Interview with Christian Kreienbühl

25. November 2015

A few weeks ago you set a new personal best time of 2:13:57 at the Berlin Marathon and undercut the Olympic limits. Was it the perfect race?  

No, it wasn’t the perfect race. While there were a lot of things right about it, part of the motivation as an athlete is continuing to find further opportunities for improvement. All my preparation in the training camps in the Engadine went perfectly to plan. The same can be said for my nutrition before and during the marathon. Not so perfect, however, was my mental state in the last week before the marathon. And there was certainly room for improvement with regard to my marathon split times. It was indeed spectacular to speed up in such a way from the 30th kilometre to the finish, however, it would have perhaps even been possible to achieve a somewhat better finishing time with more regular splits.

When preparing for the Berlin Marathon, you trained for several months in the Engadine, taking advantage of the high altitude. In your opinion, what 3 most important points should a hobby athlete focus on with regard to his target race for the season?  

Focus: Some hobby athletes run in too many or too long competitions (too close) before the target race and dissipate their energy. This not only costs physical resources but mental energy, too. It’s better to invest one weekend in training, than to do yourself in in an unimportant competition.

Injury prevention: The actual art of the marathon lies in overcoming the long preparation period without injury. The path to a marathon’s starting line is much longer than from the start to the finish of the race itself. For that reason, don’t neglect strengthening your trunk, for example, to prevent injury!

Training: Training helps. The only exception: during the tapering phase prior to a competition, it is not possible to train too little.

The Olympic Games are your major goal for the next season. You have not been selected before now because other Swiss athletes were still able to outstrip you by the end of the qualifying phase. As a marathon runner, how do you adjust to this situation?  

I have been familiar with the situation and the framework conditions (the Swiss Athletics’ selection concept) for quite some time and we Swiss marathon runners knew right from the start that "only" a maximum of three runners will be going to Rio. I was thus able to adapt to this situation. Since my first serious injury just before the 2014 European Championships, I am absolutely aware - as mentioned above - that standing at the starting line of a marathon is something that simply cannot be taken for granted. Should I definitely be selected at the beginning of May 2016, I would of course go out and really celebrate again - but I also know that a long (and great!) way still lies ahead of me before I get to the Sambódromo in Rio!

And how do you finance the hobby that has turned into your profession?  

And how do you finance the hobby that has turned into your profession? I earn nothing from the sport. The financial contributions from sponsors, associations, clubs, prize/participation money, and - of course, fan clubs ( - just about cover the costs for the training camp, competitions, equipment, performance tests, sports nutrition, and massages, etc. For this reason I work part time at Equatex (, which enables me to manage my "normal" living costs. What’s more, the funding of elite sports by the Swiss Armed Forces supports me by means of service days, which I can complete in the form of training courses. It would be impossible to do sports at this level without these contributions and a very flexible employer. I am extremely grateful for this!

Winter is knocking at the door. What are your 3 training tips (for hobby athletes) to get off to a good start in the new competition season next year?  

Christmas runs: The Christmas runs in December offer an excellent opportunity for short, snappy runs in a great atmosphere. After the run, take your time to enjoy the Christmas market and try out the mulled wine!

Christmas break: Don’t have a bad conscience during the Christmas season! Enjoy fine dining, take a break from running, and tank up your motivation so you can get off to a rigorous start again in the new year.

Alternative training: Stimulate yourself with something new in winter! For example, avoid the snow and ice with aqua running, or challenge your entire body with cross-country skiing (skating or classic technique). This improves your basic endurance and creates a solid foundation for the new season.

Foto: ZVG