Interview with marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge

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Interview and pictures: Jürg Wirz – this blog entry was provided to us by the Swiss magazine FIT for LIFE.

He ran the marathon faster than anybody else before him – and he believes he can become even faster. FIT for LIFE visited the 34-year-old Kenyan at the training camp in Kaptagat in preparation for the London Marathon.

Eliud Kipchoge, at the latest since your fantastic world record last September in Berlin in 2:01:39 hours you are the biggest marathon runner of all times, unbeaten in the last ten marathons, including the Olympic victory in Rio and 2:00:25 at the Breaking2 attempt in Monza. What has changed in your life since then?

It’s gotten a little difficult. Every new achievement, every record comes with a new responsibility. Many people want something from me: sponsors, media people, but also the fans. I try to meet their wishes as well as possible, but I can’t make myself available for every single one of the sponsor appearances, interviews, autograph requests or selfies. I have to be selective. I hope my fans understand that. In the end they are also only happy if I show a good performance.

Does this increased attention also bring more pressure?

No, I’m not feeling any more pressure than before. I am the same as before Berlin. I am still primarily a runner. I only make other commitments if the training doesn’t suffer from it. During the week I am at the camp in Kaptagat where it is only about focusing on the training and nothing else.

If you think back to the race in Berlin: was this the perfect competition, the optimal result? Your coach Patrick Sang said that you had reached the top of your form at exactly the right time this time.

I can’t and won’t comment on what Patrick says. He is the teacher, I am the student. He dictates the training and I implement it. We never discuss the training, I trust him one hundred percent. He is the best coach I can wish for – and he has been for almost 20 years. But he is also a friend and my life coach. Was it the perfect race? On that day with these conditions: yes.

In Berlin you were already ahead after 25 kilometers without a pacemaker, you ran the second half in 60:33 minutes, 33 seconds faster than the first and you became faster and faster on the last kilometers; would you even have had more reserves?

Let’s not speculate, please. As I said, on that day it was the optimum. But I never said I didn’t believe I could run any faster. However, it depends on so many factors: I have to be in top form again at the decisive moment, the weather has to fit.

Your motivation is still unabated then?

I am convinced that I can continue running at this level for at least two more years, but I have no guarantee. I need to stay healthy and get through training without injuries. There is no lack of motivation; I am still very hungry. I want to go down in history as the best marathon runner, and for future generations I want to be a role model as a runner as well as a person.

You keep stressing this: it is the love of running and challenge that drives you, and the fact that you want to leave a legacy behind. But you have already achieved everything. What are the remaining goals?

I love running, it’s that simple. The Olympic Games next year in Tokyo are still a big goal for me – and yes, I might be able to improve the world record even further. Every day is a challenge, you’re always faced with a new one. And when I have achieved something, I look forward to the next goal. That’s the way to go. That’s my way of thinking, my character, that’s how I work.

On April 28, you will run the London Marathon, which you have already won three times. Was it easy to choose London again, or was there another option up for discussion?

This is the work of the management and the coach. They look at the different possibilities and tell me which one they think is best. After Berlin they thought London was a good choice and I agreed. I am happy to be able to run again in London. Especially since it comes to a meeting with Mo Farah. He is one of the greatest runners of all time. What he has achieved on the track is incredible, and now he is also a top-drawer marathon runner. It will be a real challenge, but that’s what I love. And for the fans it will be great to watch the race.

How has the preparation been going so far? Any changes, maybe new training impulses?

Everything has been going according to plan. And no, no changes. Again, we stuck to the training program that has worked for the last few years. For track training or driving games there may be small adjustments from time to time, but nothing of great importance. Before I start with the three-month training program, I just go jogging for a month and go to the gym three times a week, where I do strength training and aerobics for two hours.

What about nutrition, any supplements?

I still eat normally like any other Kenyan and do not take any supplements. The only exception is sports drinks.

And what about performance tests or other scientific training aids?

I often run with a heart rate monitor because I want to know how my heart behaves under the various strains. But I never analyze it with any specialists, it’s just for me. Before the Breaking2 project, the Nike people measured my oxygen volume and other things – I had to run on a treadmill for the first time in my life – but that was actually more for them than for me. It didn’t affect my training.

Since the Breaking2 project, your shoe, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite, has been a constant source of discussion and speculation, not least because Nike himself claims that the shoe would save four percent of energy. What do you think?

All I can say is that the shoe that I have assisted developing is the best marathon shoe I have ever had. In London, I’m going to run with the Vaporfly 4% Flyknit, the same model as in Berlin. Last year in London the stock material came from a 3D printer. But to be honest, to me, the whole shoe discussion is pretty boring. The biggest advantage is not during running, but in the recovery. It relieves the muscles and allows you to train at a high level more often. Progress does not come from the shoe, but from the head. If the shoe was so much better than others, why am I the only one running the marathon under 2:02 hours?

 

Change of subject. What does a training day look like in the camp in Kaptagat?

I get up at a quarter to six and prepare for the morning training, which usually starts at 06.10 or 06.20, unless we are going to Eldoret for trainings or for a long run outside Kaptagat. When I come back, I take a shower and then have breakfast with my colleagues. Afterwards I rest a bit, either on the campground or I lie down again. Then it’s time for lunch. After lunch I often have a massage. Before the second training begins at 16 o’clock, we rest again. Then once more a shower and waiting for dinner. At 21 o’clock I am in bed. This is what my day looks like. On Tuesday we have track training, on Thursday the long run, which can go up to 40 kilometers, and on Saturday a driving game. On Saturday afternoon we go home and spend the weekend with the family. On Monday morning we go back to the camp.

