The Running Passion of Florian Neuschwander

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ST: What are you currently getting ready for or what is looming in the near future?

Florian: After my 100km world record on the treadmill I did 2 weeks with very low training and now I am ready again to do more kilometers and training hours. My next big target will be the Wings for Life World Run with the App on May 9th. Maybe I will do a little project to test myself before the WFLWR at the end of March or the beginning of April. There are no competitions at the moment, so I have to do my own challenges again like last year where I ran a 10km personal best in training in 30:09 minutes.

ST: What inspired that 100km treadmill goal or is that simply a natural progression after a 50km World Record?

Florian: My 50 km World Record did not last too long. Already 4- 5 guys went faster and so there was no option for me to go again for that record. Instead I saw that the 100 km record was just 6:39 hours and I thought that’s a good goal and really possible. I then started to train for it and my training went very well.

ST: What was your 50km time you and how long did that record last?

Florian: I ran a 2:57:25 hours in February 2020 and that was a world record. But it just lasted 2 weeks. Then a guy from Switzerland came and did it 1 minute faster. I thought ok, that’s still possible to run. But some weeks later two guys from Russia knocked out 2:44 times and that was not possible for me in the end. During the summer there was a bigger contest in the USA where several treadmill World Records were destroyed. The fastest guy did the 50 km in 2:42:56 hours and Mario Mendoza did a new 100 km record in 6:39:25 hours. I then thought ok, let’s go for the 100 km.

ST: How much faster do you think you could run the 50k?

Florian: In my preparation for the 100 km I did a 50 km test run in 2:51:55 hours on the treadmill so I ran 6 minutes faster than my previous World Record.
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ST: But back now to the 100k. How did you prepare for it?

Florian: My main preparation were long runs on the treadmill. Altogether I did 8 times 30km, 2 marathons, 4 times 50km and 2 times 60km on the treadmill. Everything well under 3:50 min/km in average. And this 50km personal best test in 2:51:55 hours and some intervals as well. All other things I did outdoors. Just very easy runs, ski mountaineering a bit, and a lot indoors on Zwift with the bike most of the time 100km rides.

ST: When did you start adding cycling to your routine as a serious training tool? And how much do you ride outside?

Florian: I started adding cycling as a serious training tool when I had a twisted ankle and I stopped running for about 10 days. During that time in the fall of 2019 I started indoor cycling. Sometimes up to 300km in a week and sometimes no cycling. Most of the time I just ride indoors in winter and during spring and summer I don’t ride that much. Just sometimes outside.

ST: Can you share what you took in nutrition wise during the event?

Florian: Yes, I took carbohydrate drinks or gels every 20 – 30 minutes to get the carbohydrates in. Water for sure. And in the last 20km I had 2 Red Bulls.

ST: What kind of drinks and gels did you use?

Florian: I used Maurten for the carbohydrate mix.
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ST: As you started that 100k did you feel pretty confident?

Florian: I knew that I was fit and well prepared. Until 60km I knew what’s going on, so I focused first on the 60km to do it like in my training before. After the 60k mark it was new territory for me. I didn't know what will happen but my plan was to have a 10 minutes lead ahead of the world record and it was like that. I was thus in a comfortable situation. I had time to slow down a bit or to do a pee stop, but luckily I didn’t need that. Kilometers 70 – 85 were hard but my community and all people following pushed me through and the last 10km I knew that I would do it and I ran a 36:05 minutes to finish.

ST: No bathroom breaks?

Florian: No luckily not. 2 times I had the feeling that I need a stop but I went on running and after a while the feeling to do a pee stop was not there anymore.

ST: I think you had some connection issues early on. How frustrating was that?

Florian: It was not frustrating. I just focused on my running and did not let something disturb me during my attempt. I stayed focused all the time.

ST: The treadmill you ran on looks very unique, and we would love it if you could tell us a bit about it.

Florian: It is a HP Cosmos Quasar. The company is here nearby, and I was lucky to train all the time on it. The company builds professional treadmills for medical and professional sports stuff. They can also build a treadmill where you can do cross-country skiing on it. Crazy. Very accurate and calibrated so it is like running outdoors on a track. Very good stability and it feels real realistic and you can run so fast on them.
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ST: What is the top speed of the treadmill you have and how much incline and decline does it have?

