Interview with Marco Jäger

28. December 2020

For nearly 10 years, Marco Jäger carefully coached Julien Wanders, leading to European records in the 10-km road run and half-marathon distance.

How would you describe your training philosophy?

I follow a holistic approach and basically believe that any motivated athlete can get extremely far with hard work, discipline, and the necessary patience. I look at each athlete closely and analyse his natural qualities. What's already there? What's missing? The training is then adapted to the demands of the discipline, using a realistic competitive goal to control the intensity. I pursue the goal and coach them throughout the year. This naturally also includes preventive and specific strength training (including power jump training), coordination and running technique units, as well as therapeutic and medical care, etc.

In terms of technique, I am more of a classic coach. I don't do anything that the others don't. I emphasise the strengths without forgetting the weaknesses, although I strongly support the training methodology of Renato Canova, especially for long distances (from 5000 m). This means, for example, that I also incorporate (up to seven) different intensity levels in the aerobic zone to provide highly differentiated, varied, versatile and complex training units relatively early on. What’s also certainly special is that I simultaneously place emphasise on both quality and volume for advanced runners, because I am convinced that this is highly effective. Of course, this is always subject to the condition that the prerequisites (including recovery among other things) have been met.

What do you consider to be the three most important keys to success that could also possibly benefit an amateur runner? 

  1. Intrinsic motivation: only those who are truly willing to take the hard path and enjoy what they do will have long-term success.
  2. Relaxed attitude: obsession is pointless. A relaxed attitude is required to ensure that the energy flows and the full potential can be exploited.
  3. The training plan must be adapted to the circumstances, qualities, and realistic goals of the athlete and not the other way round. You shouldn't just copy training plans/units on the internet...

At the beginning of December, you handed Julien Wanders over to Renato Canova. In which areas can he still develop himself further?

It was clear that there would be a change of coach at some point because Julien will sooner or later run a marathon, of which I have no experience whatsoever. I am very pleased that Renato Canova has worked out, since he is also a luminary when it comes to marathons. The transition should be simple because not only was my training system already based on him, but the medical care and the proven preventive and specific strength units will be maintained. I will also continue to work with Julien accordingly.

In recent years, we have not been successful enough in international championship races. With his vast experience, Renato Canova will hopefully bring Julien to the desired level by, for example, introducing new training stimuli, adjusting the periodisation, and thus hopefully removing existing mental barriers.

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

The training stimulus is actually only one part of the training. What follows afterwards to bring about the desired adaptation is crucial. My tip is therefore: give yourself enough time after training and make sure that you are sufficiently recovered.

Foto: Elite Performance Management