🌈 New Quarter, Theme, Goals, Intents! (Spring 2022)
After these first 90 days of 2022 it’s time for a short review and an outlook into the future. First off, the new rhythm of quarterly moments of reflections seems to be working out for me and feels right. I managed to complete a lot of the set goals and aim to continue earning my title of King of New Year’s Resolutions which someone recently gave me. 😉
🪞Theme Reflection and Search For a New Theme
🗺️ The Season of Exploration did exactly what I hoped it would. After the almost static 2021 it made me come out of my shell and experience new things. Here are the to me most impactful of them:
- 🎙 I was a first-time podcast guest (Runner’s World GER Podcast Episode 82)
- 💬 I got invited to give a talk about endurance sports, goals / purpose, and existentialism at a school
- 📹 I recorded a YouTube video of a book summary
- 🧼 But most importantly, I did the whole washing for my five girls for a month! 😅
Those four unusual activities created mixed feelings in me. Giving the talk at the school certainly was a big honor and required the most amount of preparation, but it was also the most wholesome of the activities, inspiring those 17-18 year olds trying to find their way in life after school. These were students of the philosophy class about to finish school at the CJD Gymnasium in Braunschweig. The reports of feedback I received afterwards were so positive I had to remind myself to not take them too seriously and keep my self-esteem down at healthy levels.
It also required a lot of willpower for me to freely speak in front of that crowd as I have experienced anxiety when doing public speaking for as long as I can remember. Afterwards I needed a few days to mentally recharge. Worth it, though. I’m thinking of doing that more often if more schools or other places will invite me.
Appearing in Runner’s World podcast in order to promote our 42_16 project was an honor, too, and during that hour of talking I almost got three whole sentences into the conversation! My three colleagues Martin, Henning, and Michael were enjoying themselves talking about the project so much, we could have extended it for a few more hours. I think we should make a follow-up episode on this topic later in the year and focus on the participants of the challenge and see how it’s going. Currently they’re working on a three-page story about the project for the next print magazine of Runner’s World and we’re pursuing Deutsche Bahn to become another sponsor. It’s all shaping up nicely.
Making the YouTube video was tough. Speaking in front of the camera, my imagination always drifted to the possible audience reactions and triggered my anxiety again. I’m torn between trying again to get better at it, or just leaving it.
Now, doing the family washing for a month was fun. I’m proud to say I messed up not a single piece of clothing! Tracking the time investment during that month (it was February), I learned that this task required 5:22 hours in that month total. Doable! There was a downside, though. One of my aims was to make life easier for Sophie, but she claimed that doing the washing never felt like a nuisance to her anyways. She appreciated the gesture, though. Now we split the task.
Again, searching for a new theme after Exploration got me excited and thinking about my life in a positive and focused way again. It took a few days of contemplating a bunch of options I came up with, and I landed on one that sounds good to me and might help me during April, May, and June.
⚙️ The Season of Effort
I’m not giving away the alternatives I had in mind as I might use them later with different reasoning – but hit me up if you’d like to talk about it!
If you’ve read my previous posts around these topics you might think that effort is not a quality I’m lacking. In certain areas, that’s true, but what I mean here is that I would like to expand my efforts to more fields. Areas in which I could make lots of meaningful progress with more effort. This is mainly the business and the family side of things. Both areas are always works in progress. Side note, I am aware of Greg McKeown’s most recent book, Effortless. Need to read that one soon in order to find out whether I’m on the wrong track here 😉.
The nice thing about the theme system is that it’s not tied to any specific outcomes. It acts as a reminder in times of question or when you find yourself at decision crossroads. “I should definitely make an effort here.” turns into “I will make an effort right now.” – I’m curious where this might lead me during this Spring season.
👟 Sports Intentions Progress
I haven’t even mentioned sports yet, but that’s about to change! In a book I recently read (Viktor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning) I came across this quote which resonated with me.
I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or, as it is called in biology, “homeostasis,” i.e., a tensionless state. What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.
I enjoy the striving and struggle it sometimes includes to follow through with my freely chosen tasks, especially in the physical activity field, and apparently we all need that, so I can’t be too far off here.
