Encountered creativity on my way to CPH Half Marathon

Inspired by “Bird set free” (SIA)

Although I’m going to run the Copenhagen Half Marathon, to say „I’m a runner“ still sounds quite strange to me. My passions are dancing and gymnastics and I grew up participating in competitions. During that time I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone over and over again. I had to manage my time, prioritize my tasks and often stay at the gym, while my friends went out…But people mostly don’t realize how much effort you put into things, when they start judging you. Nevertheless I’m missing that time and the experiences I’ve made. It has pushed me forward and definitely made me a better version of myself.


While thinking about a comeback, running catched my attention for whatever reason. I mean yes, there are lots of events all over the world. You just have to subscribe. Access is easy, costs are low and you can easily make new friends. But for me running never was an option. As a dancer and gymnast, performance was always linked to thrill, emotion, competition and learning something new. Compared to this running appeared quite tedious. And even more daunting: I was far away from a good running condition. As I was always good at sprints and high intensity stuff – because we have practiced it in gymnastics – I totally failed to do the same with basic endurance. The consequence was that I was never able to run more than 2k without feeling and looking like a T-rex (that’s why my former partner called me a „Renndino“, which means a running dinosaur).

But in spite of everything, I always wanted to do something that I have to learn from scratch – something not inherited. Maybe this attitude is somehow related to my education. When my sister moved to Denmark with her husband and daughter, none of them had any language skills, however, they ended up with perfect Danish and precious life experiences. And my Mum has been struggling every day to ensure a happy and safe life for her two children, especially after our dad died from cancer in 2007. So both of them were strong, personality-shaping role models for me.


So taking all of it into account I made a decision. At some point in my life I will finish a marathon or triathlon. However, procrastination was the biggest enemy to fight. While my job as a user researcher at Freeletics is to find out why people procrastinate, I suddenly found myself on the other side of the coin. Other things seemed to be more important or urgent, and I had strong excuses due to some health issues. But the ultimate reason was… that I didn’t set my goal effectively. I have written countless papers at the university on this issue and actually should have known better. I realized how much effort I would have to put into this and that I – most probably – would hate the process. It would take me years to reach this crazy goal. I wondered whether or not I had the patience and willingness needed to succeed – because – as I eventually realized – I was mainly in love with the image of me passing the finish line. While I’m always good in wanting something badly and getting it (that’s the case for chocolate too, btw) my ex partner and triathlon coach was always good in presenting as well as shaping  solutions in an appealing but also realistic way. So working together with him on my goal and sharing the outcome definitely enhanced the value of running regularly. Without him, I’d never have subscribed for the Munich Marathon only a couple of month ahead of its date. Looking back, my whole life has changed from one day to the other. Suddenly I’ve found myself in training sessions regularly. And with that I started to develop personally. Although my new goal strongly interfered with my current job, I went through with it and learned to fight for my needs. And in the end it was worth it. With my structured training schedule I have improved my performance rapidly and after 20 years of competitive sports, now my body owned something called „basic endurance“ for the first time. I could find pleasure in my runs, used running as a kind of meditation and recognized how creativity slowly came back. Now I have my 45-90min sessions just for me without any distraction. Ok, the first 2 month were simply terrible, but I was soon able to run 45min jovially. And not only my legs were running, my thoughts hooked up as well. Ideas bubbled along and my mood was enhanced even after a stressful day. I became so creative during my runs that I started a design course besides my full-time job and worked on some private concepts like this blog. It was simply amazing to feel such power and spirituality only because of a new hobby which I have detested for so long.


I have never thought that having a proper foundation could have such an impact on my physical and mental capacities. But then I remembered some experiences as a dancer and instructor. People often have called me gifted or talented in terms of output. But I have never perceived myself like that. I was clumsy, naive and have driven my family crazy with my laziness. On top of that I was far away from being perfect on stage. I did not have perfect technique, endurance or level of difficulty. But my heart was in it and my love for music and entertainment made me patient and determined enough to reach my goal. So my supposed talent in fact, developed over time. I’ve started with little steps, used clear methods and followed a clear structure – I’ve simply learned the ABC before I’ve tried to read the whole book. Nevertheless people usually expect quick results and ignore what’s necessary to reach them. When I became successful as a dancer, my family and I were seen as role models. Suddenly there was a flood of interest in us and our actions were seen in a glittery light. People expected success with the help of our experiences or choreographies. And yes, choreography is a big part of it, but it’s not all. A perfect choreography doesn’t equal a perfect routine! You can have a perfect choreography, but if you’re not able to perform at the end, because you failed to build up technique and endurance,  you will never win. And this fact has led us to exhausting discussions with young athletes or with their parents (especially when they failed on stage). There is no magic or glitter powder existing which boosts you to the top. And it doesn’t matter whether we talk about sports, arts, business or relationships: You can’t succeed without learning the ABC and you can’t learn the ABC if you’re not passionate about or at least interested in reading.


Now I have to apply these experiences In running, but it’s tougher than I’ve expected. Even though I teach my clients  patience and method it’s quite difficult to experience the other side now. Reaching The goal of finishing a marathon does not start with just trying to run it. The process is frustrating and wasting, but due to the clear instructions and the goals set in my schedule, also very encouraging. I can see and share my progress and always know the next challenge. Whether it is a new best time, a longer distance or simply the impulse to start a training session – The biggest enemy to face in this process… well…is  just myself! A few months ago my Mum texted me on Whatsapp „just think about your past….you wanted to become German Champion – and you did it!  You wanted to study in Munich, you did. Without your killer attitude you wouldn’t have reached all those things. You’re good at really wanting things and bearing the consequences. And you’re good at it because you’ve learned to share. Success and progress have no worth if there is nobody interested in it. It’s boring and really lonely, if there is nobody who is proud of you. Lot of people stare at their smartphone and count their likes…it’s much better if there is a real, caring person who experiences your success with you and is happy for you.“ And hell yes, she was right. Sure I like the thought of being able to take on a marathon. And of course I like the idea of losing some kilos and being allowed to eat chocolate all day long. But I didn’t start running because of these things. In fact I’ve fallen in love with the process and the idea of sharing experiences with my loved ones. I enjoyed my daily two hours of pure flow and the progress I made with the help of my schedule. But notably I feel respected because of the time and effort people put in me. So for what am I willing to suffer? It’s not the six-pack, the perfect body or a lot of money and I’ve never wanted to win or get attention. But I wanted to give my best and show gratitude to people who believe in me. I wanted to show my love and dedication. That’s why I dance, that’s why I’ve performed at school and university, that’s why I’m thinking about how to improve a product and that’s why I’m going to run like a crazy chick now.

Jessica Reps