Julien Wanders: Living for the running sport


Text and photos: Jürg Wirz – this blog entry is provided by the Swiss magazine FIT for LIFE. If you’re interested in reading informative articles about running and endurance sports on a regular basis (in German), click here.

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The 22-year-old Julien Wanders from Geneva runs from record to record and is currently on cloud number nine. On 8 February, the next big challenge awaits the young man at the half marathon in Ras Al Khaimah. He lives for sporting success like no other Swiss has done before him. FIT for LIFE took a closer look at Julien Wanders’ training routine.

UPDATE: Wanders completed the half marathon in Ras Al Khaimah in a time of 59.13 and replaces Mo Farah as European record holder over this distance.

His story reads like a modern fairy tale: Once upon a time there was a little boy who was not even six years old when his parents let him take part in the Course de l’Escalade. In the category “Poussin B” he only made rank 152, but he was so fascinated by the atmosphere and the surroundings that he wanted to join an athletics club. The people in charge at Stade Genève saw how motivated he was and let him join in, even though he was technically still too young. However, it took a while before he could really live his passion of running. For several years, Julien was trained in all athletics disciplines, even as a 14-year-old he hit the ball, threw the spear and jumped far and high. Here – and also thanks to a lot of sports sessions with his family – he was able to lay the groundwork for his career as a runner.

After graduating from high school, which he completed with flying colors, although, as he says, he never actually invested much time into school, there was only one professional goal for him: to become a world-class runner. To achieve this, he moved to Kenya. The first time, at the end of 2014, he had a flight to Nairobi, he knew how to get to Iten and he had the phone number of a Kenyan runner given to him by a colleague in Geneva. Everything else was unclear. His parents were – quite understandably – a little worried, but they knew he wanted it badly and they couldn’t stop him even though he was only 18. Everything went well. In the meantime, they have visited him several times in Kenya, the father recently came over for Christmas, and they are proud of what their son has achieved by his own efforts.


Kenya has long since become Julien Wanders’ home. He lives with his Kenyan girlfriend Kolly in a little two-room house, has his own training group and feels absolutely at home here in Iten, this small town at 2400 meters above sea level. “I would never have done the same thing in Switzerland,” he says, without even a second’s hesitation. “It was my best decision. Here, I have everything I need as a runner. When I’m in Switzerland for a few weeks, I’m afraid of losing my form, focus and motivation. It’s stressful. In Iten, I can do a run starting right at my doorstep, I can get the most essential food just around the corner and the guy who usually massages me three times a week comes to my house.”

Early on he managed to replace the running legend Markus Ryffel as Swiss record holder over 5000 meters of the U18 and U20, but what Julien Wanders achieved in the last twelve months exceeds the boldest expectations: his 60:09 minutes in the half marathon of 11 February 2018 is a European U23 record, the 27:32 of 14 October in Durban and the 27:25 of 30 December in Houilles European record, seventh place in the world ranking 2018 behind five Kenyans and one Ugandan.

The previous record holder in the 10-kilometer road race was none other than four-time Olympic champion and six-time World champion Mo Farah. On February 8, Wanders wants to bring another Farah European record to Switzerland in Ras Al Khaimah; his focus is on 59:32 in the half marathon. The course in the north of the United Arab Emirates is considered to be very fast. Over the years, there have been 16 times pf people running under 59:30 minutes. Last year, Kenyan Bedan Karoki won with a record time of 58:42.


Julien wanders running.coach

The five and a half training weeks between Houilles and Ras Al Khaimah (8 February) are well-structured. The first week was mainly for recreation. Julien Wanders went running in the hilly terrain according to his desire. Coach Marco Jäger, who has been looking after him first in Geneva and now from afar since 2011, says: “In Houilles, Julien had to fight hard on the last kilometers; the race really took it out of him. It was therefore important not to push too hard too early.”

At the end of the recovery week, a long run (30 km) was planned, on the following Tuesday, a track training with short exercise peaks. And then it was back to half marathon training with weekly distances of around 200 kilometers. During three weeks, each week was harder than the other before.

The last hard week is two weeks before the half marathon. And the last days before the race are quite easy, although even then, the extent and intensity are not completely reduced. And for the very last two days, in this case Wednesday and Thursday, the Swiss has his routine: first, running for 50 minutes in the morning and 30 in the afternoon, on the day before the race 40 to 50 minutes in the morning. The pace? “It can be 4:20 per kilometer, but also 3:40 or 3:30. It’s important that it feels good.”

