Monday, January 09, 2017

Setting targets, also when you are 105

Robert Marchand, setting up a world record in one-hour track
cycling in the over-105 age group on Jan. 4, 2017

Maybe you have taken one or more New Year resolutions at the start of the new year. However, there is a good chance that you’ll not keep them or maybe you have already forgotten them by the time you read this blog. The reason is that most New Year resolutions are too vague: they don’t mention a date when they have to be fulfilled and they don’t tell which specific aim you want to reach. You decide to lose weight this year, but when you haven’t done it yet on December 30, you can say that you’ll have yet one day ago, but in fact it’s too late. Moreover such a resolution doesn’t say how much weight you want to lose. One gram? Ten kilos?
Every sportsman knows that if you want to achieve a goal, you must determine exactly what you want to achieve and that you must make a plan. And, of course, you must keep yourself to the plan – and not change it too much while you are working with it – for otherwise it is almost certain that you’ll fail. For instance, a long distance runner decides that he wants to run the marathon within three hours and then his plan says how often in a week he will train, and from day to day whether the workouts will be filled in with intervals or endurance runs, how fast he will run the intervals and the endurance runs etc., and when he’ll run the marathon. And so it’s the same for losing weight: Make a plan how many kilos you want to lose each month and what your diet will be. So far, so good. “Everybody” knows it, and hardly anybody does it, when taking New Year resolutions, and so they fail. Or they have simply forgotten their New Year resolution.
Although the time to set New Year resolutions has gone, it is not too late to set targets, for you don’t need to do it at the first day of the year. You can do it any time and you should certainly do it, for setting targets is an important condition for good life. Targets structure your life, they help make your life successful and they contribute to your feeling of happiness. And you are never too old for it. Really. Take Robert Marchand, the French cyclist who became 105 years old, last November. You know from my last blog that he is still active in cycling and that he even holds the world record in one-hour track cycling in the over-100 age group. But he needed a new challenge, so Robert Marchand set himself the target to get the world record in one-hour track cycling in the over-105 age group. However, there was no official over-105 age category in international cycling. No problem: it was created for him. But alas, the rules prescribe that for a record in one-hour track cycling you need to use a bike without brakes and without a freewheel. When Marchand was younger, riding such a bike didn’t cause difficulties, but at the age of 105 you don’t sit as firmly in the saddle anymore as a young fellow. Again no problem: The rules were adapted so that for this new track record it is allowed to use a normal race bike with brakes and a freewheel. And so it happened that last week, on January 4, Robert Marchand set up the new world record in one-hour track cycling in the over-105 age group in the unbelievable time of 22,547 km on the National Velodrome at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines near Paris! Take your hat off to that! And pattern yourself to Robert Marchand and learn from him that you are never too old for setting targets. Old people were too long seen as people in terms of objects who need care and have nothing else more to wish. It’s true, often the elderly need care, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Robert Marchand needs some age related care as well, now and then. But Marchand shows us that also at an advanced age you can live life to the fullest, and that the elderly are maybe vulnerable but complete individuals who can live possible futures filled with perils and promises – as the philosopher Jan Baars words it – and who can set targets, indeed.

On the Internet there is a lot on setting targets and on Robert Marchand. Some on Jan Baars and his philosophy of ageing on


Diana H. said...

Hi, my friend!
To start, let me wish you and Anke a good year 2017.
Amalia (a marathon runner herself) and I have read your encouraging post with pleasure. And of course we agree.
Thank you for such positive and beautiful words.

HbdW said...

Hello Diana,
Thank you and also the best wishes for you for 2017!
It's nice that you and Amalia appreciated this blog. Robert Marchand is an example for many people.
How nice that Amalia is a marathon runner. I have run a lot in the past, mainly long distances but no marathons but mainly track races.
Thank you for reading my blogs.