My path in sports began as a 6 or 7-year-old child when a friend from kindergarten took me to soccer training.
From that moment on, I played soccer for 21 years, usually three times a week. I remember being reasonably good as a child, with my strength being my endurance and speed.
As a senior player, I earned the nickname “Horse Lungs” for my endurance as an outside defender who ran up and down the field during the game. Unlike others, running was not a chore for me; it was something I excelled at, was praised for, and probably enjoyed more because of it.
However, this ability didn’t necessarily help me much in soccer. Over time, I lost confidence in my soccer skills, likely due to the uncertainty of what I should do next and the fear of making mistakes.
Sports have always been a significant part of my life. As a child, my passion wasn’t limited to soccer. I also had a fascination with other sports I discovered through television. With neighborhood kids, we played “Tour de France” and had biathlon races on inline skates with water pistols. During school breaks, we played basketball. I also took an interest in other sports on TV, such as track and field, cycling, and winter sports.
Each sport had something that intrigued and excited me.
In 2017 for the first time in my life, I started setting goals and New Year’s resolutions in an Excel spreadsheet. I can’t recall why, but somehow “run a marathon” made it onto that list. I set a goal to run a marathon in 2018.
With that goal in mind I began training. Even back then, I was passionate about training more professionally. I liked the thought of being a professional life. I even took a two-week vacation alone, which partially served as marathon preparation camp. Additionally, it was my first solo vacation, and I enrolled in a language school to learn Spanish.
Like any beginner in running without training experience or a coach my first injury wasn’t far off. Excessive mileage, rapid training increases, and running too fast led to a patellar tendonitis that plagued me for a long time, especially after the marathon, resulting in a lengthy six-month training break.
The marathon itself was tough, incredibly tough. Up to that point, I had no experience with race nutrition and had only done 1-2 long runs over 20 kilometers. When I look at the race data now, I’m amazed at how consistently I was able to complete the marathon without a major collapse. Nevertheless, it was challenging, and I finished the marathon in 4 hours and 4 seconds.
My real passion for sport began after my patellar tendinitis. Together with a work colleague, I wanted to take part in my first triathlon. The Olympic distance (1.5 km swim, 40 km bike, 10 km run).
The goal was no longer to finish the race, but to beat my work colleague. I was hooked, trained up to 10 hours a week and sacrificed a lot of my free time for the sport. Not only practicing the sport but also learning how proper training works or how to eat.
I finished my first triathlon in Hamburg in 2:30h. I don’t think that’s too bad for a first time. It was great. I made such rapid progress. In the summer before the triathlon, I ran 40:18 for 10km. At the end of the year, I was able to break the 40min barrier at the New Year’s Eve run. That was in 2019.
From then on, I was hooked on endurance sports and a passion developed. The passion to develop further and chase new best times.
Then came the coronavirus pandemic. I had more time to train and even though there were no competitions, I made more and more progress in training.
My best year in endurance sports was 2021. Within one week, I covered my longest distance on the bike (160km), ran 10km in 34:30min and finished a half marathon in 1:18:32h. I never managed to reach this peak form after that. Even though I continued to train continuously, I was never able to find the time and passion for my training.
After I stopped playing football for a year after corona, I became more interested in strength training. I had become relatively thin during the time of endurance sports, compared to runners and cyclists, but I didn’t really feel comfortable with it. I enjoyed the training and it helped me to gain some self-confidence. In 2022, I even trained to become a B-license fitness trainer.
The year 2022 was also the year I started my next marathon attempt. I had started football training again in the summer of 2022, but my form was good and I wanted to take advantage of this, so I did long runs alongside my football training. It was a wild ride on the razor’s edge, but luckily I stayed injury-free.
The goal of the marathon was to stay under 2:50h, even though I had no idea if that was even realistic. The first 30 kilometers went so incredibly well (30km in 1:59:44h @4min/k). It was an incredible feeling to be one of the first 50 runners past the spectators.
Unfortunately, I then made a mistake with consequences at kilometer 33. Due to slight cramps in my left calf, I tried to drink as much as possible at the next aid station. But that was too much for my stomach, which forced me to vomit in the next front garden. From then on, the race was just an unpleasant walk with stomach problems and the worst hunger pangs.
Nevertheless, I knew how to finish the race in 2:58:14h. I’m still very proud of that today.