SAYSKY Athlete Tabea Themann is indeed a fast runner. However, If you come across her Instagram profile, you will quickly discover that she is having fun while being so. In fact, her mantra is: “Don’t take life too seriously. Punch it in the face when it needs a good hit. Laugh at it”, which in a nutshell describes Tabea.
This down-to-earth German runner has a very interesting approach to running. Therefore, we have decided to get to know her even better with the interview below.
Interview with Tabea Themann
Let’s start right from the top, who is Tabea Themann? How long have you been running for and how did it all start for you?
Actually, I am an adventurous and passionate sports girl. I have been doing sports since I can remember. My mother once said: With a wheel stroke in the bed and with a wheel stroke out again. I think this statement describes it quite good.
In sports, I am quite versatile. When I was 6 years old, I started swimming in a club. One year later I discovered my first real big passion: Tennis. So I played tennis for about ten years professionally and a little bit of soccer and handball on the side (because our coach wanted us to do a second ball sport).
When I was 16 years old my sports teacher advised me to do athletics. He thought I was quite talented in running. A few months later I participated in my first 800m race. The competition took place in a normal small gym. It felt like I had to run 100m laps to finally reach the whole distance of 800m. Directly after the race a coach came to me and asked if I wanted to join his trainings group. So my running career started here. The first year I went on with playing tennis, soccer and giving tennis lessons besides putting my energy into running. Then I decided to concentrate on running completely and now I can look back to ten years of running all over the world.
From your profile it seems you enjoy doing all kinds of sport. Talk a little bit about what other things you’re interested in and spend your time on when you’re are not running or thinking about racing.
Besides running I like nearly all kinds of ball sport such as tennis, badminton, beach volleyball and ping pong. But I also like to play soccer (much more than watching it) and basketball. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time for other sports next to all the endurance training that comes with running.
During the last three months, I developed a road cycling passion. Well, I only lack the passion for swimming to complete the triathlon passion.
Furthermore, I always try to spend my season breaks or even training camps close to the ocean. Here I have the possibility to work on my surfing skills which is a little project of mine to become a good at in the future.
To take my mind off sports, I’m quite interested in music, mostly 60s, 70s and 80s. But no worries, I’m also listening all kinds of music that are popular today. Therefore I also love to go to concerts and I really, really love to dance.
Finally my passion for food and coffee needs to be mentioned. The typical problem of all runners: constantly being hungry. So my friends and I are always up for a hunt for good restaurants and cafe's.
It seems you have a quite relaxed and fun approach to running and life, is it intentional? And how important do you think it is for more runners to embrace that kind of approach?
Doing sports is very important to me. I wouldn’t be me without sports. Therefore, I am really relaxed in each and every aspect of life if my sports is going well. Then I am completely happy and carefree. What differentiates me from others, is that I always try to combine the difficulties of an athlete’s life with fun. For example, it is normal that I will sing or joke when a tough workout is waiting on the track, I will run costumed as wonder women and I will skydive during training camps in the desert of Arizona.
Unfortunately my last 3/4 years were tough ones. My life changed completely. I moved spontaneously from Hannover to Hamburg to join a new training group, started working and then my father died unexpectedly. Afterwards, my body struggled a lot because of these different aspects and nothing worked the way I wished. To be honest I wasn’t relaxed at alI. I had to learn to accept that my body needs its time to recover and that I can’t force power.
Summarised: Body and soul must be in harmony. A four weeks trip to Sri Lanka and Bali helped me to recover mentally.
And yes, I think more runners should be more relaxed and work on a fun approach to running. They should to be more thankful for every training and not take anything for granted. This is not natural for everyone unfortunately.
Sort of building off that, do you think people are taking running too seriously in general?
Yes, a lot of people should be more relaxed in my opinion. The fun will move further into the background. They forget that they run because they love it, not because they have to or they even want to impress by collecting kilometres. They focus increasingly on performance and start to define themselves by their running shape. In my opinion, you have to strike a healthy balance for yourself.
How do you straddle the line between not taking yourself too seriously but taking yourself seriously enough to compete at a somewhat elite level?
The last three years shaped me enormously. I made the fault to set goals I couldn’t reach because my body wasn’t ready for it. I realised that I have to get back to my carefree running mentality first before I am able to compete and be fast again. So I learned not to be too achievement-orientated. The key is to be happy and to listen to your body. The power will come back naturally.
If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Oh wow, that’s a hard question. Next to the already mentioned words in the first question I would say tough, sports addicted and crazy. A friend once named me crazy chicken. I developed it further to crazy running chicken.
You have just recently been injured. How did you tackle this? Did you stay calm the whole period? And do you have any advice for people going through injuries at the moment?
Yes, unfortunately I got injured this spring when my shape was finally quite good after a long period marked by many setbacks. I knew immediately that a few weeks without running would help. So two hours later I already started my first spinning session, because I wanted to tackle this. I also took a swimming course to improve my freestyle and fell in love with road cycling. Together with my running buddy and fellow SAYSKY Athlete Kathi Nüser, who was injured at the same time, we worked on our comeback.
Of course I had difficult periods because cycling and swimming isn’t comparable to running at all. Sometimes the but hurts from the saddle or I was just tired of swimming and bored of aquajogging. But I always tried to make the best of it.
My advice for others is to be open for new things and to look for a teammate you can train with. Together, even aquajogging can be fun and you can push each other.
Besides running/doing other kinds of sport, how does a typical day look for you?
At the moment I am working half a day at the criminal police to have more time for sports. Sometimes I have an easy training before work and try to be at my department between 7 and 8 o’clock in the morning. It’s not always easy, because I have quite a long way to work and the traffic is unpredictable in Hamburg. Most of the time I am at home again between 2 and 3 in the afternoon. Then I eat a little bit and try to relax. Sometimes I meet friends for a coffee before my training sessions. Except for one evening, the so called girls night with three good friends of mine, I spend the evenings at home. Then I cook, do everyday stuff, read a book, phone or watch Netflix. During the week it’s quite structured. On the weekend there is more time for friends and different activities.
Do you have any goals or achievements in the future you would like to pursue?
In sport terms, I really want to compete again internationally for Germany and actually I don’t mind in which discipline. If necessary, I would also train to run a fast marathon! And maybe I want to aim for triathlon a little bit more professionally in the future. But I still don’t know.
It’s also small dream of mine to do the Ironman in Hawaii some day. Next to the more ambitious sports, I’d like to do crazy things like climbing the Kilimanjaro and crossing the alps and the Pyrenees by bike. Another dream would be to visit as many countries as possible. If that does not work then, I am also satisfied with traveling through Europe with my own VW bus and enjoying life while looking for the best spots to surf.
Tabea's personal bests: