How sports helped expat mom Karijn and her family to settle in Switzerland

It’s a lovely Indian summer afternoon. We are on our way to Karijn. Because we’ve recently met a lot of expat moms trying to figure out their new life in Switzerland, we decided to ask someone to share her story. Karijn said yes!

Karijn, thank you so much for meeting us. Please tell us a bit more about your family and the move to Switzerland?

We are a family of four. My husband, me, and our two daughters who are eight and ten years old. We moved here to Lausanne a little bit more than a year ago. The girls obviously changed schools and thus also languages. From speaking Dutch, they are now being confronted with English at school and a little bit of French but French around them everywhere they go. So, it’s a huge change, for the whole family.


It’s indeed a huge change. How did the kids adapt to their new situation?

I believe strongly that sports and activities, or maybe even play in general, can play a vital role in getting to know other children in a very natural way. But also getting to know the language. Besides activities at school, we found it very important that our children met other local kids. And that they were, in a fun way, confronted with their new language, which is French.


Was it easy to find a sport for the girls outside school?

So it took us some time to find the field hockey club, which is a small sport here in Switzerland. We really had to learn and go on the internet to find what kind of sports facilities, activities there are. Obviously, Lausanne being a “super sport” capital. But then again, you have to know how to get there, how to find it and who to approach. So we were very lucky we could find it. They are now both playing in a girls team, meeting other girls and kids, speaking French because of the trainer. He is a Swiss, French-speaking guy. We are very happy that we found it and that the girls can be active in the sport they used to know, again here in Switzerland.


The girls are enjoying it?

For them, being again in a field hockey club, on the one hand, it feels familiar. Because they have been doing it, they are with a team. They really like the social aspect of meeting other children. Not only international children but also local children. I think also the fun thing here is, you drive around. We just had a tournament in Geneva and I think we’re going to Bern in a couple of weeks. You also get to other places, you meet the other parents. For us it’s nice, we meet the parents of the other children in the team. It’s a social thing and of course, it’s a sports thing because they love the sport.


And how did the parents manage?

My husband, he rides a bike. He does the tours here in Switzerland. One of the reasons to move. (laughs). No, that’s not true. But the biking here is fantastic. And I am doing yoga. I liked doing the hot yoga, Bikram yoga, in the Netherlands. When we arrived, it was not here yet. But then, in February, a very nice yoga club opened which I also found through the internet. That’s a hot yoga and they do it mainly in French but also in English. So also for me… all the French bodyparts, I know now. It’s also a little bit of interaction with the other people in the dressing room etc. So we find it a nice way of getting to know other people and getting a little bit adjusted to this new life.


What tip would you give to an expat mom who is moving to Swiss?

If I could give one tip to new families or moms moving to Switzerland with children, it would be not to have too high expectations. If you think you can copy the life you had in your own country from A to Z in Switzerland, you will not find it. But if you just go around. Arrive, see, try to talk to people, look on the internet what’s there. You will be pleasantly surprised what the country has to offer. So that would be my tip.

Author: Laura Ostendorf

Laura is TIQ 2 Sports’ captain, mother of two daughters, former ski school owner and an avid sportswoman. Loves tennis, golf and skiing.

Trail running

Last weekend the Verbier St-Bernard trail run took place. A good moment to talk to you about trail running and to introduce you to some of our trail running friends.

What is trail-running?

Essentially, anyone who runs outdoors in nature on unpaved paths is a trail-runner. It is a relatively new sport that is growing fast, especially in countries such as Switzerland, France and Italy, where the mountainous regions offer both challenging terrains and magnificent views to motivate you! Because you run on nature trails and hiking tracks, it is less impactfull and better for your knees.

Trail running isn’t only a thing in Europe and competitions are happening all over the world. Some of the most challenging races are in Nepal.
Mira Rai is a Nepalese athlete and an ultra-trail runner. She was elected winner of 2017 Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic. Her story is very inspiring, and a documentary shows how she discovered she was a trail runner. Check out the trailer:


This year Norlha an NGO based in Lausanne and active in Nepal was a partner of the Verbier St-Bernard trail. The event has a race for every level of runner, from the extreme X-Alpine – 110km long and with 8400m of positive ascent – to a 61km race with 4000m positive ascent. From a 29km race with 2500m positive ascent to a 6km uphill race. All of this in the picturesque St Bernard region in Switzerland.

