Skyrunner storyIvana Ceneric
28 September 2020

Freedom is trust in your own courage

She is girl from Serbia who loves skyrunning, loves ultra trail races and enjoys them. Discipline is her second name, mountains are her motivation. And beer after the race! 🙂

Ivana is 34 years old, she works as a psychologist in educating young people and she always manages to enjoy the mountains and train. She likes to run early in the morning, she always welcomes the sunrise during training!

This is Ivana’s story…

Who is Ivana Ceneric?

Ivana loves the freedom of being outdoors and being active; swimming, climbing, walking, martial arts and, of course, running. She is an educational psychologist, although she would like to open a restaurant after she retires.

Describe yourself with two sentences.

Freedom is trust in your own courage. That’s all folks.

What is most important for you in life?

Being free. Free to leave, to stay, to love, to not love, work 24/7, don’t move a finger…basically to be able to make my one choice.

When did you start skyrunning?Why do you do it and what do you like the most about it?

Around 2015 I started from attending obstacle races, but there were only a few in Serbia at the time. So I discovered that the nature and mountains are full of challenges on their own and became addicted to the idea of covering long distances on my own two feet.Knowing that I can go many kilometresin the rain, storm, cold, burning sun and any other possible adversity made me confident in everyday life. Any time I would stop and ask myself if I can do it, I could remind myself of all those times when I thought I couldn’t and crossed the finish line. 

What are your personal strengths that took to this level of running?

I am highly disciplined and committed, which shows in the way I approach all aspects of my life. I tend to focus on things that are going well in a particular moment and on the resources I have available, rather than on what is missing. As in all races there are mental ups and downs, so I try to remind myself about every down I had to push through and that it will pass, so I’m pretty good at persevering!

Is Skyrunning a hobby or a profession?

Skyrunning is just a hobby and I want it to stay that way. I don’t want to make it into something too serious, it is just my little adrenalin fix. I’m an educational psychologist and have a 9-5 job which often turns into a 24hr job as requires a lot of traveling and office work too. I try to squeeze in my training before 7 am, so by the time everybody else is getting upI have already made time for the important things in my life. I try to use weekends for trail adventures and luckily I have a good team that understands my hobby so if I need a day more it is usually okay with them.

Have you always had an active, outdoors lifestyle?

For the last 13 years I was mostly focused on my aikido practice and weight training , but I was always outdoorsy. I hated road running (still not a fan!), so it took my some time to find balance between my love for trail and Skyrunning. I started running more in order to feel better in races and pushed back weight training a bit (still a powerlifter at heart). I also had to learn to live from my backpack, because the weekends are too short for all the places I want to go.

What are the biggest personal challenges you have overcome to get you where you are today?

Maybe we’ll discuss it in some other blog J.

Do you usually push yourself outside your comfort zone? How does it feel at the time?

I became comfortable with being uncomfortable because I learned that there is always a benefit from pushing a bit. It is good not to expect that everything will always go well and not to be angry at the world when things are not going your way. Just focus on what’s after.

How did your race plans and goals look like for 2020/2021?

I decided not to plan. In 2020 there were many plans going down the drain but it doesn’t matter. There are bigger things than our plans. For the next period I’ll just grab opportunities as they come along. To travel when it’s possible and where it is possible, to meet new people and enjoy time with my favourite people and to not worry about what is lost or cannot be, but to collect happy moments along the way.

What does a normal training week look like for you ?

I get up around 4:30am , get ready for training which is usually some short run and gym time or just gym and in the afternoon I go to pool when I can or take another short run just to clear my mind after work. Before COVID I would also have 3 aikido trainings/week. At weekends I go for a long trail run whenever I can.

Which are your best training tips to other Skyrunners?

If you are serious and want to be a professional, get a coach and listen to your coach. Don’t improvise or digress. You need an outside perspective.

If it is just a hobby, get on a good training plan, respect your body and don’t neglect strength training. Too many runners have short career due to injuries if they focus only on running. Lift weights, jump on things, work your core, strengthen your back and do not push through the pain even if the whole internet tells you so. There is discomfort and there is pain, serious pain should not be ignored.

If you like ultras, always have in mind; you cannot win an ultramarathon in the first 20km but you can certainly loose it! Pace yourself.

Which are your favourite races that you would recommend to other Skyrunners?

Krali Marko Trails-Republic of North Macedonia, Prilep

Sokolov put (Falcon’s trail )- Serbia, Niškabanja

Jadovnik ultramarathon- Serbia, Prijepolje

Staraplanina (Old mountain/Ultrakleka – Serbia, Staraplanina

Are you involved in any other types of running-projects?

Not at the time.

Do you have any skyrunning dreams and goals for the future?

Do a 100km race finallyJ

What does your game plan look like for that?

Staying consistent and taking care of my body.

What is your inner drive (motivation)?

Not to have regrets for the things I haven’t done. To make the days count.

What is your advice to other people who are dreaming of being a skyrunner?

Start small, start slow but enjoy it and build your endurance slowly, it doesn’t happen overnight.

Do you have anything else in your life that you like to share?

No and thank you for your interest.

Thank you Ivana!

Keep running and enjoy in mountains!We wish you all the best!

/Snezana Djuric


Name: Ivana Cenerić

Nationality: Serbian

Age: 34

Country/town: Serbia, Belgrade

Occupation: Researcher

Education: Psychology of education

Facebook page:

Instagram: @ivanaceneric


  • 2017 Serbian Trekking league champion
  • 2019 Skyrunning Serbia top 10
Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor and nature

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