Interview with Adrian Lehmann

1. March 2021

Foto: Hans Durtschi

On March 14, Adrian Lehmann will try to make the impossible possible in Belp by undercutting the required qualifying time of 2:11:30 for the Olympics. The marathon organised by Swiss Athletics is the only opportunity the Bernese will have to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.

The current situation is challenging, what with the icy winter in Switzerland, travel restrictions, and no preparatory races. How and where are you preparing for your big goal?

I have tried to adapt to the current conditions in the best possible way in order to get the best out of my capabilities despite all the limitations. For example, I put the altitude room in my apartment in Bern into operation, where I can live at a simulated height of 2500 metres above sea level. The training units in cold Switzerland were actually extremely challenging. With a few exceptions, I was still able to go through with my plan. I only had to resort to the treadmill twice, since I was afraid of damaging my lungs during the high-intensity runs.

You subordinate everything to your goal. What do you consider to be the three main keys to a successful outcome?

Staying healthy during the preparatory phase and without any major training interruptions is the foundation for success. So far, I have succeeded in doing this as desired. I also definitely need some luck with the weather on the day of the competition. The ideal conditions for me would be sunshine at temperatures of around 10°C and no wind. Mental strength in particular will be required during the marathon in Belp. A 4.4 km-lap with a loop at the start and finish needs to be conquered nine times without any spectators. In order to have sufficient emotional substance during the last laps, I need to get into a positive flow.

Amateur runners are also currently being robbed of their running goals by the corona crisis. What motivational tips do you have for them?

I was able to draw the most strength from self-defined intermediate goals. I thus completed my training blocks with targeted training runs not only to challenge myself, but also to find out what I need to work on in the next training block. I therefore tried to replace the cancelled races with simulated training competitions.

Do you have an insider tip you would be willing to share with us?

I personally respond very well to repeated stays at high-altitudes (so-called high-altitude chains). When preparing for a marathon, I complete several high-altitude training camps that last from three to four weeks. The high-altitude effect is especially noticeable in the last training phase before the race, which I do in my normal environment. Breathing under exertion is much easier for me and I can run at extremely high speeds without immediately getting out of breath.

I have no secrets. Finding a balance between physical and mental stress and recovery is the basis of progress. I therefore advise all running enthusiasts striving for a set goal to consciously recover and respect their personal needs.