Goals Review 2018, Goals Preview 2019

2nd of January

The spoiler comes right at the beginning. In 2018 I succeeded at all but one of my yearly and monthly goals, and for 2019 I’ll keep nearly the same list. Here is the new one.

I like to run because you can get to experience atmospheres like these.
I like to run because you can get to experience atmospheres like these.

Now I can elaborate. For two consecutive years now, I have published my yearly goals and how I did on them on my marathon blog, teesches-marathons.eu. It’s a motivational boost for myself to do so.

In my Masterplan 2017 I stated I was successful in 2016 in reaching my three goals of doing 100 runs, 1,500 kilometers total run distance, and eating vegetarian for the whole year. During the year I added additional goals of 1,000 kilometers of biking and 100 kilometers of swimming during the year and reached both as well. 

So I added new secondary goals for 2017: doing a vegan month, doing a sugar free month, and completing 365 7 Minute Workouts. That year also included two long distance triathlons, my first ever ultramarathon and many other races. 30 in total, which is more than one every two weeks on average. These races all went quite well, but I failed every single of the three secondary goals, unfortunately. The sole reason being, obviously, laziness.

I concluded in my 2017 Review that I would like to try again on those secondary goals and turn down the amount of races, but rather focus on a select few instead. 

The Masterplan for 2018 therefore included doing a vegan month and a sugar free month as well as the refined goal of 200 7 Minute Workouts. I also included the wish to complete 12 full marathons. My main goals were focussed on specific races and more ultra running.

2018: Yearly Challenges Review

1 & 2: Being Vegan and Sugar Free for a Month

It finally worked! Although I procrastinated quite a bit and finally started in November, realizing I would not want to do either challenge during the cookie infested December. So I had to do both at the same time, vegan and sugar free. And that’s not easy, I can tell you that. If you’d like to know more about it, I wrote a longer post about just this November challenge. ✅

I succeeded mainly thanks to the existence of Poké Bowls and Vincent Vegan burgers.
I succeeded mainly thanks to the existence of Poké Bowls and Vincent Vegan burgers.

3: 200 7 Minute Workouts

This was a complete fail. I ended the year with 17 completed 7 Minute Workouts, 183 short of the goal. Although I like the routine and found the results to be satisfying (my core-strength had never been better than during 2017 when I did a few months of those workouts daily), even those 7 minutes felt like a nuisance to me. ❌

4: Run at Least 12 Full Marathons

On 28th of December, I completed this goal. You could say, almost on the last possible day. It wasn’t annoying to me at all, though. Quite contrary, trying to find enough marathons to run in order to complete as many as 12 of them in the year was a fun challenge to do. While in the beginning of the year I thought it to be wise to split them up as far as possible in order to have maximum recovery time, the reality showed this wasn’t possible. Here’s the list of my 12 Marathons of 2018.

  1. Buller Gorge Marathon (February 10th)
    Westport, NZ (4:11:47)
  2. Föhr Marathon (March 25th)
    Föhr, DE (3:52:34)
  3. Hamburg Marathon (April 29th)
    Hamburg, DE (3:50:22)
  4. Copenhagen Marathon (May 13th)
    Copenhagen, DK (4:08:08)
  5. Rennsteiglauf Supermarathon 74k (May 26th)
    Eisenach, DE (9:20:31)
  6. Rauchwart Marathon (September 30th)
    Rauchwart, AT (3:47:20)
  7. Kaisermarathon (October 6th)
    Söll, AT (6:29:57 in the mountains)
  8. Baldeneysee Marathon (October 14th)
    Essen, DE (3:48:33)
  9. Brussels Marathon (October 28th)
    Brussels, BE (3:51:50)
  10. Training 50k (December 7th)
    Hamburg, DE (4:51:24)
  11. Maratona di Pisa (December 16th)
    Pisa, IT (3:39:41)
  12. Öjendorfer See Marathon (December 28th)
    Hamburg, DE (3:38:05)

There’s a gap between May and September. Life got quite busy with an office space change, a new baby born and my Tiny House building project during summer. Autumn really got me motivated again and the timing was perfect. Three marathons during two weeks of travels through Austria and Germany, the Grand Finale to my 28 EU Capital Marathon Challenge in Brussels, the mentioned vegan and sugar free November break, and a furious and cold December, during which I rather spontaneously searched for and found two more marathons and decided to do an additional training marathon run, no race, to close the 12. ✅

Meeting Angel at Hamburg Marathon.
Meeting Angel at Hamburg Marathon.
Meeting Mike at Copenhagen.
Meeting Mike at Copenhagen.
Chasing after barefoot Sidy in Pisa.
Chasing after barefoot Sidy in Pisa.

Additionally, I was happy to see myself come back out of a dire time during the beginning of the year, because I had an accident which broke two of my ribs and cut my head open. That made me miss running for a few weeks and got me out of shape.

Blood from my head on my shirt as photographed from the hospital room.
Blood from my head on my shirt as photographed from the hospital room.

