fun and all, but then the magic happens in choosing three to five to focus on for the coming year. I don’t accomplish all those primary goals in any given year, but I generally tick off some, as well as minor ones from that year or goals from previous years.

I’ve not gone through this exercise yet for this year (I wait until New Year’s Eve), nor do I think I’d share all of my goals, as they’re fairly personal, but I did want to share how useful this activity has been for me in the past.

Here are a couple of things I’d like to shoot for in the new year.

Go Less Digital

I certainly consume less digitally than I did some years ago, but I’ll be re-reading Digital Reduction: Making Time for Running as this year wraps up. It’s definitely an area where less is more!

Prioritize Life Tasks Better

I do a decent job of prioritizing work on daily, weekly, and monthly scales. I don’t do as well prioritizing my personal life on those same scales. Rather than jumping on some random task when I find a few minutes or hours, it’d be great to give the same thoughtful reflection about what needs to and what I want to get done in the coming days and weeks.

For instance, as I settle in after a busy summer and travel-filled autumn, it’d be great to organize my office, bedroom, and pantry. These efforts will leave me less frustrated now and more comfortable going forward.

Practice Casting

I love fly fishing. As most of my fishing is on “small water,” I stick mostly to the tenkara style of fly fishing. In these conditions, it’s simple and simply works. However, I want to fish some bigger water and for bigger fish in the future. As a result, I need to get better at casting with a Western/traditional fly rod and reel. I can do this through the winter to be better in time for fishing season.

Get a Reliable Ride

The final days of the Adventure Prius, a 2004 Toyota Prius that’s been a part of most of my adventures as an adult, are likely approaching. The latest blow comes with the theft of its catalytic converter. I’d known this dreadful day was coming, but I’d hoped it wouldn’t be so soon. It’s time to make alternate plans. (Do any of our readers work at a Ford dealership?!)

Trailhead Vehicles - Bryon Powell Pri - Silverton 1

My Prius living its best life in Silverton, Colorado.

Call for Comments

  • How do you go about goal setting in the various aspects of your life?
  • What are some of your upcoming goals?
Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.