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A Hangover Called 2023

A man leans on his arm, revealing the agony of a headache.

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.

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