The first marathon in February was just six weeks after that accident, and I was glad I even managed to reach the finish line that day. 4:12 hours isn’t a great result when you take into consideration the perfect conditions: downhill course, warm weather, great organization. 

Running in New Zealand was as awesome as this.
Running in New Zealand was as awesome as this.
While the island of Föhr presented quite a contrast to that.
While the island of Föhr presented quite a contrast to that.

But I bounced back, and every following marathon got easier as my fitness level increased again. I’m especially happy that I finished the longest ever foot race for me at Rennsteig 74k, managed to reach the mountain top after 2,345 meters of elevation gain at Kaisermarathon Söll, and pulled off the last marathon of the year on December 28th with my personal best time of 2018 at 3:38:05 hours.

For the first time I’ve seen a 70 kilometer marker during a running race I took part in.
For the first time I’ve seen a 70 kilometer marker during a running race I took part in.
After finishing Kaisermarathon with 2,345 meters of vertical gain.
After finishing Kaisermarathon with 2,345 meters of vertical gain.
There’s a need to cool off the legs.
There’s a need to cool off the legs.

That’s a trend I plan on following up on as I have these quiet voices in my head telling me I should go for a 3:20 marathon and 1:30 halfmarathon in 2019. Who knows, maybe it’ll work out!

5: Read 10 Books

Initially, there was no plan of this. I got the idea during the year after I had read a few books and thought I could use the same motivational boost of goal setting to increase the amount of books consumed within a year. My goals usually focus mainly on my body, so a goal that benefits the mind makes sense, I thought.

Mens sana in corpore sano

And it really helped just as well. On December 16th I finished the 10th book while still being in the middle of six other books. I tend to read multiple books at the same time. Here are the books I read in 2018 ordered by the date on which I completed them.

  1. Sebastian Junger, Tribe (March 10th)
    Short and interesting book about the emotion of belonging to a group, as seen from a military standpoint. Made me think. 
  2. Johann Scheerer, Wir sind dann wohl die Angehörigen (April 20th)
    The author went to my school and is just a year older than me. We never got to know each other, but I was aware of his story. When he was 13 years old, his insanely rich father got kidnapped for a ransom of 30,000,000 Deutsche Marks and Swiss Franks (around 20 million EUR, adjusted for inflation). Jan, the father, was held in a cellar for around 30 days, while the police went crazy and the emotional rollercoaster of everyone involved was hard to picture. Johann now finally wrote down the whole story from his perspective as a teenager. Makes you feel uneasy.
  3. Jan Philipp Reemtsma, Im Keller (May 20th)
    That’s the book of the kidnapping victim himself. He wrote it down rather quickly after being set free because he needed to find closure with the whole situation. Being a brilliant mind with a huge amount of literary knowledge, this book turned out very interesting but also makes you feel rather uneasy because the emotional toll on everyone has been so high and it’s all completely real.
  4. Jan Frodeno, Eine Frage der Leidenschaft (June 20th)
    I admire the guy, double IRONMAN world champion, but this autobiographic book seemed like it was written by a dim ghostwriter. Nearly 95 percent of it was already very public knowledge if you followed the career of Frodo. Still enjoyable, but far away from a masterpiece. 
  5. Norbert Madry, Der Ultralauf-Kompass (September 5th)
    A book consisting of Questions & Answers if you are interested in moving into ultra running (that’s covering distances longer than a standard marathon of 42.2 kilometers). Funny, full of information, easy to digest.
  6. Scott Jurek, North (October 7th)
    One of the world’s best ultra runners wrote about his quest to set a new FKT (= “fastest known time”) for covering the 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) of the Appalachian Trail. Spoiler: he did it. But the journey was immensely tough and you live it all through with him while reading this. 
  7. Scott Jurek, Eat & Run (November 1st)
    After “North”, I was keen on finding out more about Scott Jurek and read his previously published autobiography. While it’s a bit more self-promoting and even egotistical, his achievements are incredible and the path that led him there is captivating. Probably my favorite book of these 10.
  8. Ulrich Blohm, Unbeholfen Golfen (November 24th)
    I found out one of my former teachers wrote a book about his break-up with a parent of a friend of mine. That situation was weird in itself for a bunch of years, but I always liked the guy and especially his humor. He used a pseudonym to publish this book. Good idea. Fun and short read, though nothing special in and of itself. 
  9. Cal Newport, Deep Work (December 7th)
    One of the bestsellers of the year, falling into the genre of self-optimization. As you might be aware of, I’m quite interested in this topic. Most of these books have a few good ideas but unnecessarily stretch them out over hundreds of pages. Not this one. The density is tolerable and the arguments he makes are sensible. Take away: ditch all the social networks. Turn off everything for a few hours each day to focus on the core point of your work, and that point alone. 
  10. Alan Sillitoe, The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner (December 16th)
    Bought it because of the title. Has barely anything to do with running. It’s a bunch of short stories about hardship in pre- and post-war Britain. It’s very well written and the author managed to keep my attention although the genre usually isn’t interesting to me. Still, I wouldn’t put it on a recommendations list.

That’s a ✅, as well.

