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Endurance sport is considered incredibly healthy – but it also requires a lot of mental discipline. How do you best motivate yourself? Which goals are realistic? And why is endurance sports so good for us? You can find out in the health podcast.
In our three-part series on “I want to live fitter and healthier – resolutions for the new year”, after strength, we now deal with endurance training – and its benefits.
Editor in the “Life” section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
The sports scientist Sebastian Mühlenhoff looks after the Ironman winner Patrick Lange. Even those who do not want to be so committed to their endurance can learn a lot from the professionals. For example, setting realistic intermediate goals that are achievable and verifiable. That helps to overcome your inner weaker self. Regularity is the key to success. Because: “Endurance sport protects better than medication against our lifestyle diseases in the metabolic and cardiovascular areas.”
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11/30/2020 | 9:00 a.m. 14 Min
| Available until 11/30/2022
The moderator would like to qualify for the toughest triathlon in the world for the second time. For two years he wants to get fit for the great challenge – and takes the users of NDR.de with him on his arduous journey.
A 21-year-old with Down’s syndrome successfully completed the Ironman in the USA – and is now in the history books. He needed almost 17 hours for the three sports categories.
Chris Nikic did it and, according to the organizers, was the first athlete with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman. With his hands up jubilantly, the 21-year-old American crossed the finish line in Panama Beach City in the US state of Florida on Saturday night. For the 3.86 kilometers of swimming, 180.2 kilometers of cycling and 42.2 kilometers of running Nikic unofficially needed 16:49:09 hours at Ironman Florida.
“I get goosebumps, so incredibly inspiring”
While swimming and running, he and his trainer Daniel Grieb were connected with a belt. At the finish they hugged each other. “Chris Nikic made history this evening,” commented organizer Ironman on his Facebook page. “I have goosebumps, so incredibly inspiring,” wrote the 37-year-old Ironman World Cup fifth in 2019, Cameron Wurf (37) from Australia.
It was not until he was four years old that Chris Nikic could walk without a walker, his muscle strength and muscle tension were not expressed as in people without Down syndrome. Four years ago he had to undergo four ear operations. If he can manage an Ironman, he can handle everything else in life, according to the credo of the 21-year-old from Maitland.
In the first half of the year, after the cancellation of a race over half the Ironman distance, he had completed an improvised competition of 1.9 kilometers of swimming, 90 kilometers of cycling and 21.1 kilometers of running. At Ironman Florida, he was not stopped by a crash with the bike and a slightly bleeding knee as well as ant bites. “Giving up is not an option for Chris,” said his coach before the race.
EActually, Chris Nikic wants one thing above all else: an ordinary life with his own house, his own car and a wife. He wants to be perceived like any other person. He wants to prove it to himself and to others. However, in a way that for most people who were not born with Down syndrome is not only unusual, but almost unimaginable.
The 21-year-old wants to swim 3.86 kilometers, cycle 180.2 kilometers and run 42.2 kilometers at Ironman Florida this Saturday. “Yes, I’m ready,” he says in an interview with the German Press Agency and his anticipation is palpable.
At the beginning of the week, the motorhome drove around 600 kilometers from his hometown Maitland to Panama City Beach, the scene of the action. It is one of only a few triathlon races this year, Chris Nikic’s official premiere over half the Ironman distance was canceled in May due to the coronavirus pandemic.
So it was improvised and he did the 1.9 kilometers of swimming, 90 kilometers of cycling and 21.1 kilometers of running for himself. “Giving up is not an option for Chris,” says his trainer Daniel Grieb. And it doesn’t just apply to daily training. It has become a way of life at a young age.
Until he was four years old, Chris Nikic needed a walker. Muscle strength and muscle tension were not expressed as in people without Down syndrome. At 17, he had four ear surgeries. At 18 he weighed over 80 kilos. “If I had continued like this, I’d be over 100 pounds today, sit on the couch and play video games, and my weak muscles would serve as an excuse,” says Chris Nikic.
He decided to do a junior triathlon. It continued over the sprint and the Olympic distance and finally half the Ironman route. According to his own statements, it took him 8:25 hours. “I know that I can’t keep up with a top athlete. But with hard work, I can be strong enough to do an Ironman, ”explains Chris Nikic. I can’t do it – it doesn’t exist for him. Just one thing: I have to work harder to get there. And to be noticed like everyone else – without Down syndrome. “The biggest problem is that people think that if you take longer, you can’t,” he says.
But why an Ironman of all things? After a swimming competition in a lake of almost a kilometer, Chris Nikic was to be immortalized on a wall with his name. Without further ado he signed “World Champion”. Father Nik thought about what might correspond to that and then asked his son if he wanted to start an Ironman. The answer is clear. “He started from scratch,” says Nik Nikic with a view to the beginning of the Ironman mission.
Get one percent better every day, that’s the motto. Chris and his coach set up the training plan on a huge white board. Day after day. And so it goes into the water, on the bike or on the running track before the race. Coach Grieb is always there.
