Stomach problems when running: Where they come from and what to avoid

Categories

Intensity and digestion in a dilemma: When all systems in the body are occupied by a physical challenge, the stomach gets a raw deal, which often results in digestive problems. Intensive endurance sports and digestion are two activities that limit each other.

Practically everyone who loves longer physical challenges has some experience with digestive problems. The reason is obvious: Intensive physical activity uses the available oxygen primarily for the supply of energy in the muscles, the other systems, such as digestion, are reduced to a minimum. The microclimate of the stomach is often disrupted by physical exertion.

Depending on the location, a distinction is made between problems of the upper and lower digestive tract. Symptoms of the upper digestive tract include burping, heartburn, chest pain, nausea and vomiting. In endurance sports, stomach problems occur mainly in running, cycling and triathlon. The more intense an exercise load is and the longer it lasts, the more frequent are digestive problems. In a 10 km run or a hike, far less than in a marathon or Ironman, for example.

Heartburn and its causes
Heartburn can occur due to increased acid production in the stomach or due to so-called stomach ulcers. Triggering factors can be the regular intake of certain medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs or cortisone. Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol as well as frequent large amounts of protein-rich food can additionally cause these disorders. Heartburn is not caused by physical activity, but by a disorder of the closing mechanism between the esophagus and the stomach. Nevertheless, an increased transfer of gastric acid to the oesophagus could also be detected in healthy probands during running. The shocks associated with running are probably responsible for this, because the stomach’s ability to absorb food deteriorates massively as a result of the constant impacts. This phenomenon is much less pronounced when cycling.

If the food is eaten shortly before the run, the reflux of acid is even more pronounced. A temporary decrease in the tension of the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach can provoke a pushing open of the sphincter and thus the backflow of gastric acid, which is additionally intensified by the increased breathing during physical activity.

Drinking: delicate shortly before the competition
Nausea occurs in long distance running mainly during or shortly after the end of a competition. What is striking is that those athletes who drink something before the competition have a 3.3-times higher risk of upper digestive complaints. The decisive factor for this is the delayed emptying of the stomach, as is observed with higher running intensity (75% of the maximum oxygen intake).

Studies also showed that athletes who had a certain degree of dehydration (about 5% body weight loss due to perspiration loss) had delayed gastric emptying. Thus, dehydration increases the risk of gastrointestinal problems during running, which can lead to nausea and vomiting. Other causative factors are intense heat and long running distances. High outside temperatures can impede gastric emptying by reducing intestinal blood flow and mobility.

Be careful with medications
Typical symptoms such as heartburn and frequent burping are an indication of a dysfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter. An examination by a doctor is therefore recommended. Drugs that attack the gastric mucosa should be avoided as far as possible in consultation with the doctor. The most important points for athletes:

  • Pain killers such as aspirin and ibuprofen should not be taken.
  • Avoid nicotine and drink caffeinated and alcoholic beverages with restraint.
  • Effective drugs (such as ranitidine) or so-called acid blockers reduce acid production and can alleviate the symptoms.
  • Hypertonic drinks (e.g. cola or other sweet drinks) should be avoided because of the resulting delay in emptying the stomach.
  • Isotonic carbohydrate/electrolyte drinks are emptied from the stomach as quickly as water and are therefore preferable in small portions throughout the entire run (commercially produced sports drinks such as gels provide the body with energy without straining the digestion too much).

The art in endurance sports lies in the optimal balance between an intensity of performance at which the necessary amount of energy can still be absorbed and the situation-specific food to which the stomach is accustomed. The appropriate intensity also depends on how ambitious an athlete is. If an athlete runs or goes to the limit for hours in pursuit of a best time, there is a great risk that the stomach will rebel even during minor tasks. If, on the other hand, the athlete consciously avoids this and attaches importance to adequate food, then it is possible that he will make it through the course without any problems and will still have reserves in the end, but will not be able to fully exhaust his performance limit. The “perfect competition” is therefore always a search for the “perfect” speed.

Dr. med. Roberto Llano is a specialist FMH for general internal medicine and sports medicine SGSM. Roberto Llano is a team doctor for the Snowboard Federation, the U15-U20 national football team, the Ju-Jitsu national team and the BMX national team of Swiss Cycling and works as a senior physician at Medbase Bern.

Why we run – Why people participate in ultramarathon races

Categories

About the author and the text: Christopher Stern is an orienteer and a runner, and this is the conclusion of his Matura thesis (graduation thesis in High School). Interviews with six ultramarathon runners, three of them female and three of them male, to find out what motivates them to participate regularly in ultramarathon races.

In very short, the motivation can be described by the following words. The ultramarathon is about experiencing an adventure in nature in all its facets, something that is intrinsically rewarding. Ultramarathoners seek their limits and a sense of community. It is about revelling in sunsets and enjoying the tranquillity while running in the mountains and getting into the state of flow.

However, motivation is something personal and differs from runner to runner. Hence, a more specific conclusion split into categories of motivation is given. The conclusion of the thesis draws upon semi-structured interviews and a qualitative analysis. For curious readers, the Matura thesis, explaining the methods and including the original interviews, is linked below.

