All-Season Runner: Elìa Diehl Ruberto

All-Season Runner: Elìa Diehl Ruberto

This series talks to inspiring All-Season Runners from around the world. What's an All-Season Runner? That's what we call runners who don't let the wet, cold, wind or heat stop them from hitting their strides.

Here, we catch up with Elìa Diehl Ruberto from Aarau, Switzerland.

[Photos courtesy @el_diru_nner]

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I used to be a physical education teacher and loved working with the kids, but after overcoming cancer in 2008,  I became a journalist. And now I’m on to new adventures with a start-up company for sustainable and natural sports nutrition (BE THE CHANGE). Besides running in nature I’m very passionate about cooking, making music and scuba diving. And: I can be serious, but I fool around a lot!

How long have you been running for? 
Even though I studied sport sciences at University of Basel running was never a big thing for me. I used to play basketball and football - running was for years more a compulsory exercise than a hobby. This changed three years ago. In a difficult phase of my life I often left the house restlessly to run alone in nature. It calmed me down and did me good - physically and mentally. I started to enjoy it and I got better too. But when the switch went to "addicted" I can't really say.

What pushes you to get outdoors in any type of weather?
First: I think it’s in my genes (I'm half-Swiss, half-Italian). I like running in rain, snow, wind or the burning sun - I think it’s the seasoning of running (haha very funny). Second: I always remind myself of that goooooood feeling you get when you’re outdoors, when you’ve done it - it’s priceless.
And as I said before, running is not only a sport for me, it’s quite therapeutic, a mind game. I like this active boredom, this hardly doing anything at all besides lifting your feet one by one. And at some point a feeling of flow sets in - a meditative moment of thought-free boredom, where you are completely with yourself. This "emptiness" leads to new ideas (mostly silly ones haha). Boredom itself is not meaningful, but it helps to find meaning.

Through my cancer treatment I learned to value and appreciate the small good things in life - those which we certainly see but unfortunately too little actively perceive. That’s why I run outdoors all the time, without music, because there is so much inspiring to hear, to see and to explore - you won’t get that on a treadmill. 

"You’re not here for giving up, it's not part of your repertoire."

What do you feel has been your greatest achievement as a runner?
Whew! Tough question. It could be e.g. the Rome Marathon 2018, which I finished in spite of an injury after a fall halfway through the race, limping, in tears. I told myself: "You’re not here for giving up, it's not part of your repertoire." Or the bitterly cold finish on the Snow Trail to the Weisshorn (2’653 m.a.s.l.) in Arosa, 1000 meters elevation in partly up to knee-deep snow. Or finishing the Beer Lover’s Marathon in Liège (Belgium), Or…. I don’t know. I’m more the looking forward than looking backward guy. I feel like I am achieving something with each and every run, a new trail, a new mountain or a new PB etc. Maybe it’s that I still enjoy every run and race - always with a smile in my face and some silly thoughts in my head.

Speaking of, I've got one more: Way back when I was 9-10 years old and part of the hash house harriers in Şanlıurfa (Turkey) my nickname was "Go Slow." I guess that changed a bit over the years - that’s quite an achievement, no?

How has COVID-19 changed your outdoor lifestyle?
Since I mainly run alone anyway, that has not changed much with the lockdown. But I do run even more and longer, since I work from home and it's the only time of day I get out. And I go further out into nature, more into rough terrain, to avoid people since the common trails are more crowded these days. I like my "me time." But I am grateful to live in Switzerland, where we are allowed to go outdoors (alone) and where the government appeals to all our common sense than to act with forced quarantine.


Follow Elia's All-Season adventures via his Instagram.

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More from the series:
All-Season Runner Q&A: Clare Shea (U.S.A)
All-Season Runner Q&A:  Dr. Marilyn Simmons Bowe (U.S.A)
All-Season Runner Q&A:  Lisa Sun (Canada)
All-Season Runner Q&A:  Jesse Taylor (U.S.A)
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