An exclusive interview with Moritz auf der Heide, a few weeks before his participation in Naxos Trail Race 2019!

Από 26 Φεβ 2019

Moritz auf der Heide from Germany is one of the world's leading mountain runners (ITRA performance index: 811), but also a person with a very interesting philosophy for both life and racing on the mountains. Moritz will visit Greece for the first time in April, in order to run in Naxos Trail Race 2019, something which is very important for the mountain running in Greece and for the race organization of this beautiful Cycladic Island. Definitely an athlete of this level who has as life moto the expression “”, has many interesting things to say, so we discussed with him about mountain running, his philosophy of life, his career, his vision for the future and of course about his participation in the race in Naxos, as you can read in the exclusive interview that we publish today in Advendure.



[Advendure]: We’ve met you personally in Cappadocia in 2017, where you won the 63K race with an amazing record, something you repeated in 2018. Tell us a few things about your career and your relationship with sports and nature in general. What motivates you to run on the trails and mountains? Which distances and type of races match your running philosophy?

[Moritz auf der Heide]: Hi Dimitris. Thanks for having me as an interview partner. It’s a pleasure to share some of my thoughts and experiences.

I actually started running regularly quite late. About when I turned 20. Before I used to go rock climbing, take out my skateboard, play soccer and table tennis in clubs. The source of my change in mind came through my parents who did city marathons about once a year back in the day. My moms PB is 3h18m and I guess I used to brag about how I could easily beat it. Well, eventually my parents told me to live up to my big mouth and I started training. After half-marathons within two years, I chose to run the Detroit marathon in 2010 during my student exchange program. To my own surprise I finished in 2h52m and this kind of kicked it all off.

But it wasn’t until 2012 that I discovered running on trails and in the mountains. A fellow student invited me to join him at the Transalpine Run, an 8-day stage race through the European Alps, covering more than 300km and 16.000m+. During that time I lived in Munich doing an internship and without asking many questions I signed up. Totally stupid to be honest, since I wasn’t prepared at all. But it changed my life!

Ever since the mountains have caught my continuous attention and I try to spend every free minute there. Something that is not easy, since I have a full-time job (still in Munich). After basically traying about every distance there is I now prefer races around 20-50km with about 1.000-3.000m+. The really long stuff is not my cup of tea. I like to race a lot and those big ultras just require too much recovery time. By choosing shorter races I get to explore way more beautiful spots, sometimes already the day after the race!



[Advendure]: You will run for the first time in our country this year, in one of the most beautiful trail running races of our islands, the Naxos Trail Race 2019. What attracted you in order to choose a race on the Cyclades islands and what you expect to meet in relation with racing, the landscapes and the people on the island?

[Moritz auf der Heide]: Well, I always take opportunities to visit new places. And as you know I haven’t been to Greece yet. When you told me about a competition on the islands of Naxos back when we met in Turkey, I made plans to go.

I also like to race in warm, even hot conditions. And I prefer trails, which are not too technical and very runnable. I hope to find all this on Naxos.

Obviously my travels are not for the landscapes only. Meeting other runners, connecting to locals and of course trying the local cuisine are just as much fun. And I can’t wait to try all I find on the way. I’ve heard there is great craft beer in Greece!



[Advendure]: Do you consider yourself a professional athlete?  Which are the companies and people who help you in your effort to train and race around the world?

[Moritz auf der Heide]: No, I definitely don’t consider myself a professional athlete. Though I would like to be!

My training might be professional sometimes and my victories at international races might give the impression of a professional. But in the end I work 40 hours per week in Munich and have to organize my training around it. In that equation recovery often comes last. After a few years of trying the hardest including training plans, strength work and a rigid training regime I have now changed my approach. I focus on fun now in a flexible environment while still working very hard. I will explain later what I mean by that.

What definitely is professional about me is my equipment. I feel lucky to have gathered a fantastic group of companies around me over the years, which support me:

  • SCOTT Sports
  • CamelBak
  • Garmin
  • PowerBar
  • Intersport

Before I had no idea what difference it makes to have perfect gear. It can be a game changer!

Two other important factors for my success are my club LAZ Puma Rhein-Sieg, which supports me concerning my adventures around the world. And last but not least my physiotherapists, who make sure my body stays at its best.



[Advendure]: Your racing calendar includes almost every year races in exotic places of our planet. Do you believe that mountain running is a "passport" to get to know iconic places and people from all over the world that would otherwise be difficult?

[Moritz auf der Heide]: Actually I don’t need mountain running to explore the world. I just use it as an excuse to go travel all the time. J My life motto is “”, I wear it as a tattoo on my body and I try to live up to it.  Spending my travel time in the mountains just makes it even more fun.

It is also not only about iconic places. I often choose rather unknown areas where most people haven’t been yet. Exploring is a big part of it.



[Advendure]: Do you practice another sport other than mountain running? Tell us a bit about your training philosophy.

[Moritz auf der Heide]: As I mentioned before I have tried to make my running as fun as possible. Of course it is very hard sometimes. But you have to enjoy the process and the big picture.

