Marc Lauenstein: From being a top orienteer to being a top trail runner

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Marc Lauenstein is a former elite orienteer and, today, a successful trail runner. We wanted to learn more about him an about his way from orienteering to trail running. 

It’s 6.00 am. Most people are either still lying in bed or they have just gotten up, still a bit sleepy. Not Marc Lauenstein! He is already dressed for his morning training and ready to start what, for many people, would make a day trip. The 37-year-old Swiss Romand is a dentist and needs to be ready for work at 8.00 am. Before that, however, like most mornings, he wants to run the 800 metres of climb up to Col de la Tourne, from where he is going to ride the postbus down to work. A real early bird, one might think. But, according to Marc himself, he is not a morning person at all. He sometimes really has to overcome his inner temptations and to force himself to do those early morning sessions. However, once he is doing them, he never regrets it. Marc Lauenstein is fond of training and of movement, this becomes apparent immediately. Especially interesting about his story: the joy he finds in running today is different from the one he experienced as an active elite orienteer. Nevertheless, this very orienteering career has been of major importance for his later successes as a trail runner today.

Orienteering career

Picture: ultra-trail.ch

Marc got in contact with running very early on, since his family had been doing orienteering for years. At the age of 10, he started to compete individually. At first, however, he did not focus on orienteering specifically, but he did many different kinds of sports. He only started training seriously for orienteering when he was 16 years old. Marc made progress quickly and in 2003, at the age of 22, he took part in his first world championships. He had his breakthrough two years later, winning the silver medal in the long distance at the world champs in Japan in 2005. He was able to confirm this silver medal with another silver in the Long at the world champs in Denmark in 2006. These successes, however, were followed by a couple of tougher years. In the individual races at the world championships, the most important event of the season, he could never quite live up to his high expectations. It was not until 2011 and 2012, his last two years as an elite orienteer, that he made it into the top 10 at the world champs again.

Change to trail running

For the first three months after having finished his career, Marc didn’t do any training during the working week and he only trained on the weekends. However, he didn’t feel good that way and he soon realised this doesn’t work for him. He feels the need to move and to stay fit. In order for this to happen, he needs goals. They provide him with the motivation to conduct the training during his already very crammed weekly programmes. Apart from his extraordinary endurance, Marc had always been known for his strength in uphills, already as an orienteer. He therefore decided to start training more seriously for trail running. The fact that Salomon supported him for this project was an additional motivation for him.

Picture: ultra-trail.ch

Two of his biggest successes in trail running so far are his victories in the Sierre-Zinal 2013 and in the Marathon du Mont-Blanc 2015. Competitions are the goals which keep him motivated. In this respect, not much has changed compared to the former top orienteer. The comparison between Marc as an orienteer and Marc as a trail runner is interesting for several reasons. For example, in trail running, Marc today profits from the polyvalence acquired in orienteering. He does neither fear steep climbs or descents, nor very rough underground. This ability to handle a wide range of different conditions is a big advantage. Furthermore, the many hours of training he collected during his time as an elite orienteer provide an ideal basis for his training as a trail runner. Furthermore, Marc knows a lot about running, since this was constituted the major part of his training already as an orienteer. Back then, he also trained with a track and field club, in order to improve his speed and competition hardness. “I draw on those training sessions to this day”, Marc says. “They gave me a solid physical basis and they taught me to push my limits”. Given the fact that he is still able to run fast over long distances without huge training loads, this guy must be blessed with a special talent for endurance sports. “I think I might have been a bit lucky with my genes”, he smirks, almost apologetically.

Photographer: David Carlier, www.davidcarlierphotography.com

When meeting Marc, one can tell that he does not belong to the category of the over-ambitious, who subordinate everything to sports. For him, running is about keeping balance in life and it serves his personal fulfilment. Through his profession and his family (Marc is married and a dad of two) he has other responsibilities, which he takes very seriously. Today, unlike the years as a professional orienteer, he sees training and competitions as something he does with great dedication and passion, but which is primarily a hobby. Marc tries to organise himself in a way which makes it possible for him to pursue his passion in his free time slots. His wife Sandra has great understanding for her husband’s hobby, though. She is a former elite orienteer herself and she has lots of experience in endurance training, too. She is a coach for the youth orienteering squad of the Canton of Neuenburg, for which she organises trainings during the week. Marc often joins these trainings and, for example, helps her setting out controls. That way, he can train and spend time together with his wife both at once. Marc likes these common activities: “I think it’s really nice to be able to live and to share the passion for sports together with my wife.”

The balance between pleasure and duty

Marc Lauenstein still takes part in orienteering competitions on a regular basis. If he compares his performances in the past with the ones today, he notices considerable changes. Although he doesn’t train as much as he did back then and although sports has a lower priority for him today, his performances are often just as good, if not better. Marc has the following explanation for this: “Due to the great amount of purposeful training, I sometimes felt rather empty, both physically and mentally, so that I lacked the energy to perform at the best of my abilities on day X.” Today, he faces competitions rather relaxed and he just looks forward to the challenge, without thinking too much about the result. He is a little surprised himself, how good the results turn out this way. This ease is probably what gives him so much joy in sports even today. A reduced amount of training, less pressure and more energy for competitions: no surprise that his motivation is high!

