The Calendar Method

Calendar Method

By Andy Shaw

In basic training, there was a “Plan Of The Day” posted every morning at reveille.  The plan of the day was labeled with the week and day of training that we were on, for example “week 5 day 4”.  The training days were every day except for Sunday morning.  This allowed many to attend service we still had chow sometime between 0500 and 0630, after that, we were allowed to participate in the ‘weekend routine’.  This was extended shower time, we could dress down to t-shirt and PT shorts, shine boots, etc.

 There was something about seeing the week and day of training that helped me tick off the days.  I would move on to ET school, aside from special forces the was the only school that had more sailors fail out was nuclear school.  ET school was one of the top 4 longest and hardest schools in the DOD and the second hardest tech school.  I would use this same method of ticking off the days through ET school keeping track of when I would see my family again.

I have found that more people are visual than they let off.  In CrossFit everything we do has a demo; the workouts have an example the stretches are guided.  Often as a coach, I see many athletes peering up as we transition to a movement.  If anything, there is confidence in seeing that what you are doing is following along.

There is a method called the Calendar method, the same visual I would use to give me hope during ET school.  I am sure I am not the only one to use this method or teach it, therefore I will not claim it. To this day I still use this method.  The method is simply to have a visual representation of the month with a goal that has gained priority and to tick it off throughout the month.  Simply put, I check off the days I kick butt.

               A period of time ago there was an 800-gram challenge at AVID.  This challenge was to eat 800 grams of fruit and vegetables throughout the day, every day for a month.  While I was doing this challenge, in the morning I would weigh out my fruit and vegetables, put the food in my lunch box and head off to work.  As I ate the fruits and vegetables throughout the day I would get home and put a dot with a pink highlighter on the day that I completed it.

               Here is the thought.  We all have goals.  Even if it is to save a certain amount of money by the end of the year, maybe it’s something simple like sleeping more by having a more disciplined sleep schedule, eating less refined foods,  and the list goes on.  For sake of example, there is a goal to make it to CrossFit 4 days a week or say 18 days a month.  We would write this goal in the top corner of the calendar and put a highlighter dot next to it.  Any color you choose, every day that this goal is attained there is a dot on the calendar.

               This seems simple, and honestly, it is.  However, if there is anything we know about CrossFit, simple does not necessarily mean easy.  We can never let go of the fact that in terms of simplicity and CrossFit: the needle, in terms of fitness and progression, is always moved forward.

 Here is the deal, our lives have conflict.  Cars break down, children get sick, spouses’ schedules change and this is just the beginning.  We must keep it simple and move forward as we can.  The goal is 18 classes a month, Lord willing this would be smooth sailing, however, if and possibly dare I say when something happens we adapt.   Now, this seems like a solid goal, after all, if a goal is TOO easily attained it is just an errand.  Wo look at these dots as a true challenge towards our goals  and see 2, and it’s Friday morning.  We have a choice to make a sacrifice and go to the late Friday night class and the Saturday morning class.  This may be rough, but we see the dots and know our goal is 4 dots a week and we only have 2.  What are we willing to do to make that goal happen? Five days the next week? A weekend session? An early morning session? CrossFit gyms have classes ranging from 0500 to 630pm, there is not so much by way of excuse when there are so many options throughout the week, we just need to plan and stick to the goal. 

               Say a disaster strikes, and we only get 2 days, and it’s Friday, a work meeting that night so we miss the night class and Saturday we wake up realizing we slept through the alarm.  Now what?  We throw in the towel, day drink while binge eating Tachos (tater tot nachos, they’re incredible)? No. definitely not.  We adjust, we adapt, just like a nasty metcon where RX is barely within our reach, we make a plan, we adjust where we need but stick to that plan for the end result.  This could even look like a one-mile run on Sunday or some squats and pushups with burpees to satisfy the goals and needs of our overall intention.

               Missed days happen.  3 months after I joined I spiked a fever cruising 102.5-103 WITH meds for a week.  I made it to work, near useless, and practically needed a diaper to be efficient, but I definitely wasn’t going to attempt a squat snatch for the floor and my dignity’s sake.  I went home, stretched, and went to bed early.  With missed days my dots dwindled throughout the month.  Post illness I doubled down to 6 days a week to adjust, but that may not be in the cards for most, and let us say my workouts were hardly workouts.  

I am fortunate to have a home gym for that late night or mid-weekend session. But I propose the 80/20 rule here for those that leave their fitness to make it to Avid with coach-led progressions and the motivation of peers.

               I use this rule for nutrition as well, more on that later. Here I say grade it like a math paper. You got 15/18 classes you had planned. This would give us an 83%.  Meaning we attained 83% of our goal.  I call this passing. If for some reason every month is 80 percent, I would say adjust the plan first, and get yourself a “higher score”.  One more day of fitness by fifty air squats a one-mile run and another fifty air squats turn this into 88.89 percent.  But if life gets in a right hook, maybe adjust the goal for a season and then push back on life after we have regained our footing.  This has happened to everyone that’s trained for over a year.

               I hope this method helps someone in our community, I have seen great success with many athletes in the past and use it myself.  I know it works, despite its simplicity.

               Go to target, grab a calendar and marker, and fight for your dots team!