I realized that the only sport I really love is running. So I stick to it. I try to get my strength and stability in when going for an easy mountain run, rather than going to a gym. The only other exercises I sometimes like to do is cycling the days after a very hard competition and Ski-Mountaineering in winter.

Stringent training schedules are also not part of my routine. I only work with a few numbers like mileage and cumulation of altitude in a week. One should not underestimate the mental side of running. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t improve. That is also why I don’t work with intervals most of the time. I hate them. J I prefer long tempo runs and they provide the same quality.

What I am trying to say is: if you have high intrinsic motivation it doesn’t matter how you get to the goal. The same path doesn’t work for all. In the end I might lose 1 or 2 % of my full potential. But to be honest I don’t care. Everyday pleasure to me is more important than a once in a lifetime victory.



[Advendure]: Is there a dream/target race you want to make in the future? What do you think about Fastest Known Times (FKT) efforts?

[Moritz auf der Heide]: Unfortunately there are way too many races around the world that I am interested in. But I will try to do as many as possible. One to highlight is Sierre-Zinal in Switzerland and I have actually signed up for the 2019 version.

FKTs haven’t played a big role in my running life yet. But I am very interested in trying myself in the future. I already have some ideas in mind. But for now I will focus more on organized events.



[Advendure]: In which race from those you have run so far you think you have touched the "perfect" performance? On the other hand, which one you enjoyed the most?

[Moritz auf der Heide]: There are a handful of races when I felt on top of it. But The Amsterdam Marathon in 2016 (2h27m04s) as well as the Kaiser Trailmarathon in Austria in 2018, which I won, felt exceptional. Usually there is always something that goes or feels wrong. It is rare to have a “perfect” race and you remember those!

Of course I also soak in the views and beautiful trails. But the race itself I usually don’t enjoy that much actually. :D It is too strenuous and challenging. It’s rather the finish that is pure joy. And there have been too many phenomenal finish line moments. I don’t have a favorite.



[Advendure]: You have been injured lately. How it happened and when you expect to be 100% ready to compete for strong competition in major races.

[Moritz auf der Heide]: It’s a tough time right now. Back in October I hit my knee on a bench. It actually had nothing to do with sports.

I consulted a doctor who specializes in professional athletes and he told me it would be fine to continue. Well, sometimes it goes wrong. And so I ended up with a chronic patella tendinitis. It’s now been almost 5 months but I am on the brink of a comeback. I hope to be running at full speed again by the end of March. So I will be ready in time for Naxos!



[Advendure]: 2018 was full of racing for you Moritz and with many great results. 2019 began with a race in the distant Vietnam (Vietnam Trail Marathon 2019), while Naxos Trail Race is already on your way. What else have you planned regarding racing this year?

[Moritz auf der Heide]: As you know I always have many plans. But this time my injury prevented me from enjoying more exotic races during winter.

After Naxos I will most likely participate in the Ultra-Trail World Champs in Portugal for Germany. This will be my first huge highlight in 2019. Not too long after I will fly to Guadeloupe in the southern Caribbean to run a rather long race of 95km (Transkarukera). My next focus race after that will be Sierre Zinal in August. And I also hope to qualify for the Long Distance Mountain Running World Champs in Argentina in November. But that is a long time from now and I will hopefully travel to at least another 10 races before that!



[Advendure]: What is your vision for the future in general regarding your athletic career?

[Moritz auf der Heide]: My goal is obviously to avoid major injuries and enjoy running in nature for as long as possible. My vision is not necessarily to win as many races as possible. If that were my drive I would stay in Germany to run the local competitions. Instead I will try to stay true to my motto and travel as much as possible to run at distant locations. And most of all I want grow as a person by doing so!

Thanks for the talk. See you on Naxos!


[Advendure]: Thanks for the nice discussion Moritz. See you in Naxos!


Dimitrios Troupis

Δημήτρης Τρουπής

Κατάγεται από το Ξυλόκαστρο Κορινθίας και ζει μόνιμα στην Πάτρα. Συμμετείχε στην συντακτική ομάδα του Adventure Zone από το 2009, ενώ μαζί με τον Τάκη Τσογκαράκη ίδρυσαν και "τρέχουν" το Advendure.  Το τρέξιμο στα μονοπάτια των βουνών και η μεταφορά εικόνων και συναισθημάτων μέσα από τα άρθρα του αποτελεί αναπόσπαστο κομμάτι της ζωής του. Παθιάζεται με τους αγώνες ορεινού τρεξίματος, υπεραντοχής και  περιπέτειας. Έχει πολλές συμμετοχές και διακρίσεις σε αγώνες ορεινού τρεξίματος όλων των αποστάσεων, με έμφαση στους αγώνες ultra trail.  Θεωρεί ότι το τρέξιμο και η πεζοπορία στη φύση είναι μια εσωτερική ανάγκη του ανθρώπου, μας φέρνει πιο κοντά σε αυτήν και μας κάνει να αγαπήσουμε περισσότερο το περιβάλλον.


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