„Laufen in den Bergen wurde zur Therapie“

Ann-Christin Nöchel (24) wohnt zwischen Fribourg und Neuchâtel. Ihr Lieblingsläufer ist Stéphane Brogniart.Wir haben die Journalismus-Studenin, welche für den Schweizer Alpen Club schreibt, zum Laufgespräch getroffen.

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Ann-Christin, was magst du am meisten am Laufen?

Laufen in den Bergen ist Therapie. Es hilft mir im Altag und wurde zum Weg schlechte Zeiten hinter sich zu lassen. Am frühen Morgen, vor dem Studium oder der Arbeit, geniesse ich nichts mehr, als die Schuhe anzuziehen und auf einen Lauf zu gehen. Vor allem mit einem Sonnenaufgang oder eine Berggipfel (oder beidem) wird der Tag danach einfacher. Ich fühle mich frei, entspannt und kann dann meinen Zielen des Alltags nachgehen. Was ich am meisten mag sind die tollen Landschaften. Ich bin so froh, dass ich die Schweizer und Französischen Alpen geniesen kann.

Jede Jahreszeit hat seine eigene Vorzüge, seine eigenen Farben und Gerüche. Ich bin süchtig nach diesem Freiheitsgefühl. Wenn ich in den Bergen bin, dann brauche ich nichts anderes. Ich konzentriere mich auf die Trail und die Umgebung. Ich geniesse den Sound der Natur und meinen Schritten auf dem Boden. Ich bin eine Genuss-Läuferin. Leistung interessiert mich nicht. Für mich zählt, dass es mir Stärke und Werte gibt. Wenn ich nicht Laufen kann, dann fehlt etwas in meinem Leben.

Wie wurdest du zur Läuferin?

What brought me to run were the mountains. I discovered this new element, which became the most important part of my life, when I moved with a part of my family to the french Alps, in 2009. I was only 16 and I was a very shy and disturbed girl, really looking for herself but with no self-confidence at all. It took me some more years to understand that something had to change if I wanted to become someone. So, in 2012, I began to explore the tiny trails around the farm we lived in, just under the “Salève”, a popular little mountain not far away from Geneva. I had no idea at all about the mountains and learned by myself, also by making a lot of mistakes. In 2013 I moved to Switzerland for my studies and went for a real run for the first time: mountains are everywhere and it’s quite easy to go with the public transports, by train, bus or bicycle. In 2014 I ran my first competition… a 22 km trail running in the “Salève” with 1200 elevation gain. At the same time I discovered the Swiss Alpine Club and became a member, I started climbing, mountaineering and I continued trekking a lot. My goal was to spend more and more time in the mountains and learn as much as I could.

3. What is your favorite running memory?

Every run is different, some trainings are tough and steep, but it’s part of it: you have to suffer a bit to enjoy a lot and I must say that I always have moments of great feelings, even when I’m pushing my limits. If I have to choose I’ll say that the “Tour du Mont-Blanc” I made in five days, alone and in autonomy, during the month of September 2017, was a condensate of incredible feelings and breathtaking sceneries. But I’m not that objective… I have to confess that I’m in love with the Mont-Blanc since a couple of years.

4. Do you have a favorite route?

When I train in France I always love to go on the top of the Salève. It’s not that high (1379m) and not that impressive from far away, but I found some secret trails and great spots where you have to pay attention where you put your feets… Salève is also known for his climbing routes. It’s like my favorite playground with a lot of possibilities all year long.

When I’m in Neuchâtel and the snow is melting, I like to go by train to Noiraigue, a small village in a lovely valley, and then enjoy the “Creux du Van” area. Another nice place where I can run infinite kilometers surrounded by ibex.

5. What is your favorite exercise/your favorite training?

As I said before, I’m running a lot just focusing on my feelings. And I think it’s my favorite way to train: going for hours in the mountains and searching the pleasure. I’m not a fan of repetitive, short and fast trainings (even if I know that sometimes it’s important). Just go out after the work with no plans at all, putting my mind off and follow my desires…. that’s the way I really enjoy it. When I’m in a good day I can run for hours without paying attention to the passing time, sometimes it becomes dark and I have to finish with my headlight.

6. Do you run alone or with friends ?

I prefer to run alone, because it’s easier to find the good rhythm and it allows me to dream alone in my head. There’s no better way to forget your problems and to be more positive than a long run in the mountains. But I’m not an extremist, I also like it sometimes to go with friends, especially for really long distance runs and when the weather is really bad. It’s also a question of security, when the trails are really engaged it’s great to challenge yourself in good company, it’s a boost and you can share your fears, your dreams and your goals. So I’ll say that the best way to practice is to combinate both.

