Small improvements , massive result

Striving to run a marathon in under 3 hours I discovered something new, well for me at least. I had read about it but never really given it any further attention. The large benefits of the small improvements you make if you do something long and consistent enough.

In sports it has been a thing for a few years now, make small improvements in a lot of areas and the sum will surpass anything. Which is off course true , mathematical speaking, take a spreadsheet and set a few numbers and keep adding 1% , compounding in action.

During my training it’s been evident that regularity in workouts is hugely important in getting the most small improvements. But here comes the kicker, for a long time you will not notice any improvements at all. It’s like being stuck, and all of a sudden there is this breakthrough moment. My times improved , tartrate dropped and recovery was shorter.

I am am nowhere near as data driven as a top athlete , but I just noticed the effect and it was significant.
Like it came out of nowhere. Which when you look at it, isn’t true. The consistency and persistence combined with a slow and gradual increase of volume in training has made this possible. But at first there is a whole lot of time were you notice nothing of great significance, it’s just maintaining your condition it seems and not moving forward at all. This is a dangerous point, you get demotivated and you start focussing on something else. Or you quit.

During my revalidation it was always hammered down that you should celebrate small victories, I was mostly frustrated because I was not achieving my bigger goals. I tried and compensate it by working harder and having draw backs. Finally I kept my schedule and things improved. Still not too my liking and my real breakthrough moment never really came.

In hindsight it was just the amount of time that was simply too short, you can’t do that much in a year and I have to get back to the drawing board and see how I can get at these small improvements by means of regularity and slowly increasing my load. I am stuck in a vacuum of no progress for some time now. At one hand that could be it, I am at my maximum in recovery, but I believe in something better.

The running is the proof for me. And while thinking about this subject it really applies too all things that are hard in the beginning. Or stay hard for a long . long time. Take learning how too read for example, or paying off a huge debt. In the beginning nothing real seems too happen. All the effort looks worthless. But then there is a moment it all takes off. The ball starts rolling , and then it goes really fast.

What I have learned , it’s more important too regularly work on a goal and grab the small improvements. Than try and sprinting towards it. Persistence is key , it should become a habit and not a burden.

Let’s get more small improvements!

Under 3 – Twelfth week of training

Week 12 is a wrap. This week its been harder than normally, my brain didn’t cooperate at all last week, mentally I was very tired. My daily dose of outside impulses I could not process. Running mostly provides a way for me too process all the left over information my brain hasn’t dealt with during the period before the run. Now it was a nessacity just to get some of the unprocessed information out of my head.

But because of my fatigue I really had to force myself out of bed, starting a run and simply showing up was the hardest part. Once outside it was mostly ok. These hard weeks make me very appreciative of the good ones. Training itself went pretty good, the long runs in my new pace start too feel more and more easy and relaxed. I will not run a sub 3 hour marathon at my next attempt , but I am hoping this progress will continue.

Onto week 13 !

March 2019 – Dividend

Another month has gone by, time flies and all that. And as every month , another bit of dividend came rolling in. It doesn’t take up a minute of your time and yet it gets you a bit of money. Pretty nice !
Comparing this year with last year , Royal Dutch Shell is missing, I am on route in making my portfolio more environmental friendly and durable. So Shell was sold. I’m aware most of the oil and gas company’s are still in the ETF’s I hold and I am now figuring out more durable ETF’s.

The rest of the list is made up of the usual suspects , see the overview. See you next time !

DateStockCurrencyAmount
29-03-2019Unibail-RodamcoEUR5,40
20-03-2019Unilever EUR7,74
15-03-2019
DowDupont incEUR3,36
14-03-2019MicrosoftEUR8,14
TotalEUR24,64

March 2019 – Option positions

A short note on my options trading. This month I also took some option positions and this time a bit farther away into the future. Since I have time and no rush. In the meantime I am learning and reading up on options. This is a very slow process for me so no new part in the ‘what are options’ series. It’s a work in progress.

I also noticed my options table is a far cry from readable on smaller screens, and less bigger ones. So I am currently in the process of making this table more readable and understandable as well. Maybe it’s needs to be in a totally different format. I am aiming to get this in order with the next update.

Strategy wise nothing has really changed. I only incorporated a part of my savings as a buffer, which is more a state of mind really than anything else. I have not yet need to transfer any money from my savings into my investment account. I have added 1/3 of my savings towards my options portfolio , just in case.

I know this is more of an active approach towards portfolio management and something I don’t do with the vast majority of my portfolio. But this has turned out into a nice hobby and one I can do at my own pace , when I feel good and are up for it. All qualities in an activity which I need.

So for next time I hope having my new overview sorted. I a way people understand it and it’s readable. Until next time !

