Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dynamic Goal Setting (Part 1): 2270 to 2554.1 miles - 12/3/14

Use dynamic goal setting to introduce certainty to the hike. It will almost eliminate the effects 
of surprise delays!

I skipped a few days of posting as I wanted to focus on developing and testing the Dynamic Goal Setting method of planning and executing this hike. Therefore, the leg is 84 miles long. Wow!

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The route continues along Route 12 north east of Billing's, Montana.

It's flat, few trees and the shoulders are a little narrow.
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Dynamic Goal Setting (Part 1)


A reality 48 state hike lasts for an entire year. If a walker starts out with "I'll walk what I can each day," plan  they may be less likely to succeed because they won't know if they are behind the timeline or ahead of the timeline.

There are many random events that will affect their daily walks. They can control much of the randomness by planning the daily miles carefully. Then they can make dynamic adjustments each day to eliminate most of the randomness. 

Random events

Random events are anything that affects the number of miles walked each day. They include weather, fatigue, getting lost, etc. Since the walker knows they will happen, they must plan to adjust for them when they occur. The way the walker defines their daily goals affects their ability to compensate for random events without fanfare.

Control Randomness through planning

Usual way - equal miles each day
The usual way for setting goals for a seven day hike is to say, "I need to hike 70 miles this week, so I'll hike 10 miles a day and get there." Then on the last day, it rains all morning, they get lost, and then because they are delayed, it gets dark. They don't make it. They blame the weather, bad trail markings and even the sun. They never blame themselves.

Front loading the miles
This is similar to what an organized student does for a large project. They work hard early to get ahead. If something happens, they still have time to catch up. Few students do this, but most of us wish we did. 

This is what a front-loaded plan looks like for an 85.4 mile week.

By front loading the miles, if something happens the first day, the walker can slip the miles to a later day in the week. The last day is short enough that random events resulting in failure seldom occur. 

If the walker does not meet their goal one day, they simply slip it to the next day. If they miss by many miles, they may make it up over several days. I've found that since I have a plan, I seldom miss my daily goal unless it's intentional. For instance, I sometimes want to hike a long day because it's fun.

Dynamic Adjustments

This line graph show the week to date goal for each day of the week. The green dots show the actual miles walked.

At the end of the day, the green dot should be on the line. The distance walked during the day is adjusted to make this happen. Any variance should be small or it impacts the fatigue level.

If the green dot is not on the line, the walker should adjust the miles walked the next day to put the green dot on the line. 

Excess capacity

In order to make this work, the goal MUST lower than the walker's ability. If it's not, eventually a random event will happen that makes catching up impossible.


Random events are catastrophic for those who don't expect them. Front-loading the miles at the beginning of the week results in excess capacity for the remaining days. These days with excess capacity can be used to make up lost miles. Fast enough with consistency is better than faster without consistency.

In a future post, I'll explain how a single week plan is the building block for walk lasting many weeks.


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