Running is more than a hobby for Florian Lussy – it’s a way of life that has shaped his character. Growing up in idyllic central Switzerland, he ventured to Texas to pursue his passion for running. He is now back from the United States and talks about his personal development as an individual and his transformation from a results-oriented to a process-oriented runner.
Having just landed and now waiting in the arrivals hall of the airport in Dallas. Unexpectedly, the question arises as to what would happen if simply no one were to pick him up now. The year is 2015 and Florian Lussy is waiting for the coach of the local college who offered him a scholarship and thus a chance to join his own college running team. A new path and training stimulus should elevate him to a new level in his running career in the coming years.
The road to college
At the time, running had taken the now 28-year-old Lussy from Oberdorf ( Switzerland’s Nidwalden region) to North Texas University in Dallas before he was to return to Switzerland just over four years later. His athletic journey, however, began 13 years earlier when, at the age of 8, he took part in the Nidwalden run right on his doorstep and suddenly took a liking to competing directly with his fellow runners – and being successful in the process. Coupled with the good group dynamics, first in the youth club and later in the running club, a fertile breeding ground was laid early on for the nascent running career.
The love for sports also had an effect on the choice of professional training. Inspired by the passion of the sales staff in running stores, he decided to train as a retail specialist at a large distributor of sporting goods. The choice of a large company was based on the fact that it gave him the chance to have enough time for training in addition to his apprenticeship.
However, it was to take until after the end of his apprenticeship for Florian Lussy to establish himself as one of the best runners in Switzerland and to qualify twice for the U20 European Cross Country Championships. At the first of the two championship starts, something as unexpected as groundbreaking happened. Barely arrived in his hotel room, the first messages from American college coaches had reached his Facebook inbox wishing him good luck for the task ahead. After a “pretty solid” performance and a 49th-place finish, the congratulations quickly turned into actual scholarship offers.
The offers struck a sensitive nerve, as for some time Lussy had been harping on the “Swiss mentality” of working primarily to chase money. Over the coming months, it became increasingly clear that he would be able to live out his desired lifestyle with a full focus on sports better in the USA. And all this with the nice bonus of being able to combine this with a bachelor’s degree in event and sports management.
Personal development in the USA
So now in 2015, after completing the required schooling, he stood in the arrival hall in Dallas and waited for the coach who was to pick him up. After a few minutes’ delay, she showed up and drove him to the part of town where he was to live and train for the next few years.
In the USA, Florian Lussy developed not only from a physical perspective. His view of the sport and his motivations also changed during this time. The perfect start with a victory in the first race was followed by an injury and for the first time he now got to feel that he was newly exposed to pressure from the outside:
“When you are injured it is tricky because the pressure to be ready for the next race is omnipresent. In Switzerland, I was responsible for myself and had time to listen to my own body. In the U.S., I also had a responsibility to the coach and the team. Because if I didn’t deliver, it also had an impact on their job security.”
So it happened that he was pushed into starts even though he wasn’t actually ready for them. As a result, Lussy was plagued by injuries more and more frequently, and the realization began to grow in him that the goal had to be not primarily results, but long periods of training without interruptions due to injury.
“I now know that training or competing alone will not change my sports career significantly. But if I can manage to train over a long period of time without a break, then I can make a difference.”
This insight, in combination with a change in the coaching staff, subsequently gave him more looseness for training and more room to design the training sessions more individually.
It wasn’t just the shift from results to process thinking that helped him personally during his time in the USA. He also benefited greatly in terms of language during this time and, of course, he also enjoyed the time with his fellow runners. The setup of being in a 4-person shared apartment with three other running maniacs was very inspiring for someone like him, who could talk about running all day long. Together they could share their passion for running and try out new training methods.
The studies, which at the beginning were more a means to an end, also proved to be a stroke of luck. The fun of the training intensified with the progressive immersion in the subject – the hunger for training came with the meal, so to speak.
The return to Switzerland
After four years in Dallas, he returned to Switzerland in 2020 during the Corona crisis, a bit earlier than planned, and finished the studies he had started from a distance. He had slowly come to feel that he was already a bit older than his fellow students and was also looking forward again to the possibility of being able to plan his training more individually.
In the meantime, running has taken Florian Lussy from Oberdorf, to Dallas, to Bern, and has transformed him from a results-oriented runner to an athlete with a process focus. But what has remained over all the years is the uncompromising commitment that he is able to transfer from running to other areas of life: “We runners are used to focusing not only on running, but also on eating and sleeping. This thinking then carries over into the professional world.” So for him, it would be out of the question to pursue a job in the future where he would simply be active during office hours – he rather envisions something that would challenge him around the clock. A quality that the running.COACH team can also look forward to as of June. From then on, Lussy will be able to live out his love of running as a member of the running.COACH team in his professional life as well.
Place of residence: Bern
Education: Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Event and Sport Management, University of North Texas
Team: LA Nidwalden since 2003, UNT Athletics (USA) 2016 – 2020
1500 m: 03:52.17
3000 m: 08:21.40
5000 m: 14:18.60
10000 m: 30:37.79