The Main Goals of 2018

I had three of those. 

It’s been great to close off this 7 year ongoing EU marathon project.
It’s been great to close off this 7 year ongoing EU marathon project.
  1. Completing the EU Challenge in Brussels. ✅
  2. Going Ultra: I failed the 100k Megamarsch due to lack of training, but completed the Rennsteig Ultra 74k. Half-✅
  3. Triathlons: The Hamburg Triathlons and Challenge Wanaka. ✅

That’s 2.5 out of 3. These goals were specific races, which is rather easy to do. Just show up prepared on the date and follow through. The other type of main goals I tend to set are harder, but it feels a lot better to complete them. The benefit is bigger, too. So here are the new 2019 goals again, this time with a comment.

2019 Main Goal #1: 12 Marathons

This turned out to be lots of fun because it required a bit more planning than usual and looking for odd races on specific dates where I had time in my calendar. Also, I think it’s a good number I can deal with. 

For 2019, I have already signed up for 7 marathon races, and 4 additional ones are on my list, too. All of it within the first half of the year, so I think I might surpass the 12 this time. But that will be a happy accident. 

2019 Main Goal #2: 2,000 Kilometers of Running in Total

Although I did quite a lot of races, the amount of kilometers I ran has declined. Since my peak year 2016 (2.078 kilometers) it went down to 1.662 kilometers in 2017 and just 1.221 kilometers in 2018. I want to run more, so I set this goal. 2,000 seems a doable number as I’ve done it before and it’s just 38 kilometers per week. Two longer runs or three shorter runs. Or one marathon, and I’m good!

To start a year off strong, I try and do a halfmarathon on every January 1st. Partly hung-over.
To start a year off strong, I try and do a halfmarathon on every January 1st. Partly hung-over.

2019 Main Goal #3: Run Every 2 Days (at least 5 kilometers)

This is just to be healthy. I noticed that these longer breaks of a week or more don’t do any good for me. The fitness level declines fast and the level of well-being with it. Running is important, or as my friend Sidy says, “Home sapiens must run!” – it’s not just the mileage or the number of races, it’s about the continuity of it. Steady efforts are best for body and soul here. 

At the end of the year this will amount to 183 runs, which is quite a bit more than I ever did. My best year, 2016, had 113 runs, so this will be a 62 percent increase. But I think I can do it. It won’t be possible every time, but I’m aiming for 3 to 4 runs per week or 15 per month if all else fails. 

2019 Main Goal #4: 5 Million Steps

Again, using my body is the underlying goal here. You’ve heard about the generally recommended amount of 10,000 steps per day. That’s 3,650,000 steps per year, of course. In 2018 I managed to do 4,667,255 total steps, or 12,787 per day on average. I’m happy with that but I also realized that you can’t walk too much. There’s a financial advisory blog I like to read called 1500 days to freedom, and the author recently published a Q&A that gave me the idea to copy that yearly steps goal. He goes for 6 million, but I think 5 is good enough for me. 13,700 per day, that is. 

2019 Main Goal #5: Read 12 Books (Stretch Goal 15)

One per month on average as with the marathons. I’m usually not an avid reader of books, but I think it’s good for me to find that time for focussed, undistracted, concentrated reading. It’s a thing I don’t do at work and at home, as I usually have to switch from task to task on a high frequency. This probably isn’t great for my mind, and the value you get from reading a good book is clearly underestimated in our current digital lives. Reading 10 books in 2018 made me happy although I had to try quite hard to carve out the time for it. Making it a yearly goal as well increases the priority I’ll give it, so with a more focussed effort I’m expecting to get to 12 or maybe even 15 by December 31st.

Only one problem: which books to read? So far I have five on my list, most are recommendations from friends. These are the following.

  1. William Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury
  2. David Foster Wallace: Infinite Jest
  3. Ed Catmull: Creativity Inc.
  4. Vicki Robin: Your Money or Your Life
  5. Hal Elrod: Miracle Morning
  6. Tim Ferriss: The 4 Hour Body

I’m currently in the middle of these books.

  1. Triggers (Marshall Goldsmith)
  2. Guns, Germs and Steel (Jared Diamond)
  3. Getting More (Stuart Diamond)
  4. Autobiography (Benjamin Franklin)
  5. Forever Outnumbered (Simon Hooper)

Not sure yet which of these I’ll actually read or finish, because more interesting books might come along. If you have a suggestion, please let me know!

As for monthly goals, I haven’t found any interesting ones I’m willing to pursue yet. Although one might be a month of waking up as early as in 5 AM every day to have an hour of productive time before the kids wake up and eliminate that unproductive evening hour of laziness. 😴 But I’m probably reading the mentioned “Miracle Morning” before starting that. Other than that I’m open to suggestions here as well!

Looking forward to how 2019 will play out. Thanks for reading and all the best to you!

Funky Bonus of 2018: I got to play some music with my old band pals from ka-dance again after quite a while. Good for the soul!
Funky Bonus of 2018: I got to play some music with my old band pals from ka-dance again after quite a while. Good for the soul!

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