Let’s talk about the young Swiss Julien Wanders. European record over 10 kilometers and in the half marathon and now even the first official world record holder over five kilometers on the road. Are you following his performance?

Yes, of course. He’s a member of the Nike NN team and has the same manager. I’ve never met him since he’s been one of the pacesetters at the Breaking2 attempt in Monza, but I’ve been following his performance very closely. Running the half marathon in 59:13 is really fantastic, especially for a European. I admire him and I’m happy for him. After the London Marathon I would like to sit down and have a chat with him. For me, Julien Wanders is proof that East Africans have no genetic advantages. If a European decides to concentrate entirely on sport and live in the heights, he can just as well reach the top. It’s just a question of talent, training and the head. Wanders is already a role model for other Europeans. I am sure that many will follow his example.

What is your opinion on the doping problem in Kenya? Are many runners not informed enough about what is allowed and what is not, or why are cases increasing?

I am convinced that most athletes know about the issues around doping. There has been a lot of education in recent years, especially from the Kenyan federation. I think in most cases it’s about someone wanting to make money faster. Which is very regrettable, because of course it also casts a shadow over all clean athletes. Maybe it also has something to do with the African mentality. Unfortunately, cheating is in the DNA of many people.

Do you think that a country like Kenya will continue to produce world-class athletes in the future? In Kenya, too, technical progress can be seen everywhere and living conditions are improving. A life full of hardship as a runner may soon no longer be in demand or necessary in order to achieve something.

I don’t spend much time thinking about this. Progress comes and cannot be withheld. And with it also technological development. It’s true that many children today take a bus to school or are taken there by their parents in a car. I think that in Kenya and other countries there is a need for sports academies where talented young people can go to school, train and prepare for competitions. Where they can train and are mentally formed. Too much is left to chance at the moment. But there will always be young people everywhere who want to achieve something in sports.

A few keywords at the end:

Breaking2?

I ran 2:00:25 under special conditions and I have the official world record. With the experience from the first time the chance would be bigger now to run under two hours. But I never chase two rabbits, only one at a time. Right now, I’m concentrating on London, nothing else.

City marathons?

I think they are fine the way they’re organized for us elite runners right now. There are people who are involved in the organization and administration of the marathons; it’s their job to think about it. My job is to run as fast as possible.

Your children?

I try to raise them like other parents do, even though their father may be a little better known than others. I think that I – and my wife – have succeeded quite well so far. Our children don’t get every single thing they want. They should know that nothing should be taken for granted, and they are to try out different kinds of sports.

Religion?

Religion plays a very important role in my life. It keeps me from doing things that could keep me from my goals. On Sundays I go to church with my family and I pray regularly, even in the mornings before a race.

THE REASONS FOR ELIUD KIPCHOGE’S SUCCESSES

Childhood:

Eliud Kipchoge grew up in a village called Kapsisisywa in Nandi County as the youngest of five children. His father died early. The mother, a teacher, showed the children the right way into life.

Coach:

Eliud was lucky Patrick Sang lived nearby. Sang, once one of the best obstacle runners in the world (and a member of LC Zurich), has been his coach and mentor for 18 years. Sang holds the highest IAAF trainer diploma.

Track running career:

Before switching to marathon at the end of 2012, he was one of the best track runners of his generation. At the age of 18 he beat Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele over 5000 meters at the World Championships in Paris; for nine years he ran the course for less than 13 minutes.

Body concept:

For 16 years at the highest level, Eliud Kipchoge had very few injuries as he has been taking good care of his body: Strength training in the gym and aerobics at the beginning of a preparation, then hill runs for strength and always incorporating stretching and massages.

Problem solving:

He is also able to master challenges during a race: the high temperatures at last year’s London Marathon, the rain in Berlin in 2017 or 2015 also in Berlin when he won despite the insoles having slipped out of his shoes.

Peace of mind:

His calm and serene nature proves to be ideal in extremely emotional high-performance sports. Those who remain calm can think more clearly, concentrate better and prepare for the challenges of a race.

Humbleness:

Despite his success, Eliud Kipchoge has remained very modest. In the camp he participates like everyone else in the cleaning work and he lives in a simple single-family house; his children should not grow up differently than others.

Planning:

The right planning is key to success. As soon as the next marathon has been determined together with the management, he sits together with the coach and gets informed about the rough plans, starting from the day of the race.

Eagerness to learn:

He’s a curious man by nature. He reads many motivation and business books. He is never satisfied with what he has achieved. As an athlete and also as a person, he always wants to learn new things, become even better and always looks to the future.

Training partners:

He has excellent training partners at his side, including Geoffrey Kamworor (multiple Half Marathon and Cross-Country World Champion), Stephen Kiprotich (Olympic Marathon Champion 2012 and World Champion 2013) and Abel Kirui (double Marathon World Champion).

Training:

As far as training is concerned, he trusts his coach Patrick Sang one hundred percent, whom he calls his coach for both training and life. Training programs are not subject to argument: Sang is the teacher, Kipchoge the student.