Their motivation is of intrinsic nature

There are runners which only participate to prove the world that they are capable of running such a distance. Though, to run several competitions means that only intrinsic reasons can motivate enough to withstand such agonies. Experienced runners get mostly rewarded by the experience of the race itself, not by results nor by the admiration of others.

It is about seeking limits

Ultramarathoners want to find their limits. And once they found them, they try to go beyond them. It lies in the nature of long distances to challenge the body as well as the mind. To cope with difficulties, mental lows and the fear of dropping out of the race is part of the experience and appreciated by most of the runners. If they finish despite all the difficulties, the happiness and complacency is even greater.

It is about finding tranquillity through meditation

Tranquillity is the state of being calm. Running can be meditation, it helps the mind to become clear and calm. Most runners know the meditative character a short jog in the woods can have. The experience is said to just become more intense, the longer the distances get. Once an ultramarathoner is out for a day or even longer, his mind has plenty of time to ponder over questions, over their life or even over why they run. The silence of nature is the perfect condition to meditate.

It is about the movement

Running is a simple movement. Deeply rooted by evolution, humans must have loved running since long ago. Ultramarathoners especially love the movement because it adds speed, so more nature can be seen in shorter time, yet it is slow enough to pay attention to the surroundings. They say that if they bike or ski, the attention is more on the technique and the speed is too high to really enjoy the mountains. This leads to the next motivation that all of the runners pointed out to.

It is about nature

Being more specific, it is about mountains, the weather and lights. All of the runners love the mountains. Ultramarathon is their way to explore the vast amount of beautiful places in the Alps or elsewhere. It must be very impressive to get into a snowstorm in the middle of the night and experience a stunning sunrise the next morning.

They love the adventure

To run an ultramarathon is a journey. When they are on the trail for 24 hours or more, they experience a lot of unpredictable happenings. Changing weather, unknown responses of the body or the mind to the stress and a many instances where things can possibly go wrong make an ultramarathon an adventure.

It is about the flow

We all know it. The state when everything becomes easy, when we are completely immersed in the activity. Ultramarathoners enjoy this state for a prolonged period of time, which causes a lot of happiness. To feel the flow is a key aspect of motivation for some of the interviewees. The flow experienced while running might be particularly intense because it is amplified by the endorphine hormone released to let the body cope better with physical stress. This endogenous pain drug leads us to the next topic.

Addiction

Addiction is no motivation, but it can replace it. Certain ultramarathoners might be addicted to their sport. The flow, meditative moments as well as highs and lows are part of both, the ultramarathon or a drug trip. However, keeping in mind that everyone is low when deprived from a beloved activity and that everyone shall have the right to be passionate about something, I would say that none of the respondents was addicted. As long as one does not harm the body and keeps having social contacts, we should not be talking about an addiction. To keep social contacts takes us over to the last motivation.

The ultramarathon community

The community is essential for most of the respondents. As most runners might have experienced this fact themselves, running communities are often respect- and helpful. The community is very familiar and when someone has difficulties along the trail, he or she can always expect the help of the very next runner, even when this is a pro athlete going for the win. The relatively small community, if not at the UTMB, is very exquisite and wild.

Read the whole text

Barefoot running – pros and cons

Categories

Running barefoot changes the running mechanics. This can be advantageous in case of knee problems. But it is important to allow yourself enough time for the adjustment.

Roberto-LIano-14Author: Dr. med. Roberto Llano, Specialist for General Internal Medicine FMH, Sports Medicine SGSM, Head of Medicine Medbase Bern Westside

 

 

In childhood barefoot walking was common practice in summer. Adults, on the other hand, hardly do it anymore. And the runners are divided: For some runners barefoot running is almost like a religion, for others it is totally frowned upon. Both sides have good arguments – but there is little scientific proof. What is certain, however, is that the biomechanics of barefoot running are significantly different from those that are used when wearing shoes. Various studies have shown this.

With shoes, the runner becomes a backfoot runner. This means that the runner places the foot on the heel and rolls over the entire foot. In barefoot running, on the other hand, the midfoot touches the ground first and then rolls a little over the forefoot. The front part of the foot is angled less upwards (dorsiflexion) and the knees are stretched less. This shortens the stride length.

When running barefoot, the foot skeleton absorbs more shocks, so that the transmission of force upwards is less than when the heel lands first. This reduces the load on joints such as the patellofemoral joint, where the kneecap glides along the thigh bone. For runners with kneecap problems, such as osteoarthritis, barefoot walking can therefore be an option. The same applies to back pain.

However, the two biggest advantages of barefoot running are that it trains the foot muscles and trains perception for the underground. Many people use their eyes to orient themselves when walking and running. The feeling for the situation in the room, on the other hand, often withers because it is trained too little. You notice how much, for example, when you try to walk on a line painted on the floor with your eyes closed. At the latest, however, when your eyesight deteriorates with age, a good sense of the ground is all the more important. Barefoot walking trains this perception for the position of the feet in space.

It also offers advantages in other respects, as various typical runner injuries occur less frequently for barefoot runners. These include, for example, inflammation of the sole of the foot fascia (plantar fasciitis), iliotibial syndrome with pain on the outside of the knee or hip and problems with the muscles on the back of the thigh (hamstrings).

To conclude from this that barefoot walking is generally better would be wrong. For example, it causes more problems with the Achilles tendon, the calf muscles and it also leads more frequently to injuries to the sole of the foot. However, barefoot walking per se is not more unhygienic than walking in shoes, as long as you wash your feet afterwards.

