how can you find your limits when you're not willing to pass the thin line?

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We had a business meeting today about how to measure and steer success of our projects with our customers. The same day i was riding to the meeting an back and compared this ride with some of the past (same start time, same route). Against 6 months ago i was more than 5 minutes faster on the 46 kilometers (one way) and my heartbeat was 11 beats lower. Maybe my suunto belt is wrong or the data on the ambit 2 is not correct … who knows … but i like the thought that my endurance training is paying out.


By the way, the new Suunto Ambit 2 is a really great companion. Together with Movescount and downloadable apps there are almost no limits to measure, display and train. And there is a DUAL-belt too which allows your belt to talk with two devices at the same time (e.g. watch and spinning bike).

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Close encounter with Lady Cold – Equipment Check for North Pole Marathon

It was a short week as I was looking forward to finally check my equipment in the cold. I was putting it together during the last weeks after talking to a lot of experts with various backgrounds (here is the link to the equipment list). And then … the day before the test, Miss Influenza was knocking at my door (headache and a cold). Should I go for it or not? I did and that was good so. Because everything worked better than expected. And the short run became a big motivation for the next weeks.

The temperature at the Migros cold storage house was at -26°C which is – in the best case – comparable to the conditions up there. There is one aspect which makes it only a test: the chill factor out on the arctic ice. Some of the people are talking about a chill factor of up to -100°C.

The test showed the following:

  • FEET: Warm enough, don’t see a need to change. Maybe I’ll have to check once more the size of the shoes as these ones are quite tight with the orthopedic insoles and the thick teko merino socks.
  • HANDS: They felt warm enough, it feels perfect. The concept with the two layers works. But I need additional Merino gloves (about 40g) to exchange them when they get wet. Otherwise water will freeze between first and second layer and cooling down the hands down (see end of movie below).
  • LEGS: Upper legs on the back side were a bit cold in the start (only two layers), but then fine. Have to check the next time a different slip as normal cotton will get wet and then begin to cool down the body. And I will not leave them away as every thing hanging around will most possibly freeze immediately :-)
  • UPPER BODY: Was running the wind-proof jacket and not the “shell”. The combination of the three layers was a tick too warm. I’ll need a second lighter piece as a second layer, at least to exchange them when they get wet.
  • HEAD/BALACLAVA: I’ve decided to take on the balaclava instead of wearing the hoodie of the second layer. This gives me the chance to change the balaclava when it’s wet. As I can understand now I’ll have to do so every hour. It’s still easier than changing the second layer when it’s iced. But with the balaclava there wasn’t a lot of breathing space with this piece. I have to get used with it.
  • GOGGLES: I’ll run with goggles and use two pairs of them to exchange when one gets foggy. The mistake today was to take off the goggles when they turned a bit milky. Within one minute the dust transformed to ice and there was no chance to make it undone.

Overall there is one key learning. When I was taking off my jacket, a very thin layer of ice was lying on my chest which also cooled down the upper front of my body a bit. As I am expecting lower temperatures than today – combined with wind – it means, that my concept  should work. But! Today I was running sharply below 70% of my max. heart rate and I am sure that with the snow as a slippery and fluffy underground my heart-rate will go up and heat up my body much more than today. In a second cold storage house I’ll have the chance to run at about 5°C warmer temperatures which helps to simulate this situation better. We will see …

After all it was a great hour in there and it was really fun. But knowing that mother nature won’t be so kind and that lady cold is waiting for me, I’ll have to do my homework till the next test run. There will be two or three more short runs (1 hour or so) and maybe one or two long jogs with race simulation at the end …

Here are the pics and a movie about the test of today. You’ll see that within a short time lady cold started to decorate me with ice like a Christmas tree.

And thanks again to the team in Neuendorf. Especially to Mister Mayor, who made it possible and made they great pictures during training. By the way, they where checking every 10 to 15 minutes if Forrest Gump is still alive and running around.

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overstepping boundaries – why training is more demanding than racing

When we look at athletes performing, we normally see them in just this one moment – suffering, cheering or being disappointed. We‘re stunning about their perfection in gymnastics or – a two weeks ago – their will to run through that wall and bring it to a successful end on Hawaii. These „just“ 8 or 9 hours, the one presentation on the mat in the hall are the end of a very, very long training period: aim-oriented hard work, the will to sacrifice and the will to prioritize all the activities in one‘s life. Continue reading

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Aqua Jogging can add the spice to your off-season

Due to injury I got in contact with aqua-jogging. Yes, you‘re right, it‘s that ugly thing old ladies are doing with rings or „noodles“ around their flowery swimsuits. As they still could chat a lot in the water the intensity normally isn‘t that high. Continue reading


Powerman Netherlands

The Powerman Duathlon in the Netherlands was an easy one. With 15km on the first run (6 laps of 2.5km), 60km on the bike (3 laps of 20km) and another 7.5km on the second run (3 laps of 2.5km) the distance was clearly shorter than a 70.3-Ironman and therefore the right place to feel the engine for the first time on a longer course. As I only trained in the basics and in short but very hard intervals I did not have a feeling for my „enginge“ on a higher performance level over 3 hours and more.

Heart beat as an indicator

For the first time I ran and rode with my heartbeat in the corner of my eye. My coach Kurt Muller gave me some indicators which were calculated – his words: „at the upper limits“. But learning from my own experience that I can perform quite long at a high heart rate i took the upper limit of the range as a measure. First run deliberately low, first bike lap again low and then increasing for the following two. The last run at the threshold and above. That‘s the one i liked most ;-)


Starting as the very last male starter I found my pace and soon i was passing the first runners. Slowly but surely. Overall I reached a 4:50 pace which I could hold for a much longer distance too. So let‘s give it a try a the San Francisco Marathon – a solid 3:30 or even less?