Self-confidence:

Over the years, especially since the 2:00:25 hours of the 2017 Breaking2 trial in Monza, he has built up an unshakeable self-confidence. He knows, no matter what happens in the race, he’s ready. He has been undefeated for ten races.

Achieving the 3 Hour Marathon Dream

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Running a marathon below 3 hours – a dream that came true for our running.COACH User Chris Howard. Together with our Gold Coach Gabriel he improved his form to be a more efficient runner and less prone to injury. Very sucessful, as you can read here in his personal report about his journey to the Valencia Marathon.

I started running 5 years ago once I hit 40 years old – either this was due to a mid-life crisis or to just generally get fit and remove the storage space around the tummy. My first marathon in Lucerne of just over 4 hours was hard but the feeling at the end got me hooked for more.

Running Dream and injuries

Over the next few years I got better by adding the miles and then signed up with running.COACH silver subscription and was able to bring my time down over the next 2 years to 3.14 in Berlin and then 3.09 in London. I was following the plan, obtaining excellent advice and was really happy with my progress. However, I then wanted to achieve the next level and achieve under 3 hours. This became the running dream.

Training with a Coach: less kilometres

Unfortunately, I had a few injuries which kept on pushing me back and then I did Chicago and got a 3.32. Why was I getting further away from 3 hours and not closer? A friend recommended me to have a personal coach and use the running.COACH Gold subscription. I signed up in June 2018 for a 6 month subscription and Gabriel Lombriser would be my coach for the next 6 months. I was advised at the beginning about a running day being conducted in Nottwil and I learned more in that day about running style, efficiency, mobilisation, specific training etc. than I had done by looking at over 100 Youtube videos.

At the beginning of the subscription I had a detailed discussion with Gabriel about injuries, aims, personal lifestyle, nutrition etc. Gabriel then created a plan for me. Gone were the 6 days of training over 100km per week and I was shocked to see only 60km per week and 5 trainings. Gabriel fully understood my injury history and accommodated my plan to this to ensure I had continuous training and not to be constantly interrupted by injuries. Throughout the next 6 months I could have an easily accessible view of my plan on my phone and receive detailed tips per run.

Journey as a Team

The training got easier and then more intensive as time went by. Constant communication with Gabriel ensured I was on this journey as a team and not by myself (every question asked was answered quickly with excellent advice). I was advised which test runs to do and these were built into the plan. Constant feedback after the test runs was given by Gabriel as to how I could improve in the next run and by putting this advice to practice, I noticed constant improvement. However, it was the constant change to the norm in runs which I was advised to do which helped me significantly.

Valencia Marathon

Valencia marathon then arrived and I felt good. A detailed discussion took place between Gabriel and myself a week before about tapering, nutrition and marathon pacing strategy. I felt confident. Then the day before the marathon, Gabriel called again to provide me with some key tips and encouragement.

The marathon went like a dream. The splits were the same for every 5km and when I felt tired at after 30 kilometres I kept on repeating the advice Gabriel had given me and I found some new energy. When I hit 40km I knew I could do this if I hanged in there and suddenly I was able to run the last 2km in 3.51min/km – this was due to the change to the norm training Gabriel had advised me to do.

The feeling of running up to the finishing line and seeing the clock being under 3 hours was highly emotional. All the training had been worth it and the dream was fulfilled when I crossed the line in 2.59.

I have learned that you don’t need to do 120km+ per week training to achieve under 3 hours. Instead, you need a brilliant coach who understands injuries, plans, lifestyle etc. and is fully with you on the journey to achieve a running dream. This was teamwork. I thank Gabriel and running.COACH so much for making this happen and being a core part of this amazing journey.

The online coaching platform at running.COACH is great for individualized training programs. It allows you to find your own time to run and you know the workout was made just for you based on your training progress and goals.  With the silver subscription you can ask our coaches two questions by email per month. If you want to have a personal coach on your side the whole time, then benefit from our Gold Coaches and their long-time experience in running and coaching. Sign up and test running.COACH for free. 

Meet our Gold Coach Alexandre Roch

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Our Gold coach Alexandre has a lot of experience in middle distance and as well in long distance runnig. In the following interview, you will learn more about Alexandre’s passion for running and you will get a lot of tips from him.

What reputation and importance does running have in the country that you live in?

In the French-speaking part of Switzerland, Geneva especially, running is getting more and more popular. Big events like the Geneva marathon or the «Course de l’Escalade » are motivations for both elite runners and amateurs. All over the world people run for reasons of health, but also in order to achieve a certain goal, to take on a challange or to get their heads free from stress at work. Through running many people find freedom, joy, passion or power of will, which all have positive effects on an intact personal balance.

Tell us your personal running story.

After a good result at the Course d’Escalade, I took up running at the age of 16. I made progress quickly, probably thanks to good preconditions for this sport. My favourite disciplines were all between 1500m and 5000m. In these, I got Swiss champion in both the juniors and the U23 category. However, my best memories are from cross country running: running on uneven ground under aggravated conditions, running by instinct and fighting all the way until the end. I have won five Swiss Championship titles in cross country running, as well as participated four times in European Championships and once in World University Championships. In recent years I have changed to longer distances. I won silver at Swiss Champs in 10’000m in 2013 and I have run a couple of half marathons and marathons. I need the challenge in competitions and I like to beat my own records on 10km and in half marathon. Nevertheless, first of all, running should be fun. The feeling of freedom is incredibly important to me.