If you want to start running barefoot, you are well advised to proceed gently and slowly. Because every experienced runner has a well-established running pattern that cannot be changed overnight. As mentioned, both the foot mechanics and the foot muscles change when running barefoot – and that takes months. Over time, the soles of the feet also become more resistant and can endure an amazing amount. In the beginning, the feet quickly become hot when walking barefoot. You can feel every muscle. This is a good sign. And at the same time the signal to stop. Because it should not become more, in order not to overload the feet. If you expect too much of yourself, you risk a stress fracture of the metatarsal bone in extreme cases. A good idea is to cover only a short part of the usual distance barefoot at the beginning and gradually cover an ever longer part. Or to do the running drills barefoot, but then put on the training shoes again.

Whether barefoot running brings faster times in competition is an open question. There were some competitive athletes who competed barefoot. As a rule, however, you run the fastest with the technique you have learned.

A compromise between running barefoot or in shoes is minimal or “barefoot” shoes, of which there are now many models. As far as running mechanics are concerned, they stand between both types of running. However, the exercise profile is similar to that of normal training shoes. But the same applies to miniature shoes: Give your feet time to change!

female bare feet on white background

Tips:

  • Walking barefoot is healthy. However, barefoot walking should only be done on suitable ground, for example in the forest. Asphalt or other hard surfaces are unsuitable.
  • Running barefoot is not per se more unhygienic than running in shoes. However, injuries to the soles of the feet are more common. Therefore, wash your feet well afterwards and pay attention to good foot care. Daily checks for injuries are important. With the right training, however, the sole of the foot adapts surprisingly well and becomes much more resistant.
  • If you are used to walking barefoot, you can also do this in winter. As long as you run, your feet are well supplied with blood. It is not advisable to run over ice plates or go for a barefoot mountain hike.
  • People with diabetes or sensory disorders on their feet (neuropathy) should not walk barefoot. They feel any injuries or overexertion less well. Diabetes can also affect the immune system and blood circulation, so small wounds can quickly become stubborn ulcers.
  • For special foot shapes (e.g. hollow foot), consult a specialist beforehand. If at all, then only very slowly change over to barefoot walking.

Medbase running.coach

Gear tracking – How many kilometres have I run with my shoes?

Categories

To keep track of the number of kilometres you have run and the number of workouts you have done with a particular pair of running shoes, and thus know when to replace them, you can assign a specific pair of shoes to each workout. You can also define a mileage limit at which running.COACH should display a warning message.

übersicht

Click on any workout to add / track a running shoe and go to the details page (“Edit + Info”). On the detail page you can click on the pen under “Additional information” -> “Gear”.

b2.PNG

An overview of former and active running shoes appears with the possibility of archiving former shoes (so that they are no longer displayed in the overview – they can be made visible again at any time) or adding new shoes. Click on “Add new gear” to add a shoe to the selection.

add new gear

In the upper part of the form you will enter general information about your running shoes. Many shoe models are already stored in the database. If you enter the shoe brand, suggestions will be made in the dropdown menu. Click on the suggestion so that you can also get suggestions in the “Model” field afterwards. The Suffix allows you to enter the colour of the shoe or another distinguishing feature (especially good if you have several shoes of the same model). If you plan to do most of the training with the same shoe, define it as “standard”. This will preselect the shoe automatically.

You can get more information by moving the mouse over the “?” symbols.

add gear

After you have clicked on “Add”, your shoe will appear in the overview. All registered and not archived shoes can now be selected in the dropdown menu under Equipment. The standard shoe will now be automatically assigned to every running workout without any action from you.

Packing list for your running competition

Categories

The training preparation is over, “only” the actual run is still to come. Definitely something to look forward to. If only the annoying packing on the evening before wouldn’t be left. Our list should help you to make the packing process as easy as possible and to make the evening before a bit less stressful.

Clothing

  • Underwear
  • Ev. sports bra
  • Running socks
  • Sports top
  • Running shorts
  • Jacket / Training jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Running shoes (no experiments: only worn ones)
  • Dry running clothes for warming up and after the race
  • Headgear
  • Longsleeve
  • Start number band / safety pins
  • Drinking Belt
  • Insoles

Hygienic articles

  • Towel
  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush / Comb
  • Scrunchies
  • Sun lotion

Food

  • Energy Bar / Gel
  • Beverages
  • Snacks
  • Ev meal while on the go / snacks for the trip
  • Salt tablets
  • Proteinshake / -bar for after the run

Documents and things relevant for the competition

  • Timing Chip (ev)
  • Bib number
  • Running clock (loaded) and chest belt

Others

  • Money / Wallet
  • Entertainment for travel and distraction (book/music)
  • Mobile
  • Headphones

The packing list for different events can of course appear differently and should be adapted accordingly.

Runners High – The Flow Experience while Running

Categories

Some runners regularly experience a “runners high”, others never experience it. Which conditions are most likely to lead to a blissful “flow-experience”?

