Finding comfort in discomfort
Thu, Oct 05, 2017

Hello Tim, congratulations on winning the Adamello Ultra Trail! You took 30:19:57 hours for the 180 kilometers and 11,500 meters of altitude. How did you accomplish this?

 Good question... Keep walking - just don't stop! No, seriously, it is of course important to acquire the basic endurance and have enough confidence to endure such a strain. During these kind of long runs you will always feel good and enjoy the mountains, playing with the elements. But in the next moment you could find yourself in a deep valley and the upcoming summit might seem unreachable. That's why I'm trying to stay in the moment. What I mean by this is breaking down the "big" task into small tasks, thinking from summit to summit, checkpoint to checkpoint or sunset to sunrise. That's how I can get through such a race.


It sounds like mental strength is just as important in a race over 180 kilometers as the training condition!?

 Yes, I think that in these really long races at least 50% is decided on a mental level!


Wow, that's a lot! So how do you motivate yourself during the race when your head says, “That’s enough!"? How do you defeat your inner “weaker self”?

 During the races, I work with different mantras that I keep repeating to myself. Often I am motivated by nature. I say to myself: "Hey Tim! You love being in the mountains! That's where you are now! So enjoy it!" If the hole is too deep and positive talk doesn't help, the opposite works for me (as perverse as it may sound). I let myself fall completely into the negative emotions or the urge of having to stop. I'm trying to learn to love pain. It's about finding comfort in discomfort.

Furthermore, the experience of many long races in which it was possible to extend ones own limits helps me to become better and better at contradicting the body when it says "stop now".


If you have trained perfectly and are strong in your head, only the equipment has to fit, right? What is important for Trail Running and which products do you trust?

 Of course, regarding the clothing, nothing should chaff, pinch or press. Getting blisters during a run can mean the end. Also, if I don't eat properly, things can go south around the next corner.

I trust in the UVU Racing Collection for the clothing. It is perfect for me because it works under all conditions. I have the right clothing for any kind of weather and this security gives me the possibility to concentrate on the performance. Furthermore, the topic "Chaffing", which is so popular at ultra runs, is not an issue for me thanks to UVU. There would be nothing worse than having to "run a wolf" in a 180km race at km 90, would there? In terms of footwear, I run with Altra shoes, which have a ZeroDrop platform and a wide toe box. This guarantees me a natural walking sensation and enough space for my toes, so that blisters are never really an issue. Ultimately, Ultra Runs are always an "Eating-Competition". Here I trust in Tailwind Nutrition, who supply me with fast carbohydrates, and Roobars, bars made of real food.


Speaking of nutrition: What's important for you in this area and what other forms of training or scientific knowledge do you use to achieve your best performance?

 I eat mainly plant-based food and therefore quite alkaline. This is a major advantage of a vegetarian diet from my point of view. In addition, I make sure that I consume as few processed products as possible by eating "real" foodstuffs. I achieve a great variety here, best bought directly from the farmer I trust. In addition, I incorporate different spices/plants (materials) into my diet due to their positive effects. Especially when a small overload or injury and health problems become apparent. Ginger, turmeric, chilli, field horsetail, bromelain, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), etc. are well suited for this purpose.


What’s MSM?

 MSM is an organic sulphur which is an important component of enzymes, hormones, antioxidants and amino acids. For example, Glutathione (antioxidant) cannot work without sulphur. I take it to strengthen the immune system and the connective tissue or as an anti-inflammatory in order to reduce muscle pain and joint problems. In acute phases, I take up to 3 grams daily, otherwise 400mg.


After the race is usually before the race. In between is time for regeneration. How long do you keep your legs still after a 180-kilometer race?

 A very bad season in 2016 painfully taught me how important regeneration is. Therefore, I dip my feet immediately into cold mountain streams after long runs to cool down. Subjectively the legs feel much better afterwards.

After such a tough race Iike the Adamello Ultra Trail, don't train for at least a week! But that doesn't mean I'm not moving. Of course, I lay around a lot and try to sleep more, but I also include walks, cycling, hiking, stretching, mobility training etc. in my everyday life. Keeping in motion is important to me and it is also the best way to give my head a chance to recover. After such a competition, I also take extra care to eat enough fresh vegetables and fruits (vitamins, antioxidants,...) and drink a lot! In order to perform well, you have to do your body good.



Photo Credit: Maurizio Torri & Riccardo Salvato