Training tips

Valuable tips on the race at 1800 meters above sea level

Geronimo von Warthburg's insider tip
Trainingstipp, Engadiner Sommerlauf, Ochsenbrücke

Start:  Promulins in Samedan over the Ox Bridge and on along the Flaz to Punt Muragl. Here the morning sun shimmers through the trees and is also reflected in the Inn and Flaz. A real winter dream. You can walk back via Celerina. Here, a large part of the route is very easy to walk, often even cleared, and thus offers the opportunity for a final burst of speed to wake up completely!


Length: 8km

Level of difficulty: very easy

Well prepared for the run

  1. Start your preparation now. The longer you prepare for the Engadiner Sommerlauf, the greater the chance of running with a good feeling and a new best time.

  2. Whoever runs his standard lap at the same pace doesn't get faster. Train with a system and incorporate different types of training into your training.

  3. Gently increase the training volume. Your body will slowly get used to the increased stress. First you should increase the frequency, then increase the duration and only then think about the intensity.

  4. Even running: Do your intensive units from time to time on a reversal route. After half of the specified time, change direction and try to run back just as quickly. If you are at the start again at the end of the interval, you have done everything correctly.

  5. Exit your flat standard round and search for altitude. In August, the more you run in the terrain, the easier it will be for you to master the topographical obstacles and keep the speed high at the end of the race.
What do I have to think about in preparation?
  1. Get to grips with your running shoes early on. You should feel comfortable in it and be able to walk in them for at least two hours.

  2. Rest is also training. Treat yourself to a day off regularly.

  3. Make an appointment with a running partner. Many things are easier together. A running date creates commitment and motivates you to train regularly.

  4. Be sure to practice keeping refreshed during your preparation. Especially if you are traveling intensively, i.e. at a competitive pace or for a particularly long time. Because without additional energy (e.g. gels) you will struggle to achieve your performance goal.

  5. Don't try to make up for anything you've missed in the last week or two of preparation. Doing so will cause you to be tired at the start line.
Training and competition at altitude.
Training, Tipps, Engadiner Sommerlauf, Anne-Marie Flammersfeld

How long, how high, how intense? A sensible altitude training raises many questions - especially among hobby athletes. An overview of how altitude training affects body and performance and what needs to be considered.

Copytext: Anne-Marie Flammersfeld / all mountain fitness

A first imperative for altitude training is: start carefully! Anyone who starts training immediately upon arrival will quickly reach their limits: the body needs time to adjust to the new conditions. But what exactly does the athlete expect when he comes from the lowlands to heights of 1500 to 2500 meters?

On the day of arrival, you shouldn't be surprised if your breathing becomes labored when carrying your suitcase. The reason for this: The air pressure decreases with increasing altitude and at 2000 meters above sea level falls from 760 mm Hg to 600 mm Hg. As a result of the reduced oxygen content in the air, the respiratory rate and volume increases both during exercise and at rest. Our body is looking for ways to get more oxygen. So-called "gasping" on the day of arrival is quite normal.

Another important factor with increasing altitude is the cool and dry air. The mucous membranes need more fluid. Because of the increased respiratory rate during the first two days, the body also loses more fluid. With the loss of fluid, minerals and electrolytes are lost. This can quickly lead to corresponding deficient conditions and thus to a decrease in resilience. A dry mouth, a scratchy voice or a feeling of tension in the facial skin are noticeable signs of this dryness.

The motto here is to drink a lot. In addition, sleep is not as relaxing during the settling-in period as at sea level, so that you can feel tired and exhausted. But the body gradually adapts to the stress caused by altitude exposure. The acclimatization phase in St. Moritz at around 1,800 meters takes about two to four days. In this situation, the body should be given time to get used to it, so that the above symptoms can subside. Time to get used to it means: indulge in the necessary relaxation and rest and do little and, above all, only very casual sporting activities.

Altitude training

Training at altitude must be well planned. A distinction is made between three forms of altitude training, which are continuously discussed and further refined b science. The methodology is divided into: "Sleep high - train high", “Sleep low - train high" and “Sleep high - train low”.

  • Sleep high - train high: In this classic variant, the athlete lives and trains at the same height level between 1800 m and 2500 m. In preparation for a competition at altitude, this concept proves to be very effective in terms of increasing performance. On the other hand, there are controversial study results and no clear opinion for an improvement in performance at lower altitudes.

  • Sleep low - train high: The athlete only goes for the training sessions at an altitude of 2500 - 3200 m, the rest of the time they  spends at lower altitudes. The concept was based on the assumption that a short stay in altitude of 90 minutes can lead to the appearance of adjustment (distribution of EPO). The athlete trains under hypoxic conditions and can then relax in the «flat land». This training, under oxygen-poor conditions (hypoxia training), represents a high physical strain and can cause fatigue symptoms. Adequate regeneration is therefore important.

