You can’t ignore the name: Andreas Straßner!
The 40-year-old SAYSKY Athlete is an exceptional German runner and is known primarily for his performances at half marathons, marathons and the renowned Red Bull Wings for Life World Run. Straßner or Strassi, as he goes by, is not your typical elite athlete. Although, he has been running below 2.20 on the marathon distance, he is working full time, is a big outdoor lover and he simply can’t run well in the cold/winter. Read the full interview with “sunny boy” below the picture:
Could you start this interview with telling a little bit about yourself and why your passion for running started when you were 15 years old?
I was a mountainbiker before and those races just felt too hard, reaching lactate maximum levels every other second. So, I joined my father for some easy runs. That time I didn't know how much track racing would hurt, otherwise I might have stayed with MTB.
It seems all of your PBs are from age 37. What happened from age 15 to 37?
I never had a coach, I was just doing regional track races when I was younger and when season ended in late July, my training for that year ended as well and would not start again until New Year's eve, which was always my kick-off for the next season. When I got older I wanted to run a marathon, so I extended my training period until October. But I barely knew anything about longruns or specific marathon training and always came short of breaking 2:30h finishing behind the first woman many times. At 32 I was in a now or never situation and contacted SAYSKY teammate Sebastian, who was already running kind of professionally that time and also coaching some other fast guys. He helped my neighbour to PR by 4min in the marathon after just 10 weeks of training, that opened my eyes. 7 months later I broke 2:30h for the first time, then 2:26h, 2:22h and finally 2:18h.
How do you balance having a job and being a pro runner? How does a normal day look like to you and which sacrifices do you give up on?
Your day has to be very structured, there is no room for distractions. I do my first run at 7 in the morning and my second session at 5 in the evening. After that, I use every minute to recover and go to bed early. I might not have a beer or two on the weekend there is running and recovery, that's it. You can call it "the price of gold", but I'm willing to pay it, it's not that much of a sacrifice. Everyone striving for success has to obtain that kind of lifestyle, no matter what kind of sports, maybe except darts.
You became the fastest runner worldwide at the Wings for Life World Run in 2018 and became fourth in 2019! Please share with us how the whole experience was for both events and how you prepared for these races?
You might be surprised but I didn't prepare specifically. I came up with the idea and proposed it to my coach Sebastian. He said, as a marathoner I'm already running high mileage. The pace I have to run in these races is not faster than 3:45/km and that's the pace of my usual training runs and feels kind of endless. So the critical issue is energy supply, as long as you fuel the engine with carbs you can keep it going. I took 120g CHO (carbohydrates) per hour and that strategy worked out perfectly. For the heat race in Rio, I had an additional bottle with just ice every 5k too cool my body. The experience was overwhelming, especially at my first race where I didn't expect too much and ended up running 76k. You really get this runners high when you cross a border you never expected to be possible.
You ran the Red Bull Wings for Life World Run only one week after running a 2.20 marathon time in 2018. How was that even possible?
Ask my coach not me! Seriously, nobody could know before if this was possible. I just tried with low expectations and surpassed everything we thought before would be in reach. I ran with zero pressure and my mind was completely free, that's the main reason for success.
SAYSKY note: Strassi become the 8th fastest in the IAU 50km World Championsships in Rumania, September 1, in the amazing time of 2:51:17 (that's 3.34 pace !) - don't try this at home!
How do you prepare mentally for a marathon and for Wings for Life World Run? How do you tackle these races?
Also I quit MTB for running because I felt it was too hard. I can suffer a lot and enjoy the pain when running fast in the end of races. That helps a lot, what helps even more is to be patient in the first 75% of a race, stick to your pace no matter what others do. All my marathons were slightly negative splits. You start flying at the end of a race when you are overtaking more and more guys in front of you although it hurts. Embrace the pain and run.
You are 40 years old now and are still running on a pro level. Do you see any limitations?
On the one hand age is just a number but on the other hand I won't run faster anymore - especially at track events. That's why I turned my eye towards competitive ultra events. I'll be running the 50k Word Champs and also want to break the national record there which is currently held by Paul Schmidt (SAYSKY athlete). And maybe in some near future I will have a shot the 100k.
When looking back, which results, and memories do you cherish and feel the proudest of the most?
Running sub30/10k for the first time at age 35 was a huge feeling and 14 days later, grabbing a bronze medal at the national marathon championship with my PR of 2:18h. These are definitely the two proudest moments of my running career. WINGS was also overwhelming, but it's another kind of competition, it's not an Olympic event.
Dont miss out! Keep up with Strassi here on his Instagram page.