Picture: rtn.ch

Rather indicative of this is the fact that Marc Lauenstein took his silver medal at the word championships 2006 between the written and the oral final exams of his dentistry studies. His studies had always been important for him and he had worked for them with great interest and conscientiousness. In 2006, he laid his main focus on his studies – and performed at his very best in sports. When he later started a life as a professional orienteer, he suddenly struggled to show his full potential. It seems as if the life as a professional simply didn’t suit Marc. Maybe, the focus on work and family he has today helps him to perform as he wishes again.

Training and competitions

As already mentioned, Marc runs up to Col de la Tourne before work on most mornings. Although he runs the same course every time, he does not get bored. “I can, for example, enjoy the different seasons and see how the landscape changes”, he explains. This training takes 1h 10min in average, wherof 20min are in the flat and 50min uphill. He often plays with the pace and runs, for example, 30min fast in one go or he inserts an interval session (e.g. 10x 3min). Today, the percentages of high-intensity training time in Marc’s training are generally higher than before. Quality sessions make up for reduced quantity. On Tuesday evenings, he trains intervals with the youth orienteering squad of Neuenburg. As opposed to earlier years, Marc now deliberately picks the trainings he enjoys and leaves aside the ones he dislikes – strength training, for example. In his orienteering training, strength training was rather important, but today, he refrains from it completely. However, slowly but surely, he starts to notice a lack in stability and he admits that especially the resumption of core strength training would be sensible. Due to the early starting time for his morning sessions, he mostly trains on his own. He really appreciates it when he gets accompanied by his brother or Baptiste Rollier, another former elite orienteer, for a change.

A few days ago, the 37-year-old celebrated his first trail running victory of the season at the Trail de Mont Ventoux. This race usually marks the start of the trail running season. It is a first test for Marc’s shape and shows him what needs to be done until the next competitions. Obviously, the start was successful and he seems to have done everything right so far. The big goal of the season for Marc are the races in the Golden Trail Series. This series consists of 5 separate races: the Zegama-Aizkorri marathon (ESP), the Mont-Blanc marathon(FRA), the race Sierre-Zinal (SUI), the Pikes Peak marathon (USA) and the Ring of Steall Skyrace (SCO). The top 10 runners in the total standing after all 5 races will be invited to the final race  Otter Trail in South Africa. Marc belongs to the top favourites!

We wish Marc all the best for the Golden Trail Series and lots of fun with running in the future!

 

This blog entry was written by: Marion Aebi

 

 

Nutrition tips for marathons

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Those who have finished a marathon know the overwhealming emotions you get once you’ve crossed the finish line. However, in order for this to happen, the right nutrition is crucial and it helps you to run the 42.195km without cramps and without hitting the wall. 

The most important limited energy source for a marathon runner are carbs. Especially during the last quarter of the distance they begin to vanish. Thus, if you don’t refill carbs on the way, you will hit the notorious wall after km number 30.

Many runners are nervous before a marathon. This has an effect on the nutrient intake by the intestine. Therefore, it is important to eat easily digestible foods like white bread with honey or a fast digestible müesli on the day of the marathon. Professionals often drint regenerationdrinks Isostar Reload After Sport. This provides you with fast accessible Energy without putting stress to your intestine.

Approximately one hour before start you can even fill your carbohydrate and minaral savings via an isotonic drink such as, for example, Isostar Hydrate & Perform. Small sips until right before the competition provide your body with both nutrients and water, both of which you will need during the race.

Your tactics for during the race should be: Never miss a refreshment station, even if they might be crowded with other runners. This is the best way to prevent cramps and it helps you to avoid hitting this famous wall. It is further imporant that you test the drinks, bars (e.g. Isostar Endurance + bar) or gels (e.g. Isostar Energy Booster or Isostar Actifood) in your training prior to the competition. Not everyone tolerates a given supplement. Solids are generally tolerated less during running because of the percussions on the intestine. Here, too, it is recommended to test things beforehand.

After a marathon is before a marathon. Although you might not aim for a next goal right away, be aware that, the days after the event, your body has a lot of recovery work to do. Regeneration should thus be the main focus. You will be likely to feel like eating sweets more than you would normally. Try to eat more fruits during this time and to also compensate for the increased need of proteins. Here, delicous protein concentrates like Isostar Reload After Sport might help you to cover these cravings without having to eat a lot of chocolate or other sweets.

Those who provide their body with the energy it needs can reach their goals more easily. We hope that these nutrition tips will help you to reach your goal and to be able to live the emotions mentioned at the beginning.

