When it comes to running, the years of the COVID-19 pandemic were actually pretty good for me. Not that I enjoyed the lockdowns, and I don’t want to downplay the suffering of so many people and the consequences. But when it comes to the flexibility of work and the rise of remote work, I have to say, all of that had a positive impact on my training. I could run more regularly, be more flexible, and, as a result, more consistent.
H owever, what followed in 2023 can only be described as a hangover. Waking up from the era of COVID was painful. I had set some goals for myself — a half marathon to start, a trail marathon, a couple of smaller runs, and aiming to beat my personal best time in Frankfurt. But I didn’t manage to complete a single one of these races. COVID itself, my Achilles tendon, and a fall that strained the tendon in my left arm all put a damper on my plans. While I can slowly start running again, biking, yoga, or strength training are off-limits. It was a year filled with headaches.
There are other runners who can relate, and more and more of them are sharing their stories, whether on blogs, Instagram, or in personal conversations. But what comes after such a hangover? What’s the aspirin to help us get up and keep going in the next year?
None of us are runners whose livelihood depends on running. We don’t make money from running, but our hearts are deeply connected to this sport. How much can our hearts endure? And when they are disappointed month after month, what can we do to set new goals?
For me, the first step is to look back. You might think that would lead to the opposite, but even in 2023, there were positive things. I returned to running with a group after a long time, and despite many changes and new faces, it felt good. A routine I intend to continue.
I Have Some Unfinished Business
I also started focusing on my mobility. Before that miserable fall, I was doing daily pliability exercises to target the weaknesses all runners know. Progress came quickly and was impressive. That will definitely be part of my training plan in 2024. Which brings us to the next year.
Yes, races will be a part of it too. As much as I sometimes annoy myself with training plans and goals, I can’t escape them. Venlo in the spring is back on the agenda, and in the fall, I’ve thrown my name into the lottery for Berlin. It’s the 50th marathon in the capital, and such an anniversary will probably be an even bigger party than usual. Plus, I have some unfinished business with both Berlin and my personal best time.
What else? I want to hit the trails more often, get out into nature, leave the asphalt behind. Freedom is my top priority for the coming year with all these goals. Behind that is a hope: the freer I am, the better I can handle setbacks. The more I cling to plans and lock myself into goals, the harder it becomes when I need to adapt.
So, it’s like a real hangover. After the aspirin kicks in, and we wake up the next morning without a headache for the first time, things become clearer. Maybe even some new ideas have emerged. So, let’s bring 2023 to an end with dignity. And then, let’s embrace a new, freer year. Without headaches.