Author: Dr. med. Sibylle Matter Brügger, Allg. Innere Medizin FMH, Sportmedizin SGSM, Manuelle Medizin SAMM, Sonographie Bewegungsapparat SGUM – Stv. Leiterin Sports Medical Center Medbase Bern Zentrum

Great, awesome, an incredible feeling of happiness – more than 25 adjectives are used by runners to describe the “runners high”. This proofs how hard it is to grasp this flow-experience.

There is no common definition for this – not to mention a guarantee that you will experience it while running: “I have been a runner for 25 years and can train as much as I want, but the “runners high” is unknown to me, a runner confesses. He is certainly not the only one. Some even doubt that the runners high really exists.

But psychologists agree: the flow experience exists. Not only during running, but also during many other sports and activities. In sports climbing as well as in “diving” into a book where you forget the world while reading. The decisive factor is that it is a continuous activity, without interruptions. Volleyball players, for example, who alternate intensive playing phases with short breaks, therefore hardly ever get into the “flow”.

The first person to investigate the phenomenon in detail was the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced Tschiksentmihaj). He described the flow experience as a state of “unified flow”, in which action follows action and humans merge into their activity, fully focused on what they are doing. Time flies by most of the time. Playing children “master” how to get into the flow. In such moments adults can feel feelings of ecstasy, euphoria or deep inner contentment. Sometimes it even lasts for one or two hours after the run.

But how do runners reach this blissful state in which running becomes effortless? It’s not that easy, and it certainly can’t be forced. But: You can create the conditions for the runners high to appear sooner:

Neither under- nor overstraining yourself
It is important that the current training and one’s own goals match the current performance. For example, if you are dissatisfied with your pace or have unrealistically high expectations, you have a lower chance of getting into the flow experience. Performance-oriented people who set their goals well, on the other hand, have good chances.

Run with your head free and relaxed
If you are tired or chewing on a problem, the probability for a runners high is small. The thoughts should not be focused on a particular thing and the overall attitude to life should be positive.

High training intensity
The flow is almost only reached by those who are both well trained and train at 80 to 90 percent of their maximum heart rate. Beginners can only keep up with this training intensity for a maximum of two minutes. But that is too short. They will therefore hardly ever get into the “flow”.

Schedule sufficient time
The flow experience comes at the earliest after 20 to 30 minutes of running.

Running in a pleasant environment
When running through a city where constant attention is needed to avoid overlooking other traffic participants, switching off is impossible (and not advisable). Some runners are best off on well known routes, such as a route through nature without abrupt changes. Others succeeded for the first time on a route that had not been mastered for some time.

Run alone
When running in a group, the flow experience occurs less often than when running alone. If you are not on your own, you have the best chance of a flow experience if your training partner is similarly well trained.

How the runners high exactly is achieved is unclear. It is triggered by the heart rate, which reaches a certain height. During this almost meditative state, the concentration of endorphins in the blood increases. These substances produced by the body have a pain-relieving and mood-lifting effect similar to morphine. However, they are not the cause of the flow, but rather a (pleasant) side effect.

Not so for the endocannabinoids. They are probably partly responsible for the flow experience. These are various cannabis-like molecules which the body produces and which have an effect on various organs. Endocannabinoids can, for example, protect brain cells from hyperstimulation, relax the soul or have an anti-inflammatory effect in the intestine.

Researchers have also found evidence that the nerve cells in the frontal cortex reduce their activity during runners high. However, what exactly happens in the brain is still unclear. But for those who are able to experience this feeling of happiness, this is probably of secondary importance.

Medbase running.coach

Record Runs at Sierre-Zinal

Categories

Maude Mathys (2:49:20) and Kilian Jornet (2:25:35) are the winners of this year’s Sierre-Zinal. In the star-studded field, both the women’s and men’s course records were broken. The course records fell so surprisingly clearly that in our quiz almost nobody, even close to guessing the right winner time.

Sierre-Zinal is a legendary trail race because of its nearly five decades of history and revered athletic performances, and on Sunday along its famed trails in the Swiss Alps another trail running legend added yet another chapter to both his own storied legacy and the race’s as well. Setting out with a blazing fast pace, Spain’s Kilian Jornet (Team Salomon) ran away from one of the most competitive trail running fields in recent memory to win in 2:25:35, shattering Jonathan Wyatt’s longstanding course record of 2:29:12 by three minutes and 37 seconds. It was Jornet’s seventh win at Sierre-Zinal in nine tries.

On the women’s side, Switzerland’s Maude Mathys (Team Salomon) also broke the Sierre-Zinal course record, winning in 2:49:20 to best Anna Pichrtova’s 2008 time by nearly five minutes. Both Jornet and Mathys won from the front, surging to the lead on the challenging early uphill.

Jornet was chased valiantly by 2016 winner Petro Mamu from Eritrea, who also broke the former course record, finishing just 56 seconds behind the Spaniard in 2:26:31. American runner Jim Walmsley (Team Hoka), competing for the first time at Sierre-Zinal, was 3rd in an impressive 2:31:52. Juan Carlos Carera was 4th in 2:32:52 and Great Britain’s Robbie Simpson was 5th in 2:33:55. Jornet athlete grabbed the lead a few strides into the race and was alone from there on out. The course gains 2,200 meters from the start in Sierre to the finish line in the idyllic alpine village of Zinal, rolling along before a big downhill finish. Jornet wasted no time letting the competition know he was going for broke. At the Chandolin checkpoint he was ahead of Mamu by two minutes 1:05:59 and in hot pursuit of the course record set by Wyatt in 2003.