They also sit next to each other during the video interview. The two of them joke and laugh a lot, also and especially when Chris Nikic tells that the ritual will include a hug with Miss Tampa before the race and that after the big day you should first go to a nightclub. Chris Nikic’s zest for life, his positive nature is contagious.
“The greatest memories I’ll take with me to my grave were with Chris,” says Grieb. A man with an angular face, cropped hair and a muscular body, a real estate agent by trade. “He’s taking me to his interviews now,” he says and laughs.
When swimming and running, the two will be connected with a belt, help is allowed with the changes, but Chris Nikic has to complete the total of 226 kilometers like everyone else. Then, shortly before midnight local time, he will probably be able to hear the four magic words for long-distance triathletes – You are an Ironman – on the red carpet.
For world champion Anne Haug he is already one. “You are a fantastic inspiration to all the athletes out there and a great example of what willpower can do,” said the 37-year-old Hawaii 2019 winner.
Berlin – Ironman world champion Anne Haug is also benefiting financially from her triumph in Hawaii a year ago in the corona crisis. In an interview with the online portal “t-online.de” (Monday), the 37-year-old professional triathlete emphasized that she too was dependent on prize money. But there were almost no races this year. In addition to their sponsors, “who really stand by me even in the tough times,” they also have “a bit of a buffer” thanks to winning the World Cup so that I can get through well now.
For her success in October 2019, Haug received prize money equivalent to 109,000 euros. Born in Bayreuth, the native of Bayreuth was the first German to win the world championship race over 3.86 kilometers of swimming, 180.2 kilometers of cycling and 42.2 kilometers of running in Hawaii. This year the world championship had to be canceled due to the spread of the corona virus.
For many of her colleagues it is “really tough,” said Haug. “Many of our sponsors are medium-sized companies. You can understand that it is difficult on the one hand to send your employees on short-time work and on the other hand to do sports sponsorship.”
Haug himself plans to take part in a World Cup race over half the Ironman distance of the “Professional Triathletes Organization” in Daytona / USA in December this year. But it must take place under the appropriate health conditions. “I live from my body, but I live from my health, from my body, and I definitely don’t want to risk anything. I need my body a little longer than this year,” said Haug.
Instead, everyday life is hip with the 37-year-old from Bayreuth. “I will swim at 7 am as usual, do a hard run and cycle easily – a completely normal training Saturday,” she reported in an interview for the tri2b.com internet portal. There is obviously no reason to fear that thoughts will wander too much in the direction of Hawaii: “I’m not a wistful person and don’t try to deal with things that I can’t change,” she told the German press agency.
Accordingly, Haug has already understood the entire long break from competition as an opportunity to work on your performance without the stress of competition appointments around the world: “I used the time to continuously build up the basics. Hopefully that will benefit me next year. “
Compared to this newspaper, she even agreed that Anne Haug could win in its current form against the world champion of 2019: “At the moment I am not in an Ironman-specific preparation – from that point on it’s difficult to compare. But I think that I have already been able to improve myself in all disciplines. “This can be measured specifically on the bike:” I can already see an improvement based on my watt values. This is certainly also due to the continuous work on the ergonomic and aerodynamic seating position and checking in the wind tunnel. ”Participation in some running competitions have also produced positive results:“ I am very happy about my running form. Just last week I could see that my dreams hold up against reality. “
“You want to earn world titles, not manage them”
Exactly this proof is what Anne Haug lacks most when thinking about the missed World Cup: “I miss being at the start of a top-class competition and competing with the others in the best possible training form.” The ideas that probably associate most holiday travelers with the American archipelago in the Pacific, the Bayreuth native hardly shares: “I always associate Hawaii with the Ironman World Cup – the place where you have to achieve your best performance under inhospitable conditions and use this result to judge your entire season becomes. My thoughts are only occupied with how best to do it. ”She has“ honestly never thought of sightseeing ”. A few details on the trip to paradise are even extremely unnecessary, she says with a wink: “I can do without the long flight, the heat and the jet lag.”
The fact that she can now officiate as world champion for two years because of the rejection is no consolation for Anne Haug: “You want to earn a world championship title and not manage it for as long as possible.”
Triathlon professional Sebastian Kienle faces very special tasks during the Corona crisis – be it in training, the current competition situation or the necessary hygiene requirements.
Mühlacker – In June, Sebastian Kienle fell during cycling training on Rollsplit in Switzerland and broke his collarbone. Occupational risk. Less than three hours later, the triathlete was on the operating table, the surgeons treated the fracture very well, so that a little later the 36-year-old joked on social media: “Still no race in sight? A perfect time to break your collarbone. “If you could plan injuries, the man from Mühlacker could hardly have done it better – because the next highlight of the season for the endurance three-fighters would have been the legendary Ironman in Hawaii, which was due to Corona in October 2020 moved to February 2021. This appointment has now also dissolved like smoke and mirrors. Canceled, definitely.
