„Women have a lot of toughness!”

The aesthetic of cross-country skiing and the joy of being out in beautiful nature – that is, what makes Amelie Heinrich put on her skis.

But then, she also loves to be part of a team and participate in long-distance races, like the Finlandia-hiihto in Lahti (FIN, 50 km) where she came 35th and the Birkebeiner-Rennet in Lillehammer (NO) where she came 73rd in her category (Women 20-24). Congratulations!

Now, Amelie is up to the next challenge, the Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet 2020, and we did interview her (picture (c) Michael Müller for maloja):

Amelie, for a beginning – tell us about yourself and what your background in sports is?

Sport and especially skiing is an important part of my life. My background is in serious sports and I have trained cross country skiing in Ruhpolding as junior but took a break from racing. First after a while and with open cross-country races the fun in racing came back to me. I have a Master of Arts in Applied Sport Psychology and I am doing my PhD at the Universities of Halle and Jena at the Institute of Sports Science right now. My thesis is about physiological and psychological factors and their relation to performance in biathlon shooting, so skiing is also part of my research, you can say. Furthermore, I am working as a Sport Psychologist in Nordic Sports.

How did you find out about the Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet and what makes you interested in it?

I read on xc-ski.de already about the first 220 k Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet in 2016 and was immediately interested. It’s for sure the challenge and not at least the mental or psychological part of it what really attracts me. 220 km means I will go to my limits and I look forward to learn more about myself and how I handle to be out there maybe 20 hours or so. But I also like the idea of skiing through the wilderness, and to see the stars above me in the night.

What made you register for 2020, then?

It took me some years to really register. One important reason is that I now can do this together with my very good friend Julia who is like me part of the “maloja glide to live team”. If we do the same training, our capacity is almost the same, so we plan to do the whole thing together. That makes it more fun, more comfortable and it gives us an extra kick for our training in the run up to the race.

How do you prepare for the race?

I do not have any specific goal for the race beyond reaching the finish line within the time limits, but of course, I do train for it. I love being active and to train, in Summer, I ride my road bike, run, go climbing but also strength and stability training is part of my routine. Now I have started using my roller skies and have done first long sessions. From December to March I will be home, what is the Bavarian Chiemgau. There I hope to have great possibilities to train.

There are less women participating in the race than men. What do you think about that?

I could imagine that women first register, when they are really really well trained and almost absolutely sure that they will do it in time to the finish line. Men might have a better self-confidence in this regard and are ready to try and potentially to fail. But I think, that women have a lot of toughness and a high endurance capability, so chances are good that they will do it despite potentially less muscle weight compared to men. I experienced so many women who are mentally extremely strong and have a high tolerance for pain –especially when it comes to very long distances. I want to encourage more women to explore their capacity and to overcome the fear of failing! Maybe some more women want to do like we do: register as a team and push and support each other?

That sounds great! You have studied Sports Science and Sport Psychology – is there any tip you can give other participants?

Well, I have not done this specific race yet, but based on studies and my own experiences from other races, I would recommend not to underestimate how important nutrition is. It might be good to test different types of food during a long endurance training to see what works for you. Then, do a lot of mental training. Subdivide the track in different sections and imagine it how you will feel and how you can handle mental and physical lows, which will come for sure. In this regard, tools like self-instructions and intermediate goals can help you. But imagine not at least the happy things and how you cross the finish line at the end and how proud you will feel then. Enjoy and trust yourself until you reach the finish!