Q & A with Frederic, Running Coach & Triathlete

Frederic has a lighthearted, sort of live and enjoy it approach to life, which is mixed with an almost scientific (which I’m a huge fan of), intense training program. Take a look at this candid Q & A for his tips for both newbie and advanced runners.

NAME: Frederic
PROFESSION: Chemical Process Engineer. Running Coach.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING RACES?
I started running in 2009 and did my first race in 2010. That was a tiny 10k run in Munich. It really was great fun, although I didn’t rank at all. I still remember one guy ahead of me wearing a T-Shirt: I am 40 years old, I am overweight and I’m diabetic. But I’m still in front of you. Well yes. That guy was faster than I used to be. But that’s not the point when you start running at nearly 30. It is a personal challenge: with increasing fitness, the challenges also increase. First 10k, than a half marathon, marathon and if you are really infected, you start triathlon.

WHAT IS THE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’D GIVE ANYONE ABOUT RUNNING?
Try distance running and have fun 😉 Give it a chance and find your own motivation. Personally, I recommend simple self-conditioning, for example, a piece of chocolate or a nice Pizza after a 30k training run 😉 food never tastes better than after exhausting training.

NICE, HAHA, AND WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR NEWBIE RUNNERS?
Take it easy and increase your volume and intensity only slowly. Always remember that your body needs time to adapt and time to regenerate. Keep track of your weekly mileage and check that you don’t increase your mileage by more than 10 to 15% per week. After 3 weeks of increasing mileage, the 4th week is a regeneration week. Cut your mileage by 30% during this week and try something else other than running. Swimming, for example, or go to a gym. If you only keep on increasing your mileage and speed from week to week, your body will crash. It’s just a question of time until you run into over-training or injuries. Note that running alone is not a complete workout. If you want to do something good for your body, always do some other sports. Core strength is vital!

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THOSE WANTING TO GET INTO RUNNING OR THOSE JUST STARTING OUT?
First you need some running gear. You need suitable running shoes. Don’t think that you can just buy some shoes online. Running shoes are a very complex subject. You need a professional salesman who knows his job and has a lot of experience. Ask other runners or check the internet for recommended shops. A good salesman will make you try several different shoes. He will watch how you run in these shoes and give you a recommendation. And you need some clothing, it really doesn’t need not be expensive stuff, but it should be suitable for running.

If you are totally new to running, read some beginner books. There are plenty of books around. This will teach you the basic concepts. A running workout does not only mean hitting a maximum of mileage. There are other very important parts like technical workout, strength training or agility training. Especially technical training is important for beginners. Check if there’s a running club in your neighborhood. There are also offers of 1 or 2 day seminars. A good running technique is vital for increasing performance and staying healthy at increased mileage. Check YouTube for “running drills” or “running ABC” this will give you an idea.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TRAINING TIPS FOR MORE ADVANCED RUNNERS?
The faster and longer you can run, the higher is your risk to run into injuries. Write down you mileage and speed in a running log and do some statistics. Make sure that you don’t increase mileage and speed too fast. Also your training will need some variation. There’s no sense in just hitting a maximum of miles in the same pace every week. Your training needs structure and has to follow a plan. Normally you have a major race ahead of you. Your goal is to achieve a maximum fitness level exactly for this race. This needs some serious planning if you really want to achieve your best results. Normally you need several month of training.

These months are subdivided into several specific training goals. Each piece is normally some 6 to 8 weeks long. First you start hitting miles until you know that you can handle the distance of your race. For example, you should be able to run some 30 to 35 km and do a weekly mileage of some 40 to 80 km if you want to do a marathon. During this period you increase the length of your runs until you achieve these goals. Next period will be speed. This means cutting down mileage but increasing speed. Finally there’s a period which combines speed and distance. So you try to hold your pace up over increasing distances. Then finally 2 weeks before the race you start tapering. Cut down mileage. Regeneration is the most important thing during this period. And then of course, the race will show how your training really was. It needs time and a lot of experience until you really know which sort of training is most effective for you. For example, I know that interval training is effective for my body. But I also figured out that I quickly run into injuries doing intervals. So I rarely hit that track at maximum pace.

DESCRIBE YOUR ROUTINE AS IT RELATES TO YOUR WELLNESS
My daily routine varies a lot during the year and is focused on triathlon. In high training season a perfect week looks like this:

MONDAY: Off (weekends are tough, so Monday normally is a regeneration day).
TUESDAY: Bike to work and back (overall 60km). 14k run in the evening.
WEDNESDAY: Bike to work and back (60km). In the evening I have my running group, so that’s some easy 6k and some additionally coordination and core strength training.
THURSDAY: Tough training day. Bike to work and back (60km). Lunch break 10k run. Evening some 2 -3k swimming.
FRIDAY: Bike to work and back (60km), evening sometimes running or easy swimming.
SATURDAY: House work. Afternoon is hard 30k cycling, easy 10k running, sometimes swimming 2k
SUNDAY: Long bike tour 80 – 100km and some 16 – 21km run.

At the end of the season all the “bike to work” stops. It’s just too ugly at 5 °C in total darkness. Also I cut down running and swimming. It’s regeneration time! And after some 5 months of hard training, you really need it! Around March, I restart serious training and increase mileage and speed until I can again handle the above schedule.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 5 FOODS FOR HEALTH AND WELLNESS?
Well. Talking about this topic does not make me feel very proud. My eating habits are pretty bad. I just love chocolate and I am Nutella addicted. With some more discipline I think that I could race a lot faster. Good food is very important. Especially good proteins like fish or eggs are essential. But since I really am no good example, I will not lecture about eating. I’m the type of runner who knows: Ok, I just ran 10k. That’s 750 kcal of burned calories. A 100 gram chocolate bar contains some 500 kcal. So I can eat the whole bar…

WHAT IS YOUR TOP TIP FOR STAYING ON TRACK WITH A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE?
I don’t ask myself this question. Doing sports is a habit for me. And if you are lucky to find a partner who also loves sports and to be active, you just keep on doing it together. But if you register for a race, that will give you extra motivation.

Frederic, thank you very much for answering my questions about running, I’m looking forward to getting some in person tips when I come for a visit to Germany.

It looks like it is going to be a beautiful day out there. Lace up and have a happy Monday!

Julie V