The race day looks the same: “Three to four hours before the start, I go running for 20 to 30 minutes, a kind of warm-up.” Then, I go back to the hotel and have breakfast. Before the race, it’s very simple: bread, maybe with some butter and honey or jam, sometimes, if it’s not too close to the start, some eggs, that is, some protein, tea, but no milk. “Nothing special, just a normal breakfast,” says Julien Wanders and adds: “As many carbohydrates and as little fat as possible is important. Immediately before the race I warm myself up again by running and take a few sips from my Winforce carbohydrate drink”.

He can’t sleep very well before the race, especially when the start is very early. In Durban, the start already took place at 07 o’clock in the morning, Julien only slept from 23 o’clock to 02.30 o’clock – and still set a European record. The start of the half marathon in the United Arab Emirates also takes place in the morning – at 08 o’clock.


Julien Wanders lives for his sport like no Swiss has ever done before him. He is fortunate enough to recover very quickly from the hard training sessions and to be able to complete a programme that only the world’s best marathon runners can achieve. FIT for LIFE looked over the shoulders of the shooting star of Swiss running in training and experienced that a “normal” week in the young Swiss’s life is not for wimps, as Julien Wanders’ protocol (below) shows.

In total, between 180 and 185 kilometers came together in Houilles in this penultimate week before the 10-km European record. The Swiss shooting star does not treat himself to a day without training. As a rule, he only takes Saturday afternoon off. He usually goes with his girlfriend Kolly to a restaurant in Eldoret, just 40 kilometers away, preferably to an Indian supermarket, perhaps the new supermarket, which has imported Swiss cheese in its range and also the dark Lindt chocolate, or he meets up with friends.

Success does not tolerate half measures. Julien Wanders explains: “I chose this path because I love running and training. And because I have big goals.” He has already achieved a few of them. Next up is the half marathon on 8 February in the streets of Ras Al Khaimah.

A typical railway training in Kenya: JULIEN WANDERS IST THE LEADER

julien wanders running.coach 2

Place: Tambach Teachers Training College

Altitude: 1950 meters above sea level

Training start: 7 a.m.

The sun rises over the nearby hills. In a short time, the temperature increases from 10 or 12 degrees to over 20 degrees Celsius. A few Japanese people do their rounds in nail shoes, Julien Wanders and his colleagues complete their program in street running shoes:

  • 5 series of 5 × 400 m each in 63/64 sec and then 35 sec break, after each series 4:30 min break
  • 5-min break
  • 5 × 300 m in 44/45 sec with 45-sec breaks
  • 5-min break
  • 3 × 200 m in 28/29 sec with 45-50-sec breaks
  • 5-min break
  • 1 × 400 m in 56 sec

At the end, the athletes congratulate each other; it was a hard training they can be proud of. The fact that the Swiss regularly leaves the Kenyans standing in the dust doesn’t seem to bother them. They accept him as their leader.

Minutes of the penultimate week before the European record in Houilles: TRAINING, MEAL PLAN, SLEEP


Day watch was at 05.40, about 30 minutes before I met with my training group. I drank a little water, went to the toilet and then left the house. We ran for one hour at a speed of 3:45 minutes per kilometer, a total of 16 kilometers. Then 10 times 100 meters hill sprints, fast.

At 07.30, I was back in the house and made my breakfast: tea and bread with some egg, because of the protein, which took maybe 30 minutes. At 9 o’clock I was back in bed and tried to sleep another hour and a half to two hours.

From 11 to 12, I had a massage and at 12 o’clock, I started to prepare lunch. This time just with what I found in the fridge: pasta with tomato sauce. It took about 15 minutes. Afterwards, I lay down again until about 14.30. After getting up, I took a gel and meditated for half an hour. At half past four, I did some strength exercises for 20 to 30 minutes.

At 16 o’clock it was time for the next training run with the boys. This time it was only for 30 minutes, followed by stretching. At 17 o’clock, I was already at home. I ate a snack, some bread, drank tea and took a shower. Then, I watched a movie and worked on my mails and social media.

I cooked dinner with my girlfriend at 7 p.m. On the menu: Ugali, the typical Kenyan corn dish, and Managu, a traditional Kenyan vegetable with a lot of iron. I tried to eat a lot: Energy for Tuesday. And then I enjoyed some of my dark Swiss chocolate. I went to bed at 20.30 o’clock.