Three 2022 Goals Check-In
- 🏃📚 12 & 12: The goal is to run 12 marathons and read 12 books during this year. With 25% of 2022 gone, I’m at 33% (4) of the marathons and 75% of the books (9). Needless to say, it’s going well. In the marathon department, I’m even holding back due to training for goal number 3 (a marathon in 2:59 hours) and too many strenuous and long marathon runs during that preparation period could endanger the goal. Going all-in on the books, though. The Naval Ravikant quote “Read what you love until you love to read” is doing its magic. Look at the bookshelf section to see which books I enjoyed so far and what I thought of and learned from them.
- ⛰ Endurance Trail des Templiers: As this is a single event which is taking place in October, there’s naturally zero progress here. My aim is to start preparation in summer by running as many of the then remaining 42_16 marathons as possible.
- 🏃💨 2:59h Marathon: Here, I have made good progress and feel 90% confident I’ll get it on April 24th during the official Hamburg marathon. I started with a training plan in the middle of January and crushed it – including two new personal bests: 39:34 minutes on 10 kilometers with great pacing by none other than Henning Lenertz from Runner’s World, and 1:26:27 on the 21.1 km half marathon distance on my own. I even managed to keep it going through having COVID a few weeks ago and my Runalyze tool optimistically prognoses ~2:55 hours for a marathon race on the basis of my training data. Looking good so far! 👍
🎛 Other Intents
Less Digital Distractions. I feel like I’ve done well in this regard. Especially my March challenge of reducing the screen-time on my phone to less than 60 minutes per day changed my thinking (see below for more on this). I reduced the YouTube wasteman behavior down to almost nothing and haven’t reinstalled the social media apps on my phone, too. On the desktop I continue to avoid both as well. Proud of myself. As you might have guessed, I sunk most of the newly acquired time into reading books – clearly an activity with the superior outcome, hopefully becoming a bit smarter finally. 😅
Working With My Hands. Digital work removes us all from the simple pleasures of building real stuff. I’m fond of the term “high-quality leisure activity” which I got from Cal Newport’s “Digital Minimalism”. I managed to built a bunch of stuff from wood and have gotten visibly better at it.
Solitude. At the end of January, another weekend at a Hamburg hotel filled that need, and I’m writing these lines in a hotel room in Freiburg, where I traveled alone for the weekend (and for a marathon), too. Both breaks were much needed to recharge. I’m very grateful to Sophie for being so understanding and helping me to make these holidays happen.
Sleep. Resuming with sleep tracking, I use an app called Sleep Cycle which helped me to see where I’m going wrong. Some of the externals aren’t possible to control, like the the kids’ nightmares, illnesses, or needs for cuddling in the middle of the night our kids occasionally have, but some are. Right now, in April, I have started two parallel monthly challenges in order to systematically better myself in this regard. More below.
🎖️ Four Rituals
From January 1st to March 31st, I followed through with four new rituals, as I called them from then on. These were:
- 🔋 Drinking zero alcohol. No problem at all, no serious cravings, and the improved running fitness is speaking for itself. I talked about this with Mättz, the owner of the Running Green running store here in Hamburg, who hasn’t had any alcohol in five years – not due to being a dry alcoholic, but just because. He said, during that period he exactly twice thought “a beer would be nice now” but there wasn’t one around, so he shrugged and carried on. I admire that attitude. For me, it’s quite clear I’ll have some drinks in the future, but with a lot more mindfulness about it. I do love beer and am looking forward to Nico’s and my 2nd Munich Great Breweries Ultra this summer (here’s the story on the first one), and at a point in January I felt like some Rum or Chartreuse and thought about which drink to have to celebrate after Hamburg marathon maybe, but in general I’m absolutely sure to make alcohol an exception going forward.
- 💪 Daily strength exercises. Missed it not once, happy with that effort. Irrationally I was a bit disappointed with the feeling of exertion never really diminishing, but then I realized that’s the point. Strength work is supposed to be tough or it won’t do anything. The additional core stability is noticeably helping me not only during running but in daily life, too.