Florian: The top speed is 30 kilometers per hour (18.64 mph*) and you can do 27% incline and when you switch the running belt of the treadmill you could also do 27% decline. Never tried decline running on a treadmill to be honest.

ST: Do you run much at incline?

Florian: No or yes. But just outdoors!

ST: And does the treadmill directly connect or do you use a run pod?

Florian: No, the treadmill can not connect directly to Zwift, yet.
During my record we used the RUNN Pod to connect with Zwift.

ST: Which shoes did you use and what else did you have on you in terms of gear?

Florian: I was running in the ON Cloudflow and it went pretty well. I measured the run with the treadmill, sure and with Zwift as well. I was wearing my Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar and measured the run also on my watch.

ST: When will you do 100 miles on the treadmill?

Florian: I don’t know if I will do that.
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ST: What is your weekly running volume and how much of it is on the treadmill?

Florian: In my preparation I did just one long run in the week on the treadmill. My weekly mileage is not that high at the moment. Around 60 miles a week in average. But also some other stuff like I said indoor cycling on Zwift. Often 100km rides 2 times a week. In winter a bit of skiing and in spring and summer I do more running and start to increase mileage again when the weather gets better to do a lot of running outdoors.

ST: You have not always been an ultra runner, and maybe you can talk about your running background or how you found running.

Florian: I started running on the track. Did, for example, 1500m in 3:49 minutes, 5000m in 14:20 minutes and 10,000m in 29:51 minutes. But I always liked cross country running and running the long runs in training. I then decided to go for longer ultra-trails after some marathons. I like being outside in the nature and not checking my watch all the time.

ST: For perspective, what is your fastest marathon and half marathon time?

Florian: My fastest marathon time is 2:20:28. My fastest half marathon time is 1:06:20. Last year I did a time trial due to Corona ad I did a lot of things like that. I did a half marathon on my own in 1:06:43. My target was to break 1:06:00 but it was too windy and being alone on a 2 km loop is quite hard then.

ST: We know you have run the Transrockies Run. Which other US races have you done or are on your bucket list?

Florian: I won a 100km Ultratrail in Malibu (Sean O’Brien) where I won a Golden Ticket for the Western States 100. That same year I started in the Western States and finished. It was a very nice and good experience but I was very slow. But I also learned a lot and I really wanna go back there and do it 4 hours faster. [laughs] There is also a little film about my Western States Run on YouTube for people who are interested.

ST: I have seen that film and it is very well done. What do you think went wrong and how would you change your next approach?

Florian: A lot went wrong. Next time I would like to be at least more than a week ahead of the race in the area. I would do more high-altitude training. Heat training as well. And a long preparation ultra as a race before. I would change shoes but you need the shoes at least 1,5 or 2 sizes bigger than usual. When I did WSER I changed shoes after 125 km and the river crossing, but the new shoes were way too small because my feet were so big and swollen. So, I had big problems running again.
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ST: I also noticed you in one of the Golden Trail World Tour races. Which trail races in Europe would you recommend to folks from abroad?

Florian: There are so many nice races already. So far I did not run really much big trail races so I can’t tell you the nicest ones to be honest. As long as it is on trails and the people are nice it’s also a nice race I think.

ST: Looking back at all the events you have entered, which one do you remember most fondly and why?

Florian: I like running events a lot. But the best run a remember was my first 100km Ultratrail. I did it in my training because I wanted to see how it feels. I started in Trier where I lived longer time ago and I ran home to my Mum, 100km away. Some friends supported me and some runners joined me that time. I was awesome to feel such a long distance in my legs. In the end I came home with a 100km with nearly 10,000 ft of climbing in 7:59.

ST: Talk about your diet.

Florian: I live vegan, so plant based. But no real diet plan or something like that.
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ST: Is there anything else we should know?

Florian: I don’t know. Just stay healthy, have a lot of fun in life and while running and stay positive and look for nice adventures!
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