In the women’s race, Mathys made sure Jornet wasn’t the only one breaking a record on the day. Her time of 2:49:20 was five minutes ahead of fellow Swiss Judith Wyder (Team Salomon) who finished in 2:54:20, and it broke the former course record of 2:54:26 by five minutes and six seconds. Wyder was also under the former record by six seconds.

Mathys was 3rd at the Dolomyths Sky run in Italy a couple of weeks back, but on Sunday she used her strength in the uphill to put distance between herself and the field in the early going. She was more than three minutes ahead at the Chandolin checkpoint and was never seen again by the rest of the pack.

Italy’s Silvia Rampazzo (Team Tornado) was 3rd with another strong effort on the Golden Trail World Series. She finished in 2:56:17. New Zealand’s Ruth Croft (Team Scott) continued her amazing consistency with a 4th place finish in 3:01:56, while France’s Anais Sabrié was 5th in 3:01:58.

Record times in the overview, including split times:

SierreZinal 2019 Record Runs
SierreZinal 2019 Record Runs

The whole livestream of the race can be watched here::

All  Results can be found here: https://www.datasport.com/live/ranking/?racenr=21138

 

running.COACH Quiz

And here is the results and the winners of our quiz. The winners all win a free running.COACH 3-month subscription:
1.) Winner women’s race + winning time
Correct answer: Maude Mathys / 2.49:20.
Bet on the right runner and estimated with the best finish time: Christoph Kellerhals (SUI), his estimated time: 2:52:58

 

2.) Winner men’s race + winning time
Correct answer: Kilian Jornet / 2.25:35.
Bet on the right runner and estimated with the best finish time: Quentin (SUI), his estimated time: 2:27:45.

 

3.) Best estimated winning time in women’s race:
Correct answer: 2.49:20.
Guillermo Morea (ARG) estimated best with 2:50:00 (His tip for the best woman was ‘Eli Anne Dvergsdal (NOR)’).

 

4.) Best estimated winning time in the men’s race:
Correct answer: 2.25:35.
Quentin (SUI), see number 2, estimated best. The next closer tip is from Dirk (LUX) inherits the prize with 2:27:48 2:50:00 (his bet for the fastest man was also Kilian Jornet).

 

5) a) Which country has the most top 10 placings? (W+M) + b) Will the records in women’s and men’s races be broken? + c) how many men run under 2:40h? how many women under 3:10h?

 

Correct answers: :
a.) Best Trailrunning Nation: Switzerland
Sierre Zinal 2019 Top Men and Women
Sierre Zinal 2019 Nunber of  Top 10 Men and Women by Country
b.) Record broken women: yes
b.) Record broken men: yes
c.) Number of Top Men/Women 2019 Men 16, Women 9.
Sierre Zinal Top Men Women
The figures prove very well that this year was quite a special year in terms of level.
Gabe from Catalonia (ESP) has solved this task best. She estimated the number of top men and women exactly and also predicted it on the men’s record. However, she was betting on Spain for the best trail running nation.
6.) Chance winner:
Paul Halford (GBR)
We are looking forward to the race becoming a great spectacle in 2020! And who knows, next year maybe the National Television will also be there.
Jim Walmsley Sierre Zinal
Jim Walmsley Sierre Zinal

Sierre-Zinal 2019 – the battle of the giants!

Categories

Sierre-Zinal is not a normal mountain or trail race. What Wimbledon is for tennis, the Wacken Open Air for heavy metal fans or the Lauberhorn descent for skiers, Sierre-Zinal is for mountain and trail runners: something extraordinary.

The course measures 31 kilometres and takes the runners from Sierre (570 m.a.s.l.) to 2425 m.a.s.l. for the first two thirds of the course, before descending 750 m to Zinal for the last third. This results in a total of 2200 metres ascent and 1100 metres descent. (19 miles, 7,200 feet of uphill and 3,600 feet of downhill)

Map and profile of the race: https://runningcoach.me/en/events/2313

Since 1974 the traditional event has been taking place, making Sierre-Zinal the oldest mountain race among the great European competitions in the mountains. There is much to be said for the fact that this year’s edition will be a very special one!

The reason for this are the numerous top athletes who will make the running course between Sierre and Zinal unsafe this year. Some of them in the shortest portrait:

MEN

Kilian Jornet, Spain, age 31
The Catalan set out to claim his seventh (!) victory at the Sierre-Zinal. He won the first race of the Golden Trail World Series and has the track record firmly in his sights.

You can read more about Kilian Jornet in the running.COACH blog post from 2018.

Jim Walmsley, USA, age 29
This will be his first start at the traditional mountain run. Actually a specialist for the ultra distances, the special distance profile could accommodate him however.

Davide Magnini, ITA, age 21
Coming from ski touring he is the shooting star of the scene. He won both the Mont Blanc Marathon and the Dolomyths Run. Last year, he finished 7th in Zinal, 5 minutes behind Jornet – betting that he will be a top performer again this year?

Nadir Maguet, ITA, age 26
His compatriot Davide Magnini stood in front of the sun twice this year – both the Mont Blanc Marathon and the Dolomyths Run Maguet finished 2nd.

