Professor Oliver Stoll from Leipzig is one of the most famous German sport psychologists. Furthermore the 52-year old is a passionate endurance athlete and in 2014 finisher of the „100 kilometers of Biel“. With this running classic the idea was born which has now been published: “Once I have been to Biel – A declaration of love to running, to love and to life”. Oliver tries to create an interconnection between science, sport psychology and the running everyday of hundreds of thousands of recreational athletes. We have talked to Oliver, who has been a guest lecturer at the LG Mauerweg e.V. before, about his new book and the Wall Race.
Oliver, you have already written some books. Why now this declaration of love to running?
Up to now I have written only textbooks and specialist books, thus books with a more or less academic focus. With the project of „Einmal war ich in Biel“ (Once I have been to Biel) I wanted to try something completely new together with Frauke and Mathias Liebing, the editor. I don’t know whether I succeeded, but it is an attempt to reveal sport-psychologic know-how in a rather non-academic way, but in a precise individual case, meaning my own running life. This is complemented by Frauke’s point of view and my actions. Besides all this the form of publication (online – embedded in an own homepage) offers many advantages. The content is dynamic, although the core text will stay unchanged. But additional material can be exchanged and extended anytime. Finally this book is an hommage to my great passion of running and to Werner Sonntag who has inspired me a lot.
What is the value of benefit for the ambitious recreational athlete when reading your book?
That is up to the person reading. Of course, I can imagine a recreational athlete learning from my experiences in Biel (and my life before). But the book is not meant for consuming only, but also for reflection. A further value of benefit are of course the precise hints which I have illustrated in the additional material, i.e. how I have trained, what to take on the track, what self-developed mental tricks I have used to handle the inevitable pain and how to involve the social support of a partner for such a project realization.
The Wall Race is coming up. Is there the one special hint by the sport psychologist to pass to the participants on track?
Yes, 1) to be concerned with the course helps. One can develop a kind of mental script which then – if trained prior to the race – might help to arrange and structure the own thoughts when it is getting tough. 2) Always helpful is the right portion of easygoingness at the start. 160km is a long way. This might be disturbing if imagined at a stretch. One could divide the complete course into sections which are then worked off one at a time. 3) Don’t forget the power of social support. One could invite friends and family to Berlin to meet them at the strategic important locations on the track.
Everyone has had this feeling of „I don’t want to go any further“ or the popular question for the meaning of it all on such a long course. What does the sport psychologist reply to those negative thoughts?
That is part of the book. Exhaustion and pain will definitely occur at one time or another. Then it is important to have the right thoughts handy in the form of self-talk. This can be developed and trained prior to the race, for example during long training runs when such experiences emerge to some extent.
After the 100km of Biel, have you ever thought about running the 100Meilen of Berlin?
🙂 In the Biel book I am very clear about this – and I say no, probably not again such a long track. But you know how it is. At the finish line you say „Never again“, two weeks later „Well, maybe“ and one month later the passionate runner is looking for the next challenge. At the moment I am off form and don’t have the time for this, but I don’t dare to exclude the chance. The Wall Race is clearly not only an athletic challenge, but has a cultural and historic dimension for us Germans. Considering this, I will definitely keep this run in mind.