 

Nutrition tips for the last 3 days before the marathon:

The estimated need of carbohydrates during these three days are around 8 to 10 g per body weight per day. That is, a person weighin 75kg should consume 750 g of carbs per day. This is a lot! However, it is important in order to optimise the energy savings and to lay the basis for your body to be able to perform at its very best for 3 to 5 hours.

Morning

  • 200 ml of fruit juice
  • 1 yogurt
  • 50 g of müesli
  • 5 slices of bred
  • 1 pear or 100 g of grapes
  • 1 fruit compote (100 g)

Lunch

  • 1 big plate of pasta (300 g) or rice (260 g, cooked)
  • or semolina or some other grain (330 g, cooked)
  • potatoe salad (1 bowl)
  • 3 slices of bread
  • 1 fruit or 1 pudding
  • 1 cup of milk + Isostar Endurance + bar 
  • 1 banana or some other fruit

Evening

  • 1 big plate of rice (or pasta or potatoes)
  • 1 salad
  • 2 mushroom crêpes
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1 yogurt
  • 1 compote or 1 fruit

And the little extra for during the day: The drink Isostar Hydrate & Perform – adapt the amount to the size of the meals. An optimal supplier of liquid is Isostar Endurance + Sport Drink. Liquid is important for a successful uptake of the carbohydrates.

 

This blog entry was provided by Isostar. If you want to read more about Isostar and their products and services, click here

 

Caffeine in sports: (how) does it enhance your performance?

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Apart from liquid, a lot of sports people consume caffeine during competitions. But can caffeine really enhance our performance? This article by the Swiss magazine Fit for Life provides some answers to this question. 

Caffeine has been a controversially discussed substance for years. Only 15 years ago, caffeine was still categorised as doping. In the mean time, restrictions for the consumtion of caffeine have been abolished. Amongst other reasons, because caffaine, being one of the oldest medicinal product and stimulant, is so popular in society in the form of coffee, chocolate or tea. This is what you should consider when it comes to the consumption of caffeine:

The effect of caffeine

Undeniably, caffeine has a performance-enhancing effect for many people. Caffeine increases attention, it lightens up the mood and it reduces tiredness. In addition to the stimulation of the nervous system, caffeine also improves our fat metabolism and it enhances the energy supply in our body. Since the effect of caffeine in given foods might be dependent on other ingredients and since the exact amount of caffeine can not be determined exactly, scientific studies generally use pure caffeine in their experiments.

Picture: Unsplash

The ideal amount

An increase in performance is likely already at an amount of 1-6 mg of caffaine per kg of body weight. However, as from 3 mg/kg, a plateau effect can be observed, where the effect stagnates significantly. Amounts over 6mg/kg often lead to stress-like symptoms such as trembling, restlessness, irregular heart rate, palpitation and a headache. Sleeping disorders are another frequently observed consequence. Furthermore, during competitions, an “overdose” of caffeine can strain our gastrointestinal tract.

Picture: Unsplash

«Peak» after one hour

The reviving effect of caffeine is only felt as from roughly half an hour after its consumption. The maximum effect kicks in after about one hour, while it begins to decrease again after 2 to 3 hours.

Different kinds of caffeine

The coffeine which is contained in a lot of gels stems from the Guarana berry, in an espresso, it comes from the coffee bean, in chocolate, its from the cocoa bean. Further sources of caffeine are the kola nut (Coca-Cola), the mate leaves or tea plants. Which kind of caffeine has wich effect has not been treated closely in research yet and the question is further complicated by the fact that other ingredients have an influence on the effect of caffeine. Furthermore, the reactions to caffeine are highly individual.

Reduced effect for coffee lovers

Those who consume a lot of coffee on a reqular basis profit less from its performance-enhancing effect. As a consequence, some sports people stop drinking coffee a couple of weeks or months before a competition, in order to be able to profit from the effect of espresso or Coca-Cola again on competition day.

Picture: Swiss image

Avoid carbonic acid

As a source of caffeine during competitions, people don’t normally drink Coca-Cola ice cold and with sparkles, as it is done normally, but tepid and without sparkles. The reason: carbonic acid causes belching and cold drinks strain the gastrointestinal tract.

Caffeine pills

You can even take in caffeine via pills. A pill contains 40 mg of caffeine. 22 pills can be purchased for CHF 11.50 at the pharmacy.

Careful!

Children below the age of 12 are not recommended to consume caffeine. According to Swiss food regulations, special drinks containing caffeine (e.g. energy drinks) are not allowed to exceed 32 mg per 100 ml.

Test beforehand!

As with all supplements, the following applies for caffeine: you should really test different products beforehand. Test for yourself and try to find out which amount of caffeine provides you with the desired kick and in which moment!

 

 

This blog entry by Andreas Gonseth was provided by Fit for LifeFit for Life is the Swiss magazine for fitness, running and endurance sports. Would you like to read such articles on a regular basis? Then click here. (unfortunately, this page is not available in English)