At the end of February, I felt great! I had just come through two full months of working out more often, dropping almost 20 pounds since Christmas, and I was excited about the idea of really pushing the envelope to get in shape for the B.A.A. 5K coming up in mid-April.

So, with all of that in mind, I set some lofty goals for March:

I have two goals, both related to my cardio “top end” and getting to the next level:

One is to bring my personal best 5K time down from 33:01 to 30:00 or less.

The other is to stay on my feet and survive an entire 1 hour boxing class at my gym. At my first outing last week, I had to quit after 35 minutes.

Ahh, the innocence of youth. Here I am, just one month later, sitting at the coffee shop on a rainy afternoon, kicking myself for yet another day of not exercising, and for coming up way, way short against those goals I had so confidently set.

My first goal was to cut my best 5K time by three minutes. OK, maybe this wasn’t so realistic. I actually only had 4 runs longer than 5K during the month of March, with my fastest pace (9.02 km/h) giving me a time of 33:24. Wrong direction!

My second goal was to survive a full hour boxing class, and despite having four chances to go (each Wednesday after work), I signed up for and attended exactly zero of them. I have a whole sack full of excuses for each week, but all of them are pretty lame, so I won’t bother listing them here.

And on the whole, my activity level was way down all month long. In February, I got out there and did 17 cardio workouts, for a total time of 834 minutes. In March, I only managed 7 workouts, with my total time coming in at 296 minutes.

After coming off of a couple months where I felt like I could do anything, this has been really frustrating.

What it really looks like...

So, what the hell happened, and how can I learn from it?

I honestly think that the biggest difference between the two months was my goal-setting framework.

In February, we had the February Challenge: 100 total hours of cardio for the entire 2FNS community. Every week, we got reports about how much time we had all put in toward the goal. This provided frequent feedback, and also contributed to a teamwork and competitive mentality, which can be very motivating! Not only that, but in the first couple weeks, we were behind the needed pace, so I kind of took it upon myself to see if I could improve upon my previous time each week, thus carrying even more of the load for the whole team. As a result, I really focused on squeezing in workouts wherever I could, and seeing if I could add “just a couple more minutes!” to each one.

In March, we each set our own personal goals, but didn’t check in at all on those goals week to week. So, we didn’t have anywhere near as much accountability to one other. As the month wore on, I knew I was falling behind, but if I was slipping one day at a time, and nobody was really around to see it, eh, who cares?

I have a couple other explanations: for example, maybe I was doing too much in February, and slowing down a little was inevitable. But I think the way that goals are structured, and how progress is measured and reported, are really important factors when it comes to keeping people (or at least me) motivated.

I am going to try to get back on the wagon for the next couple weeks, in the run-up to Jono’s visit to Boston for the 5K. Mostly I’m going to have to try and get back out there, just the way I started — look at tomorrow’s schedule, figure out when I’m going to go run or go to the gym, tell someone about it, and then do it.

How did everyone else fare in March? Leave a comment!