Dossier: Running coaching

Portable coaches

In the past we had pedometers, now we have fitness wristbands and activity trackers. These trendy wristbands use various sensors to track our movements – even when we’re asleep.

In 2016, more than 150 million wearables were sold worldwide, and around 100 million of these were smart watches and fitness wristbands.

Fitbit Flex 2 and Sanitas Active app for Nicole and Christoph

Fitness wristbands are a great, relatively inexpensive way to incorporate more exercise into your everyday life. And they’re really effective at keeping you motivated when you reach your daily target. Nicole Abgottspon and Christoph Blanik, the Sanitas running coaching candidates, are wearing Fitbit activity trackers which are linked to the Sanitas Active app.

“Trackers and sports watches are really useful gadgets for running novices”, says coach and former European marathon champion Viktor Röthlin, “because people new to running haven’t yet developed a good sense of body awareness.” Sports watches that also record speed and heart frequency are particularly good at helping runners to develop a good sense of their running intensity. Over time, you stop glancing at your wrist and only start to analyse your data when you’re finished. “Men are often completely out of touch with their bodies and train with too high an intensity”, says Röthlin. Women, on the other hand, tend to stick to their comfort zone, and always like to have some reserve just in case.

“Trackers and sports watches are really useful gadgets for running novices”
Viktor Röthlin

High tech gadgets or the talk test?

A heart rate sensor with GPS or any number of training apps with or without a tracker can also prove useful depending on your training goals and fitness levels. It’s still possible, of course to train properly without high tech gadgets. Viktor Röthlin recommends applying the talk test: a simple, tried-and-tested method of monitoring training intensity.

Take the talk test!

  1. Optimum training zone
    For beginners, the ideal pace is when you’re able to hold a conversation with ease. Hardened couch potatoes reach this phase with just a brisk walk. Single moderate training sessions can be added depending on the training plan and goal.
  2. Moderate training
    You’re still able to manage whole sentences during a gentle jog. Adding a light jog increases the training effect. Single rigorous training sessions can be added depending on the training plan and goal.
  3. Rigorous training
    The pace is so fast that you’re only able to say a couple of words every now and then. Not the right level of intensity for beginners.
  4. Very rigorous training
    You can’t speak when running at this speed. Not recommended for recreational runners or, at most, during the last few metres of a race.

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.”