Our Gold coach Stefanie Meyer is Swiss, but has been living in London for almost three years. The sports scientist and former sports teacher has years of experience in different running distances, as well as triathlon. As a mum of a daughter, she has to find a way to combine running with everyday family life and work life. In the following interview, you will learn more about Stefanie’s passion for running and you will get a lot of tips from her.
What reputation and importance does running have in the country that you live in?
The English are fond of sports and running, preferably outside, indifferent of the weather. On Saturdays, park runs are held in the whole country (originally in London), where runners of all ages and all levels meet for a 5km run. Performance is secondary, while the primary concern is experiencing something together or having a coffee/ tea afterwards, or even visiting a pub. Park runs are for free and they have become to be established even in other countries. In bigger running events in England, the atmosphere is often so good that you feel like you are literally carried by the crowd. Many people here do not only run for themselves in competitions, but they use them for collecting money for charity.
Tell us your personal running story.
I have been spending half of my life in running shoes. My father, who still runs himself, would occasionally take me to running events where I ran in the kids category. Back then, however, I never trained specifically, but just tried out many different sports. At the age of sixteen, I joined a sports club which had a runners section. This was the beginning of more specific running training and I started to take part in competitions on track, in cross-country and on road (everything from 5km to half-marathon). For my sports sciences studies I needed to learn to swim. Soon after that, I had my first tries in triathlon. I later started to participate in middle and long distance competitions.
At the moment, I am more focussing on simple running again, as, being a mum, I simply don’t have as much time as before. Today, running feels even more like some sort of short holiday: breaking free from everyday life and discovering the world by foot whenever possible.
What has been your favourite running experience so far?
I can think of lots of beautiful running experiences I could tell you about. Two of them are especielly present, however. I had a very special run-in at my first and, so far, only Ironman in Zürich 2014. When I realised towards the end of the course that «wow, you can do it!», and when my husband, siblings, parents and friends were waiting for me in the finish, I was overwhelmed by my feelings – a mixture out of exhaustion, pride, joy and relief. Even when thinking back to that moment now, I have to smile.
The second experience was my first competition after my pregnancy. It was an ordinary 10km competition in Regents Park in London, nothing special. But the anticipation before competing and knowing that my daughter would be waiting for me in the finish – a very special feeling.
What is your next goal? How do you prepare for that?
I am running the London Marathon on 23 April – a personal goodbye, as we will soon be moving back to Switzerland. In January, I started my specific preparation with the running.COACH training plan and I have been running five times a week since then. This always includes one or two high-intensity sessions and a long run on the weekend. I’ve been trying to always plan the long runs in new and exciting places, so that I could look at them as being some kind of « excursion ». An important part of my preparation are even strength and flexibility training, which I do at home with the help of minibands, a TRX or Sypoba.
What is your favourite type of training?
I still love short intervals on track, like for example 20 x 1’. That way, I can see how much power is left in my body. And there really is nothing better than cooling down on the lawn barefoot after a track session and maybe even do a short stretching afterwards. This always gives me the feeling of being on a training camp. And now I have even discovered running with my daughter, which never becomes boring.
Which is your personal piece of training advice that you can share with us?
STRENGTH LIES IN CALMNESS – plan regular rest days, which you really stick to. My weakness is regeneration. However, through my pregancy and motherhood I have learnt to listen more to my body. Don’t force yourself to do a training just because it says so on your training plan. Sometimes you just don’t have enough energy and this normally has valid reasons, thus, just have an additional rest day.
Do you have any ritual which you do before a competition?
After an easy warm-up, I normally run one minute in racing pace, in order to activate my body. Afterwards, I like to do some drills and some ascending runs.
What is your personal tipp for competitions?
RUN WITH YOUR HEAD, TOO. For me personally, it always helps to divide the course into stages, especially mentally. A half-marathon, for example, I always divide into three 7km stages. I use the first third in order to get into the competition and to position myself in the field. The second third is mostly about keeping up. I often have a short crisis during this period, which I need to overcome. I just tell myself then that half of it is over and that soon there will be only one third left. In this last third I try to one last time mobilise all available energy and when my legs are getting very tired, I focus on my arms or on a reward in the finish.
Do you mind your nutrition?
Yes, and since I’ve become a mum, even more. I really like eating, especially sweets. However, I try not to eat too much white industrial sugar. Furthermore, we cook ourselves, very varied and based on fresh products.
My favourite meal of the day definitely is breakfast. There is nothing better than starting the day with a hot meal. We normaly eat porridge. I cook oats with almond milk, a bit of cinnamon and sometimes frozen berries. As a topping we either have chia seeds, cocoa nibs, coconut flakes, mable syrup or fresh fruit.
What is your favourite running brand?
I only use Asics running shoes and I have been trusting in particular models for years. Their continuity convinces me – which is why, after having tried out other brands for a short while, I have always returned to Asics. Since February this year I have been a member of the Swiss AsicsFrontRunner team.
What was a special moment for you as a running coach/ Gold coach?
Everytime I witness athletes making progress, being able to run better and faster and their experiences from running having a positive effect on their private and work life.
Why should a customer book you as a Gold coach?
On the one hand, I am very versatile (running/ triathlon) and I have years of running and coaching experience, as well as a sports scientific background. On the other hand, I really enjoy motivating people to train for a specific goal. I also give a lot of importance to regular exchange, in order to be able to react to people’s individual needs and to not just use a standardised strategy with everyone.
On her Blog Stefanie mainly writes about sports during her pregnancy, as well as currently about her preparations for marathon. If you wish to book her as your Gold coach – you can get further information here.