Talk with a marathon runner – David Hammer


To start of my „talk with“ series, I want to introduce you to a very inspirational young man. David Hammer is a 17 year old marathon runner. He is champion in his state (Vorarlberg, Austria) and vice champion of Austria. Currently, he is still going to school studying mechanical engineering.

When did you start running and how did you get into it?

I started running at the age of ten. At this time, I didn’t do it professional – I just took part in a kids run in my hometown for fun without even preparing for it.
When I was in high school I participated in some smaller runs but I didn’t really train for it because I’ve been playing soccer at this time and didn’t have any time to go for runs.
About a year ago, I set myself some goals and started training seriously.
I got to chance to take part in a running week with Kenyans and one of them told me that I could be way better if I train more. This motivated me a lot and I started training with a plan.

Running seems to be more than just a hobby for you. What motivates you to do this professionally?

To be able to run at international meetings, I need to run better times. This motivates me to train hard and improve my times on a daily basis. Apart from that, my Kenyan friends are a big inspiration. One day I want to be as quick as they are.

As you are still going to school, I can imagine that it is not always easy to manage school and training. How to you master your daily life and what do your friends thing about it?

Well, to be honest, school suffers from my training and I’m also not the best student but as long as I pass all my exams, that is okay for me.
Often school ends at 5 p.m. and then I’m coming home around half past six. Sometimes I leave school earlier to be able to train before it is too late and I’m too tired. Of course, that is not really legal.

My classmates can’t understand me as they don’t do any sport and spend their evenings playing video games. I guess if I was going to a sports high school, most people could understand me as they are professional athletes themselves.

How does your daily training schedule look like?

When school starts later, I go on a short 30 minutes run before school. The important training sessions I always have after school. Either I’m doing interval runs, mountain runs or a long run (about 15-25km). Apart from that, I’m doing weight training twice a week. I also stretch daily for about 30 minutes later in the evening.

Does this change when you train for a special event?

Well, there are a few changes regarding my interval runs. For 10 km I do longer intervals (800m to 2000m), for shorter distances I do shorter intervals (200m to 1000m). But other than that, everything stays the same.

Do you also do any other kind of sports?

When I was younger, I used to play soccer and go climbing. Since running on a professional basis, I don’t have any time left for that. The only thing other activity I do is weight training, as I already mentioned.

As nutrition is equally important as training, I’m wondering what you are eating to refuel your body.

I personally think that nutrition is very important for athletes! I try to eat a similar diet as Kenyan runners. This means a lot of carbs, moderate protein and low fat.
An example dish would be cabbage or lentil stew with potatos. As side dish I also enjoy “Ugali” – some kind of polenta – to this.
As one can see, I mostly eat vegan but from time to time I love to have some chicken, too.

Running long distances can be quite challenging mentally. What do you think about when running? Do you listen to music?

Yes, especially long runs can be hard and it can be difficult to stay motivated. For me thinking about my future goals works really well. I always try to concentrate on my runs to get the best out of it.

What is your opinion on the right running gear? Are there any essentials?

I think clothing isn’t that important. It should just be comfortable and light. A mistake a lot of people make is to choose a running shoe with too much cushioning. Of course, that feels very comfortable, especially when mostly running on streets but it also weakens your feet muscles. Running on streets can also cause a inhibited running style. I would recommend running more in the forest. It is also good to run on grass with bare feet, on a soccer field, for example. That’s really good to strengthen your feet muscles and improve your running style.

Last but not least, what are your future goals?

I want to run very good results at Austrian competitions and also qualify for international runs. At some point, I’d love to take part in the Olympic Games!

David’s five top tips for runners
  1. Run on a regular basis
  2. Don’t overdo it – this can quickly lead to injuries
  3. Do interval training
  4. Incoperate mountain runs
  5. Perhaps do one long run per week with about 25% of your weekly total kilometers (if you run 80km weekly, aim for a 17-20km long run)

Thank you so much for this interesting interview, David! I wish you all the best for your future and perhaps we can repeat this interview some time with you being an olympic games winner. You would more than deserve it!

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