Three stories from ambitious runners who go their own way
"Out run your echo" - Running is repetition: kilometer after kilometer, week after week, one month after the other. And what is it all for? Every runner has his or her own answer to the question. We met three ambitious athletes in their everyday lives - what drives them?
Words: Agata Strausa
Videos: Tim Kalkkuhl and Marta Robles
Photos: Marta Robles and Florian Kurrasch
The videos for this article were produced in collaboration with On.
Why are goals so important when running? Goals motivate you to lace up your running shoes and head out the door – again and again. Running can be very monotonous, lonely and tiring. But if you know that every kilometer serves a purpose, it becomes easier to keep pulling yourself together. Every runner is driven by something different. But they have one thing in common: They want to move towards a positive future without letting negative experiences and thoughts stop them.
Gabriel Barros has his sights set on the 100-kilometer ultra
100km Run Winschoten: Ultra runner Gabriel Barros got into running through his brother. At first he didn't understand how you could go running every day like his brother - until he tried it himself. That was ten years ago now. The Berlin tattoo artist, who comes from Brazil, is now training for a 100 kilometer ultra run. When Gabriel started running, it felt “immediately natural” to him. Back then, he says, he was still a “jogger” and didn’t prepare for competitions – even though he had already run long distances in training.
His first official race was a six-hour run. “When I read about it in the newspaper,” recalls Gabriel, “I immediately knew: I wanted to do that!” Although running competitions were something completely new for him, Gabriel took third place back then. “I had no idea I was in shape to get on the podium.”
Since then, running hasn't let him go. “I often worry in everyday life,” says Gabriel. “What happens tomorrow, what happens next?” When he runs he can stop the carousel of thoughts. “When I run alone I feel somehow alive. Then I really just live in the moment.”
Training for competitions appeals to Gabriel. He likes the feeling of training harder and demanding more of himself. In order to master long races, the head also plays a big role, says Gabriel. You have to learn to accept the pain. Sometimes he also has doubts as to whether he can do it. But then he says to himself: “I want to push and just see how far I can go!”
“When I run, I forget my worries.”
Katja Tegler wants to run the marathon in under 2:50 hours
Münster Marathon: Katja Tegler has also set herself a big goal in the marathon - she wants to run under 2:50 hours. “I believe that a lot of the boundaries we set for ourselves are only in our heads. And that we can postpone it up to a certain point,” says the sports scientist. She looked for her place in life for a long time and found it through running.
Katja also draws motivation from training with her running group in Münster. “The crew encouraged me to even think about such big goals,” says Katja. “You pull each other to incredible achievements. I had never experienced this before, this strong support.” Having a specific running goal, such as achieving a certain time, is very important, says Katja, who is also a running coach herself - so that you can gear your entire training towards that.
But the motivation for the hard training is the preparation. “I would never have thought that the preparation itself would be so incredibly fun,” says Katja. “Many people say that it must be so tiring and that you give up so much for it - no! I draw strength from it. That's what drives me." Katja was influenced by her coach's saying that competition is just the reward you get for hard training. “I also have that feeling when I’m standing at the starting line,” she says. “All emotions fall away, you become completely calm. Now I can finally show what I’m made of.”
“What really makes me happy is the preparation”
- Katja Tegler
Jonny Dahlke wants to win the Cologne Marathon
Cologne Marathon: For Jonny Dahlke, running was not his first great sporting love. Jonny initially played handball for twelve years until he realized that running was his real talent. Jonny says his most defining decision was to concentrate on running instead of also playing handball. Anyone who has seen Jonny training will quickly notice that he is very dedicated and doesn't just run because he's good at it.
“I can switch off very well when running and have the moment to myself,” says Jonny. The other attraction for him is the “competitive idea” of running: exhausting yourself, getting the best out of yourself. “That drives me to keep going - and to train really hard,” says Jonny. His goal this year: to win the Cologne Marathon and thus win his first German championship title.
“I can switch off very well when running and have the moment to myself.”