Run Like a Champ: Tip 5 from Olympic Marathoner Hendrik Pfeiffer
by Lucas Francois on
German Marathon champion Hendrik Pfeiffer, known for his participation in the Olympic Games in Tokyo (among many other running achievements), is gearing up for the prestigious Berlin Marathon and the New York City Marathon, where he'll be sporting the Amazfit Cheetah Pro. In this blog series, Hendrik will share seven tips for runners looking to start Breaking Limits.
By Hendrik Pfeiffer
Work in cycles and phases.
A highly underestimated component of a successful race is the base training phase because there is much more behind a beautiful finish line photo than just ten, 21, or 42 exhausting running kilometers. Especially for a marathon, the preparation is a real major project that should be well planned and, in my case, consists of four different phases. I always keep in mind that I want to be in top shape on day X and align these phases accordingly.
Especially for beginners, the Amazfit Cheetah Pro’s Zepp Coach™ (found in the Zepp App and on the smartwatch itself) can be very helpful. The tool develops AI-based training plans that are specifically tailored to the user's current performance level and aligned with their goals. With a chat function, the tool can interactively answer questions about training goals and advise on improving marathon time.
To be able to set your sights on a marathon with a clear conscience, it is first important to achieve a certain basic level of fitness and endurance. This basic phase is characterized by less intensive endurance runs, increasing weekly volumes with little hard work. During this time, my body learned to be able to run an increasing number of kilometers without being put under pressure by hard workouts. Of course, this doesn't mean that I limit myself to endurance runs and completely forgo intervals during this time, but it does mean that the focus is on volume, not intensity.
Twelve to 16 weeks before the marathon, I enter a specific training phase. I now increasingly simulate the load that awaits me in the competition, which is why the intervals and fast endurance runs are in the range of the competition pace. During this time, the long runs become even longer and faster. The differences between load and unload days are now much more apparent than in the base phase. For example, one day can have a volume of 40 kilometers at a very high intensity, while the next day only includes a very easy 12-kilometer shakeout run. In this specific phase, my body finally leaves the comfort zone and is deliberately put under stress by the hard load days. It is, therefore, important to savor the easy days and use them for regeneration. It also makes sense to schedule one or the other build-up competitions in this specific phase, which serves as motivational support and records the training progress. I like to do a 10-kilometer race or a half marathon three weeks before the marathon. This buildup race is also a great opportunity to test the material you will use in the Marathon under race conditions.
These are exactly the situations the Amazfit Cheetah Pro is designed for: with a weight of only 34 grams, durable material that is breathable and water-repellent even when sweating heavily, and a very bright high-resolution display (480x480, PPI value 331), the watch is ideal for competitions where every second counts. With a long battery life that lasts up to 14 days at a time, even ultra runners won't have to worry about running out of battery during their runs.
In the last two weeks before the marathon, I reached the “hot” competition phase in which I consciously cut back on training. Although I maintain the speeds in training, I drastically reduce the distances by more than half. This so-called tapering ensures that my body can recover from the energy-sapping specific training phase and that I enter the competition fully recovered.
After the marathon, building in an extended recovery phase of about one month is important. Many top runners use this phase for a vacation and reward themselves for the effort of the last months. From my point of view, such a recovery phase is essential for a completed marathon cycle, as it is risky not to go into the next athletic project fully recovered.
In general, you should be aware of which phase you are in and set up your training accordingly.