Bart Przedwojewski, POL, age 26
The Pole is the leader of the Golden Trail World Series after the first three runs.

Marc Lauenstein, SUI, age 38
Unforgotten his triumph in 2013, when he won the race in the final descent. After a foot injury, Lauenstein is now back and wants to intervene again this year.

Article about Marc Lauenstein in the running.COACH Blog (2018)

Jacob Adkin, GBR, age 23
The British runner became European mountain champion in Zermatt in June. What can we expect from him on the 2.5 times longer course?

More favorites in the men’s race:

  • Robbie Simpson, GBR (2nd 2018)
  • Robert Surum, KEN (3rd 2018)
  • Francesco Puppi, ITA ( 4th 2018)
  • Petro Mamu, ERI (1st 2016)
  • Rémi Bonnet, SUI (4th at Mountain running European Championships 2019)
  • Stian Aarvik, NOR (2nd at Mountain running European Championships 2019)
  • Elhousine Elazzaoui, MAR
  • Jan Margarit, ESP
  • Teboho Noosi, LES (Wants to break the record)
  • Max King, USA (1st Mountain running World Championships 2011, 3rd 2017)
  • Yokouchi Yutaro, JAP
  • Florian Neuschwander, GER
  • Sage Canaday, USA
  • Julien Rancon, FRA
  • Andrew Douglas, GBR
  • Petter Engdahl, SWE
  • Juan Carlos Carera, MEX
  • Geoffrey Gikuni, KEN

Strong locals – Ready for a top placement

  • Stephan Wenk, SUI
  • Jonathan Schmid, SUI
  • Joey Hadorn, SUI
  • Pascal Buchs, SUI
  • Stefan Lustenberger, SUI
  • Martin Anthamatten, SUI
  • Werner Marti, SUI

WOMEN

Lucy Murigi, KEN, age 34
This year the Kenyan woman sets out to bring home the hat trick. After two victories in the past two years, this year she could take her third consecutive victory at Sierre-Zinal.

Ruth Croft, NZL, age 30
After a victory at the Mont Blanc Marathon and a second place at the Dolomyths Run she is the current leader of the Golden Trail World Series.

Judith Wyder, SUI, age 31
In the Dolomyths Run, the 31-year-old Swiss shocked her opponents by improving the course record by seven minutes. This makes the former world class orienteer one of the favourites on home ground as well.

Maude Mathys, SUI, age 32
The highest ranking is probably the current and triple European champion in mountain running. At the Dolomyths Run she showed what she can do at the uphill. Her roller qualities are also very good. Last year she ran a street marathon in 2:31:17.

Eli Anne Dvergsdal, NOR, age 27 
A victory at the beginning of the Golden Trail Series and the second place in the intermediate ranking speaks for itself. The Norwegian should be hot for a top place.

Simone Troxler, SUI, age 23
The third Swiss runner who can achieve a lot on home ground. At the last event in 2018, she showed what she was capable of and surprisingly finished third.

More favourites in the women’s race:

  • Sarah Tunstall, GBR
  • Elisa Desco, ITA
  • Carrion Gisela, ESP
  • Lina El Kott Helander, SWE
  • Ragna Debats, NED
  • Eli Gordon, ESP
  • Yiou Wang, USA
  • Silvia Rampazzo, ITA
  • Sarah McCormack, IRL
  • Holly Page, GBR

Strong locals – Ready for a top placement

  • Theres Leboeuf, SUI
  • Victoria Kreuzer, SUI
  • Maya Chollet, SUI
  • Alessandra Schmid, SUI

Who are your favorites? Are you a connoisseur of the trail and mountain running scene? Then prove it to us: https://forms.gle/Cr2YLY7ixcrpNkwB6

Start is on Sunday 11 August 2019 at 10:00 CET.

Race Planning / Runtime Calculator

If you are one of the 5200 participants and would like help with the race tactics, we can highly recommend our race calculator to calculate your possible finish time and your splits:

Written by Jonas Merz / Gabriel Lombriser

The 10 most beautiful marathons

Categories

Marathon is the supreme discipline of long-distance running. They are not only attractive for top athletes, but also for hobby runners. The choice of events is almost endless. So which marathons are the most breathtakingly beautiful ones? We have put together our top 10.

Jungfrau-Marathon

With its 1,829 meters of altitude (of which approx. 1,500 meters only start from kilometer 25), the Jungfrau-Marathon, might not be a marathon for beginners. The finish is at 2,320 meters above sea level. This means that – after you have already run 25km on flat terrain –  the actual showdown only really begins with the remaining 1,500 meters of altitude difference in ever thinner air. It is therefore important to divide up your forces well so that you don’t experience any nasty surprises at the end. But the long ascent is definitely worth it and the view is truly magnificent.

Image: sbb.ch

Website: https://www.jungfrau-marathon.ch/en/

Country: Switzerland

Month: September

Course records: 2:49:02 (Jonathan Wyatt, 2003), 3:12.56 (Maude Mathys, 2017)

Number of participants: Record at 8,572

 

Tromsø Midnight Sun Marathon

The exceptional thing about this race is certainly the midnight sun, which gives it a unique atmosphere – granted that the weather plays along, of course. The combination of snow-covered mountain peaks and the sea is also very special. The course runs almost exclusively along the sea and is therefore much flatter than that of the Jungfrau-Marathon. On this course it is therefore much easier to achieve a good marathon time.

