Meet our next self-funded athlete, Mareike Dottschadis, middle and long distance runner, former acrobat and sports psychologist.
The sport you end up pursing for passion might not be the place you started. Or at least that’s the case for many athletes I know these days, including Mari. Transitions and diversions are what make many high performing, self-supporting athletes so interesting to get to know. They have had to hustle and adapt to get to where they are.
Mari started in acrobatics and after 10 solid years her friend and fellow acrobat set a challenge for them. How far could they run? Like a red rag to a bull the challenge was accepted and Mari went on the run. A 42km marathon run, as you do. (Isn’t this how everyone does their first marathon, as a bet??!).
‘Grueling’ is how many people find their first marathon, even with some preparation. Mari, on the other hand, made the 42km unscathed and oddly, had a blast of a time. It seems she had another talent, long distance running. You never know your strengths until you make a bet with a friend – right!
Mari was running marathons (for fun) for another 6 years before she decided to switch and make running her main sport. She found herself a coach and training group and there she had to endure her first formal Tempo Training session at the grand old age of 25. If you have never done a Tempo session – its a killer, but necessary in running! For context, 25 is the age many high level and elite runners are breaking down and pulling out of competitive distance running, so to just start at 25 is an outlier in the sport. She is proof that transitions are possible and 10 years as an acrobat built a strong foundation for other sports.
At her first club LAC Olympia, came the hard lessons in what it is to be a competitive runner; the dedication, the demanding training, things not going to plan, the highs & lows of health, injury, setbacks and comebacks, races that go well, races that don’t.
It certainly challenged her, made her question her place in running, and ask herself – was she too old? too late coming into the sport? the wrong body type for distance running?
The learning curve was hard, depressing at times, but it didn’t put her off. Far from it. Mari would say she has fallen in love with a runner’s life.
“Running has given me a feeling of freedom, power and gratitude that no sport could until now.”
Having settled into distance running Mari went out to train multiple times with elite athletes in Iten, Kenya which is a dream of many runners. Each trip opened her eyes to some truths of professional distance running and what it would take to to turn passion into profession and financial stability. It turns out that its not glamorous or easy climbing the ladder to sporting success, there is a lot pushing back against you. It’s a dig in deep, hold on tight and try not to burnout kind of place. Many aspiring athletes are capable of turning professional based on their sporting ability but then they don’t qualify for government or institute funding, reliable sponsorship or support. That stacks the odds against them competitively, financially and health wise. It’s not enough to be a brilliant athlete. You have to be a hustler. An unbreakable hustler.
The big learning curves have paid off for Mari. She is once again fueled by curiosity, enthusiasm and confidence on where she wants to be in her sport and wanting to test her own boundaries of performance. Tough questions challenge her rather than haunt her these days; How do you handle the setbacks, the injuries and the unplanned messiness that will inevitably crop up? How do you balance that with the excitement of PBs, with wins and achievements? How do you stay motivated and passionate and true to yourself and still excel and love your sport when you are working 2 jobs at the same time?
“The commitment of many brilliant athletes to pursue sport in their own way, getting by on part-time jobs and making many personal sacrifices for their goals, inspires me and pushes me as an athlete myself.”
With a change of Club, change of trainer and new goals and outlooks, Mari is once again in the zone and chasing down her fastest time over a marathon distance. She is training smarter and always learning. The kind of athlete we love. Human.
I’m happy to have Mari in our lineup and support her on her journey this year.
Mareike Dottschadis lives here in Berlin and runs with LG Telis Finanz Regensburg. She holds down multiple job-projects to pay her way, supporting other ambitious athletes as a trained sports psychologist and systemic coach while freelancing with Adidas SportsBase.
You can follow Mari on Instagram and if you are looking for coaching all her information is on her website
IG social | @marirennt