Norlha at the Verbier St-Bernard trail

Norlha trail running team

Heather Lima

Why I ran for Norlha:

Heather Lima from Norlha about trail runningTrail runners seem crazy to those looking in from the outside. However, there is something strangely compelling about someone running down a treacherous mountain trail in the middle of the night by the light of a headlamp, possibly in pouring rain, freezing temperatures and snow (mountain weather is as you know unpredictable).
I first took notice of trail running due to a friend who was becoming addicted fast. Previously, I was blissfully unaware. My first thoughts were “why do this?” and “how is it possible to stay on your running feet for more than a day sometimes in wild conditions?”. She was training for the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix (CCC) trail – one of four races in the Mont Blanc world class event held in Chamonix, France, every August. It is described as only “quite difficult” on the website! The CCC involves running 101 km and climbing 6,100m in total. So yes relatively easy compared to the extremely prestigious Ultra-trail Mont Blanc covering 171 km and climbing 10,000m and described as “quite difficult.”

Repeated exposure to this mythic running world while chatting with the “obsessed” friend on short, easy training runs in the forest, began to have an effect. The option of beautiful scenery and dirt tracks instead of unforgiving tarmac was appealing.

At the same time I am a volunteer with Norlha – a small Swiss NGO that supports some of the poorest Himalayan populations through subsistence farming and by empowering women. When I saw a story about Mira Rai in the Guardian – a UK newspaper – I made a connection. Mira was a former Maoist child soldier in her native Nepal who had turned international trail runner, and I felt she might be interested in us and our projects for women. The Swiss have a strong affinity with the Himalayas and the Nepali, in return, like the Swiss. Mira attended our “Women in the rural Himalayas” conference in 2016 and we became firm friends. She is an incredible role model for young Nepali women who lack many of the opportunities taken for granted elsewhere, such as a decent education. Mira was one of a growing number of Nepali trail runners making a name for herself in the international circuit. Nepal, Norlha, Swiss mountains and trail running seemed to be on a collision course. The organisers of the Trail Verbier St Bernard agreed to include us as an approved association and Team Norlha was born for the 2017 version of the trail run in the Swiss Valais in July.

Support Norlha

How my first 29km trail run was:

This distance seemed feasible compared with the other options of 61km and 111km. There is the same killer steep ascent at the end though. So while the first 18km was really enjoyable, when I hit the climb to La Chaux – a steep 7km from 1070 up to 2200m – I began to struggle. This stage took me three hours, plenty of time for photos, rest stops and meeting new friends, also battling and driven on by sheer will power. I was just glad to reach the finish in seven and a half hours and in daylight. I really thought I might struggle to beat 10 hours or even the 12 hours cut off point. It is hard to predict what might happen, but I made it and I would probably do it again.

Dominique Gobat

I was running for Norlha to support their cause of supporting communities in the Himalayas. My wife was also running and works for Norlha, so that brought a personal touch to the run.

It was neither my first trail run nor my first endurance event but my first combined long-distance trail run – 29Km! The combination of trail running over a prolonged duration puts your body under a lot of strain, something I was neither physically or mentally prepared for. My last trail was back in 2006 when I did a series of trail runs in the Valais, Switzerland. I am an active person but I was not prepared at all for this event, with no training.

If you’re physically active, you will finish but it won’t necessarily be a pleasant experience. It is well advised to be trained for a run of this distance. I underestimated the strain on the legs on both going up and down. Your muscles are worked differently going up and down, but in both cases, due to the distance, your legs are completely milked of energy. I did finish so I am happy about that, but the following days will be uncomfortable and I am now paying the price for not training ☺

My most enjoyable moments on the trail were:

  1. The sublime mountain views, and pastures which have had minimum human impact due to how remote they are to get to. There was even a pristine mountain lake with crystal blue water.
  2. The words of encouragement from fellow runners. This is something I have not experienced in other types of more traditional runs. There is a sense that we’re all in it together.
  3. Arriving at the refreshment stations was another high note, as it helps you to mentally get through the race by using them as checkpoints.
  4. Lastly, the post-race relief is always a pleasure in any race and is always a highly satisfying feeling ☺

My three learnings from this experience are:

  1. Train properly. Prepare yourself gradually for running up and running down, so that your body is ready for the extra strain trail running puts on your legs. You can be fit but it is the specifics of going up and down that take their toll on your legs during the race. Also, the altitude tires you out more quickly than you realise.
  2. Get proper equipment: Walking sticks will help you to be more efficient going up by lowering the strain on your legs because you will use your arms too. Good footwear will give you extra grip on the steeper climbs but especially on the descents, so you can be quicker with less fear of slipping. I had neither so overused my legs already on the first 1’200m climb and was overly cautious on the descents.
  3. Take your time. Don’t treat it like a road race over a similar distance otherwise, you’ll be in for a tough afternoon. The climbs and descents are energy sapping. Enjoy the experience if it is your first trail run or your first long-distance trail run. I went out too fast. If I had been properly trained with the right equipment, my speed would have been fine, but it was not the case so the last 10km were painful. ☺


Trail running in the forest - TIQ 2 Sports

The Science of Trail Running

Nadège Rochat has just completed her PhD dissertation on the mentalities of trail runners. Her research has shown that despite the challenge associated with trail running, it is a sport that anyone can take up – and its benefits mean that most people should!

For her PhD, Nadège wanted to determine the factors affecting the success rates of individual runners, with a particular focus on the mental stages they go through during a race.

What were the results of the research?

“My thesis was based on analysing the science of trail running success. How do people manage to run for such extended periods? What are the strategies to avoid breaking down? How do trail runners train? Why do around 30% of them quit?”

To answer these questions, Nadège’s team had to carefully analyse the mental activity of runners, in particular during training and races. Her research led to two main conclusions.

First, trail-runners go through three states during a trail run:

  1. The suffering state, when they struggle with pain and exhaustion
  2. The revival state, when they feel invigorated and thrilled with their efforts
  3. The preservation state, when they try to manage resources like their energy by adapting their pace or taking a break

It seems the difference between those who complete races and those who quit depends on how long the runners stay in each state. Quitters typically spent too much time in the “suffering” state, and were unable to continue, whereas those who finished the race spent longer in the “preservation” state. The conclusion that Nadège drew from this was that successful trail runners are the careful and sensible runners.

Nadège’s second finding was that trail runners share common concerns regarding health and training habits, and often discuss these in online forums, such as Raidlight. “The trail running community is very supportive, and even though runners may go through a difficult period, they are never completely alone.”

Nadège hopes that sharing her research with the community will help runners of all levels improve their performance so they can complete their races.

What are the benefits of trail running?

Trail running requires stamina, strength and good overall fitness, and so trail runners tend to make better choices regarding their health & nutrition. Most trail-runners make a conscious effort to eat healthily to properly fuel their bodies and train regularly, which leads to a happy and active life. This doesn’t only apply to semi-professionals who are training for a race, but also just to those who want to run 5km twice a week!
Trail running also has other benefits aside from improving activity levels and eating habits. Trail-runners get more opportunities to get fresh air and enjoy nature, as well as meet other people while running or within friendly and well-established online communities. Trail running is also a great way to reduce stress levels, and like all exercise, can lead to you feeling more energised over time.

Since anyone can take up trail running, how do I get started?

Anyone can take up trail running, and there are many resources for those interested in starting.

To find out where to run

RunTheAlps offers many different trails for those interested in completing a guided trail run with a group of other runners led by experienced professionals. In particular, their trips accommodate all levels of trail runners in a variety of locations in the Alps, so excitement and picturesque views are guaranteed!

To find out what you will need

When trail running, you have to carry everything you need for the entirety of the trail with you, whether your run is short or long. As a beginner, you may not know what you will need, but Raidlight is a great point of reference.

Many Swiss cantons and communes are currently investing time and money into establishing a trail running community, by offering support to runners through building beautiful trails and providing advice and guidance.

If you are a trail-runner, Tell us what you wish you had known before taking up the sport. If you are just starting, talk to us about your first experience!

Author: Laura Ostendorf

Laura is TIQ 2 Sports’ captain, mother of two daughters, former ski school owner and an avid sportswoman. Loves tennis, golf and skiing.

Combine school and sports for better results!

It is our pleasure to introduce one of our TIQ 2 Sports ambassadors: olympian decathlete Slaven Dizdarević. To us, Slaven is a true inspiration: he holds several both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, has had an incredible career in sports and always aspires to make the world of sports accessible to all.

Subtitles are available for this video: click the settings icon just under the video progress bar.

Olympic Sports career

Slaven’s sports career was marked by an impressive number of successes and adventures. The biggest one being, without a doubt, was the opportunity to represent Slovakia at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 as a decathlete. Slaven also holds the indoor heptathlon national record (5712 points). Over the course of his athletic career he also won several national champion titles.