- 🎽 Daily endurance sports. I just continued the running streak over all three months. Ran every day, and on multiple days I jumped (carefully) onto the Zwift bike, too. There was just one day, February 26th, on which I went slightly under my aim with just 25 minutes of running (3.6 km, pushing the kids in a stroller to the ice-cream parlor and back) instead of the set 30 minutes or 5k minimum. It was a day I spend completely alone with all four kids from waking up to going to sleep, so I’ll let that count. Never once did I think it was a bad idea setting this goal.
- 🛍 Buying nothing unnecessary. It had become a habit for me to just fill every need with an Amazon order immediately without thinking much about it. Not great. Reading Vicky Robin’s Your Money or Your Life really helped me see more clearly. Saving money actually creates more freedom. During these three months I even went the other way and sold a lot of stuff I didn’t need anymore and came closer to that far away goal of becoming a Minimalist one day 😄. Here, my main question was “what is actually essential?” I decided that buying new clothes is okay (I barely even do that anyways) and buying things to help me with that Working With My Hands intent from above is, too. These turned out to be minor, because I’m still well equipped with clothes, tools, and wood pieces to work with. I feel I failed on two days, on one of which I bought a new multi-effects device for my guitar, and one on which I bought a new Makita power drill. Both replace the more extensive / expensive older ones which I’m selling, so it’s a half-fail I think. Good exercise in retrospect. Lovely to see the bank account fill up on its own over time.
🔁 The Cemented Rituals for the New Season
Here, I’m reducing the old ones and adding nothing new. From April 1st to June 30th, the plan is:
- ⏳ Make it Last: Streak Running This also continues the Daily Endurance Sports goal, so it’s a two-for-one. I’ll aim for 5k per day at the least, but will give myself a ✅ whenever I make it over the official 1.61 kilometers which the Streak Running Association (yes, they exist) defined. On April 10th I’ll break the 100 days – maybe I can even keep it up for a whole year!
- 💪 Carry Over: Core Strength & Mountain Legs I’m carrying over the daily core exercises from last season because they helped so much. Slight modification here, adding squats and lunges for stronger legs here in order to prepare for the French mountains in October. Minimum daily goal: 20 push-ups, 2:00 minutes of planking, 20 squats, 20 lunges.
As stated, I’ll give up the strict no alcohol policy soon, but aim to reduce it to a minimum. Same with the shopping, trying to keep the urge down as much as possible as it wasn’t too hard and the outcome quite nice. I don’t feel the need to keep track of both anymore, I think the habits have stuck.
🎯 Winter Monthly Goals Conclusion
- ✅ Streak running: Yep, no problem. Made me a better runner.
- ✅ Finish my book about the EU marathons: Done on 29th of January. See Parkinson’s Law. Download it on teesches-marathons.eu as a free EPUB or buy it on Amazon for your kindle for about 5 bucks which will go to Doctors Without Borders: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B09RH49V59
- ✅ Meditate every day: Did it, but it sucked! I used guided meditation on the Calm app, but it was horrible. I didn’t get into it even after giving it that serious effort for a whole month. Didn’t help me in any way. For some reason I seem to not be able to control my thoughts in that way – they are racing around and never stopping, no matter what I do. The goal of reducing my stress levels wasn’t reached. I missed it on the penultimate day, but it still counts as a successful try because I came to a helpful conclusion in the end: it’s not for me.
- ✅ Making a video summary: Did the work, recorded myself talking in front of a camera, didn’t like it. I made a blog post about it in order to share the results but also my thoughts on the process. I’m at home with writing and I also learned that recording just my voice wasn’t awful – maybe I’ll do more of that in the future.
- ✅ Do the family washing: Success! As stated earlier, it took 5:22 hours total, which is almost negligible. I have to admit this task made me nervous. I wondered if I would get through it without messing up, like for instance ruining some of the girls’ favorite clothes or failing to wash everything in time so they would have to run around wearing dirty clothing for a while. It took about 1-2 hours to gather all necessary information on how to wash clothes properly and with my self-made guide I was able to put those risks at ease. Afterwards, Sophie and I went on with sharing the task.
