An Insightful Interview With Thomas Lurz

An Insightful Interview With Thomas Lurz

Jose Diaz of Madrid’s Nadandolibre interviewed world 5K and 10K champion Thomas Lurz of Germany.

Q1. How often do you hydrate ia a race?
Thomas: I drink before the race a lot and take one energy gel during the race. It’s different depending on the water, the temperature, the tactics and speed during the race. It can be that I just take again one energy gel during the races and don’t drink, but normally I drink once or twice during a 10K race. In the 5K, I don’t take anything during the race.

Q2. How important is dratfing in open water racing?
Thomas: It’s very important and the main thing in tactics in open water. You can save up to 25% which is really a lot.

Q3. Do you train race tactics? For instance, do you change pace at a given point or do you wait for the final sprinting?
Thomas: I am training tactics in the pool training often. I swim some sets at different speed or try to swim in the end fast, then at the beginning of a set. Then it’s like in a 10K race where the end is very important.

Q4. What breathing patterns have you in races? How often do you take a look forward for a quick view?. Is this a planned thing or do you improvise?
Thomas: Normally, I breath every second stroke, but I train and in the race I need to look left and right to see all other swimmers. Then I breath every third stroke during the race . It can be that I don’t look in front for long time, but at the end I look like every 10th stroke forward to see the finish well. But it’s not so planned how ofter I look forward. It depends also on the water conditions, if there are waves or not, then I look more often.

Q5. How much time do you spend with dryland or gym work? How important that is in your preparation?
Thomas: I go two times a week to the gym and do weights. I go two times on ergometer and the rest is stretching and core stability. I think it’s very important because the muscles need to be prepared to swim for two hours like in the 10K.

Q6. What gives you more satisfaction: achieving a good result beating your competition or overcoming personal challenges?
Thomas: For me, the results in competition are more important because I am a professional swimmer since i am finished with university and the results I need. Also it’s clear for me that I fight and give everything that I can during the race. This way of thinking is basic and the win over myself must be in the race.

Q7. Could you put into words what it feels like to be world champion?
Thomas: This is very difficult. It feels very awesome, but I am still the same person that I was before with two hands and two feet. I am very happy that I am healthy and that I can do my best in training to become the world champion. Some people helped and support me [to achieve] this. This is also fundamental to be a world champion, but it feels very nice.

Q8. Speaking in terms of meters, what is your weekly volume? How do you manage your recover and what about your taper?
Thomas: I swim up to 110K in one week in 11 training sessions. Recovering is difficult when I swim so much. Good nutrition and good training plans and sets are important so I can still recover and don’t loose my speed. When I taper, I do much fewer meters. The last week before competition is like 35-40K. I stop with weights 3 weeks before and just try to keep it with less kilos in the gym.

Q9. How do you manage to recover from such an enormous daily training distances?
Thomas: I try to sleep well, have good nutrition. I think the body must be prepared for such training which lasts years to get to this point. The muscles and the body must know this “pain” and then the recovery is getting faster.

Q10. Please rank by importance what you consider to have more effect in your achievements: training, technique, nutrition or something else?
Thomas: The most important thing is training. Without training and doing some kilometers in training, it’s impossible to have success in open water. It’s a marathon discipline. Also in the training, it is important to swim the right sets with the right speed to be fast enough. The second thing is technique which is also important to get speed and to swim fast without putting top much power in the strokes. The last is nutrition.

Q11. Do you follow your preparation by VO2Max? What factors influence more your progress? Do you use other training references?
Thomas: My coach is my brother who was a good swimmer in the past in the pool and in the open water. He knows many things about everything which has to do with swimming. He is doing all the references. He is a computer in numbers and everything.

Q12. What is your ideal tactic in a race, let’s say in a 10K race? Do your tactics change in 25K?
Thomas: The perfect tactic is to be in the lead group during the race until 8K and the last 2K, I try to lead and build up speed until the finish. I have never swum 25K in my life. I want to do it, perhaps this summer at the European Championships. The longest race I did was 15K which I liked.

Q13. Is there a moment in an open water career to move from shorter to longer distances: 5, 10 and 25K?
Thomas: Since the 10K is the Olympic distance, it is the most important race in open water. The rest is just not so important. The 5K, I need for the speed in the 10K. This is why I think that 5K is more important for the 10K race. The 25K is much longer and the speed isn’t so important like the other two events. I want to swim the 25K because I think it will help me mentally to do good 10K races. Then the 10K races will be shorter in my mind.

Q14. For an amateur swimmer, like most people who swim open water, what would be you advice for training technique and distance?
Thomas: I would advise to train the body and muscles to get used to swim long times. At first, the speed isn’t so important because the body and core stability should not get problems to swim longer. Then when the body can do it, it will faster. In training, I would say build up the kilometers from training to training and don’t forget recovery.

Q15. What is harder: to become a world champion or to keep the title?
Thomas: To get one world champion is very hard, but to keep the title is more harder because you put yourself under pressure to win again and everybody want to beat you. They have motivation to win and be the world champion. But when you want to win again. you need this motivation for many years. Also during the race, many swimmers look up to me and want swim close to me.

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Steven Munatones