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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