One year ago the bathroom scale confronted me. As a twin dad and a busy Engineering Manager, I slept too little, I barely exercised, and ate unhealthy. As a result, my weight was the highest it had ever been. My BMI slowly crept from overweight to obese (even though I think BMI is not the best measurement). And that is when I decided I wanted to do something about it.

In the past, I’ve enjoyed running. I ran several 10K races. I thought it was a nice milestone to be able to run 5k without walking again. I bought new running shoes as my old ones had dangerously no grip. Let’s go!

Training plans

In about 4 months without too much consistency or planning I managed to get to 5k without stopping. Slow, but I did it. If I want to continue this it might be good to have a race to work towards. Every winter Apeldoorn has a big race called the Midwinter Marathon. Last year about 15.000 runners ran some kind of distance there. I ran the 8K of Apeldoorn a few years back and thought that might be a nice race to work towards.

After some research, I found the training plans by Run2day. I calculated the number of weeks I had until the Midwinter Marathon and discovered I had several weeks left in preparation. Around the same time, my work had tickets available for a 10K race a few weeks before. A little voice in the back of my mind said “What if we see how far we can go in that timeframe“.

Turns out, quite far! If I could not only do a 5-10K plan but go all the way into the first few weeks of half marathon training. This meant I could run double the distance of the 5-mile run, and enter my first distance longer than 10km. Interesting. I decided to just go for it. If I failed I would still be able to run the shorter distance. If the 10-mile race went well I could even continue the half marathon plan and find a suitable half marathon.

I signed up for the following back-to-back plans running three times per week:

  • 5 to 10K (8 weeks)
  • 10 to 15K (8 weeks)
  • Half marathon plan (12 weeks)

The races

Brink tot Brinkloop 10K

Excited! The first race since I started running again. This was the first race I ever ran, and the 4th time I’m running it. It’s early January and the temperatures are freezing. According to Strava, it was -1C, with a perceived temperature of -7C. I’m fully geared up and even remembered to bring my gloves. My goal is to test my fitness and run it sub 1 hour.

The Brink tot Brinkloop is an almost straight course leading from the Brink in Deventer to the Brink in Bathmen. The thing I remember from this race is after the first few hundred meters, you leave the shelter of the city center and run in the open. The antarctic wind came in like a wrecking ball. Even though I brought gloves, the cold hurt my fingers, and it took me about 4 km to feel comfortable enough.

The race itself went great. I managed to stay under 6 minutes per km, meaning I was on track for a sub-1 hour. And the last 2 km I could even accelerate a bit. Result: 57:13. Yay!

Midwinter Mini Marathon 16,1K/10M

For my first race longer than 10K I was nervous. Even though I ran a 15K in training, it was still unknown territory. My goal was to run it sub 1:45.

I was supposed to run this with my brother-in-law. But he unfortunately got an injury. And decided to run the shorter distance. The funny story is that we sat on the bus to the start, and a random runner chatted with him, and convinced him to run the longer distance “as you can always quit halfway through“. So we started together.

The Midwinter Marathon is one of my favorite races, the atmosphere is great, a ton of music and spectators. We started the race at a slow pace and planned to accelerate somewhere after 10K. We first ran a steady 6:15-6:30 pace. Around 12 kilometers, I felt good enough to accelerate and kicked up my pace to 5:30. Ending the race on a high!

A great race and I finished in 1:41:20. Another goal was met! Since this race went so well, I started looking for a half marathon to run.

Ijsselloop 15K

A good test for my general running fitness for the half marathon was the Ijselloop 15k. Another race I was able to run through my work. It’s a course where you cross the river Ijssel a couple of times. You cross 4 big bridges, making this a tougher one because of all the elevations. For April the weather was unusually hot, and this had some impact on the race as well. My Goal? An ambitious one: 1:30.

The preparation for this race was the worst I ever had. The evening before the race we drove home and witnessed a car crash into the other lane in front of our eyes. We stopped our car, and my wife called the emergency line, I ran there as the first responder to give first aid. Even though the crash looked intense and both cars were destroyed. The injuries were not major. Turned out the driver who caused it was drunk. A big reality check it could have easily hit us (with our kids on board) as well.

Due to the high adrenaline, and spending 1.5+ hours on the crash scene, we ate through the MCdrive and arrived home late, I barely slept, and felt I started the race already behind.

The race was tough, after 2 km I knew this was going to hurt. I started too fast, I struggled the entire race, and I ran it in 1:41:16. Just 4 seconds faster than the previous race, even though it was 1,1km shorter. Oops. A reality check on race day strategy, preparation, and mental toughness.

Half marathon of Zwolle

The crown race the last year led up to. The preparation was decent, but due to some illnesses, I was a bit afraid I skipped too many of the longer runs leading up. My goal? Finish and aim for somewhere between 2:15 and 2:30. The Mindset of this race is to keep the Ijsseloop in mind. Start slow, find a steady pace, and don’t think about running faster until the 2nd half.

The Half marathon of Zwolle is a small lead-up, and then 3 laps of the city center. This means the course is pretty packed with spectators and entertainment all around. This helped me be positive and keep the positive vibes up. I managed to be the 100th high-five giver to one of the spectators (nice).

I’m proud to share that I managed to achieve my goal. I finished the half marathon in 2:25:38, with a consistent pace. My stamina could have added another 10K, but every-everything started to hurt in the last 3-4 kilometers.


In this year of running, I trained more than I ever did before. But how much is that in numbers?

Some metrics of this journey:

  • In 2023 I ran 833 kilometers, in 148 runs.
  • In 2024 (so far) I ran 407 kilometers in 50 runs.
  • I lost +/- 15 kg.
  • I ran through the first pair of shoes I bought and got a second pair.
  • For 24 times I ran 10K or more (my previous longest distance).
  • A single run in Germany (168 meters) contributed to more than 50% of total elevation in 2023.
  • In the 60 training runs leading up to the Midwinter Marathon I only missed 2 runs due to a work trip.

Now what?

In the last phase of the half marathon training, the long 2-hour runs were hard to plan time-wise. It’s not something to do, I need to plan my day around it. Even though the full marathon is closer than it’s ever been. At this moment I’m not planning to run one due to the time investment.

I’m starting a program to increase my 10k time next. The time investment is easier to manage when your longest run is 1:30. But some alternatives have piqued my interest as well. Starting trail running or triathlons sounds pretty fun as well.

What do you think should be my next goal?