Slaven: "Sport is a learning platform and by combining school and sports, you'll perform better in both." Photo: Slaven at the European Cup Combined Events 2011, Madeira.

Whilst training and competing as an elite athlete, Slaven never neglected his education. He holds a degree in economics and completed a  postgraduate program in Sports Management at the Académie Internationale des Sciences et Techniques du Sport (AISTS), in Lausanne.

To him the message is clear: “When you combine school and sports, you perform better in both”.

A decathlete both on and off the track

Slaven and kids from a Kids Athletics camp

Even though he no longer performs at an olympic level, sports remain part of Slaven’s daily life. He has over 10 years of experience in personal coaching of young athletes and adults. He also works as the head track and field coach and fitness supervisor at the International School of Lausanne. As Slaven perceives sports to be a “learning platform”, this school environment is clearly very fitting. His coaching motivates these young athletes to grow and develop their capabilities. Additionally, Slaven is the founder and managing director of Kids Athletics, which organises weekly trainings and year round holiday camps. And just to add one more thing to the list, Slaven is also co-founder of Association 6, a non-profit organisation that works to create a world in which all athletes are treated fairly and equally, in all areas of sports, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Slaven’s sports mentality and his eagerness to motivate people to partake more in sportive activities is very much in line with what we strive for at TIQ 2 Sports. We are grateful for having him on board. Thank you Slaven!

What exactly is a decathlon and a heptathlon?

Both are athletic competitions that last two days and are composed of several different events.

The decathlon (déka means ten in Greek) consists of the following ten events: 100 metres, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 metres, 110 metres hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1500 metres.

The heptathlon (hepta means seven in Greek) consists of the following seven events: 200 metres, long jump, high, jump, shot put, javelin throw, 100 meter hurdles and 800 meters.

Note: Outdoors, the heptathlon is a women’s only event. Indoors, men complete the male equivalent of a heptathlon.


Author: Laura Ostendorf

Laura is TIQ 2 Sports’ captain, mother of two daughters, former ski school owner and an avid sportswoman. Loves tennis, golf and skiing.

Changing lives by connecting people to sports

Let me start this post by saying thank you. Thank you for being here, for being part of our TIQ 2 Sports community. YOU are the reason for me to continue this incredible journey we’re on and I’ll tell you why.

I looove sports. I adore what it does to me, how it gives me focus, how it has brought me friendships, and how it impacts my daughters’ lives. I’m intensely grateful for the role sports has played in my life and I wish you every bit of the same. I noticed something was amiss, however.

Tug of War on Flickr by Toffehoff. Something was amiss in sports.

Here’s what I saw:

  • stressed out parents, juggling work and children, looking for easy ways to find sports activities and camps for kids,
  • working professionals, struggling to quickly find the right sport and the right trainer at a convenient distance,
  • mums, realising their child(ren) could use a confidence booster, but not certain how to provide it,
  • ex-professional sports players, with an immense love for their sport, yet difficulty finding pupils to teach,
  • camp organizers with such a cool programme, often lacking the time to keep a website or provide online booking possibilities,
  • trainers on a mission to sweep the world of its feet with the knowledge and the experience they have, but drowning in administrative tasks,
  • clubs struggling to find volunteers to help to keep the website up-to-date and to send out invoices to their members.

Connecting you

Runners team high-fiving. TIQ 2 Sports: Sports made simple.

I knew there had to be a good way to connect you all. I want to connect you – in your search for sports – to exceptional trainers. And I want to make sure that you – the trainer – can keep on doing what you do best.

I am determined to bring you together through TIQ 2 Sports. To build a community where we can support each other, find motivation, share knowledge and improve our overall wellbeing.

My other mission

Girl Climbing in a climb hall - Sports made simple

At the same time, I am on a mission to motivate the youth to get moving. Integrating sports at a young age makes it so much easier to keep up with as an adult. Doing sports boosts confidence and self-esteem. It helps to focus, connect and relax all at the same time.

Be part of our community

I invite you to be an active member of our TIQ 2 Sports community. Stay in touch with us, tell us what you need, share your story and share ours. We’ll be back soon with personal stories, guest blogs, and meetings with incredible sportspeople.

Author: Laura Ostendorf

Laura is TIQ 2 Sports’ captain, mother of two daughters, former ski school owner and an avid sportswoman. Loves tennis, golf and skiing.