Today, I already got up at 05.20 as we had to go to Tambach Teachers College with a Matatu, a Kenyan minibus, in order to do a training on tracks (see above). So, I had 40 minutes to get ready, including the drink for the training. I usually pack my shoes and clothes the night before. I did a little stretching, maybe 10 minutes – and had some coffee to help me wake up. At 6.30 a.m. we started the warmup. The session took one hour and 20 minutes, overall with warmup and cooldown it lasted until 9am, so two and a half hours in total.

After the trainings, I drove back to Iten in the Matatu. There, I had a small breakfast and drank some tea; after a hard training I am usually not very hungry. After the track training, I was very dirty, so I didn’t wait until the evening with the shower – and then went back to bed. After a hard session, it’s more like just relaxing though. Like other times before, I couldn’t really sleep; I kept myself busy with my mobile phone.

At half past eleven, I went to my girlfriend’s restaurant for lunch: a rich menu with chicken, rice, chapati, vegetables, and some mango juice to drink. Then, back to the house and about an hour and a half of sleep. This afternoon, we didn’t do a second training, so I got to spend time with my girlfriend. Dinner was at 19.30 o’clock, at 20.00 o’clock I went to sleep.


Similar to Monday: One hour (16 kilometers) in the morning, 40 minutes, maybe 10 kilometers, in the afternoon, followed by strides (sprints with about 90 percent intensity), running school and climbs. Like every afternoon, when I don’t go to the gym, I do 20 to 30 minutes of strength training in the house. Usually, I go to the gym on Wednesdays and Fridays, sometimes on Sundays. However, because there was another hard workout scheduled for Thursday, I did a workout at home this time.


Getting up already shortly before 05 o’clock. Meeting at 05.30. With the Matatu, we drove 30 minutes to Ziwa. After the warmup, we started: 5 times 2 kilometers fast, 1 km medium in between, at the end 1 km fast again. All in all, we covered 16 kilometers. Fast for me means between 3:00 and 2:55 min per kilometer, average between 3:25 and 3:15. At the end, it’s 16 kilometers at an average of about 3:05 – and all on a slightly hilly natural road. As usual, the Matatu driver followed us carrying the drinks.

In the afternoon, I did a slow run for 40 minutes at 4:00 to 4:10 per kilometer, followed by drills to improve the cadence.


Run in the morning at 06.50 with an easy pace of about 3:45 per kilometer. Some downhill sprints afterwards.

At half past five in the afternoon, 30 minutes of jogging, followed by dynamic exercises, jumps, etc.


This is usually the day for the long run. But since there was a hard training to be completed on Sunday, this time, we only went one hour and ten minutes early in the morning at a moderate pace.


Today, we went to Tambach again, but this time, not for the track. We got on the road at 05.40 and started our training at half past six: Six kilometers up the road, probably the hardest training. My record is 3:35 minutes per kilometer, but this time I had to stop after three kilometers. I was drained, physically empty.

On Sunday afternoon, I went for light jogging and some drills. Then, I needed a few easy training days to recover, as the following Sunday would be the 10-kilometer road race in Houilles. I really didn’t know what to expect – but luckily, it went well.

Stair climbing for runners


Do you want to spice up your training? All you need is a staircase. With different staircase climbing variations you can train your leg strength specific to running and set a new stimulus. So, let’s go and say hello to your staircase challenge!

Benefits of stair climbing

  • You train your running-specific strength endurance.
  • Your impression (plyometrics) becomes more powerful. You will not only benefit from this when running uphill, but also on a flat surface, a space-filling step is of advantage. In addition, active footwork helps to stay injury-free.
  • It’s a very effective training and there is a new stimulus for the cardiovascular system.
  • The playful training brings variety to your winter workout and is also an ideal option concerning safety, as you can look for a lighted or even an inside staircase when it’s dark outside. Stair climbing as a training can of course also be included in summer workouts.

General tips for stair climbing:

  • Stair climbing should only be carried out when warmed up.
  • Caution in wet conditions: You might want to switch to an indoor option.
  • Stair climbing can be a good substitute for a short interval training unit.
  • Quality before quantity always applies to stair climbing, as a clean and dynamic execution is important to avoid injury.
  • During each execution, the body remains stable: Special attention applies to the torso, which should always be tightened during the training.
  • A cool down should be carried out afterwards. Nevertheless, you may feel the staircase training the next day with sore muscles, especially at the beginning.