What has been your favourite running experience so far?

There are quite a few, but I can say for sure that the Swiss Championships in cross country running in Tenero in 2008 are one oft hem. I won the short distance in the seniors’ class, followed by another victory in the long distance in the U23 class the following day. The short distance was like a dream. I found myself at the front of the field without knowing how. I just made it all the way and even today I am still amazed at my ease and my confidence that day – the perfect race. I also have very good memories from the European Championships.

What is your next goal? How do you prepare for that? 

After three rather difficult years, I am aiming to get back to a top level. My goals for this autumn are to improve both my 10km and my half marathon times. In order to achieve that, I need to find the right balance in my training, as well as, mainly, a lot of joy, which is the key to success. The rest is subsidiary and just happens, given the right presuppositions: planning, way of life, rhythm, etc.

What is your favourite type of training?

My favourite session is a ascending endurance run according to feeling, which I call «endurance Kenyan style». Nothing is pre-defined and you only run according to your feeling. This often makes you discover and unleash unknown resources. I like this gradual increase in pace, pushing all the way to the end, and the exertion, preventing you from thinking about anything else.

Which is your personal piece of training advice that you can share with us? 

When you start running, it is important to set up different sub-goals and to build up your training step by step. Aiming to high might create too much pressure, leading to a shrinking confidence. Sub-goals help to focus on the moment and not to overthink too much.

Do you have any ritual which you do before a competition? 

I don’t have any specific ritual. Thinking about it though, I think I check my shoestrings shortly before start, so that they don’t open during the race.

What is your personal tipp for competitions? 

If you feel stressed or a bit tired before a race or if you don’t feel confident, you should not think about it too much. This is only a waste of energy. Sometimes, I even end up having one of my best races when I feel bad before start. The important thing is to keep up the confidence and to go hard as soon as the race has started.

Do you mind your nutrition?

A lot! It should not turn into an obsession though and I don’t have feelings of guilt when I happen to eat less healthy for a while. I eat very little meat, I generally prefer organic products and I try to eat good fats (olive and rape oil). Furthermore, I eat less pasta than in tha past and I increasingly substitute it with lentils, quinoa or bulgur. In the morning I normally eat more fats, such as bread with butter, eggs or cheese with avocado and almonds. Fats are better utilised during the day than during the night.

What is your favourite running brand? 

In previous years I have worn a lot of clothes and shoes by ASICS, as I like their philosophy «Anima Sana In Corpore Sano»! Now, I often vary my shoes and I orient towards my own needs, as, basically, no brand is better than the other. I like the Nike Free model a lot for endurance and Nike clothes for their design. For competitions, I have recieved the Nike Zoom Streak LT3 Light Speed. It is very, very light, which I like.

What was a special moment for you as a running coach/ Gold coach? 

When someone tells me that he or she has made progress thanks to my coaching and my advice and that this has led to a better feeling in daily running training.

Why should a customer book you as a Gold coach?

Beginners, as well as experienced runners can profit from my experience and my testing of different methods and approaches. However, the most important thing with coaching is listening to the athlete and to understand the context, the person’s needs and his or her individual ways. I try to take the athletes’ perspective in order to understand their mental and physical level. Interaction and communication is important, including the exchange of both doubts and joy.

If you wish to book Alexandre as your Gold coach – you can get further information here.

Meet our Gold Coach Stefanie Meyer

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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.

New running.COACH ambassador: Frank Shorter

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We introduced him, Frank Shorter, back in our series: running legends. The running legend can look back on extraordinary achievements, which were the result of a special training philosophy. His knowledge is now also finding its way into running.COACH: Frank Shorter, the Olympic champion in marathon 1972 in Munich, is our new ambassador – we are proud and happy.

Olympic champion 1972 in Munich

Frank Shorter was the dominating marathon runner of the 1970ies. In 1972, he won the marathon at the Olympic Games in Munich. And how: already during the first half of the race he ran away from the field. In the finish, his lead amounted to more than two minutes. Four years later, at the Olympic Games in Montréal, we won the silver medal. Between 1971 and 1974, Shorter even succeded in winning the at that time very prestigeous Fukuoka marathon in Japan four times in a row.

Running boom through shorter’s achievements

With his Olympic victory, Shorter achieved not only a win in sports, but he also ran into the consciousness of American public (the Olympic marathon was broadcasted live on US TV), thereby making the running sport popular for the general public. His achievements, especially the triumph at the Olympic Games in Munich, contributed considerably to the beginning of a running boom in the US.

Frank Shorter shortly before his greatest achievement: winning the olympic marathon 1972 in Munich.

Shorters career is characterised by three expecially interesting aspects

Firstly: It was incredibly successful. Out of the 15 marathons he ran, he won ten. A fourth place, aside from one dropout, was is worst result. Shorter achieved these results between 1971 and 1976. That is, he was at the very top in marathon for six years. He managed to stay at the top for such a long time, because he was good at peaking his shape for the important competitions. He finds it practically impossible to be in the best shape possible two times in one season, he says. Therefore, he only ran a few main competitions per year and he used to try and be in his best possible shape at the Fukuoka marathon and at the Olympic Games.

Secondly: Shorter was no top athlete during school days. It was not until the end of his university career that he started to train seriously ant to achieve good results.