Fresh on the bike I found soon an other athlete. Riding with 10 to 15 hearbeats less than on the first run the first bike lap was a bid boring. This was maybe the reason why coach Kurt was writing: „wishing you all the best and enough patience“. At the end of the first lap i passed my german colleague in front of me and increased the pace constantly leading me to a moderately hard ride on the third one. We all had to fight hard against the wind. Eating and drinking with a timetable helped me to go through that very positively. On the last 10 to 15 km of the ride I passed a lot of athletes that were up to 10 minutes faster than me on the run!

With this motivation in the backpack I almost crashed the guys at the entrance of the transition zone. And I realised that it was quite cold out in the fields and that my legs had to work harder than I realised. Take it easy. After changing the shoes with the obligatory but controlable cramp in the upper legs I started running. It worked quite well. All the brick runs after my rides payed out. But there was a totally new feeling I had to work with.

Listening to my heart or to my legs?

After about 1km on the last run I was feeling like my turnover was far too high (heartrate above threshold) and breathtaking wasn‘t that easy anymore. On the otherside my legs felt like running their own pace. Much faster than I felt like I could run. Trying to find the balance between the two of them I was in an ongoing seesaw between my legs and my heart. During the last 5 km I was listening to my legs and trying to find a certain „comfort“ with the speed. Don‘t ask me if there was a reserve or not. On the last 2km I felt like loosing my legs and being empty.

The conclusion

First of all I was the only Swiss finisher at the Powerman over the long distance. And I was really running at my limits during the last lap I am very proud and happy about all. The field was highly motivated, coming from all over Europe and the course wasn‘t easy with all it‘s edges and turns, the wind on the bike and totally flat 60km without the chance to relax the legs. I feel stronger and fresher than last year and also very free in my mind. With the experience of my coach in the back I can easily go through a sickly week and start sure of myself. But I also realised that I have to work more on my muscular endurance and strength on the bike. Rapperswil and Zofingen will be longer with much more difference in altitude. I‘ll work on that during my bike trainings and with pumping iron.

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Running slow 22 kilometers at Zurich Marathon opens new perspectives

After a 3hrs training on Saturday I was running two stages (4.5km and 17.5km) of the team relay marathon in Zurich as part of my preparation for the upcoming events. Clear message from the coach: running in the basics, run harder in the end.

Running within hundreds of motivated athletes is like driving with the hand break on. Fully on. When I was running my 6min/km the athletes around were moving with 4:30min/km in the beginning and about 5min/km in the end. As boring as this was, I had the big opportunity to study athletes around me and to support everybody I knew. I am not an expert in running but I‘ve reflected the pictures I‘ve seen with my own experience and the inputs of very smart people and coaches I got through all the years. Here are some findings about running a marathon under very special conditions. A day like yesterday can unveil our weakest points.


The weather was awful. It was fresh, wet, very windy – an extreme cold effect. Learning from long distance endurance sports, we know that flexible clothing (a light rain shield or layers and sleeves) and continuos eating are helping us to heat up the body and fighting successfully against the cold. Only a few athletes had a concrete bad weather concept in their pocket and eating enough. A lot of them got victimes of the circumstances out there on the course. I‘m guessing, that a lot of the runners didn‘t reach their goals.


The older we get the less muscular strength we have. But how many athletes are investing in additional kilometers and track intervalls as part of their training programm instead of weight and core training in the gym or on the mat? Is it a given rule that the older we get the more we have to struggle with injuries? Why did so many older athletes having problems with their hamstrings or running like really old men?


This issue is comparable to muscular strength. As I was focussing on the right running technique during my  boring first 17km I‘ve realised that running upright, tipping forward, having a high cadence and high heels helped me to save energy and running at a lower heart rate. But this needs your constant attention and the muscular capability to do so for 3 hours or more. I was quite surprised about the fact, that my muscles felt very tired after this longjog.


The day yesterday showed me that a marathon – on a piece of paper – is an easy thing compared with a mid or long-distance triathlon. But running it last Sunday can make it really difficult and hard. Looking forward to my Marathon in San Francisco (it’s quite hilly there) this summer and at the North Pole (trail, cold, weather) next April I‘ve noticed the following in the back of my head:

  • more strength-focussed uphill training (power, arms working, cadence) + weight training
  • working on my running technique (higher body, relaxed upper body, front tipping) + core training
  • a nutrition and clothing concept for all possible situations: colder, warmer, stormy, normal

For those who wondered what happened after the long jog: I‘ve accelerated for the fast 4.5 kilometers at an average 4 minutes pace and picked me two fast guys to follow. Down to the lake I’ve passed them with a pace of 3:40 on the last kilometer. It was the last one that felt a bit too hard but the rest was quite good and gave me the right feeling for next week in the Netherlands where I will run the same distance. (Unfortunately) not as a longjob but trying to run at the point I can hold as long as possible. We‘ll see. I’m ready for that now with a good peak on the weekend (almost 5 hours of training in the basics combined with some hard intervals).

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Benefits of Hill Running

Some interesting findings from running.about.com about hill running – which also works with hill repeats (see my blog post of yesterday – klick here).

Some runners don’t like hill running because it’s, well, hard. But running hills provides a lot of benefits to runners, so don’t shy away from them. Here are some of the ways you can benefit from hill running: Continue reading


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