Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

1. Goal setting and Training 2. Performance and Goal Attainment 3. Maintenance



Training team (Newton and Needham gang)


The reason I ride- to help fund a cure for cancer, and the specific team I ride for


Goal attainment at the Provincetown finish with my best riding partner

Each year, the build-up to the Pan Mass Challenge is different. This year, unpredictable, cool and rainy weather delayed the start of training, and we needed to catch up during the last few months. Luckily, we trained on plenty of hills this year in the Berkshires, and this seemed to make up for our late start. We also allowed time for recovery in between long or intense rides. This has become more important as we get older. Every exercise trend has its moment, and it has arrived for the evidence supporting recovery.   The large number of baby boomers in their 50s, 60s and 70s who want to maintain high levels of fitness need recovery, which includes rest, foam rolling and gentle movement as an essential part of our routine.

So, what are some ways to set and reach your goal through the proper training?  Below are some tips to get you there:

Goal Setting and Training

  1. Set a reasonable goal and give yourself time to build up your muscles and cardio capacity in increments in order to avoid injury.  For the PMC, we begin training in April as soon as the weather permits to build up our endurance for the big weekend in early August.
  2.  Examine your motives. What does the goal mean to you? Why are you doing it?
  3. Plot out your workout schedule to ensure adequate time for your body to adapt to higher demand.  A minimum of 3 times a week of cycling is our magic number, ramping up to longer rides as the event approaches.
  4. Be diligent about your nutrition to allow your body to make the changes needed to accomplish your goal to meet your energy demands.
  5. Constantly assess your progress, and make changes when necessary. For example, if you find that you need more cardio work, you may add interval training on machines or walking outside to your regimen.
  6. Go to the app store to find training regimens that are tailored to specific types of sports like half or full marathons or sprint triathlons. For example, there’s 10K trainer, couch to 10K training, or Running Trainer.
  7.  Because training is sport specific, you must practice the same sport in which you’ll compete.  Even though you may be in good overall shape, or good running shape, it may not translate to good biking shape, so you must cycle frequently for a biking event, run frequently for a 5, 10K or marathon.

Performance Day and Goal Attainment (if all goes well)

  1.  Get good sleep the night before. Allow yourself time to wind down and consider that you may have before-race day jitters.
  2.  Get proper nutrition. Before the PMC weekend, we always have a pot luck dinner with plenty of protein and carbs to have the energy needed to complete the weekend.
  3.  Don’t put additional pressure on yourself the day of the event. Just tell yourself you’ll do the best you can, and count on your preparation to take care of the rest.
  4. Hydrate and nourish yourself plenty during the event if it’s an endurance event, or plenty afterwards if it’s more of a sprint,  (less than 1.5 hours).
  5. Give yourself a recovery day if needed.

Maintenance– the hardest part.   You may feel unmotivated to continue the ramped-up training after the event, so….

  1. Plan for your next event or decide on a new one that piques your interest, so you can keep up your fitness level.
  2.  Get a fitness buddy for impetus when your motivation flags.
  3.  Find a professional who can keep you interested, accountable and knows how to motivate you. You don’t have to do it alone !
  4.  Assess how good you feel when you’re in top form, write it down, and refer back to it to remind yourself to continue your training.
  5. Lay out your workout clothing and put it in a prominent place the night before to set your intentions to continue your workout habit.

So, there you have it. Go for a new challenge and enjoy the rewards !


2 thoughts on “1. Goal setting and Training 2. Performance and Goal Attainment 3. Maintenance

  1. Ellen, I am glad you are doing well &
    helping others stay fit. I am still
    running- just ran the Falmouth Road
    Race. I eat well too- my girlfriend is
    a dietician @ Beth Israel Hospital.
    I hope you had a good birthday on
    the 6th.
    Neil Bunick

    • HI Neil!
      So good to hear from you! Yes, it’s been a very good run, and glad to hear you’re still staying fit! I had a great birthday, and hope you’re doing well. Are you still living in the area?

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