Tromsø Midnight Sun Marathon

Image: msm.no

Website: https://www.msm.no/en/

Land: Norway

Month: June

Course records: 2:20:31 (Ebrahim Abdulaziz, 2019), 2:38:22 (Brynhild Synstnes, 2019)

Number of participants 2019: 1,022

 

Queenstown International Marathon

Although, for most people, New Zealand doesn not exactly lie around the corner, this running experience is definitely worth the trip. Queenstown is located in the southern part of New Zealand’s South Island. On the course you will pass several smaller lakes in an idyllic landscape consisting of mountains, meadows and forest. The last 10 kilometers lead along the famous Lake Wakatipu to the center of Queenstown. This marathon is a relatively “pleasant” run with its approx. 330 m altitude, the alternating surface (tar and gravel path) and the moderate climate. According to the motto of the relaxed New Zealanders: Stay relaxed and enjoy!

Queenstown International Marathon

Image: queenstown-marathon.co.nz

Website: www.queenstown-marathon.co.nz

Country: New Zealand

Month: November

Course records: 2:23:56 (Samuel Wreford, 2017), 2:52:21 (Hannah Oldroyd, 2017)

Number of participants: 11,062 (so far registered for 2019)

 

Big Sur International Marathon

This marathon follows the Californian coast from Big Sur to Carmel (between Los Angeles and San Francisco). From Big Sur Station, 108m above sea level, the route goes 665m uphill and 770m downhill, so that in Carmel you almost reach sea level (3m above sea level). The endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the beaches, cliffs and gentle hills make this marathon a wonderful experience.

Big Sur International Marathon

Image: bigsurmarathon.com

Website: www.bigsurmarathon.com

Country: USA

Month: April

Course records: 2:16:39 (Brad Hawthorne, 1987), 2:41:45 (Svetlana Vasilyeva , 1996)

Number of participants 2018: 3,291

 

Great Wall Marathon

The Great Wall Marathon is truly an extraordinary marathon and certainly one of the most demanding. Most of the course is directly on the iconic Great Wall of China! There are several meters of altitude to climb, many of them in the form of stairs. The gradient of the course is up to 10% in some places. Thus, it is not for those aiming for a fast marathon time. However, this run not only offers amazing sceneries, but also an unforgettable cultural experience.

Great Wall Marathon

Image: great-wall-marathon.com

Website: www.great-wall-marathon.com

Country: China

Month: April

Course records: 3:09:18 (Jorge Maravilla, 2013), 3:32:12 (Siliva Serafini, 2013)

Number of participants 2019: 645

 

Patagonian International Marathon

The event takes place at the southern tip of the South American continent in western Patagonia, east of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (the largest glacier area in the southern hemisphere outside Antarctica) and south of Torres del Paine National Park. The landscape is hilly, quite rough and adventurous and will surely be remembered for a long time.

Patagonian International Marathon

Image: patagonianinternationalmarathon.com

Website: www.patagonianinternationalmarathon.com

Country: Chile

Month: September

Course records: 2:57:36 (Luke Meyer, 2012), 3:30:29 (Inez-Anne Hagen, 2018)

Number of participants 2018: 148

 

Virgin Money London Marathon

If you prefer to a real classic among the marathons, the London Marathon is the right place for you. It doesn’t offer spectacular natural scenery, but a city sightseeing along several landmarks of the British capital. For this day, it seems that the entire population of London is in the streets to cheer on the many runners. The London Marathon is not only popular among hobby runners, is also an absolute favorite among the world’s top runners, as it is considered to be the fastest marathon in the world. Both the women’s and men’s world records were run here.

Virgin Money London Marathon

Image: Derby Telegraph

Website: https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/

Country: Great Britain

Month: April

Course records: 2:02:37 (Eliud Kipchoge, 2019), 2:15:25 (Paula Radcliffe, 2003)

Number of participants 2019: 41,906

 

Mt. Fuji International Marathon 

The Mt. Fuji International Marathon is another jewel among the marathons. The race takes place in autumn, which means that it is relatively cool on the one hand, but at the same time the leaves on the trees have turned mesmerizing shades of red and gold. In combination with the white summit of Mt. Fuji in the background and the water of the two lakes you run around, you get an absolutely stunning landscape.

Mt. Fuji International Marathon 

Image: Spacebib.com

Website: https://fujisan-marathon.jp/english/

Country: Japan

Month: November

Course records: 2:21:36 (Yusuke Kodama, 2018), 2:39:47 (Tomomi Sawahata, 2018)

 

Kilimanjaro Marathon

The event takes place in Moshi, the largest city near Kilimanjaro, which lies about 800m above sea level. The route leads through parts of the city, many small farms and villages, banana and coffee plantations and forest areas, to the great delight of the local people who cheer the runners on. The highest freestanding mountain in the world dominates the whole area in the background with its presence.

