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Kerstin the marathon runner

She is crossing the finish line, over and over again.

After a year of powerwalking a deep desire to move faster started to grow in her. Today Kerstin John has run most of the long distance races there are to run in Germany, and she is now heading towards the international arena. And the feelings she experiences when she crosses the finish line; those are the most rewarding moments in her life.

If you would have asked Kerstin ten years ago if she enjoyed running, she would simply laugh and shake her head. At that point, she had no clue that running would come to mean so much to her.

“It was not until I had been powerwalking for a year that a desire to move faster started to grow in me. When I was encouraged to participate in a 20 km race for the first time in 2010 I thought ‘ok, if I cannot make it I will just walk’. But I started to run slowly in a controlled pace and I was able to go all the way”, Kerstin remembers.

That day was a game changer to her; when Kerstin crossed the finish line she entered a new dimension, a new world really.

“Suddenly I started believing in myself as a runner, which I had never done before. I felt that I had the capacity to actually do this, and suddenly I could achieve a whole lot more than I thought possible. I had actually already started to plan the next race before even crossing the finish line.”

And that is a habit Kerstin has kept ever since. Even if she enjoys the races a lot and is focused on being present in the very moment, she always plans the next race already prior to the present run.

“I just want to experience that feeling again and again. Running long distance races is emotional, energetic and for sure the most rewarding moments of my life”.

But there are challenges too. One is to stay healthy and not pick up too many colds during the year. Participating in races is not something she does spontaneously; behind it are lots of preparations and a strong determination.

The favorite distance is the half marathon at 21 km, but she has a special passion for the full marathon at 42 km, which she calls a mythical distance and so far has successfully finished nine times.

“For the 21 km I need about two months of preparations since I am already an experienced runner, but for the full marathon I need much more time. The so called long runs, which are about 25 to 35 km, are important. I always do about five of those. You can imagine what my weekends look like, luckily my husband is a dedicated runner too,” she says and smiles.

Except of her regular training Kerstin is also coaching a running team of 15-20 people three times a week. She enjoys the mix of running by herself and together with others.

“I like to organize things and take responsibility. It all has to do with time management and that is something I love”.

Organizing and managing things goes hand in hand with her job within finance at Getinge.

“More than once, when I come back from a morning run I suddenly have creative ideas to bring to work and I can actually apply them successfully. Being very structured and organized at work helps me fulfill my training plans too,” she explains.

And yes, there is a print of an Excel file in her training bag.

“I have a huge file showing me which exact distance and pace to keep every day of the week. It is quite detailed and I follow it as strictly as possible.”

It’s important for her to get good time results and to get better and better, but it is not all that counts. Kerstin is satisfied if she arrives in her expected time frame, in good physical conditions and without too much pain.

She loves the atmosphere around the race, seeing all the fantastic buildings during the city races and to experience the overwhelming feeling when people are cheering for her without even knowing her.

“Running is not my life, but without running my life would not be what it is now. Running a marathon is actually similar to life itself. In the beginning it is easy, but even if you are really well prepared it gets tough.  You might feel pain or get exhausted, but you keep on going and when you have made it you feel relieved and deeply happy. It is about never giving up,” she says.

Now Kerstin is planning for several international marathons, the next one in New York later this year. She has also tried “ultra-running”, an experience where you go further than a full marathon.

“But I will mainly stick to my marathons. I am not a so called ‘marathon collector’, but there are many exciting races yet to run. Running gives me balance, strength and happiness. Although I have only been doing this for less than ten years, I cannot even imagine what it would be like to not do it. I look very much forward to run the ‘bloody long way’ again in my next marathon very soon.”

Fun facts

  • The big goal was to finish her first marathon before turning 40, and of course she made it!
  • Kerstin often travels in her work and always brings her training shoes.
  • When Kerstin got married she and her husband only wanted travel funds as gifts, they have been saving it all for a honeymoon in connection with the New York Marathon which will take place later this year