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Lea Meyer: Hartes Training ist für mich Entspannung

Lea Meyer: Hard training is relaxation for me

The 3000 meter steeplechase is a fascinating and demanding discipline. Lea Meyer has mastered it and is one of the best obstacle runners in the world. Why did she like this route of all places? And what makes it so exciting for you?

Words: Agata Strausa
Photos: Fellusch and Florian Kurrasch

In an interview with Lea Meyer

Instagram: @xleaymeyer

Lea Meyer had to cancel her starts at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest. Their season had started more successfully than ever before. With a new personal best over 5,000 meters in 15:06, two German championship titles and two World Championship nominations in the 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m, she has picked up where she left off last season. At the European Championships in Munich last summer she stormed to silver - a career breakthrough for the 26-year-old. But back problems slowed her down in the second half of the summer season.

How does she deal with the setback and how does she look forward to the coming training season and the preparation for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024?

más: Lea, you are now a professional runner and are one of the best in the world. Do you still remember how you first started running?

Lea Meyer: Actually about my parents. They were preparing for a marathon and I ran a mile or two every now and then. We also had an athletics club in Löningen back then, but I was only six and too young for it. My parents begged for so long until I was finally allowed in. That's how I started with children's athletics. It became clear pretty quickly that I was particularly good at running. When I was 14, I ended up with my first trainer and became more serious about training according to a plan.

How did you decide to specialize in the 3,000 meter steeplechase? This is a very unique discipline.

I always thought it was cool, that really appealed to me. I've always loved watching athletics and was in the stadium at the World Championships in Berlin. I'm not super trained in it, but I've always wanted to try it out and wasn't afraid of it - that's how I ended up doing it. Before my first race, I didn't know any obstacles or ditches. I just thought to myself, “I can manage this somehow”. It still excites me to this day and I'm happy every time I get to run it again.

“Not being afraid of obstacles is my strength.”

You're also good on the flat stretches. What would you say is the big difference?

I find 3,000 meter obstacles much easier (laughs)! It is often said that 5,000 meters and an obstacle are relatively similar in terms of effort - I would say that too. For me the big difference is in the head. A 3,000 meter obstacle is mentally much easier for me. Then I start running and by the time I get the idea to see how many laps there are left, the first kilometer is already over. Until this year, I really hated running 5,000 meters. The technical aspect of the obstacles is what makes it so exciting for me. It's not just the running aspect that counts.

Do you specifically do technical training?

I do that very, very little. The water ditch in particular is very stressful for the body, and I really felt that this season. The risk of injury is incredibly high. That's why only very few people do this in training. Before the season starts, you might do a few runs with hurdles. I have the advantage of being very tall and having long legs. I'm actually not worried about not getting over there. And I'm not afraid of the obstacles.

“Hard training sessions are a relaxing balance for me.”

What do you like most about running?

When I run I have time to be completely present and switch off. For me it's relaxation. Even the sessions that are hard are a relaxing balance for me. I can leave everything else aside and just be with myself and just concentrate on myself. I enjoy it, it's a bit like therapy. You can also discover a lot while running. At the same time, you do something for yourself. I love that when I'm in a different city I get to explore a lot during normal training.

Do you have certain places for training camps where you particularly enjoy running?

On the one hand, this is Flagstaff (Arizona, USA), which is a happy place for me. I feel comfortable there, I just think it's beautiful there. In Europe it is definitely St. Moritz. I love St. Moritz, being there is just therapy. Even this year, when I couldn't walk, I went there. There's always a bit of a holiday feeling - the mountains and the vastness - it helps you wind down.

What is Lea Meyer like when she doesn't do sports?

I'm generally very energetic, it can be tiring for me! Outside of sports, I am a person who likes to do something. I couldn't just sit on the sofa on a day off. I'm a big fan of going out for coffee. A perfect day outside of training would be meeting up with friends and family, drinking coffee, and not looking at the clock. I also have a dog - and unfortunately I don't spend much time with her - so I enjoy being outside with her.

Thank you for the interview!

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