“I was hoping that the competition would take place in February,” says Kienle, “my training plan was geared towards this. But in the scene it was rumored that the cancellation would come. After all, it comes pretty early. ”Actually, the Ironman organizer World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) is known for only pulling the ripcord very briefly, now the community of iron women and men can be certain that there will be no 2020 champion will and can concentrate entirely on October 9, 2021 in planning. “It’s a shame,” says Sebastian Kienle, “I was hoping I would get two chances for the title next year.”
Read here: This is how Kienle put the fall away from the bike
The 36-year-old has been at the training camp in Livigno in Italy since Wednesday, where he regularly stops. Because of the fracture that has not completely healed, he cannot yet approach swimming training as energetically as he would like; Of all things, because swimmers are his weakest discipline when competing in the water (3.8 km), on the bike (180 km) and over the marathon distance (42.2 km). His motto: Always look ahead positively. “I do not train exclusively for a competition,” he emphasizes, “I train in order to constantly improve – and I can still do that.” Triathlon is an intensive sport, being an Ironman athlete is a self-sacrificing profession – both together is a way of life. Filling out this maxim in times of corona is not always easy. Especially if you are a guy like Sebastian Kienle who is already prone to common colds. The one who roamed through the public with a mask and gloves quite early on, when people were still looking at him as if he looked like ET or he came from the planet Marduk – at the training camp in Switzerland, for example, the triathlete set hygiene standards that were not yet on site were suggested. “I take Corona very seriously,” explains the Ironman World Champion from 2014, “it doesn’t matter that I’m still relatively young and quite fit – you hear of long-term effects such as lung damage, even if a disease is harmless or you are she didn’t even notice. ”
Read here: This is how Kienle cheered after his triumph in 2014
Now the 36-year-old is not a sociable party animal, iron men are sport-genetically created to be loners, which is why social distancing, avoiding social contact, seems as easy as tying your running shoes. But Kienle travels from one training camp to the next, occasionally checking that everything is going at home in Mühlacker – it is impossible to isolate yourself completely. Kienle only tolerates a few people around him permanently, such as a training partner, doctor, physiotherapist, so that a bubble has formed from four to five people. “The people are all appropriately sensitized,” he says, “we minimize the risk as best we can.” You usually wear a mask; this may be quite tedious at times, but in the end it is for everyone. The man from Mühlacker was pleased to note that the requirements in Livigno are much stricter than those in Switzerland. That gives him even more security.
Because all the exercise units in the water, on the bike and while running are in an effort to steel the body for the next competition, on August 29th Sebastian Kienle wants to compete in the Challenge Davos. And then Ironman Hawaii is waiting for him on October 9, 2021. Hopefully.
The news of the painful cancellation of the legendary Ironman in Hawaii in February next year reached the German triathletes at night. “Of course I am very sad about this,” defending champion Anne Haug said on Wednesday, “but the decision is more than understandable given the current situation.” Pandemic in the mailboxes of the athletes. The bad awakening came in the morning. “We were hopeful that we could welcome our athletes, their families, and fans to these events, but the ongoing influence of the pandemic makes it impossible,” said Ironman chief Andrew Messick.
After a first postponement, the competition for 3.86 kilometers swimming, 180.2 kilometers cycling and 42.2 kilometers running had been rescheduled from October 10 for February 6, 2021. “With a heavy heart” the refusal was now announced. It is the first time since the premiere of the Hawaii race in 1978. The 2020 World Cup over half the Ironman distance will not take place either. “It is hard to make this decision in July, but it brings the necessary clarity for athletes, hosts and partners,” said Messick. Defending champion Jan Frodeno had already criticized the postponement in May and suggested a cancellation. “At some point it makes it a bit silly to have a February world champion and an October world champion,” he emphasized.
The qualification criteria were also a problem, although they subsequently adjusted the organizers. Due to the global spread of the corona virus, no Ironman races took place this year, most recently the Ironman Hamburg, which was initially postponed to September, was canceled, the European Championship in Frankfurt did not and does not exist this year. Nevertheless, Frodeno & Co had already readjusted the training plans and started preparing for the classic at the beginning of next year. Ex-world champion Sebastian Kienle recently crashed with his racing bike and suffered a broken collarbone, but he has not yet canceled his planned start at a race in Davos at the end of August. The 36-year-old won in Hawaii in 2014 – thus ushering in a German era at the Kailua-Kona goal. In 2015 and 2016, the two-year-old Frodeno won the title before the 33-year-old Patrick Lange won twice in a row. In October 2019, Frodeno returned to the throne. For women, 37-year-old Haug was the first German triumph. She hopes at least for smaller competitions this year in Germany “to prove the trained form”.
All active people have no choice but to hope for the World Cup in October 2021. “We will take it and look forward to the day when the greatest professionals and age group triathletes will come together to crown the world champions,” promised Andrew Messick. dpa / nd