Interview with Daniela Schwarz
The 18th edition of the Gigathlon brought forth a new winner with the former national footballer, Daniela Schwarz. The Zurich native, however, is not totally unknown to the endurance scene as last autumn, for example, she came 5th in the Long-Distance Duathlon World Championships and 3rd in the Ironman in Zurich!
How did you find the two and a half Gigathlon days? Can you give us an insight into your race and how you were feeling?
They were incredible! I went through quite a lot of different emotional states but all in all, I always remained focussed on my tasks and experienced great joy at the same time. That is, except for the swim on Sunday morning where I had great difficulty in breathing. For a short time, I was really in great doubt as to whether I could finish the race. I am therefore very proud that I was able to battle my way through. But even if it had started to hurt at some point, the people in the transition zone, the other athletes and spectators along the route and at the finish had such a positive impact, it was elating!
Three weeks later you competed in your first Ironman and immediately qualified for the Ironman in Hawaii in your age group. In your eyes, what are the three most important reasons/keys for your success?
Seeing as I played top-level football for 14 years, I know my body quite well, which is certainly one of the reasons for this. Then there is my self-discipline, which I also acquired during this time (balancing education with my job/sport). And added to this is probably a portion of mental strength.
Your strength is running in particular. What does your normal training week look like? Can you give us an overview of how much time you spend running, cycling, swimming, alternative training, weightlifting, and recovering each week?
Yes, running is actually my strength, although to be honest, I “only” invest 3-4 hours/week in my running training. I also swim for about 2-4 hours and do bike training for about 6-10 hours. All in all, between 10 and 18 hours altogether. On top of this I also spend around 2-3 hours doing stabilisation training and stretching/using the Blackroll as active recovery measures.
Since I do a lot of multi-sports, I also like to do other sports occasionally, such as badminton, for example. I do strength training primarily in winter and not at all during the season. Otherwise the strain on my muscles would be too great.
Up until a few years ago you were still successfully competing in a ball and team sport. What did you find lacking in football that you can now live out and experience in endurance sports? What areas from your past can you benefit from?
The biggest difference to the team sport is naturally the flexibility of my training times/programme and duration. Although I now train more than I did during my football times, I would say that I now have more leisure time. I can also integrate my training into my work life well. This makes the whole thing easier.
With football there is also the fact that you are always dependent on your team colleagues. I am now solely responsible for my performance, which has its pros and cons. I miss the team spirit and the sociability and at the same time appreciate that the pressure is no longer the same. I find this beautiful and therefore enjoy the sport much more now.
With regards to running, I think I can really draw upon my football time and naturally benefit from the discipline and determination that I acquired at a young age.
Do you have a secret tip you would be willing to share with us?
The head is decisive when it comes to success or failure. Even when you think the body can’t take any more; if the head wants it, you can keep on going. Positive thoughts and dividing long competitions into individual “stages” help here.
Many thanks to Daniela Schwarz for the interesting answers and tips.
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