- ✅ Wim Hof breathing: Amazing. I just used this free video guide and felt great every time I did it. In contrast to the meditation, this strong and intentional breathing helped me focus and reset the mind. The only downside was that making it a daily task felt like an unnecessary nuisance at times when the days were going well anyways. I forgot it on one day. Going forward, I’ll use the guide punctually instead of daily, I decided. Whenever I feel like it would help me at that particular moment.
- ✅ Screen-time <1h per day: Right on the first day I failed because I forgot about the challenge! A whopping 146 minutes, crazy. Some amount between 2 and 3 hours seemed to be usual for me. Starting March 2nd, I made a serious effort and succeeded in bringing the total average per day down to 50.61 minutes. Smart decision to do this for a whole month. It’s certainly possible and creates much more free time than you would expect. Serious recommendation, if you find your mobile screen-time also exceeding two hours per day.
🎯 The New Goals for Spring
- 🍽 No food after 20:00. I thought about trying out the intermittent fasting trend but after giving it some consideration and taking into account the still unproven effects, ditched that. I’m looking to gain energy, that’s the end goal. Having more expendable energy for family life, the business, the hobbies, is the most important intention here for me in most of these tasks. So what’s the idea? Related to my 2022 intent of improving my sleep, I want to establish the habit of not eating anymore, closely before before bedtime. Supposedly that’s one of the reasons of poor quality sleep, so I’ll try if that’s true for me, too.
- 😴 In bed at 21:30. Same purpose, trying to gain energy here. While my daily routine requires me to be up at 6:30 in the morning at the latest, and Matthew Walker (and every serious sleep scientist as well) recommends at least 8 hours of sleep per day, it’s a safe bet to set the sleep window to 9 hours just in case. Yes, also on the weekends! Regularity is key, apparently. We’ll see.
- 🏊 Swimming 3x per week. Sophie gave me a great present for Christmas, a one month gym membership at Kaifu Lodge Hamburg, which has several huge swimming pools. I really like swimming and have been missing it a lot. In May I’ll make it happen! I’m still on course to do that Channel Crossing some time in the future (2030s, 2040s).
- 🧘 Daily Yoga. I experimented with some “Yoga for Runners” recently and decided that this could be a worthwhile challenge. Runners‘ muscles are famously shortened and not flexible. Counteracting that with Yoga can help improve regeneration and general well-being. Looking forward to finding out if that’s true!
- 🙏 Gratitude journaling. In a more mind-focused effort, I want to make it a habit to write down three things which I’m grateful for during every single day. It helps frame your perspective and increases happiness on tough days.
- ✍️ Write & record a guide on “How to Run a Marathon”. Many people have done it before, there are many approaches. Not a reason not to do it as well if the expertise is there. I have a finished first draft lying around which I wrote several years ago, and now I feel like it has become time to polish that into something publishable. I still get asked quite a lot by beginners about this topic and referring to a comprehensive guide I’m happy with would be helpful. Also, writing is a fun activity for me – and making it an audio narration afterwards is a possible positive addition to it.
⏩ Going Forward
As you can see, I’m not tired of setting challenges and goals for myself. The contrary, it’s energizing to me and gives me additional purpose in life. I’ve been thinking about the compound interest effect mentioned by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits a lot, lately. He reminds us of the power of it. Getting just 1 percent better every day doesn’t just make you 365% better in a year, but because you’re always adding to that already better version of yourself like to money in a bank account with paid interests, it’s 1.01^365, which is factor 37 of where you started, not just factor 3.65. And, it’s perceived getting easier.
In total, looking over all my Spring goals in contrast to the Winter goals, it’s visibly less than before, or as prefer to see it, removing the unnecessary. The new goals seem easier to accomplish, but that’s just in part subconsciously. Reduction to the most important bits is what I feel I need at the moment in order to put more Effort into those remaining. And I’m sure, after the next 91 days, that feeling will have changed again, maybe slightly, maybe largely. No other way to find out without going those miles. See you in the summer! ☀️
And if you feel like you want to comment on something here, please do so below. I have greatly enjoyed those resulting conversations and ideas during the last years! 🙏