009 ☼ My year in review (2023)
Another list. Lol.
Welcome to my newsletter 'Never not [thinking about] running'. A newsletter on running and mental health. Are you interested in these topics? Perhaps you would like to subscribe to this wonderful newsletter? I guarantee I would love to. I promise. In today's newsletter I'm going to talk about the past year in general. How was your year in review? Feel free to leave a comment, perhaps on one or two of the questions I have asked myself in this newsletter. I am interested in your stories of 2023!
It's the first day of Christmas and I'm tired. Today was supposed to be my "running day", but someone here on Substack wrote that running should follow the seasons and that winter is a time for rest. So I decided to take it easy, run as I please, sometimes short, sometimes long, and not run at all today. Instead, I'm sitting here reflecting on the (running) year.
How was the overall running year?
I had different plans, but overall it was a very good running year. I had some health issues in the spring, which turned out to be harmless, then I focused on 5k races and ended the fall and winter season without any major loss of form.
How was the (mental) health?
Also good, except for a hiccup at the beginning of the year. Here and there a few illnesses, but that's not unusual when you have three children in kindergarten or school. The aging muscles and tendons need more stretching, otherwise sometimes my ankle grinds, but no structural problems, which I consider as a gift. My mental health was affected in the spring. There was a lot of stress at home with the family - that's when running was actually a good balance. The rest of the year was pretty ok, but the beginning of winter is always a different story. I don't get depressed or anything like that, as one might assume from the subtitle of this newsletter, but due to my constitution, winter really takes a toll on my energy and keeps my mind busy, not always in a positive way.
How many k did I run this year?
I think I'll end the year with around 1900 kilometers. That's pretty good for me as a short-distance runner. Hopefully next year will bring more, if my body cooperates. After all, the longer distances are waiting for me in 2024.
The best/worst race?
To start with, there were no bad races. I know my form very well, so I was not disappointed after any of the races. Maybe one could have been better, but to say it was a bad race would be an exaggeration. The best or most enjoyable race was when I improved my 5k personal best. I didn't expect to do that and in the end I even finished 3rd behind my team mates. That's when I knew I could do better this year. Two weeks later I was three seconds faster again, but as I had hoped to break the club record for my age group and didn't succeed, the first improvement remains my favourite race of the year.
The best/worst training run this year?
There have been many great runs. That's why I love running so much. The best run, because it was so far and so effortlessly in the flow, was a run in the summer after a very hot day (watch the vid to get an impression). It was at dusk and the humidity was so high that there was mist over the fields. It was magical.
I also remember running in the Harz, a low mountain range here in Germany. It's always fun to explore a new running area.
The worst run was also in the summer. I don't know if I got heatstroke. I was running after my family who wanted to go to the swimming pool at 30 degrees. The first 10 kilometers were in the blazing sun, so at the end I dragged myself to a hill with a forest where I had a short break. I actually had a mini panic attack there, which has never happened to me before when running. I felt like I was going to pass out, which was an exaggeration, but I wasn’t in a really good place.
How many personal bests?
The longest run?
Two days ago. 25.42km in the dark, in the rain, through really deep puddles and with muscle problems at the end, but I came home with a really really good feeling.
The shortest run?
0.3km with my oldest son- to quote him: "I'm too tired - let's stop!"
My favorite training?
In the spring, I was still preparing for a half marathon, so there were also longer sessions. From the Stryd library, I liked the Snowball Fartlek. A warmup, then x minutes of effort plus x/2 minutes of recovery + cooldown. You can always shorten the intervals by one minute, so for example, start with 10 minutes and then go down to 1 minute.
Which training sessions do I dislike?
Still the long, slow runs. I know they are important, but if I can avoid them, I will.
How many new routes have I explored?
Surprisingly many, especially here in my hometown. I often used the Strava route planner when I wanted to be out longer but didn't want to run the same route again. Only two completely new regions were added. Three weeks on Fehmarn (never ever go there in winter) and one week in the Harz (beautiful!).
How many pairs of shoes did I run in?
9 different pairs. Some are casual shoes, some are retired, some are brand new. I ran the most with the Hoka Mach X. A total of 752.5km.
What equipment did I not want to do without this year?
Still my Stryd footpod. It provides a lot of information and together with the training plans, I see it as one of the reasons for my improving times.
What did I learn last year?
Not to run in the blazing sun? Just kidding. I think 2023 was the first year in which I really paid attention to my limits while running. Actually, in the past ten years, there has almost always been a phase in the year when I did too much and then simply crashed. That didn't happen to me this year.
What do I still need to learn?
Although I paid attention to my limits, I would still like to push them further, especially when it comes to nutrition. At a certain training volume, I eventually run out of energy because I don't consume enough food throughout the day and weeks. And mentally, it's also ingrained that I can't handle more than 200-250km per month, otherwise I'll be exhausted. So there's still work to be done.
Who or what helped me this year?
I don't attend club training regularly, but when I do, it's always been a great motivation for the tough training sessions this summer. It definitely helps to have some people pushing you. Thanks to the guys and girls from LSF Münster. Also a lot of friends and of course my wife helped me this year just by being there. It is always great to have some support, not only in running, but also in life.
What am I most grateful for this year?
Actually, for my health. I've never had a serious injury (knock on wood three times) and when I couldn't run, it was mostly self-inflicted or mental.
What do I expect from next year?
I hope for an even more consistent year without longer breaks due to overtraining, health or mental issues, or anything similar. I hope to be fit for the UTMB in May in the Vosges and then have a great summer season (like every year). That would be a dream. And if in the end I just have a few nice long runs in the summer, that would also be a good thing.
What are my goals for 2024?
The UTMB in May. Maybe to run a marathon just for fun during training and I would like to break the club record for the 5k in my age group. This year I wanted to improve my half marathon time, which would be a nice-to-have for 2024, but not a must.
I did two runs last week. One was the long run mentioned above. 36k. I think next week I'll try to plan the season and see when I’ll start structured training again.
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