After finishing second in the Sahara Race, extreme runner Christian Schiester is already back in training for the third leg of the Four Deserts Cup, The Kimberley in Western Australia.
Christian, for how long will you be feeling the after-effects of the Sahara Race?
For about six to seven weeks. Having said that, I’m already back training again. But, when I run, it feels like someone’s put the handbrake on.
You should really be on holiday... How many days off do you allow yourself each year?
None. For me, every day starts with a run, during which I prepare myself mentally for the day. After that, it’s PR work in the office. Midday and evenings I run again … You see, training for me is like doing my teeth, a daily routine. That’s maybe the basis for my constant mental improvement: I know that I’m doing my homework.
How will you be looking to improve for the Australian leg in April next year?
Well, firstly I’m going to tie my sleeping bag really tightly inside my rucksack [The loss of his sleeping bag in the Sahara cost the Austrian a time penalty and sleepless nights.] That was a really painful experience. In terms of nutrition, I’ll be taking more fatty foods, which means I’ll forgo some other foods. The Red Bull Energy Shots have proven to be pretty good. Without them, I couldn’t run another metre through the desert.
And what about your equipment?
I have been making gradual improvements because something or other always goes wrong. In the Atacama, for example, my gaiters, which are supposed to protect my shoes from sand, tore. Now I’m using new material, a rubber-plastic mix that works better. I’m also working on the shoe itself. At the moment they’re developing a shoe for me in Japan, which isn’t for retail. I’m going to use it for the first time in Australia. This ‘guinea-pig approach’ is fun, and is an additional motivation. You have to be really fussy with these things.
Do you keep tabs on what your rivals are doing?
I keep an eye on them, yes, but I don’t copy anything. I try and do my own thing. If an Italian overtakes me, I don’t have to then wear the same socks the next day. Besides, what works for someone else doesn’t mean that it’ll work for me.
How are you preparing for Australia?
Right now I have to get used to the cold. I’m going to spend a lot of time in the mountains, this time with touring ski. I’m also going to practice a bit in solitude as that gets you in the right frame of mind. I’m going to be very finicky about my preparation in order to be in top condition at the start line. I think Australia, from the point of view of the terrain, will be the toughest test in the Four Deserts Cup.
And finally, do you celebrate your successes?
I don’t usually drink alcohol; when I cross the finish line, I allow myself the luxury and drink a cold beer. But for me, celebrating in that way means being at home with my family. That’s the greatest reward I can think of.