  • Sleep high - train low: This method is designed so that the athlete spends most of the time at a certain height (between 2000 - 2500 m) and trains in the flatlands or at heights of 1300 - 1800 m. The advantage here is that acclimatization takes place under rest conditions and that there should be no negative side effects such as overtraining or an increased susceptibility to infections. Important: The athlete should stay at this height for at least 400 to 600 hours, which corresponds to about 2.5 - 4 weeks. A one-week high-altitude stay in the Engadin can therefore offer a nice holiday experience, but at least two weeks, or better three or even four, are necessary with regard to a desired increase in athletic performance.

A guarantee of success?

Statements regarding the effectiveness of altitude training must be considered individually. To put it simply, one could say that if an athlete stays at a certain height for a certain amount of time and trains with the same level of performance as in the lowlands, this could lead to an improvement in performance in the lowlands. The subjunctive “could” is mentioned because, despite almost 40 years of research, science has not been able to clearly demonstrate the benefits and efficiency of altitude training. The many studies are too different in methodology, structure and sequence of the investigations to be able to compare the results. In addition, acclimatization affects everyone differently and the effect of altitude training is difficult to predict without individual experience.

It is therefore important for every athlete to have their own experience with altitude training, to test different methods and to document individual reactions. Athletes for whom altitude training is an integral part of the training calendar have many years of experience and can assess how their body reacts to various stimuli. There are simple diagnostic procedures to determine a physiological response. The performance can be checked, for example, using spiroergometry with lactate diagnostics before and after altitude training.

What is also to be considered:

  • Nutrition is important: A high-quality diet is a prerequisite for altitude training - regardless of which method. In the immediate recovery phase after a training session, a carbohydrate and protein-rich diet can positively influence the adaptation processes. During the stay at height, the water bottle becomes a constant companion to take into account the increased fluid requirements. For every 1000 meters of difference in altitude, athletes should consume an additional liter.

  • Caution overtraining: A careful approach to the appropriate training intensity and the tolerable scope of training at altitude is crucial. An increased susceptibility to infections should not be underestimated. Due to the height-related increased training intensity, an overtraining condition can easily occur. This can weaken the immune system and lead to general malaise, sleep disorders, poor mental health and the lack of an increase in performance, as symptoms of too intensive training. For longer stays in the mountains, it therefore makes sense at least in the first few days to go to lower locations during training (e.g. on a bike) and to avoid strenuous mountain passes.

  • Correct timing: How much time should elapse from altitude training until the competition? Again, there are no clear recommendations, but two predominantly practiced tendencies: Either the competition takes place in the first two days after returning to the lowlands or only after a waiting period of up to 30 days after altitude training. In days four to nine, one speaks of a critical phase or transformation phase, in which the performance can drop and the body changes again. The competition should therefore not take place in this time frame. According to the prevailing opinion, the optimum is in the third week after returning to the lowlands. In this regard, the following also applies: Ultimately, individual experience values ​​are more meaningful than general scientific recipes.

The proof is in the pudding
For those who are going to an altitude training camp for the first time, it is advisable to start the training slowly. Intact health and a generally good and injury-free state of training are essential. For the duration of the altitude training, athletes should plan at least two weeks (ideally between three and four weeks). In the first week of training, athletes should train with a reduced scope and intensity, about 20% less than in the lowlands, with a focus on basic training. More intensive units can be instated from week two onwards. At the end of a three-week stay, for example, athletes can complete the training with almost full intensity.

How to master the mountain air:

Tips for the competition at altitude.

For all athletes who arrive from the lowlands at short notice, the most important requirement is to be healthy and in as good a condition as possible. The best time to arrive is four to seven days before the run. This leaves enough time to get used to the altitude and to carry out light training sessions, for example on the competition track. Make sure you have enough sleep, a healthy diet, an increased need for drinking and a longer regeneration time. However, if you do not have so much time, you should plan the run so that the load takes place in the first 24 hours after arrival. Studies have shown that performance is reduced in this phase, but significantly better than on the second day after arrival in the mountain air.

In order to integrate the summer run into a longer planned altitude training, the competition should take place between week two and three. It is not advisable to start the run in the beginning of the week (acclimatization) or in the end phase of the stay at high altitude because the effort is too high.

All those who spend their lives at high altitudes (from approx. 1500 m) certainly have advantages over the “flat lands”. Their bodies have gotten used to the altitude and has responded with corresponding signs of adaptation. Whether a trained athlete from the lowlands or a “mountain dweller” will decide the summer run remains an exciting and interesting matter for everyone involved.

St. Moritz high-altitude training mecca

For years, the Engadin has been an ideal "playground" for athletes from all over the world. The altitude exposure of 1856 m in St. Moritz offers the best conditions for all three methods presented. “Sleep high train low”, for example, can be excellently implemented in the mountain hotel “Mouttas Muragl”, which is at 2456 m. If you are looking for even more peace and quiet, you can spend the night in the secluded silence of the mountain hotel «Diavolezza» at almost 3000 m. The training units can be completed in St. Moritz or in the neighboring towns. Running athletes should note that they can mainly run on natural roads and forest paths. Anyone preparing for a competition on asphalt should have trained this in advance. The Upper Engadin is not just an Eldorado for running enthusiasts. All cyclists and mountain bikers can also let off steam on the paths and roads, but must expect a significant wind (Maloja wind) from the south from midday on in summer.

