Endurance, drive and commitment: these are exceptional qualities that very few possess. One person who has them in bucketloads however is Equatex’s Information Security Officer Christian Kreienbühl. An avid runner from a young age, Christian turned professional four years ago, and has now qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
He tells us why it’s important to dream big, and that marathons and business share more in common than you would think.
What inspired you to start running?
I entered my very first competition in 1991 when I was 10 years old and I won a bronze medal! My parents were runners and I was also very active as a child – I used to go hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing with my family. I continued running up until the age of 20, when I began studying for an MA in Information, Media and Technology Management.
Why did you decide to take up running again?
I started jogging again towards the end of my studies as it was a very stressful period and running helped me to relax. In 2010, I then found out that the European Championships would be held in Zurich in 2014. I grew up 30 minutes from Zurich, and it was always a dream of mine to compete at a home championship in front of friends and family. I wasn’t fully professional so in 2011, I decided to reduce my working hours at Equatex to focus on qualifying for the Championships. Once I had set that goal, I got faster and faster, and succeeded in making the qualifying time.
How do you balance your sport and professional life?
Having both sport and work in my life is balancing. Running gives me something else to focus on. Likewise, I was injured for a few weeks and work took my mind off it. Of course, to do both, I need to be very organised; I go running before and after work every day, so I always need to prepare the day before and think about what’s on tomorrow’s agenda. If I have everything prepared, then there are no excuses.
How does running help your role at Equatex and vice versa?
Teamwork is essential – I attend training camps around five times a year for about twelve weeks, and here you need to work with other runners, who are sometimes your competitors, to find a training scheme that you agree on. At the same time, you need to be responsible for yourself and then you will perform better. As Oprah Winfrey says, “You get out of it what you put into it,” and this is true for both running and my work.
How do you stay motivated?
Running is my passion. My coach never needs to motivate me; it’s usually the other way round, and he sometimes needs to stop me from training too much in case I overdo it and become injured. I’m very lucky that I’m doing what I love – I’m very thankful as a lot of people don’t find their passion. Recovery time is very important too – I’m currently on a month’s break from running and will start competing again around Christmas.
Tell us about your biggest achievements to date.
I won a bronze medal with my team at the European Championships in Zurich – I never imagined I could win a medal. It was very emotional, especially celebrating afterwards with the team. Qualifying for Rio was fantastic too. I recently got the time I needed to compete – two hours and 14 minutes. It was tight (3 seconds!) but I made it!
How does it feel to qualify for Rio and how will you prepare?
Imagine the best thing that could happen to you – that’s how it feels. I will try to prepare the same way I prepared for the qualification. However, the competition and the days before will be completely different. Most importantly, I need to make sure I don’t get injured between now and May when the final team is announced.
What lessons do you think business can learn from marathon running?
Dream big, set the right goals and follow them with passion and dedication. When I consider my career as a runner, I never thought I would qualify for the European Championships four years ago and now I’m going to Rio as well. There are many other similarities. Endurance is vital – like training, projects at work take time and they are a long-term commitment. You need to be patient as you may not see results immediately. When training for a marathon, you also can’t start too fast; you have to build up your endurance. I think this is similar to business in that you need to be careful with your resources.
Dream big, set the right goals and follow them with passion and dedication.
(Picture by Antton Miettinen)