I have finally cooled down from my Sunday 7 mile run around my home town of Colchester.  This week I am tapering down for a Park Run (5KM) this coming Saturday.  My objective is to gain another personal best time (PB) as a 60 year old, and to see if I can (again) come first in my age group 60 – 64.  It feels great to be still wearing sports kit and pushing myself to the point where I think my lungs are going to burst.  The battles that go on inside my head as I face the mental challenges of going easy, taking a short cut and the dreaded DNF (did not finish).

It all started out (25 weeks ago) as a plan to get fit for our annual family holiday in Whitby.  I set out with a number of objectives and list of things I wanted to achieve.  The holiday is due to start and finish just before my 61st birthday.

This blog post is for anyone who likes to plan/likes to work within a framework.  It helps if you like running (or want to get into running) oh, and if you are due to attend one of my Project Management workshops.

My blog post is about how I use Project Management tools and techniques to plan my fitness and running programme, but it could have been about any aspect of my life.

I am literally a man with a plan.  A plan to get as much out of my running in Whitby when I go for a 5 mile run each morning.  2017 was also going to be a year when I would get back into racing again something I had stopped doing over 10 years ago.

This is how project management approach works for me:

I started with a ‘vision’ of where I want to get to.  It helped me by having a Vision Statement – ‘I am going to run a 5KM in under 24 minutes.  My 5 x 5 mile runs in Whitby are going to be the fastest and most enjoyable I have done in 15 years.

I don’t need a ‘Business Case’ for this project as I had already submitted my ‘case’ for running to Joyce shortly before we got married 33 years ago, so I already have ‘buy in’ from my most important stakeholder.  The Stakeholder Analysis is done too – it is positive and supportive from my family (Joyce has just agreed to a new pair of running shoes, but this is more to do with hygiene than speed!)

I do need a PID (a Project Initiation Document) though, as this forms my contract for the project.  It includes listing my projects:

  • A sense of wellbeing and objectives (to run under 24 mins for 5km).
  • A mini blog which I tweet each Sunday at 2pm.
  • What it includes. 5KM training programme and what it doesn’t include – training for a Marathon.
  • Success criteria. A Personal Best
  • Work and Travel

And importantly three things you know when it is a project:  Time (Start and Finish date), a Budget and Quality.  The PID should be referred to throughout the project to check whether you have not strayed from your original objectives.  It is also an opportunity to see if you need to tighten up or even make an objective more challenging.  I have met the objective of running under 5KM in 24 mins earlier than planned, so I’ve now replaced it with running under 20 minutes.

I need to ask myself some important questions at the outset of my project: 

What are the key activities for my running project?  I needed to complete a ‘Critical Path Analysis.’   All the tasks on the critical path must be completed on schedule if the project is to be finished as originally planned.

What are the key milestones?  So I completed my ‘milestone report’ using a RAG system (Red means not started – Amber part met and Green reached or exceeded) so I could track each deliverable.

Now I was ready to go so I needed a route from A to B.  I needed a Project Cycle:

  • Initiation – I had worked out my Vision (where I wanted to get to)
  • Planning – I’ve set out my objectives in a PID. I have evaluated previous experiences and determined the best course of action.    I have also devised my training programme – A ‘Gantt chart’, which is my planning schedule.  In its simplest form it consists of two elements: task and time
  • Deliver – Get on with doing it.
  • Monitoring and Reviewing. I am regularly going back to my PID, my logs and running diary – how am I doing?
  • Finish and Close the Project – Did I meet my success criteria and what did I learn? Don’t forget to celebrate success and reward yourself you’ve earned it but do think what would I do different next time?
  • Prepare for the next project!

There is so much I want and need to achieve in life and it feels I have a limited amount of time to do this as, after all, I have as many ambitions now as I did when I was 30.  Experience has shown me that when I have a plan stuff doesn’t go wrong and I get to where I want to be as quickly as possible.

Here are 5 benefits from using a Project Management approach:

  1. Can be used all types of projects whether it is for work, home or sport
  2. It focuses on your vision – the result you are looking to achieve
  3. A disciplined approach to introducing change in your life
  4. It is time specific. You have a start and finish date (before you tackle your next project! My next one is to run 45 second under the under 28 year old time for the British Army’s Basic Fitness Test BFT)
  5. It promotes learning

I chose running, but some of these project management planning tools and techniques could be used for any project from home improvement to planning your next holiday.  Hopefully a framework you might choose to use?

Here is a link to some useful templates you may wish to consider using for your next project from Project Agency. Included within the templates are: PID, Stakeholder Analysis, Business Case, Milestone Report and much more.

And here is a link to my favourite Project Management Presentation: Project Management in under 8 minutes by Chris Croft (if you are on my next course then please pretend not to have seen it please).

So do you have project in mind?