Interview with Gabriel Lombriser

12. October 2017

With his victory in the Single Man King category, Gabriel Lombriser was the first to accomplish the 'Grand Slam' after winning in each category (Team of 5, Couple and Single).

You won the gigathlon, a traditional Swiss multi-sport event, for the first time as a single at the beginning of July. How did you find the race?

I had the perfect flow over the entire race weekend! A gigathlon can roughly be compared to 2 consecutive Ironman days. It is therefore important to start the first day with the hand brake on. I managed this really well and thus got off to a perfect start in my main discipline, which is running. Owing to the hot temperatures on the first day, it was particularly important that I didn’t overheat my motor on the first day of the competition! The consequences the next day would have been twofold! But by adjusting my speed and using various cooling methods, I was able to successfully defy the hot temperatures. The beautiful thing about a gigathlon is that variety is guaranteed: due to there being 5 disciplines, your body is always challenged in different ways and the level of exertion frequently changes. 

My lead on the first day was still relatively scant at 13 minutes. However, I had an equally good second day and was able to build up a lead of around 40 minutes. My legs were naturally not quite so fresh on the Sunday. However, we are all struggling with the same physical fatigue! Right until almost the end I was never really sure whether it was enough or if yet another major crisis was on its way. It was only on the final part of the route through Zurich that I became confident and could really enjoy the race. It is always something very special for every athlete to reach the finishing line after competing for 17 hours. To enjoy this with my wife, Judith, and my brother, Simon, who were my supporters for the weekend felt really great! And I enjoy thinking back to this emotional weekend in Zurich.

Your preparation was anything but optimal. What main conclusions did you draw during the time in which you were injured?

Yes, that’s true. In the spring I couldn’t run for around 4 weeks due to an inflamed Achilles tendon and even cycling was hardly possible. It wasn’t at all easy during this time. I believe all athletes who train for a goal and are then unable to pursue it as planned know what this is like. The beautiful thing about multi-sports is that you can focus on other disciplines during this time. I therefore invested more time in swimming and actively worked on a fast recovery by doing strength and flexibility training. I also took the time to go to physiotherapists for treatment as well as massages. I was thus able to give my body what it actually could have needed earlier on: namely care. This is a factor which is often neglected in everyday training – when all is going well, that is! I observe this in all athletes, whether they are professionals, competitive athletes, or hobby athletes. 

Taking a break due to injury can often even be a good thing. You get to know your own weaknesses and can then explicitly focus on them, which often makes you surprisingly stronger!

Your knowledge of optimal training has been incorporated into running.COACH, the online training plan for runners. Which of the training principles apply to athletes of all performance levels?

We have implemented different training principles in the training plans from running.COACH: 

  1. The training is varied and differentiated: the number of training units, the duration and intensity of the training varies.
  2. The training is progressively structured: the training loads get the runners used to new exertions and thus lead them steadily to their own personal goals.
  3. Running is not just about running! We give a lot of tips about training in the running.COACH training plan: alternative training, nutrition, etc.

The city runs are just around the corner. You, too, have already gained experience in Basel, Langenthal, and Zurich, for example. What are your tips for a successful race

The city runs offer a lot of fun and variety in the cold winter months! They are often an indispensable fixed date in a runner’s calendar, an ideal intermediate goal or simply a touch of colour in the everyday winter training. 

Compared to many other fun runs, the distances of 5-10 km make them very short and intense. This is a small and also often unusual challenge. Varied winter training, including regular interval training provides the foundation for a successful run. The frequently cool temperatures mean that all our muscles require a good warm up, as do the lungs!

You are not only an athlete and coach, but also the organiser of the SOLA Basel, a new relay run in the north-west region of Switzerland. Can you tell us more about this project?

Yes of course! With the SOLA Basel, we are launching a small running tour through north-west Switzerland. In line with the motto “SOLA is not solo”, a team consisting of 10 runners will together run a distance of 80 km, which is divided into sections of 5-12 km. The route takes you through the two cantonal principle towns of Basel and Liestal and through the beautiful nature in north-west Switzerland. With the SOLA Basel, which is based on the student relays in Sweden and Zurich, we are adding a running team event to the sports calendar that will unite young and old, clubs and firms, city and country and also the two half-cantons of Basel-City and Basel-Country. For children and families, Mini SOLA will also be a highlight at the start and end of the run at the Park im Grünen in Münchenstein. What with my experience as a runner and organiser of running events, my job at running.COACH and my contacts in the running scene, as the organising committee’s president I will try to launch the event on Saturday, 2 June in the best possible way. You can find more information here.

Do you have a secret tip you would be willing to share with us? With regards to key training, nutrition or technique, for example?

My own personal tip, which was the icing on the cake for getting into gigathlon shape: carbohydrate periodisation, which mixes a low-carb diet with a high-carb diet and optimally combines the benefits of both diets. No matter how long the duration of the competition, it is definitely worth a try! 

Foto: ZVG