Interview with Jasmin Nunige
Born and raised in Davos, as a young athlete Jasmin Nunige was a cross-country skier and member of the Swiss cross-country skiing squad. She represented Switzerland at the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer. In addition to various successes in cross-country skiing, Jasmin particularly made her mark in mountain running. She won the Swiss Alpine K78 and the LGT Alpin Marathon several times, among others. In 2011, Jasmin discovered she was suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). Since then, she has impressed all with the way she handles this disease.
Despite this illness, you are still capable of outstanding achievements. How do you deal with the uncertainty that your body suddenly won’t do what you want it to?
I am aware that the symptoms could suddenly flare up again. I don’t let myself dwell upon it too much and enjoy the moment. In order to be prepared for the worst case, I have started learning new things or revived old interests such as horse riding. My life will remain worth living, no matter what happens.
What tips do you have for all those people fighting a physical illness?
Fighting makes no sense, instead you should challenge the body. Fighting is only possible for a short duration. This, by the way, applies to everyone, particularly in a competition: Fight means "to become tight". The body cannot thus achieve the same as when it is relaxed.
Your strength lies in mountain running. In your opinion, what are the most important three elements that a runner would need to acquire in order to master a mountain run successfully?
- Safety in the terrain: As often as not, mountain runs also have downhill sections.You need to be safe there. It is therefore always ideal to take a break from your usual running terrain and practice running on uneven terrain.
- Adapt your technique to the terrain: Depending on the steepness, you are faster if you march or jog with small steps. This needs to be individually practiced and automated to become more efficient.
- Training of the cardiovascular system: Pulse and breathing frequency are permanently at a high level. It is therefore all the more important that the foundation is there and the specific endurance training required for the mountain is undertaken.
What runs through your head during a race? How do you respond to any negative thoughts that pop up?
As a rule, I am very focussed, patient and realistic. There is hardly anything else that runs consciously through my mind. I am much more in the here and now and concentrate on the terrain and the route, among other things. I think about nice things, enjoy the nature and consider it a great opportunity to be here at all. The competition is my reward for all the training effort.
But you have to be realistic: There is actually always a crisis, especially during an ultra. This is normal. But I can prove to myself that I am capable of overcoming these. I stay positive, work with images (e.g. great training, finishing lines) and positive statements which I send into the body and thus displace/cover the negative thoughts.