Thirdly: Shorter first trained for track running. He was also very competitive in 5000m (PB: 13’26’’) and 10’000m (PB: 27’45’’). This is something he has in common with Paavo Nurmi, Emil Zatopek, or even Derek Clayton.

What do we learn from Frank Shorter?

Out of these three aspects, every amateur runner can learn a lot. Firstly, it is worth focussing on a few main competitions a year. This expecially applies for longer distances; training and preparatory competitions are of course always possible. Secondly, it is not necessary to be a top athlete already in younger years. For longer distances, structured training can give great result even at a later stage. Thirdly, fast legs in shorter distances lead to better performances over longer distances. This explains the importance of rapidity and interval training.

Good to know that the knowledge of a running legend like Frank Shorter is inherent in the running.COACH training plan.

“The training philosophy that made it possible to become olympic champion is at the heart of running.COACH. As we developed plans for everybody, running.COACH suits every level: From the beginner to the absolute competitive athlete.”

Meet our Gold Coach Gabriel Lombriser

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He’s definitely THE ALLROUNDER among our Gold coaches: Gabriel Lombriser. Orienteer, mountain runner, triathlete, duathlete and, most preferably, trail runner – successful in different disciplines. His longstanding experience as a training guide and coach is noticeable in the interview: you can find more background information about his passion for running, as well as a lot of tips here.

What reputation and importance does running have in the country that you live in?

There’s probable no bigger popular sport in Switzerland than running. That’s not too surprising, considering that running probably is the most primitive of all sports. All you need is a pair of shoes, a shirt and pants. You can do it wherever you like, it is easy to learn and progress can be easily seen, even at a higher age. Switzerland is a country of runners and the run-ning scene is steadily growing. People run for reasons of health, because it’s just good for you to be outside and to move. The many popular running events also motivate people, as you can experience them in a huge crowd, which in turn encourages you to push your own limits and to perform at your very best. The current trend in Swiss running clearly goes towards more trail, less road, more adventure, experiences and emotions in nature. The aspect of time keeping and the cracking of certain time marks, like in mara-thon, are becoming secondary concerns.

Tell us your personal running story.

At the age of 18 I took up running, or athletics. Before that, I had been ac-tive as an ice hockey player and in the gymnastics club. While, at the beginning, I mostly did middle and long distance track running, I gradually started to run more on the road and in nature. My specialty still are runs requiring a lot of strength, such as mountain runs or cross-country runs. I even was an orienteer for years. Time after time, my love for multi-sports evolved and I

have been able to finish numerous Gigathlons or Ironmans up to now. At the moment, I am rather going a bit more «back to the roots», and back to simple running. It simply is the most natural sport still. It doesn’t require a lot of equipment and it is easy to be executed. And, above all, I can almost get anywhere by foot. I love the long trainings in the mountains – over hedge and ditch, up on hills, enjoying the views and the calm, and then going down again.

What has been your favourite running experience so far?

Difficult to say. I’ve had so many great moments in my career so far, both in trainings and in competitions. The most emotional one has probably been the run in at the Gigathlon 2012 in Olten, where I managed to cross the fi-nish line as the second runner after two days and almost 24 hours of com-petition. Other highlights were the finish at the Ironman Hawaii and the cra-cking oft he 24h world record on the treadmill together with 11 friends of mine.

What is your next goal? How do you prepare for that? 

Results have become a bit secondary for me. For 2017, I am rather looking for challenges such as a longer trail run in Switzerland. I haven’t decided on any specific one yet.

What is your favourite type of training?

I love training in a group and I even guide a training myself for the STB in Bern. It’s a pretty cool thing if up to 30 fast guys and girls smash an intense interval session together – Kenian style. My favourite training type for the group is the binary session: 1x4min, 2x2min, 8x30s, 16x15s, where the break should always be half the time of the interval.

Which is your personal piece of training advice that you can share with us? 

That one I only share with my Gold athletes, of course! Very generally, and important for runners of all ages: if you want to be able to do a sport free from injury, to do it for as long as possible, and to always keep improving, I recommend you to do a strenghthening programme in any case. Even regular stretching or yoga help to keep your body smooth and agile!

Do you have any ritual which you do before a competition? 

Nothing special. A coffee one hour before the race, then a good warm-up and lining up only shortly before the start. That way, I can make sure the level of adrenaline is appropriate right from the start!

What is your personal tipp for competitions? 

Go to the start well prepared. Make yourself familiar with the route/ task beforehand in your thoughts. If you know your performance level, you should know what time you are capable of running and you should be able to pace yourself appropriately from the start. The running.COACH estimations for competitions and the GPS watch are helpful instruments, too.

Do you mind your nutrition?

I try to eat balanced. I usually start my days with a müesli with a lot of fruit, nuts and almond milk. In addition, I have an egg. This gives me power for the whole day.

What is your favourite running brand? 

I have been favouring the products by Salomon for years. For trail and adventure trainings and competitions there is no brand offering as many great products as Salomon. Now, Salomon even produces top road running shoes, which are not only fast, but even look good!

What was a special moment for you as a running coach/ Gold coach? 

There have been countless awesome experiences and successes as a coach. As a coach, it’s always great if you know your athletes and their personal capacity so well that they are able to keep to the pace you’ve recommended right until the end. That way, people achieve personal bests and positive emotions are guaranteed. This always makes me happy anew!