Anne-Marie Flammersfeld is a graduate sports scientist, personal trainer extreme athlete and OK president of the Engadiner Sommerlauf. She lives and works in St. Moritz, where she and her company encourage the Engadin’s to perform at their best.

Nutrition tips

Valuable tips on the race at 1800 meters above sea level

General tips on nutritions

Tips from

  1. Make sure you have a normal, high-quality diet consisting of 50-60% carbohydrates, 20-30% fats and 12-15% proteins.

  2. Eat regularly, colorfully and varied. There are no prohibited foods, but high quality is important.

  3. Food eaten before training or competition is only useful after it has been digested and the nutrients it contains have been absorbed. This means that food intake should be timed so that nutrients are available during exercise.

  4. Foods that are high in fat, protein or nutritional fiber extend the digestion time and can increase the risk of indigestion during exercise.

This is how you take care of yourself after an exercise

  1. The loss of fluid should be fully compensated for as early as three to six hours after exercise. As a rule of thumb, for every 500 gr of body weight lost you should consume 500 ml of liquid. Note: Every quarter of an hour our body is able to absorb no more than 250 ml of liquid.

  2. Alcohol should be avoided in the first hours after an intensive exercise because it not only removes fluid from the body, but also inhibits the release of the hormones testosterone and HGH (growth hormone), which are so important for regeneration.

  3. Proteins help repair damaged muscle tissue and build new muscle tissue. They should be consumed in the form of shakes or bars within 30 minutes of the end of exercise.

  4. After exercise, the body needs carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen stores. Ideally in combination with proteins, because this way the reserves fill up even faster. For a person weighing 70 kg the following applies: Within the first half hour after a competition, 70 to 100 gr of carbohydrates and 70 gr of protein should be consumed (e.g. bars or carbohydrate electrolyte drink). For the first 6 hours, the same amount should follow as a small meal every 2 hours (e.g. pasta and easily digestible proteins such as cooked chicken).
This is how you prepare for the Engadiner Sommerlauf

3 tips from

  1. Run your longest unit while fasting to optimize fat burning. Fill yourself with water, a sports drink and gels on the go. Promote your regeneration with a recovery drink in the first 5-10 minutes after finishing the long jog.

  2. Accelerate recovery after intense sessions such as intervals by consuming a gel and drinking just after the last interval and before cooldown.

  3. During training at a fast pace, practice consuming refreshments during exercise: gel with water and a sports drink. This is how to prepare for the 25 kilometers from August.
Correct drinking behavior - the decisive success factor
Trinken, Engadiner Sommerlauf, Tipps, Anne-Marie Flammersfeld

Very often it is not the lack of performance that makes a runner miss the target. Improper drinking behavior can also lead to failure despite good preparation. Drinking in time and sufficiently often decides on success and failure. Adequate drinking volume can compensate for the loss caused by sweat and thus maintain the mileage for several hours. But not only is the loss of fluids a performance-limiting factor, excessive drinking should also be avoided when exercising endurance. It can lead to severe sodium deficiency symptoms. Not only the liquid balance, but also the electrolyte balance must be correct. The nature of the liquid replacement drink is of crucial importance for absorption and distribution in the body. The best fluid replacement contains water, electrolytes and carbohydrates.

The following tips on drinking behavior will bring you to your goal:

  • At the beginning, drink small amounts (200-300ml) at every refreshment post, even if you are not thirsty, but do not overdo it! In training, you can already practice this with your own drinking bottle. Because: You can and must train drinking!

  • A 6% carbohydrate drink (6% = sports drink with 6g carbohydrates per 100ml or 60g per liter) is isotonic and is therefore ideally absorbed by the body. It quenches thirst and provides the necessary energy. See examples below.

  • The addition of 1g salt per liter (approximately one knife tip) of liquid improves carbohydrate absorption. In addition, this makes an ideal drink for sodium replacement in hot weather. Salty snacks during the run can also help maintain sodium balance in the body. Pretzel sticks have proven their worth in a cramp: let three pretzel sticks melt in your mouth!

  • Instead of drinking a large amount once an hour, it is better to drink smaller "servings" every 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Usually 400-800 ml of liquid per hour are required.

  • Caution! The maximum possible fluid intake is around 1000ml per hour. Larger amounts of liquid are not absorbed and can cause stomach problems!

  • Slower runners and smaller women need less fluid per hour! If you are aiming for a target time of 2-3 hours, you do not need to drink more than 400-500ml per hour.
  • The ideal beverage temperature: slightly warmed in winter, but not too hot

Most of these guidelines apply to all healthy runners! So it applies e.g. scientifically proven that a 6% carbohydrate drink with electrolytes is ideally suited to "fill up" both liquid and energy. Here everyone needs different amounts because each individual's fluid needs are unique, like a fingerprint. Running speed, body weight, gender, climate and sweat rate are just a few factors that influence your personal needs. After all, it makes a difference whether you weigh 50 or 90 kg!