7. Are you member of a running club ?

No I’m not for two reasons. The first reason is that I haven’t regular hours and it’s difficult for me to plan my trainings in advance. Some weeks I can only train in the morning, and other weeks I can only go at the end of the day, thus it’s impossible to fix an hour with a running club. And secondly I move a lot and I’m rarely at the same place for a long time.

8. Do you have role models in running ?

I haven’t really models, but some athletes inspire me in there way of life. Dedicating so much time for a passion and trying to conciliate this with a family life and, often, also another professional activity… this demands such a strong mind. For example, François d’Haene is one of my favorite runners, for me he is the perfect model of this dedicated way of life. Scott Jurek is another athlete I follow, I read his books and appreciate his approach, especially the link he does between long-distance running and an adequate food. I’m a vegetarian and it’s good to have advices from professional runners. I also like the simple and authentic personality of Anton Krupicka, I really associate him to freedom and self focusing. But I also want to keep in mind that those athletes have sponsors and for a popular runner like me it’s not possible to train and practice that much.

9. How do you organize your training time ?

That’s my principal problem: I’m not what you can call an “organized person”. I do a lot of different things at the same time and I’m a bit hyperactive. I always want to do too much things in a same day and that’s why my training time is not really organized. Last year, for the Scenic Trail (54 km and 3800 elevation meters, in the italian part of Switzerland) I tried to follow a training plan. It was really difficult for me but it also helped me to become a bit more regular and gain skills.
I’m a multi-activity girl. I hate routine and I like to practice different sports. For example, this winter there was soooo much snow in the Alps, and I just spent a lot of time ski touring. It’s a good complement to trail running. I also climb, bicycle, swim and go to the gym to do some specific exercises and keep my body strong, especially during the winter time. All I try to do is to keep in mind this notion of “pleasure”, and also enjoy all the time spend outside.

10. Do you listen to music while running ? If yes what kind of music?

It depends. In my everyday life I’m always surrounded by music, from the morning till the sleep. But when I’m in the mountains I do not listen to music, because I love to hear and feel the sounds of nature. When I run on the road (not often, but in winter it happens) it’s different, because it’s much boring, and then I have my music: a mix between electro, folk, pop and some rock classics. From the Stones to The Avener… my running selection is really eclectic!

11. Do you log your runs with an app or a GPS watch? Which program you use?

I have a watch since 2016: a Suunto Ambit 3 Peak. Before that I ran without a watch. Now I have to say that I enjoy to have an altimeter and some tools to measure my efforts. I use the program “Movescount”, which is linked with Suunto, and allows me to plan my itineraries and then charge them on my watch. I’m not always looking at it while running, but it’s cool to know how many kilometers you ran and how many meters of elevation you gained. But I do not use the cardio belt, I prefer to listen to my body and my breath: they give me a lot of informations.

12. What did you learn while being a runner?

Too much things. Every day and every run is learning me something new… that’s the way of life I want to follow: being positive and enjoying the most simple things in life. Look at a sunset with friends, discover a new summit or a new trail, appreciate the first rays of sunshine after a long winter, search the marmots and the ibex… In the same time I learn to really push my limits, to go behind them and to explore my fears. By exploring my fears I started to accept them. I learn to be who I really am, who I really want to be. I’m so happy to experience this feeling of “being a better version of myself”. Now I’m free enough in my spirit and in my mind to share things. Because I’m in peace with who I am. Yes, running in the mountains had become my therapy, and now it’s one of the most important things in my life.

13. Do you have any goals for your running ? What’s on the bucket list ?

I’m not a really competitive runner, but I must say that official competitions are a good way to know if your trainings were adequate and in which shape you are. I also like the ambiance on the trails, I met great people and shared a lot of nice moments during the races.

I’m now preparing my trail running season:

– The “Trail des Paccots” – 42 km and 2700 elevation gain – June

– The “Gruyère Trail Charmey” – 52 km and 3600 elevation gain – July

– The “Préalpes Trail du Mouret” – 46 km and 2600 elevation gain – September

Those are part of the “Armailli Trail Challenge”, a brand new challenge in Switzerland

But my two big goals are the Lavaredo Ultra Trail (54 km in Juni, in the Dolomites) and the Supertrail du Barlatay (87 km in August, in Switzerland also)