Under 3 – Tenth week of training

Another week of training is done, one less run but all the others were a bit longer. With some build in speed parts and hill training. I was a bit tired at the beginning but at the end of the week it all went better. Lot’s of rain and wind as well all week, I don’t mind a bit of rain but every training gets a bit too much.

This is the first week of a serie of weeks where the amount of kilometers gets too an all-time high. In order too get me into marathon mode if you like. The long run was especially cold , wet and even some hail too accompany me on this 32 Kilometer long run. I started out early and after a few km’s in, I was already soaked. So I decided too ditch all the watching the hart rates , speeds etc on my watch and just focus on running and enjoying a nice pace.

After the first half the rain got a bit lesser, and even the sun showed up sometimes. It went very well and also my gel intake was up too par. I wasn’t really fatigued at the end and my muscles were not sore after and not the next day.

It also was pretty fast, I did however got some rain damage along the way but it wasn’t too bad. A very good week again despite tired me starting out.

Onto the next one !

Februari 2019 – Dividend

Oops , almost forgot to write this post entirely. The Februari dividend update. This month only 1 position that pays it’s dividends. Apple being the one. My Februari dividend income has always been the worst month of the year. Probably the reason I forgot about writing about it. But in stead of combining it with March, I decided too report Februari separately. Quick one this time.

Anyway Februari did indeed produce dividends. A bit less than last year, exchange rates are against me , taking it down 14%. But exchange rates are just a fact. I am not doing anything in the way of compensating for these fluctuations , the portfolio is simply far too small. Well see you in March for the next dividend update.

The numbers :

DateStockCurrencyAmount
14-02-2018AppleEUR9,77
TotalEUR9,77

Under 3 – Ninth week of training

Week 9 , time flies. This week was relatively calm in the way of training with a half marathon run as the piece the resistance if you will. Not a road race but a bit of trail run. Apart from a few patches of hard surface the track mostly went via horse trails and forest lanes. With the added bonus of a few climbs along the way.

The start was a bit slow, it was pretty busy and it took a while finding a free zone and picking the right pace. Ahead of the race the warning was too save a bit of energy in the first part , because the hard bits in regards too climbing were in the second half of the race. I took this advice , and didn’t go too fast in the first half. Retrospective , this part could have gone faster. But because I am in the buildup towards a marathon this isn’t a bad thing. It’s good not to go all out and exhaust yourself.

The second half of the run was easier then expected and I could keep my pace without a problem. Didn’t force anything towards the end and ran the remainder quite relaxed. Net finish time 1:29:59, just shy of 1,5 hour. Excellent result, and a happy me.

The usual Yoga strength training and the rest of the runs also went excellent this week. No complaints there either, all in all a good week. Hopefully this will continue in week 10!

Goals and finance.

Goals, or dreams. Everyone got them. Goals often start out as a dram, slowly the dream develops into a goal. The easy steps are often taken swiftly. Let’s take a big trip, or better yet a world trip as an example. Travel guides are quickly purchased , a shiny new notebook and a pen for writing down the ideas as well. Let’s start the party ! Long train commutes from and to work are futile ground for plotting the country’s , places and other things to visit on this world tour. It makes you feel better during the day as well, happy days. The notebook quickly fills up, and after a few months it’s almost full.

After all the fun stuff the practical side of things kicks in, the how when and why kick in. And also it will cost a ton of money. Slowly but surely the newly acquired travel guides disappear and the notebook lands on the pile of unfinished projects.

How does this happen ? Well the dreaming and figuring out the fun stuff is new and exciting, it gives you energy. But how do you manage going from the dream to the goal and actually making it happen ?

Don’t get me wrong, dreaming and working on the first part of the goal is a necessary tool for getting off the ground. Keep at it. But make sure the pile of unfinished projects doesn’t get too big. It’s not fun having a large amount of ever growing unfinished projects , worse it demotivates.

As soon as the fun part is over, our world travel plan has a near definitive shape the ‘boring’ part begins , taking care of the logistics of it all. How about the job , house , cats and dogs ? And how are we going to pay for all of this ? Most projects get some start in the way of the hard part. But at some point doubt sets in , some practical solutions may end up in the notebook but for most that’s it.

What does this tell you ? Is it the doubt about the achievability at this moment ? Wait another year ? Or is this dream simply not suitable for you ?

The last question might be the most important one. Is this dream, which along the way has the shape of a goal and a project really worth all your time and a large part of your future time money and energy ?

Think long and hard about all of the dreams you had the last few years, write them all down on a piece of paper. Get the old notebooks out en relive the process. Look at it with one question in mind , how badly do I want this ? Do I really want this world trip ? Or is it just because a lot of people seem to be doing it? Is it an escape from something else ?

Really take your time ! And pick 3 goals you are passionate about , with a limited time frame in which you want to achieve them. Take the easiest one first, let’s say staying in the travel examples, take a citytrip too Valencia. Get out your calendar out and pick a date.

