Earlier this year SSEAMS magazine interviewed Chloë Lanthier, scientist, educator, speaker, published author, coach and athlete leads by example. We interviewed Chloë to find out about her history as an athlete and her relationship with Patagonia. You can catch up with the interview here ‘xx insert athlete interview xx’ After eighteen months of lockdown we’re catching up with Chloë to hear about how she adapted her training and coaching.
People see me as a runner but I don’t like that term, I am a runner but I am more like a mountain athlete, in the winter I ski and mountaineer a lot, I run all year round but I don’t bike as much because biking is very intense. I was on the world cup circuit in the summer as well as doing the winter racing in Alaska and it really took it out of me. In Chamonix where I live the riding sucks, there is no single track for mountain biking and for the road I go up and down so I’m just not inspired here to ride. Switzerland is amazing for single track riding, I have friends who I used to race with that live there, but I have to get out of Chamonix to really feel passionate about mountain biking. We have the running in Chamonix and I knew that when I moved here seven years ago.
Even though I live in France, my work is all over Europe. It’s so multicultural and very progressive when it comes to coaching, training and the level of facility that is on offer. I work for NASA, out of Germany with the European space agency. I would never have gotten that contract in the US I got it because of how open-minded people are as a whole in Europe. I do research which is practical and hands-on with guys that are at the international space centre, mainly on biomechanics. We get to know the future of basically how the body can endure things in space. I get to use more of my skills and it’s a lot more appreciated in Europe than in North America.
I have a strong intrinsic drive. I think that when you really have it inside of you, you don’t need to be supported. If you are a really driven person and you really want something you don’t need the money and the support to do it. There are top athletes out there that come from backgrounds with no financial and family support, or single-parent families. When you are at the top of your game, and you have gone through this struggle it can really set you apart in terms of mindset. I really wanted to pursue the path I have, so I just did it. When I was a child, the best part of my day was running outside.
Chloë tell us about how you adapted training and your work through covid
I train six days a week, all year round. I’m self-employed, I have a consulting business that is related to my professional education and I have an outdoor academy; The Chamonix Mountain Endurance Academy, so my work-life balance is very intense. During covid my work days were so full, I spent a lot of time at my desk teaching virtually everything, my training became really important because it made me feel alive. At 5am, I’m ready to start working out. The Covid curfew meant I was getting up at 6am, and doing back to back sessions in run and skate ski. Skate ski is a very red zone sport. I do a lot of ski mountaineering in the winter and that for me is low intensity in comparison to skate skiing and running in the winter, that’s more high intensity and it keeps me a lot fitter. In parallel with this I do a lot of dryland training specific to different body parts to train muscle imbalances and fascial links. I do a lot of speed exercise, not so much heavy lifting.
I offer a lot of programmes for athletes. What’s really important to me as a coach is that I like to pass on all my knowledge and inspiration but wisdom too. I love to educate the athletes that come and do my programmes. I don’t sell myself, my ranking or my brands. I really focus on teaching skills and giving knowledge so other endurance athletes can be better at what they do. I have a full live video series that I teach weekly, it’s very time-consuming and it doesn’t make a lot of money but I like to offer something that is needed in such a saturated market. People don’t need to buy another pair of shoes that is apparently going to make them go faster, they need to understand the body better, they need to understand injury prevention, they need to understand how to train.
For me racing and training are not about socialising. I don’t need to train with groups to push myself and I’m a professional coach too so I use all my knowledge and expertise with science and training the body, so I don’t need a coach, I don’t need to be told what to do, I just do it.
Every year I organise the Chamonix running festival, but my festival is all about quality. I bring guest speakers who are experts, but I don’t bring them on board to talk about themselves, I bring them on board to talk about their expertise in knowledge. I don’t get sponsors coming to sell their shoes, it’s not an expo, they learn about mountain skills. It’s something that’s not really out there a lot at the moment, it’s the recreational runners that actually want to learn and they want to learn about training. They don’t want to spend money on a coach that has a list of accolades, that actually want to learn from someone who knows their stuff.
When you are running what trainers do you use and why?
When I train I use two brands of shoes because I like to feel things differently. When I go for a quicker run I use On, they are very light. I’m really picky when it comes to shoes. I like to have really good stability but I want them light, and I need the heel cup really rigid and the forefront really flexible so I can really use my foot. The other brand is Esportiva, a great shoe for a lot of vertical and distance running but they are just a tiny bit heavier. Both shoes have between a 4 and 5 degree drop. The degree is the heel drop. It’s very trendy right now, but unfortunately, trends injure people. Anything over 10 degrees, can be bad for running mechanics and they can create a lot of injuries.
The reality is we all have feet that come in different sizes; feet are wide, narrow and some with bunions. You need to be able to spread your toe in the shoe and so many trends in trainers dont allow you to do this. Current trends claim to be correcting pronation by making trainers really high in the heel and really low at the forefront creating a big drop at the same time as narrowing the toe box which creates a very rigid product. These types of shoes remove the core strength from our foot and in reality we want our foot to pronate.
When I am running I want to use my forefoot and my big toe flexor. Like a tiger can splay his foot and use his grip, we are the same. We need to be able to splay our toes and disperse weight across our foot’s surface area but the shoe industry is trying to redo mechanics that don’t need redoing. There is not one brand that is good for everyone, you just have to find the right shoe. The problem is for runners, they are not like cyclists. Cyclists are very scientific-based, runners go by trends and schools of thought that are currently in the media. I’m in sports orthopaedics and I understand injury and I see so many runners injured because of the shoes they use. I advise people to train in multiple shoes. Just like in cycling you wouldn’t train on the same bike over and over again, you have multiple bikes; training; racing; indoors; outdoors; multiple terrain bikes and also just like in swimming you use different drills and swim different strokes which use different muscle groups and stroke mechanics. All these things translate to running, shoes are tools that help you get the maximum out of each session which helps you get stronger overall.
Using multiple trainers makes me use multiple parts of my foot and changes the mechanics I am using under my foot which helps me to train the ‘feel’ part of my running. I use my lower leg muscles differently and that is super important for me. This is why I do not have one sponsor for shoes because I cannot use just one shoe but I only have one sponsor for clothing and that is Patagonia. I don’t just say that just because I am with them, Patagonia makes the most breathable and comfortable clothing for training, especially being a four-season athlete, all my kit from tights to windshield pants to breathable jackets, to my running vests is from Patagonia, I use it because it works. Patagonia kit delivers because it’s technical wear.
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