Why should a customer book you as a Gold coach?

I can pass all of the experiences that I’ve gained as an athlete and as a coach in all different running disciplines, distances and topologies on to you unfiltered! I see myself as a partner, with whom to achieve very personal goals at any level. Working towards a goal together makes more fun than alone, sharing successful experiences even more so. I support athletes with both their rough and their detailed planning, I support them in case of difficult decisions, I motivate them in tough times and I slow them down if their drive is on the verge of overboarding.

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Meet our Gold Coach Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck

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Do you need some motivation at the beginning of the year? You will surely find that in our interview with Gold coach Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck. The certified sports scientist and nutritionist is a mother now. However, being a former high performance athlete (German champion in marathon 2010), she is still constantly on the move.

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What reputation and importance does running have in the country that you live in? 

Running is very popular in Germany and city runs are getting more and more popular, too. Running is a national sport – that’s great!

Tell us your personal running story.

Running has always be a part of my life. As a child, I played handball and football, I was a member of a tennis squad and I would always go for runs with my neighbor. When I was as fast as the ”big ones” already as a ”little one”, I was approached by a club. At the age of 14 I took up running guided by a coach. Well, and with success came specialisation. I decided to focus more specifically on running, I became German champion several times and I participated in international cross-country running competitions. After an injury in 2013, I quit my career as a professional runner, but enjoy running even more intensely now being a coach.

What has been your favourite running experience so far?

Oh, there are so many. Actually, every run. An especially memorable experience, however, was the Wings for Life run, which I won in 2015. Out of the blue, I had decided to take part and I originally only wanted to run 30km, but then I got all euphoric and I suddenly ended up in the leading group. The interesting thing with this competiton is that the finish is not fixed but decided by the moment when the so called «catcher car» catches the runners. So, I was being chased the whole way and I did not know for how long I would be running. In the end it was about 50km and I was totally surprised. Awesome feeling.

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What is your next goal? How do you prepare for that? 

At the moment, I just run according to intuition, as my son Frederik is only nine months old. But this is nice for a change. My goal is to feel good having a break from running.

What is your favourite type of training?

I’ve come to love short, intense sessions, such as for example the «running Tabata-training », comprising 10 min warm-up, then 4×4 min Tabata (20s fast running, 10s easy jogging, repeated 8 times) with 2 min easy jogging in between. Then cool-down. Great!

Which is your personal piece of training advice that you can share with us? 

Qualitiy over quantity. Have the courage to push yourself a little sometimes and don’t simply take it easy all the time.

Do you have any ritual which you do before a competition? 

Not anymore. What is always important though: your meals should be standardised. I would not experiment there!

What is your personal tipp for competitions? 

Relaxed in your head, relaxed (à fast) in your legs. Easier said than done. Try to always remind yourself of why you are doing this. For yourself!

Do you mind your nutrition?

Of course. Without nutrition training is only half as efficient and good, balanced food is essential for your health. I surely nibble, but I love eating healthy, it’s just good for me.

What is your favourite running brand? 

Odlo. Easy one! Odlo has an excellent quality. The products last forever, they fit perfectly and they feel great. Furthermore, Odlo is very conscious of sustainability and they for example produce a collection with shares of yarn residues. They are also a member of the « Fair Wear Foundation », so, the working conditions are monitored. I find that extremely important.

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What was a special moment for you as a running coach/ Gold coach? 

When my runner Andreas achieved his marathon goal brilliantly!

Why should a customer book you as a Gold coach?

A coach who is always there for you as a runner, who gives you feedback and sometimes also gently drives you is just «worth a mint». This way, you can achieve your running goals more easily, you get to know more about nutrition, recovery, alternative training etc. – just an ideal and complete running training package!

Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck has got her own category on our blog – new entries will follow.

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Meet our Gold Coach Calum Neff

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This Interview is with our Gold-Coach Calum Neff, World Record Holder for Fastest Half Marathon Pushing a Stroller (1:11:27) and Full Marathon (2:31:21). Read about his running background and get his advise.

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Calum’s explanations below the interview*

What reputation and importance does running have in the country that you live in? 

I’m currently in the USA but have lived in many countries, and no matter where I go the running community is always welcoming and like family. I think the general reputation of running in the USA is as a participation sport, its great to see so many new runners joining late in life. Because of this, a lot of them have never had formal instruction which is why we are seeing so many injuries and a general decline in the average marathon finishing times. As a coach and athlete I encourage everyone to run, but the right way- learn proper form and gradually build distance over time, don’t be in a rush for that Boston Qualifier! A gradual progression will keep you healthy and enjoying the sport, meaning you will continue running.
Tell us your personal running story.

I started running at the age of four years old, it was a kids 1km race while my dad was doing a local 10km. I still have my bib, tshirt and running from that first race in 1988! Growing up I was lucky to run in many places around the world and also experience a range of coaches, teams, and disciplines of the sport. Some of my earliest instruction at the age of 9 included the classic form drills we still see today. I also took part in lots of trail, cross country, track, and road racing. At 9 years old I first beat my dad when I ran a 40 minute 10km. At 14 I ran my longest race of 28km through the trails of Australia. Through high school and university I was dedicated to XC and track and now that I am post-collegiate have ventured into ultramarathons and road marathons.

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What has been your favourite running experience so far?