In comes the finance part, make an estimate of expenses, the traveling, hotel and daily budget. Put it all in a nice excel sheet and calculate what it takes too save up for it in the time you have before you go. Even if you have the finances ready, do it to get used too making a sacrifice for your goals.

It teaches discipline and persistence , cancel a night out on the town , or make more creative plans which cost less money. Or make plans to get the money with a new side hustle.

After this first goal , you take it of your list of 3 goals and start the second one. Don’t add more goals too the list until you finish all 3. This is important, it teaches you if your selection process is a valid one. Maybe one was not as fun as it was supposed too be. And it keeps you from being distracted. As soon as all 3 goals are done, you asses them. Were all 3 goals as good as I dreamt ? How much effort went into them and was it worth it ? As soon as this is done you can repeat the process and start over. Let the dreaming begin , and with a better self knowledge you can pick better goals. Have fun dreaming !

Under 3 – First week of training

As some of you might know, I have set myself a new goal. Running a marathon under the (for me at least) magical 3 hours threshold. I will track my progress in this new ‘Under 3’ series. I will share the numbers , but mostly I will focus on the impact on my mind and body. As I am curious in finding out if this will improve my day to day abilities and minimizes my setbacks.

Well the first week is done, the routine hasn’t really changed much , just some more speed training and a lot more (core) strength training. While just exercises with a lot of repetitions seem to bore me, I found Yoga to be much more fluent. Not dull reps but focused on movement. Which fits me so much better. So instead of going trough the exercises I now find myself enjoying it and paying much more attention, maybe it’s less effective I don’t know. But it keeps me engaged and I am now enjoying this. So this is it for me as far as strength trying goes.

The runs were all good, sometimes a bit too fast for now, I get excited and don’t mind the hart rate. But all in all I am happy. No little pains and now problems in recovering. The extra fast bits of my runs went very well, now it’s just a matter of getting my long runs in a better hart rate zone. The new long distance pace must feel as good as the old one did. I am aiming for a long run tempo between 4:30 and 4:45 per kilometer, which should make running a sub 3 hours marathon a possibility.

So what did I do this week ? First there are four core and strength yoga sessions of about half an hour. My normal 5 times a week running sessions consisting of 3 short runs with faster bits of about 7 to 10 k. One 14k easy and one 21k long run.

It’s early days but I am having fun just thinking about the process and the possibility of achieving the ultimate goal. The marathon in under 3 hours!

2019 goals

A new year and new goals, this will be my first time setting goals , up until now I mostly used to do lists and loosely set goals. Resulting in missing real focus. In turn running up the to do’s on the good old to do list.

First up the finance side of tings. Which can be roughly divided into 2 parts, mostly cost reduction and building wealth. The easiest way for reducing costs is paying off the mortgage which is the only and biggest debt. Last year saw the biggest reduction so far. It’s so easy it’s hard not simply keep on doing it. However I am now at a point which all the alternatives in the market, renting or buying another house will be more expensive. I have no way of living any cheaper. The mortgage needs paying off so I will continue doing the extra payments but the focus needs too be on other more lucrative investments. So the goal for 2019 is paying off an extra 1200 euro’s. That’s it.

Which leaves the other part , my stock and ETF portfolio. A fixed amount will be added each month, divided over ETF’s and handpicked company’s. In which dividend payments will be one of the main factors, as part of my passive income strategy. My goal is getting my dividend payments up too 1500 euro’s per year. In 2018 the total got over a 1000 for the first time, 1021,80. A small milestone. Let’s see if my new goal is achievable.

Something new I got into in 2018 and developed more during the year is options trading. Which turned out too be the suprise of 2018. I used too write options every now and then on stocks I wanted too buy, not really consistent and just for fun. Mostly I didn’t get the stocks and I tried again. After some time I started making this a more systematic approach and I also started writing options on stocks I had in my portfolio.

At the end of 2018 I also started using part of my cash buffers as collateral for writing options. Usually you will have a good idea which part of the buffers you don’t need in the coming month, so it’s pretty safe using a part of this as a way for generating extra returns.

All in all this approach yielded a nice 10,21% return on risked capital. Not shocking in the option trading world but for me an encourachement for learning more about it and applying this in 2019. I will write about my learning process in the option series on this blog.

So 3 finance goals, keep downsizing the mortgage , generate more passive income and enhance the result with option trading.

But without my health all the money is worthless. 2018 has been a year with a few stark reminders of my permanent brain damage. I took on too much in some instances and got into a few nasty periods afterwards. 2019 is all about finding and keeping the balance again and really accept my new me. I can’t keep going on adding more work each time until I crash. The focus will be on being stronger, training the left side of my body and going back too the start of my revalidation process and taking and celebrating small steps forward. I will elaborate more on this in coming blog posts. For now have a very good 2019 !