She was born with a significantly reduced lung capacity and against all odds she is now one of the top Ultra/Skyrunners in Serbia.
Snezana is a 29-year-old very energetic young woman that lives and train in a small mountain village in Serbia called Kragujevac.
Life hasn’t forsure always been easy as she was born with a very bad diagnosis of asthma. The doctors advised her not to exert too much physical activity and she was told to take it easy.
Instead, she did the opposite and started to train.
Today Snezana is one of the top Ultra/Skyrunners in Serbia and the frontrunner of the Asics team. In 2018 she was the winner of Trekking League of Serbia and the winner of three Skyrunning races. This year she’s already won two Skyraces, participated in the RedBull 400 race, a third place in Half Ironman race in Montenegro, a first place in Ultra Trail Staraplanina and finally the winner of the month in the Skýrunner Challenge 2019 (hosted by a Skyrunner Adventurers, a new Facebook group for Skyrunner lovers).
This is Snezana’s story…
Congrats Snezana for being the winner of the race Ultra Trail Staraplanina, 57km, 2450 D+! Can you tell us a little about the race and your experiences from that?
This race was my first ultra and I prepared it together with my personal trainer Marko. The mountains in which the race was hold, I think are one of the most beautiful in Serbia.
The weather was a bit cooler, which is not so bad for me personally. The only thing that bothered was the fog. All in all, this was a very nice experience for me. Nice mountains, a whole new experience, I managed to run the entire race and win.
Who is Snezana and your story behind?
In the first place I am a dancer and I’m a part of our national dance, which is my greatest love. I’ve been dancing since I was seven years old and at the same time, I also started running in order to solve breathing problems. Soon I loved it.
When I was three years old, I started to experience serious breathing problems. The diagnosis were asthma and my breathing capacity was significantly reduced. The situation was so bad that I had to be picked up by the ambulance almost every night.
The doctors gave me lots of medications and I was told not to do anything physically strenuous.
When I was seven years old, I came to see a physiotherapist, who unlike the doctors advised me to start training and practicing sports as part of the treatment.
He told me that my lung alveoli were damaged and that it needed to develop, and that I needed to start training my lung.
So, I started dancing at first and then running later. Running went slowly, only later when I grew up and started to deal with it more seriously, everything started to change.
I love the mountains, so it was logical for me to start with mountain running. The mountains inspire me, motivates me and give me special energy. Ever since I was a child when my grandmother took me for a walk in the mountains to cure my lungs I started to love and respect the mountain.
Can you describe yourself with two sentences?
The dancing made me disciplined and positive. Dance and running made me healthy.
I’m an energetic girl, I have people around me that I love and I’m happy!
What is most important for you in life?
In the first place it’s always family and the people that I love. And of course, to be positive.
Your passion for Skyrunning? Where is that coming from?
I started to participate in mountain racing three years ago. In the beginning, they were some slightly easier races, shorter distance and with a little climb. As time passed, I trained more and naturally I started for more serious races. My luck is that I have people around me who love the same thing, so that we can train and enjoy together.
I fell in love with the mountains and the challenges, and Skyrunning races are always a challenge so…I must do that!
Can you describe your significant personal strengths that took you all the way to this level of running?
I think the dancing plays an important part and there for my joints and ligaments are strong.
For several years now I am paying a lot of attention to the stabilization of muscles and a strong core. The power of will is also very important and of course, my coach is very strong, so I have to listen.
Is Skyrunning a hobby or is it something you do for a living?
I work as a physiotherapist. Skyrunning is more like my hobby, but it would be interesting to do something about it. Medicine and sports are connected.
Which is the most challenging and demanding situations that you been through to get you where you are today as a person?
The most demanding and hard situation for me in life is as I told you earlier when my doctors told me that I should not do anything hard. Another person very smart told me the opposite. That I needed to start developing my lungs.
I started to do that and here is where I am now. Of course, it was difficult in the beginning. There were cravings and my lungs did not have enough capacity.
But I did not want to give up!
Instead, all this strengthened me as a person.
In any case, if someone had told me when I was a kid that I would run this many kilometre I would not believe him. But thanks to the man who treated me and now my coach, I made it.
Everything is possible, the impossible just takes a little more time…
Do you usually push yourself outside your comfort zone? How does it feel at the time? Can you see that the rewards coming out of this is worth this little extra effort?
Leaving the zone of comfort also strengthens you as a person. Feel when you do something for what you thought you cannot…well that be incredible.
How does your race plans and goals look like for 2019?
I had 13 races already, half the season is over. Now the second half is not easy, but all of these are new challenges. My new love is a biking, so I will also devote time to do that. We will see.
How does a normal week with training and all that look like for you right now? What do you train? How much do you train? Where do you train? Other things you do?
My day begins at 7:00 am and lasts … lasts … until I finish all my obligations.
I have running trainings, power trainings, dance training and now I’m also riding a bicycle.
I have to go to work too, so the organization is important to me!
Because of my breathing problems my training program has always been designed specifically for me. My trainer had a similar problem, so he knew exactly what to do with me. Running 5 or 6 times a week, strength training 3 or 4 times a week, dancing 3 times a week. The bike was recently inserted into the program, so we’ll see.
Off course the pulse zone method is also an important part of my training. I use a Suunto that has a heart rate bar and measures the pulse at each workout. We do everything in training. Running at low pulse, at high pulse, short stretches, long distances, highs.
My lungs respond to a sudden change in time so in those moments we work with less intensity. The altitude of the city where I live is 173 meters and I go to races where the altitude is much higher, so I have to get used to that.
Which are your best training tips to other Skyrunners all over the world?
I cannot decide. I think they all have something characteristic. I would like to learn from the best.
Which are your favourite races that you would recommend to other Skyrunners all over the world?
Lavaredo ultra trail, Ultra trail du Mont Blanc, Cappadocia ultra trail, every trail in the world J! Trail races in Serbia of course!
Are you involved in any other types of running-projects that you like to talk about (ambassador / entrepreneur etc)?
I am ambassador of the Asics team in Serbia, Asics frontrunner project.
Do you have any dreams and goals for the future that you like to share?
I would like to go to some of the world’s races to feel the atmosphere and see the mountains of other countries and to hear the experiences of world participants.
How does your game plan look like for that?
I hope that I will collect enough points for some of the races and I will train for more miraculous.
What is your inner drive?
A healthy body, healthy mind and positive vibes are important to me.
What is your advice to other people that is dreaming of an active lifestyle running in the mountains as good as you?
I advise you to get started. Go out into nature, climb to the top, and first of all consider yourself and nature, train for the beginning as much as you like.
Ask for advices from people who are skilled, wear shoes and go!
People! Do what you love and keep smiling!
Do you have anything else in your life that you like to share or talk about in the blog?
I like to share with all my gratitude to my trainer Marko for everything he has done for me.
Thank you 🙂
Name: Snezana Djuric
Nationality: Republic of Serbia
Family: Parents, brother, sister and grandmother
Country/town: Serbia, Kragujevac
Your team or sponsor now: I am in Asics frontrunner team and
Club of extreme sports Kragujevac
Education: Medical college
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/snezana.djuric.397
Thank you, Snezana, for taking your time sharing your fantastic story! Wishing you all the best luck in the future with your Skyrunning and everything that you want to do.