Possible sequence of a staircase training unit

  • 10 to 15 minutes of warm up
  • Mobilize joints, 3 interval runs
  • 10 to 15 minutes of stair climbs in a row (more than one passage possible) – usually at full speed up and down. Choose your favorites of the exercise collection below (or try all of them!):
    • Skipping and coordinative climbing down the stairs (don’t forget to include a short break at the bottom of the stairs as this is intense, too)
    • Ankle jumps
    • Frequency runs sideways (both sides)
    • Squat jumps (if the downhill jumps are also included, again, take the break at the bottom of the stairs)
    • Sideway jumps
    • One-legged jumps (both legs)
  • 10 to 15 minutes of cool-down, then stretching

Collection of exercises: Stair climbing

The exercises will be shown by Judith Wyder, 5 times OL World Champion and one of the fastest runners of Switzerland.

Skipping and coordinative climbing down the stairs

In skipping, every step is done explosively, and the knee is pulled up. A good coordinative exercise is the staircase-downhill, but beware: start slowly!

Ankle jumps

The toes are actively pulled upwards, jumping off with your forefoot. The knees always point forward to ensure a good leg axis.

Frequency runs sideways

The movement is carried out at a 90° angle to the staircase. The leg frequency is high, and a coordinated arm work is key for this exercise.

Squat jumps

Squat jumps, also called frog jumps, can be varied depending on the level: Try to take 1, 2, 3 or 4 steps in one. The jumps can be dynamic or static, depending on the goal. A good leg axis is important for both. The downhill jumps should be approached carefully – Attention: We warned you about the potential of muscle soreness!

Sideway jumps

Power and coordination in one, no matter whether you exercise them statically or dynamically. This exercise is especially recommended for trail runners and cross-country skiers.

One-legged jumps

There’s more to these one-legged jumps than one might think, no matter if you take every step or jump over some of them. Also, the jumps should be carried out in an explosive way.

These videos have been kindly provided by indurance and Judith Wyder.

Author of this blog entry: Stefanie Meyer

VO2max – maximal oxygen uptake


Do you know your own VO2max value? This value is an important parameter when classifying your endurance performance. In the running.COACH training plan, you can calculate your VO2max on the basis of previous finishing times. This will help you to track your performance over a longer period of time.

In this blog entry you will learn what VO2max stands for, how it can be calculated and what is needed to improve your personal VO2max rate.

What is VO2max?

The VO2max rate is the maximum rate of oxygen uptake measured in a human during incremental exercise. It’s about the oxygen taken up, transported to the cells and, ultimately, utilised. Further, it is specified in mL/min/kg and shows how many millilitres of oxygen your body can take up per minute per kg body weight at maximum exercise strain to metabolise it in the cells. Hence, the value shows the endurance performance of an athlete. Generally speaking: The higher the VO2max value, the better the athlete’s endurance performance.

The maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) is the measure for:

  • Oxygen supply
  • Oxygen transport
  • Oxygen metabolization

What lies behind this formula?

V is the volume, O2 is the chemical notation for oxygen and max stands for maximum. It becomes clear: We are calculating the maximal volume of oxygen. As it is about a measure mainly concerning volume and time, it could be expressed in litres (of oxygen) per minute. However, to couple it with physical activity, it’s necessary to include the variable of weight. It is for this reason that VO2max is normally expressed in millilitres of oxygen an athlete can metabolise per kilogram and minute.

How can I profit from knowing my VO2max value?

Knowing your VO2max value, it’s possible to rank your endurance performance and deduce your overall state of fitness. The table below shows an overview over fitness states according to the VO2max value. The value also depends on age and gender.

The value shows every athlete their limits and makes training planning easier. It can thus be used to plan future competitions in an optimal manner.

How to calculate your VO2max

The most precise method is to determine the value with a spiroergometric test (breath gas analysis). The test is incremental, which means that the resistance is raised gradually until maximal strain is reached. This can be done on the treadmill or on an ergo bike. With a mask over nose and mouth during the test, the consumption of oxygen is measured, which is how the maximum value is determined.

The more intense the activity, the more oxygen the body needs. Measuring the VO2max permits an athlete to know their limits.

There are also other methods that are indirect (and a bit less accurate) to get indicative results.

  • Cooper test: 12 minutes at maximal intensity and using the following formula to determine the VO2max value: (distance in meters-504.9):44.73*
  • Rockport test (or Mile test): A complicated formula that is often referred to on the internet, but it’s not very accurate.
  • Various GPS-enabled sport watches display a VO2max value for every workout. The watch manufacturers use algorithms from firstbeat.com require personal data (gender, age, weight, training experience) and effective data from your workouts (velocity in relation to heart rate). Often, these calculations are quite accurate. However, this method is less reliable in hilly terrain, challenging ground (e.g. trails) and in trainings with interruptions.
  • Competition results: With the running.COACH training plan and the statistical evaluations we can analyse your competition results.

