Interview with Melanie Maurer
Within just a few years, Melanie Maurer has worked her way to the top of the Swiss multi-sports scene. The aspiring physiotherapist started her sports career as a handball player, then switched to endurance sports a good five years ago, where she has since gone from success to success.
You turned from a team athlete into an individual athlete. What did you find lacking in handball that you can now live out and experience in endurance sports?
Handball lacked nothing at the time and everything felt just right until I retired due to an injury. I was, however, already cycling during my time as an active handball player. As an individual athlete, I have always enjoyed being free and independent and experiencing and enjoying nature. And sometimes it just does me good to run and not have to think about anything else. In the sports hall, a ball will land on your head if you don’t stay mentally alert. ;-)
Within just a few months you worked your way to the top. In your eyes, what are the key factors that have brought you so far and led to your success?
The reason for my ability to always achieve better results over the past few years was probably mainly due to the fact that I made great progress with my running within a short period of time. Generally speaking, I think my love of the sport itself, a pinch of discipline, my willingness to suffer and a super private life, which has always supported me, are the key factors behind my good results of late.
You are currently studying to become a physiotherapist, train intensively and appear in the ranking lists on an almost weekly basis. Can you tell us what a typical training week looks like for you?
Since my college schedule changes weekly, my training is also different each week, which poses a great challenge for my trainer Manuel Kläusli and me. I usually do a short running or strength training unit before college or work and then again in the evening if a second training unit is called for. I often train alone because this saves me the most time. Tough running intervals are frequently done on the treadmill because I can’t just simply stop. ;-) The longer units are then done at the weekend because I normally have no time during the week.
Being a qualified sport scientist, aspiring physiotherapist, and athlete, you are able to wear different “hats” in some situations. As a sport scientist, what three tips would you pass on to ambitious athletes? What three from an athlete’s point of view?
As an athlete, I sometimes also do things for which I should be reprimanded from a scientific point of view. ;-) I write training plans for several amateur athletes, for example, and take the utmost care to make sure there is enough time left for regeneration and rest days. But if according to my training plan I’m not supposed to train and the weather outside is perfect for cycling, then this is not always so easy - science or not.
Therefore: I think it is very important to get to know yourself and your body well and above all, listen to it. The most important thing: enjoy what you do and don’t just follow a plan or eat tons of fruit and vegetables, completely ignoring the delicious chocolate bar. I believe that we endurance athletes should treat our selves more often. And all the studies in the world won’t help you here.
Do you have a key unit that you do before your major races? I basically do a final rehearsal or standardised training unit x days before the real competition.
On the day before the competition I rarely train longer than half an hour. I do a couple of short sprint runs or give it my all on the bike for a few seconds.
Many thanks to Melanie Maurer for the interesting answers.
This may be of interest for you too