Dossier: Running coaching

Viktor’s fitness check

The first thing that European marathon champion Viktor Röthlin did when he met his running charges Nicole Abgottspon and Christoph Banik was test their balance, strength and flexibility.

Where is there still room for improvement? Runners should train all five components of fitness – stamina, strength, speed, flexibility and coordination. “Raising all these components to a good level will boost your running performance and minimise the risk of injuries,” explains Viktor Röthlin. Try it yourself – do the exercises that Viktor used to put Nicole and Christoph through their paces: 

1. Balance on one leg

Cross your arms behind your back, place your left foot behind your right knee and balance on the right leg. After 10 seconds close your eyes, and after another 10 seconds tilt your head back. How long can you hold this position? Change legs.

2. Front and side planks for core strength and stability

Get in the push-up position, but put your forearms on the floor instead of your hands. Rise up on your toes with your feet around hip-width apart so that only your forearms and toes touch the floor. Your elbows should be directly below your shoulders. Create a straight, strong line from your head to your toes. Lift one foot 2 to 3 cm off the floor for a second, then repeat with the other foot and alternate, squeezing your glutes and tightening your abdominals.

For side planks, support yourself on one forearm with your back against a wall. Place your heels flat against the wall and your elbow about a fist-width away from the wall. Raise your hips up and down as often as possible without touching the floor.

3. Push-ups for arms and upper body

Placing your heels against a wall, go into the push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, do as many push-ups as you can, making sure your hips don’t touch the floor. Viktor does one push-up for every year of his age (in 2018 that’s 44 push-ups a day). Can you do as many push-ups as your age? 

4. Sit & reach test for flexibility

The sit & reach exercise tests the flexibility of your lower back and the back of your legs.Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and bend forwards with your arms stretched out, trying to lower your chest to your knees. This stretches the back of your thighs and improves the flexibility of your hips. How far past your toes can you reach your hands? 

5. Overhead reach for flexibility

This exercise tests the flexibility of your shoulders. Stand straight with your back against a wall with your feet about a foot-width away from the wall. Lean back against the wall and tilt your pelvis so that your whole spine is flat against the wall. Now raise both arms up slowly with your elbows outstretched until they are also flat against the wall. Your spine and head must remain against the wall throughout the whole movement. 

Viktor Röthlin,
European marathon champion and fitness expert

“My goal is to ensure that Nicole and Christoph make it over the finish line of the Zürcher Silvesterlauf. But I also want the coaching to encourage them to get more exercise in their daily routine.”