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.

Our new running.COACH ambassador Paula Radcliffe

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Former top runner and marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe is our new running.COACH Ambassador. We are happy to have her incorporate her knowledge and training philosophy into our training plan.

Since 2005, Paula Radcliffe has been holding the world record for the marathon distance (2:15:25 hours), which the Englishwoman ran at the London Marathon. She won this marathon as well as the New York Marathon three times.

During her 23-year career, she ran very successfully at various distances (5,000 meters, 10,000 meters, marathon). We are delighted that all those years of training and competition experience are going into the running.COACH training plan and that we can let you benefit from it.

In the interview with running.COACH she already gives us an insight.

Last year, Eliud Kipchoge broke the men’s world record at the Berlin Marathon and raised it to a seemingly unattainable level like you did 15 years ago. How far will this men’s world record go?

I think it was already a big step forward from Kipchoge. Maybe since Monza, we saw the possibility that he was going to really advance the world record a long way. Now he did that, so I think he’s a little bit ahead of the others for the moment. So that record may last a little while. If anyone can get closer to 2 hours for the moment, it’s him. So I think the breaking 2 hours will still take some time. This record will stand for a while.

While we’re talking about records: How many more years will your record last?

I don’t know – already, I’m grateful that it stood for this long. The longer I keep it,  the more proud I become of it and also the luckier I am that I was able to be set on that day because everything came together. Because for the marathon you need to have good conditions, a good shape, the weather needs to be good, everything needs to be right on that day. It was a good day in London. I’m grateful that I was able to get that. But also the longer I keep it, the longer I like keeping it.

What has running given you personally over all those years?

It has given me so much. From fun, pleasure, and enjoyment to the personal sense of fulfillment. Learning more about my body and psyche. Becoming a stronger person. Meeting so many interesting people and traveling to such amazing places. Learning the value of teamwork and preparation and perseverance. How to overcome setbacks. Being a healthier person and gaining a good perspective on life.

In 2015, you ended your successful career. What would you do differently if you could turn back the clock (e.g. in training, recovery, nutrition, competition/career planning)?

I’m a big believer in “no regrets” – you give everything the best shot and you’re proud of the things that work out and the things that didn’t work out you kind of learn something from and you accept them. So obviously, I would’ve liked to not get injured before the Olympic Games in Athen and Bejing. But I think for most of the others I was lucky. It worked out more often than it didn’t.

How did your body react after ending your career?

I think for me I am lucky since, as a distance runner, we retire from competition but don’t have to retire from running. So I miss competing but also value the fact that I had a long career and enjoy being able to just get out and run still for pleasure. So my body copes very well because when I want to run I do and if my body is tired I don’t need to push it anymore. I was able to be very patient in building back up after my foot surgery and really listen to my body.

Has your attitude toward running changed since then?

Running was always my enjoyment and stress release but now it can be more so. I can really use the run for whatever I want to get out of it mentally as well as physically now, whereas before there was also a training purpose to the run. Now, I can run hard to clear my head and feel good if I feel like it, or I can just run easy and enjoy the scenery or company and use the run as thinking time or problem-solving time!

 

What does a typical Paula Radcliffe training week look like today? How much/how often do you still run?

I mostly run every day now and generally for about an hour. I very rarely start my watch though and I don’t really have a plan for the run when I start. I run how I feel and include impromptu tempo runs, fartleks or hill sessions if I feel like it. I often also just decide on the actual route during the run depending on where I feel like going.
What is your favourite training? 

It was the long run, it was very important and I liked it. I also loved the fartlek and hill training and somehow track sessions when I was in shape. So I watched out that these trainings are included in the running.COACH as well.

What are your training principles? Can they also be used by hobby athletes?

Yes, it’s mostly to enjoy running. That’s the biggest thing. To enjoy running and to have fun. But also to work on your strengths as well as on your weaknesses. We have to work on our weaknesses but we also have to recognize where we are strong and change the training and racing to suit where we are strong. And then it’s also important to have a plan and stick to it.

Can you give us some tips for the last preparation before a race?

Especially for a marathon or longer distance race, it’s really important to make some training runs or strides in the shoes and in the kit you’re going to wear on the race day. That’s really important. By then, the last main preparations are done so the last bit is to feel good to recover from the hard work. I think it’s more easy runs with some fast strides and some refueling, stretching, massages. And of course, good sleep during the race week because often people don’t sleep well during the night before. So you need to stock up before. And eat well!

Is there a secret tip you can give us? A training, nutrition or recovery tip, for example?

I think the most important thing is that sometimes rest is an important training also. People forget and only think about running – training – running – training – running – training, but if your body is tired and your mind is tired, sometimes rest day is the best training.

What convinces you personally about the running.COACH online training schedule?

I think the flexible nature that adapts to every runner. The fact that it is planned by people who understand running, and what runners want to get out of their training. The experience of the team and the holistic planning of it all come together to help the individual runner get the best from themselves and their training and racing.

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.

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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