The stroller running has been such a joy, to share running with my kids (and have some company during those miles!) has been a lot of fun. During this latest marathon buildup I did quite a few of my key marathon workouts, including long runs, with my daughters. On weekends I like to drive out of town a little, find some hills and new scenery, so these little adventures were a great bonding experience for me and especially my eldest daughter, Aley, who is four. It’s a key part of her development too, she learns a lot during these runs, asking millions of questions, and enjoys being out in nature.

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What is your next goal? How do you prepare for that? 

Having run so well with a stroller in the Toronto Marathon I think that I am in new territory in my running career and would like to give the marathon (without a stroller) a really good shot. The Canadian (my nationality) standards for our team are extremely difficult to obtain but maybe in 3 years time I can bring my time down enough to meet the qualifying standard for a national team. With another baby on the way next year I will also have to find another stroller record to go after in addition to some goals I have in ultra running. With long term goals in mind I am going to be doing a phase of shorter distances (5k thru half marathon) before getting into a large base mileage phase again leading into another marathon preparation. It’s the same type of training my athletes receive on running.COACH, of course I adjust their paces!

What is your favourite type of training?

Long runs through the mountains in new places, high above tree-line, fast and light with minimal gear. These types of runs are great physically but more so mentally, the hours just fly by!

Which is your personal piece of training advice that you can share with us? 

Good training is all about good recovery, you have to listen to your body and communicate that with your coach. Doing a workout when you’re tired, sick, or stressed in other ways just because its on your calendar is bad training. Limiting your downtime due to injuries and other setbacks is key to being consistent over a long periods of time, and if you can do that then there is no way you wont improve.

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Do you have any ritual which you do before a competition? 

Before a race is the same routine I do before a workout, keeping the same warmup and no superstitions means my body and mind know what to get ready for but can also adapt as nothing goes exactly to plan.

Do you mind your nutrition?

I cycle my diet like a cycle my training, there are phases where I really watch what I eat and stick strictly to a certain diet and other times I take that mental break and relax. My standard plan is almost always to have protein immediately after finishing a workout. I like to keep it simple though- drink when thirsty, eat when hungry. This will help avoid too much or too little of anything and its sticks to my tip above, listen to your body.

What is your favourite running brand? 

I have been running in Altra Running shoes for the past three years and its been my healthiest and best performances in my career. I’ve also been training using Polar watches for over 16 years now which really assists in heart rate training and recovery.

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What was a special moment for you as a running coach/ Gold coach? 

Coaching gives me the same tingling feeling I get in a race when I have athletes out there racing themselves, multiplied by how many athletes I have running. Working with children always brings me the greatest joy as they really lay it all out there, especially cross country. My gold athletes have some big goals right now, two of them going after ultra marathons, I can’t wait to see their hard work pay off.

Why should a customer book you as a Gold coach?

I think a good coach is someone who recognizes the true potential of an athlete, more so than they see in themselves, and gives them the encouragement and tools to perform to their full capability. I haven’t met a single person yet that I don’t think can be much faster than they already or faster than they think they think they could be. I love to help people reach their goals through smart, individualized training, by adding my nearly 30 years of running and coaching experience.

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*Calum’s WARM-UP Explanations

Coffee or tea? I like both but normally drink coffee
Summer or winter? There’s no winter in Texas, I miss the Canadian winters but now I run year round.
Running training in the morning or in the evening? I love my sleep but there’s something special about finishing 20 miles before most people are out of bed.
Running training alone or in a group? I rarely get the chance to train with anyone else which is another reason I love racing so much, great to run with a group.
Running in the terrain or on asphalt? Concrete is fast but I do love my trails, best way to revitalize your running in my opinion.
Running with or without a GPS watch? Always a watch for me, I love the data. I should try without sometime.
Running statistics: yes or no? Excel spreadsheets galore, I’m a slave to the data, analysis, and statistics!
Pre-competition meal: pasta or rice? Pasta- Aglio Olio, spaghetti in olive oil with lots of garlic and cayenne.
Competition nutrition: gel or bar? Gel
Alternative training: swimming or biking/cycling? Cycling

Meet our Gold Coach Ole Srocke

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This Interview is with our Gold-Coach Ole Srocke, runner and triathlete. Read about his running background and get his advise.

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Tell us your personal running story.

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I was 19 years old when one day, as I was doing an easy jog in Lüttich, I incidentally met Alemitu Bekele, who was a Belgian marathon champion at that time. So we ran a view kilometers together. When I arrived at home, completely exhausted but happy, I entered for the Hamburg marathon 2010. Alemitu had said to me: «This will not be your last marathon…» ! How right she was. After Hambur 2010, 11 marathons, numerous fun runs over 5, 10 or 21,1km and a few triathlons followed.

What has been your favourite running experience so far?

Sun, 4th place and a lot of fun at the Freiburg marathon 2014 in the home of my choice.

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What is your next goal? How do you prepare for that? 

The Freiburg marathon 2017 and the Challenge Roth 2017 (long distance triathlon). Preparation for that? The best way ist to just enjoy training and to look forward to it!!! Hence, in winter: a lot of base training in the water and long runs, as well as a few tours on the mountain bike in order not to lose the feeling for cycling. As from January/February, the real marathon preparations start, thus: running, running, running. As from April then, more cycling is on the plan. I do tours in Black Forest, in the Vosges mountains and in the Rhine plain, as well as superb runs and a couple of short distance triathlon competitions.