Calculating your VO2max with running.COACH

There are a few parameters from your competition considered in the calculations of running.COACH. With a GPS file from your competition as a basis, the results will be even more precise. The following parameters are included in the calculations:

Distance, uphill, downhill, steepness, height above sea level (whether a competition takes place 200 meters above sea level or on sea level is a significant factor)

Of course, these calculations are still an approach to lab results. Still, a very accurate one, as has been shown. To date, inaccuracies exist when it comes to technical trails, ultramarathons and measurement errors of the watch (e.g. measurement inaccuracies).

By the way, the calculations and statistical evaluations are also part of the freemium version on running.COACH and freely available there. The data are used for the planning of individual trainings in the running.COACH training program.

And that’s how you can easily calculate your VO2max:

  1. Log in to your account on running.COACH (if you don’t have an account yet, register here for free).
  2. Enter various previous competition results of yours. This can also be done by exporting the stopped GPX file from the platform of your watch and manually importing it to running.COACH à change the type of training to competition and name your entry (e.g. Berlin Marathon).
  3. Go to Statistics and scroll down to the competitions. Next to the ANS (anaerobic threshold, green line), there is a column for the VO2max value (yellow line). Besides, these two values correlate. The graph also shows the development of your form over months and years.

More about VO2max

The VO2max value is a useful measure for the aerobic energy metabolism. Even though the value does not account for a good endurance performance, it lies at the base of it. Crucial factors are also the technique, the discipline and the mental component.

VO2 in everyday life

The table below shows which activities in everyday life or which workouts need how much oxygen. The more intensive the activity, the higher the VO2max value. In order to achieve a certain pace when running over a longer period of time, a certain VO2 value is required.

VO2max and running

In order to run a marathon at world record pace, a VO2max of around 84 mL/kg/min is required. Which marathon finish time would you be able to achieve based on your personal VO2max value?

Further, it is possible to observe your VO2max value over a longer period of time. Thus, you can analyse your own performance curve and see if the training suits your goals. On the basis of the VO2max value you can make a prediction for your next competition for a particular distance. In the following table, though, altitude profiles are excluded.

If you are interested in a prognosis for a particular run taking into account altitude, gradient and meters above sea level, please consult our running calculator. If the competition you are interested in is not in our database yet, don’t hesitate to let us know (support@runningcoach.me).

Higher VO2max value = faster?

A higher VO2max value does not in itself mean that your performance is better than the performance of a person with a lower VO2max value. Significant factors in this equation are also the technique, the type of sport and the mental constitution.

Also competitive athletes, the VO2max value is an important parameter. In the following, we present you an overview (information supplied without liability, based on internet research) over the highest VO2max values among competitive athletes. Cross-country skiers generally tend to have higher VO2max values as they use their whole body for this type of sport.

How can I improve my VO2max value?

The less trained a body is, the easier it is to improve its VO2max value. For very well trained runners, it gets harder to make big steps of improvement in this domain. At some point, genetic and physiological factors inhibit pushing the limits further and further.

To make progress nonetheless, we recommend you run in a structured and differentiated way. A good mixture incorporated in your training will bring progress and challenge your body on various levels. Longer and shorter units, rapid long jogs and intensive workouts should alternate.

For the increase of the VO2max value, there are a few typical intensive trainings. For example, you can do hill sprints (5x4min) or intermittent workouts of 15 seconds fast, 15 seconds easy over 10 minutes.

Our running.COACH training plan provides you with structured everyday trainings and shows the optimal intensity for you. Check your individual and dynamic plan for free here!

Blog entry written by: Stefanie Meyer and Gabriel Lombriser





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


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

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

Orienteering career

Picture: ultra-trail.ch

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

Change to trail running

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

Picture: ultra-trail.ch

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

Photographer: David Carlier, www.davidcarlierphotography.com

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

The balance between pleasure and duty

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

Picture: rtn.ch

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

Training and competitions

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

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

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


This blog entry was written by: Marion Aebi



10 tips for running training in high temperatures


While some love the heat and handle it well even in terms of running training, others suffer from it. We are going provide ten tips for those amongst you who belong to the latter group, but also for everyone else, in order to keep going with your training even during summer.