Interview with Christian Mathys

4. April 2016

For more than 10 years, Christian Mathys has been running from victory to victory. He has stood at the top of the podium more than 50 times. His list of achievements includes several victories in ZKB ZüriLaufCup events, not to mention in various mountain runs, and the World Airline Road Race in Dubai in 2015. This member of the mountain running national team is the fastest airline employee in the world!  

As a pilot, you travel a lot. How do you adapt your training to the specific conditions of the respective countries and time zones? Where do you run? How do you find the running routes?  

Most of the time my training complies with my work schedule; the local time tends to play a subordinate role. I almost always go running immediately upon arrival at the destination. In Delhi, this is typically between two and three in the morning. To ensure I can follow my training plan exactly, I often run on the treadmill in the hotel gym. There I don’t need to stop every 50 metres at a traffic light, swelter in 40 °C or 100% humidity, or worry about my lungs due to the smog. However, some destinations have nice running routes, suitable running weather, and sometimes even a public 400 m track, like Tokyo, for example. In the meantime, I already know when and where I can go running. When I started doing intercontinental flights four years ago, I had to use Google Earth to help find good running routes beforehand. I scouted for rather flat stretches or steep sections without road crossings for my hill sprints. I found the latter in Montreal and Hong Kong. The treadmill is also good for training on medium gradients.

You were part of the marathon squad for the 2014 European Championships, are a member of the mountain running national team, and are always right at the forefront in road races. In your eyes, what are the three most important tips for runners wanting a successful 2016 sporting year?

  • Set your target races and train with them specifically in mind.
  • Train according to a good training plan, but don’t neglect your condition.
  • Pay attention to recovery, get enough sleep and thus stay healthy.

The mountain runs that you compete in internationally don’t always end at the highest point, but are characterised by having the same altitude difference for both uphill and downhill. How does the preparation for an uphill-downhill route differ from that of a "classic" mountain run?

Unfortunately, I have not yet achieved an absolutely dazzling result and therefore don’t have a panacea to offer here. However, at last year's up-and-down Mountain Running Championships, I noticed that I could not "handle" the downhill parts, whereby I overloaded my muscles and then lost a lot of time going uphill. It is therefore important to run downhill competitively during your preparation. It’s best to train on uphill and downhill routes that are similar to the target race. "Similar" here refers to the gradient of ascent and descent, the surface, and the technical degree of difficulty.

One of your strengths is your diversity. Can you give us an overview of how much time you spend running, alternative training, weight lifting, and recovering each week?  

My versatility possibly stems from my orienteering career as a junior. Today, my training is varied and depends on the target competition. Before a flat race (e.g., half marathon), it goes something like this: each week I run between 100 and 160 km on mostly flat routes, almost never train on the bike (my only alternative training medium) and do strength exercises once or twice a week. Prior to a mountain run, the weekly kilometres are slightly reduced due to the accrual of uphill metres and they are also no longer so important. The bike, however, is a good training medium for this type of competition so I therefore get on my racing bike 0 to 3 times a week. I sometimes make the strength exercises more difficult by wearing a backpack. The regenerative measures (stretching and self-massage) also take up a lot of my time. They can take up to between 30 and 90 minutes each day.




Foto: ZVG