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Meine Denkweise hat sich total verändert

My mindset has completely changed

She always wanted to be a professional athlete, but not necessarily in running. Now Fabiane Meyer has become one - and at the age of 20 she is one of Germany's biggest young stars. Shortly before her next race in Paris, she talks about pressure, motivation - and what drives her every day.

Words: Agata Strausa
Photos: Wesley Sarpong and @curatedforruners

As a 17-year-old, Fabiane Meyer, born in 2002, won the German U20 championship title over 1,500 meters. A lot has happened in the 20-year-old's life since then. After a brief foray into college sports in the US, she joined the On Athletics Club. The OAC is a team of professional runners trained by former German national coach Thomas Dreißigacker.

2023 is an important year for Fabiane because, among other things, the U23 European Championships are coming up for the young talent. The season got off to a good start: In Karlsruhe she ran close to her best time over her special 1,500 meter course with a time of 4:14.29. A little later in Regensburg, Fabiane reduced her best time over 800 meters to 2:06.03. Shortly before the next race, the On Track Night in Paris, we meet Fabiane on the roof terrace of the athletes' hotel in the French capital. What is it like to live your dream as a professional runner?

más: You are young, fast, German champion and definitely a role model for many other women. Is there a runner you think is particularly cool?

Fabiane Meyer: Faith Kipyegon. Her world record really motivated me and it was really impressive how she managed to run 3:49. That's why I would say Faith is my biggest role model in running.

What was your most adrenaline-filled moment in sport so far?

My best moment was when I won the German U20 Championship over 1,500 meters. I felt really good beforehand and really wanted to win. I'm really proud that I came first.

Do you have a special ritual before races?

I have several rituals. For example, I listen to aggressive music, rap or something like that. And then I try to get Thomas [Fabiane's coach, editor's note] to put a little bit of pressure on me and I get into that mood where I become a little bit aggressive. I also look at reels on Instagram and Tiktok that push me.

Do you have a favorite rap song?

Definitely more English rap! But there's actually not one song that gets me in the mood, but rather a mix of them all.

How do you deal with expectations?

As an athlete, you always have expectations of yourself, but also expectations of the coach and everyone else, like your own teammates. You want to prove to yourself that you can do it. But you also want to make the people around you proud because they put so much time and energy into you. And of course you demand that you can now deliver that in competition. You have to learn to deal with it. We also have a mental coach who helps you learn how to deal with stress and pressure in certain situations.

For example, what do you say to yourself when things get tough in a race?

When I'm in a race and after 500 meters I think, okay, now it's getting really strenuous, then it helps me to count: 1,2,... or I tell myself motivational sayings like “You can do it!” or “You’re just as good as the others!”

What are your short-term and long-term goals?

My goals in 2023 are definitely the U23 European Championships in Finland. Then I want to win the German championship over 1,500 meters in the U23. And then there's the Universiade in China, where I want to give my best. Next year there are the Olympic Games in Paris, so I still have to see how I run this year. But otherwise definitely the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. I want to set new personal bests every year and keep getting faster. Become a better athlete every day - and never lose the fun.

You have joined the On (On Athletic Club Europe) professional team. What was the biggest change?

Everything has become much more professional. For example, I had physiotherapy twice a week for the first time and I really regenerated. Just being in this team: everyone talks about the sport and that motivates. It's also motivating when everyone helps you and says, for example, "you can still improve something in your diet." I also didn’t have a mental coach before. The way I think about running has totally changed.

What is your favorite unit?

Definitely short distances. This week we did another 6 x 200m with a 45 second trot break and then a three minute break and another 6 x 200m. These fast things where lactate shoots into your legs, where you can give it your all - I really enjoy them.

What kind of coach is Thomas Dreißigacker?

Thomas always asks how you are feeling and makes sure you are okay and the training is going well. But he also expects that you are well prepared: that you slept well, ate well and are recovered. If there are problems, if you are in pain - then Thomas is always there. He also shows leniency when it comes to problems at university or personal problems.

You were in college in the US for a while. Why wasn't this for you?

I spent three months in the USA at Clemson University in North Carolina. I think if I had been a bit older - I went over when I was 17 - then maybe it could have worked. But I realized that training there wasn't that good for me. For example, we had strength training three times a week and I hardly ever had that at my club before. Then I realized that I really wanted to do the sport professionally and that I would have better opportunities when I came back to Germany and joined the On Team.

How did you get involved with On?

The first contact came when I thought about wanting to go back to Germany from the USA. I got in touch with a national coach and asked what the situation was with sports funding and changing clubs. But Niklas [On's athlete manager, editor's note] had already contacted me in the USA and told me about the project. That sounded cool. I then had a Zoom meeting with Niklas and Thomas and that went really well. Thomas then came to my house and talked to my parents. I told myself this was the best way to really get the most out of my sport and then the decision was pretty easy.

What's the best thing about being a professional?

There are lots and lots of good things! I always had the dream of becoming a professional athlete. It didn't really matter to me whether I became a professional footballer, a professional kickboxer or a runner. I used to do all three sports, but I had the most opportunities in running and thought I'd achieve something later. That was the most fun for me too. Maybe the best thing is that I can workout every day because that's what I enjoy the most. But it's also cool to meet lots of new people who share your interests and the many trips you take. Plus the many new products that On is testing.

If you could change one thing in athletics, what would it be?

A difficult question. I think just bringing the sport closer to the audience, that people can really empathize. That there is a closeness between spectators and athletes.

Who would you like to go running with?

With Sifan Hassan because she is totally impressive as a person and runner, just like Faith Kipyegon. I think if you talk to her you can learn a lot when it comes to mental matters. I would like to do a ten-kilometer endurance run with her.

Thank you for the interview!

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