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Dossier: Running coaching

New lease of life thanks to Sanitas running coaching

How do you go from couch potato to crossing the finish line in the Zurich Silvesterlauf? Two novice runners gave it a try in 2018 when they took up the Sanitas running coaching challenge. The Silvesterlauf race may have marked the end of the project, but it also signalled the start of a new healthier lifestyle.

Text: Michael Suter; photos and video: Sebastian Doerk

Swapping the TV for trainers and cakes for apples, the Sanitas running coaching programme focused on turning bad habits into good ones. Over the course of six months, Christoph Banik from Aargau and Nicole Abgottspon from Thun prepared to run the Zurich Silvesterlauf. Both were absolute beginners when they were taken under the wing of the 2010 European marathon champion Viktor Röthlin.

Raring to go at the starting line

As well as teaching them the right running technique and targeted strength training exercises, Viktor also showed them how to prepare mentally for the race using, for example, Jacobson’s relaxation technique. At the same time, health coach Sandra Johnson explained how to eat healthily in the long term.

Kick-off in Thalwil

Tabata in Kerns

Mental training in Sarnen

Thanks to the efforts of the two coaches, both participants were raring to go at the start of the Silvesterlauf. Despite the sub-zero temperatures and rain, Nicole and Christoph gathered with thousands of other running enthusiasts at Hechtplatz on 16 December 2018.

In the end, both ran the 8.5 kilometres and crossed the finish line in Fraumünstergasse with ease. “It all went well. I’m very happy! I jogged the whole way, even the uphill sections”, said a visibly delighted Nicole after the race. Coach Viktor Röthlin was also pleased with the results. He said that Nicole and Christoph really outdid themselves.

“I’m fitter, I’ve lost weight and I feel better in myself.”

Positive effects

The Sanitas running coaching programme had a lasting positive influence on the lives of both participants. Talking a year after the Zurich Silvesterlauf, Nicole and Christoph said that they both still run two to three times a week. They really feel the effects of the months of training combined with a healthy eating plan. “I’m fitter, I’ve lost weight and I feel better in myself”, says Nicole. And Christoph has even had to buy a new suit, because the old one was too big for him. The running coaching project shows: where there’s a will, there’s a way. The key is to set yourself a goal.