What is your favourite type of training?

I actually like all kinds of running. I love long runs because you can do them easily without pushing too hard. My favourite session on track is 20x400m with 200m easy jogging.

Which is your personal piece of training advice that you can share with us? 

This sure is no secret but in order for training to work you need to really be into it! Look forward to your training, enjoy training WHILE training, and be happy about having trained AFTER training. And in those cases where I am not keen on training, I simply look forward to AFTER training!

Do you have any ritual which you do before a competition? 

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Every competition is different, which is why I always listen to my head and body before a competition and try to figure out what I need that specific day. And then I do it.

Which is your personal piece of competition advice that you can share with us?  

Don’t make yourself go crazy. Any doubts about your shape or training before competitions? All in your head. Three days before the competition your foot starts hurting? Just in your head. Stay calm. And go out and show what you can in the competition!

Do you mind your nutrition?

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Yes. During base training low carb works very well form me (carbohydrates only via fruit and vegetables). Favourite meal: Fresh fruit with linseed, grated vanilla and a bit of stevia.

What is your favourite running brand? 

ON Running.

What was a special moment for you as a running coach/ Gold coach? 

When the first runner I ever coached beat his marathon target time by 20 minutes.

Why should a customer book you as a Gold coach?

Simply because I enjoy training and supporting you to reach your goals. Book here Ole as your Gold coach.

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Meet our Gold Coach Ueli Bieler

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This Interview is with our Gold-Coach Ueli Bieler, runner and triathlete. Read about his running background and get his advise.

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What reputation and importance does running have in the country that you live in? 

In an international comparison, Switzerland is a country with many runners. About 20% of the Swiss population runs regularly. Furthermore, ever more of those people run a considerable amount (several times a week).

Tell us your personal running story.

Until the age of 20, I mainly played football and other ball sports. However, we only ran a maximum of 5km per training session. My good endurance rather stemmed from long hikes. I have always been to the mountains a lot and I have always enjoyed it. I only took up running when I moved to Zurich for my studies at the age of 21. I did my first running trainings with the ASVZ (Academic Sports Association Zurich). Two years later I already completed my first long distance triathlon (Ironman Switzerland 2003).

What has been your favourite running experience so far?

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My best running memory so far is from the Berlin marathon 2015. I had already run 9 marathons before. However, I ran most of those previous marathons at the end of the triathlon season, without serious preparation, whereas at the Berlin marathon 2015 I had the clear goal to achieve a new personal best. I specifically prepared for it together with 9 other runners on my squad (TV Oerlikon) for about 8 weeks. All of us were successful. I achieved a new personal best with 2:34,12 and Christian Kreienbühl even managed to qualify for the Olympics in Rio with his time.

What is your next goal? How do you prepare for that? 

After the Powerman Zofingen is my next goal the Ironman Hawaii. I am thus taking part in two official World Championships in long distance within 5 weeks. In addition to that, the Ironman Switzerland took place 6 weeks before the Powerman Zofingen. I am testing something new this year, trying to keep myself in competition mode for 11 weeks in a row. I have planned a competition every fortnight. A lot of recovery and only a couple of shorter, tough training sessions are planned for in between.

What is your favourite type of training?

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Ueli at Glacier 3000 Run in Switzerland

My favourite kinds of training are long mountain runs – I sometimes do them as training competitions. I really enjoy being in the mountains and I like technically challenging terrain.

Which is your personal piece of training advice that you can share with us? 

Something which is being neglected by a lot of runners: breathing. You should breathe deep down into your belly when running. It should feel as if you were filling your whole belly with air. You can practice this anytime and anywhere. Training my breathing has helped me a lot to improve in running: I am now able to run more relaxed even in competitions and at a high intensity.

Do you have any ritual which you do before a competition? 

I like warming up a little longer than others, although I keep it very easy. Before a half marathon I would usually warm up about 20 minutes at 6min/km, followed by a couple of quick accelerations.

Which is your personal piece of competition advice that you can share with us? 

This is very individual! Each runner needs a different piece of advice for a competition. However, a good pacing makes sense for everyone. Especially beginners tend to start off too fast. One should think about what distance one will be able to keep for the whole race and one should keep the pace as steady as possible right from the beginning.

Do you mind your nutrition?

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Ueli’s Kitchen!

I know a lot about sports nutrition and I have been following what’s happening in the field of nutrition science for many years. Nutrition is important for athletes, but you don’t need to complicate things. If you stick to the most important rules, you can achieve a lot without too big an effort. My diet is varied and healthy, but I keep it simple. I don’t take any supplements.

What is your favourite running brand? 

I don’t have any favourite brand. Running shoes are most important however. I use about 10 different pairs of shoes from 10 different brands – depending on the situation and the type of training.

What was a special moment for you as a running coach/ Gold coach? 

I am always very happy when one of the athletes I am coaching works for a specific goal… and then achieves it.

Why should a customer book you as a Gold coach?

Because of my experience. Especially on longer distances. I have been working for running.COACH for 10 years now and I have organised more than 1500 running trainings, as well as a lot of training camps. Furthermore, the 10 marathons and the 20 long distance competitions (duathlon/triathlon) that I’ve taken part in, have left me with a lot of competition experience.

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