I resolve to do cardio (4/4)

Why the process is more important than the outcome

Athletes know accountability matters. Committing to a specific plan and regularly assessing progress is crucial to success. But all too often, goals go rogue in January, falling under the category of lofty (often unrealistic) New Year’s resolutions that end up unmet. That’s why we introduced the antidote: The Resolution Diaries. Each week we follow three Equinox trainers on their personal journeys through the first 30 days of resolution season. They pen both progress and pitfalls in working toward change in a meaningful way.

Get to know all the participants here.

The pro: Matt Berenc, CSCS, director of education at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute

Week four update:"In my week one recap, I acknowledged how tough running had become and how unathletic I felt. Finishing out the fourth week of my new year's resolution, I can confidently say I'm getting back to truly enjoying the experience. I have been successful with the number one goal of getting in three runs per week. They weren't always on completed on the ideal schedule, but they happened and consistency, not perfection, is king.

This week I also saw my best numbers for both average pace and heart rate, which was my secondary goal. Running the same three-mile route I ran the first day, my average pace dropped from 8:16 to 7:47 minutes per mile with an average heart rate of 166 beats per minute, down from 170. I'm running faster while stressing my body less.

Finally, my third goal was to do all of this while managing the potential for a painful knee which had kept me from running in the past. Again, success.

The process has been a great reminder of the power of setting a goal (or end target) and sticking to the plan. Outcome goals (i.e. get faster) are great, but where the rubber meets the road is sticking to the process goals or the habits that will get you there (for me, running three times a week).

This month was also a great lesson in the meaning of ‘good enough’. Reaching a goal is a trend line, not a singular event. I had to be comfortable not always running in my preferred circumstances (on the treadmill or late at night, for example) or meeting the standards I set. I just had to get in the miles. Having an all-or-nothing, perfectionist mindset often leads us to abandon a goal out of fear of failure.

These four weeks have also highlighted the amazing adaptability of the human body. I'm faster, have a much more efficient stride, and am less tired after three miles because my muscles, nervous system, and cardiovascular system adapted to meet the challenge. In training, this is called the SAID Principle (specific adaptations to imposed demands). It shows that no matter where you start, there is always opportunity to improve.

I plan on keeping up with my running. For February, I'm eyeing some fun strength goals. How much I run will vary, but running will continue to be a consistent part of my training."

More From Berenc: I Resolve to Do Cardio (1/4), I Resolve to Do Cardio (2/4),I Resolve to Do Cardio (3/4)