In this Expert Talk we are more than thrilled to chat with Ilse Dippmann, the founder of the Austrian Women’s Run. She tells us about her training routine, her passion for running marathons and why she hopes to inspire girls and women to take up the sport of running too. (Picture above: Dominik Kiss)
When did you take up running, and why?
My love of running goes back more than 30 years. In 1986 a friend of mine was taking part in a marathon and I went along to support him. The participants were so passionate about running and so full of energy that I caught the “bug” there. Later that same year I ran my first marathon in New York City.
I found running a really fun sport right from the start – the buzz of training for a competition for instance – but also the sense of balance and release of tension that you get from long, slow training runs. Running is just the ideal sport for me.
What is your training routine like – do you ever have days when you don’t feel like running?
I used to run up to 5 marathons a year, which meant I was running about 70-100 kilometres in training every week. These days I run about 3 – 4 times a week, almost always early in the morning. I can’t imagine a better way to start the day.
Of course there are days when I don’t feel like it. But then I think about what it feels like afterwards – when you stand under the shower after a running session and know you’ve done something good for yourself.
Where does your motivation come from, to run 30 marathons and to organise a successful event like the Austrian Women’s Run?
I’ve never really been much good at sitting still – I always have a thousand ideas in my head and I’m the kind of person who likes trying out new ideas and getting things done.
For me, the marathon is the supreme discipline in the world of running. It takes enormous determination, discipline, and six to twelve months preparation to get through those 42.195 km successfully. BUT the feeling you get when you round the corner onto the home stretch – it’s impossible to describe. What fascinates me most about international marathon competitions is that everyone is doing the same things, running the same race. Right from when you pick up your bib number, at the start line itself and all along the route, there’s a special atmosphere and excitement that gives you goosebumps – all the runners are equally keyed up and they’re all pursuing the same goal: 42.195 km! My focus used to be on improving my personal best times, and that was the prime motivation in itself. These days I run marathons because I still enjoy the process of training towards a goal.
Thirty years ago I initiated the Austrian Women’s Run, which I’ve been organising ever since, with the aim of inspiring women and girls to take up the sport of running. There are many “small” things which motivate me to work on it all through the year. It might be mail from a participant telling me her personal story of how the Women’s Run got her into running, and that her life is now more active and fulfilled. Or the many participants on the day of the race who wave at me just before they start, or shake my hand or give me a hug. And of course the many beaming smiles of the girls and woman at the finish line, and the fun of working with such a great team – all this is what gives me the strength every year to start all over again, full of new ideas.
Is there anything positive or negative you would like to share about running and/or the Austrian Women’s Run? Is there a special moment that you remember particularly vividly?
It’s not so much a single moment as many many moments which are very positive memories for me. For instance, just before 9 a.m. on the day of the race, when I’m standing on the Prater Hauptallee at the start line, and there’s a sea of thousands of enthusiastic, happy, positive, excited participants – girls and women of all ages – that feeling is simply indescribable.
What five key words would you choose to sum up for other people what’s best about running?
Five key words are hardly enough, because running regularly has so many incredibly positive effects. Here’s what I see as the five best reasons to start running now.
- Running is healthy – for body & mind
This sport keeps me fit and it’s good for my soul and mind to be out in the fresh air, to be close to nature and really aware of the seasons changing through the year, to reduce stress, and much more.
- Running is relaxing
When you’re running your thoughts can run free too. My best ideas always come to me when I’m running.
- Running is challenging
If you regularly set yourself new personal goals and work consistently to achieve them, you’ll soon be rewarded with success. It’s really satisfying to prove to yourself what you’re capable of, and make the most of your potential.
- Running is sociable
As a runner I’ve met so many wonderful people all over the world in the last 30 years – through training, at competitions, in women’s training programmes, at the Austrian Women’s Run. New friendships form quickly through running, because people share a common passion. And training is more fun with a running partner or in a group.
- Running is flexible
Running is a free and flexible form of sport. I’m not limited by opening hours or the availability of equipment etc. And I am my own trainer. I choose the pace and distance to suit my energy level, mood and frame of mind on the day.