Kilimanjaro Marathon

Image: World’s Marathons

Website: https://www.kilimanjaromarathon.com/

Country: Tansania

Month: Late February/ Early March

Course records: 2:13:50 (David Kiprono, 2012), 2:38:03 (Alice Kibor, 2016)

Number of participants 2018: 614

 

Petra Desert Marathon

The Petra Desert Marathon is a challenging adventure marathon in a beautiful desert region of the Jordan River. The race starts in an ancient city called Petra, from where the route leads around the city. The landscape consists of stone mountains, sand and bushes and the heat demands a lot of stamina from the participants. But the unique nature experience is definitely worth the sweat.

Petra Desert Marathon

Image: hdsports.at

Website: https://petra-desert-marathon.com/

Country: Jordan

Month: September

Course records: 3:15:03 (Salameh Abdel Karim Al Aqra, 2009), 3:43:25 (Inez-Anne Haagen, 2015)

Number of participants 2018: 121

 

We would like to emphasize that this list is subjective, and it was very difficult for us to make a selection. If you would like to add other marathons to the list, you are welcome to tell us in the comment field below. 😉

 

Article by: Marion Aebi

Running training at altitude

Categories

Stimulated blood formation, but decreasing muscular performance – training at altitude can be quite the balancing act. Find the most important tips below.

 

Author: PD Dr. med. Christoph Dehnert, Specialist in General Internal Medicine and Cardiology FMH, Sports Medicine DGSP, Medbase Sports Medical Center Zurich

 

What goal do I want to achieve? This question stands at the beginning of any altitude training. Because altitude training has various faces: Is it about preparing for a competition in the mountains, for example an alpine marathon? Or should altitude training provide training incentives to increase performance in the lowlands? Depending on the goal, different aspects are important.

If your goal is to achieve the optimum performance in an alpine race, you have to acclimatize as much as possible to the corresponding altitude. To do this, you should have trained at altitude before the race, according to the motto “Train high – live high”, i.e. “Train at altitude and live at altitude”. This type of altitude training is – in the truest sense of the word – a tightrope walk: the danger of overtraining is much greater than in the lowlands. In order not to get exhausted, you have to reduce the usual training intensity and train more slowly than usual. The catch: the muscular performance adapts quickly – and consequently decreases in height. One way out of this dilemma could be to spread the acclimatization over several short episodes of three or four days each. So, for a few days you have to train regularly at altitude, but in between you need to train in the lowlands repeatedly.

Because the air is “thinner” at altitude, the red blood cells take up less oxygen than usual. In order to improve the oxygen supply to the organs, the body first eliminates blood plasma and “thickens” the blood. In addition, the heart pumps faster and thus increases the volume of blood pumped per minute. However, there is no rule of thumb how much faster the pulse beats in the mountains. Therefore, the training levels from a performance diagnosis carried out in the lowlands cannot simply be transferred up in altitude. Also, the subjective assessment of the training intensity is often far off, especially when experience with training at altitude is missing. The best way to transfer this assessment to altitude is by looking at the respiration. As in the lowlands, during basic endurance training, one should be able to talk in short sentences while running. If you want to have a clearer picture of your performance, however, you cannot avoid performance diagnostics at altitude. Still, this is usually difficult to achieve.

While studies clearly prove that altitude training before a competition at altitude improves the performance there, the data situation is not too clear as far as altitude training for the purpose of increasing performance in the lowlands is concerned. The mechanisms of altitude training to improve performance in lowlands are not yet completely clear. Nonetheless, it is considered certain that the blood formation stimulated by the lack of oxygen at altitude has a performance-enhancing effect. However, this process only begins after two to three weeks of continuously staying over 2000 to 2500 meters. During this time, however, the muscular performance decreases due to the lower training intensities at altitude.

In competitive sports, therefore, two forms of altitude training have become established in recent years: firstly, the concept of “sleep high – train low”, i.e. sleeping at altitude to take advantage of the positive effects of oxygen deficiency on hematopoiesis, but training as usual in the lowlands so as not to have to reduce training intensities. And secondly, to shift the high-intensity training up to a considerable altitude in order to exert an additional stimulus. However, these two logical concepts do not always lead to an increase in performance. There are substantial individual differences here.

If at all, altitude training to improve performance in the lowlands is therefore only useful for top athletes who have exhausted their training in the lowlands to the maximum. But even with them it is controversial whether it really brings the hoped-for benefit. Amateur athletes have rarely optimized everything in terms of training. For the best possible result at the peak of the season (assuming the competition takes place in the lowlands), they probably benefit more from training optimization than from altitude training.

Those who nevertheless decide in favor of an altitude training camp should bear in mind that experience has shown that the maximum performance can only be expected about two weeks later. But here, too, everyone has to make their own experiences.

Tips

  • Staying at height acts as a stress factor for the body. For example, it takes about ten to fourteen days for the body to acclimatize to an altitude of 2000 to 2500 metres.
  • If you want to prepare seriously for an alpine competition, it is best to keep a training diary and train regularly at altitude.
  • When it comes to systematic preparation, the ultimate for a competition at altitude is an experienced trainer and/or performance diagnostics at altitude. However, this is expensive and there are very few providers.
  • If the time before an alpine run is not enough for a good high-altitude training, you should train at least a few times at altitude to gain experience.
  • If you don’t have the possibility to do so, it is best to arrive immediately before the competition. The performance at altitude is best in the first hours (maximum on the first day) after arrival. After that it decreases.
  • Training at simulated altitude only makes sense if specific training is possible.

 

Translated by: Denise Kaufmann