The Fastest Backward Runner in the World Explains How He Trains to Win

Backward Runner Thomas Dold
Photo credit: run2sky.com

I am Thomas Dold, I was born and live in the Black Forest in Southern Germany. I have no 9 to 5 job, I am 24h/day in business, but some of my friends would say I never work :-). I love what I am doing and therefore it does not feel like work for me. On the one hand, I am a sportsman (world record holder backward running, 7x winner Empire state building run up), on the other hand, I am a trainer and manager (Anna and Lisa Hahner, marathon runner, Olympians 2016). On the other side, I’m a speaker and a business coach for Leadership, digitalization in Sports and Business and for Motivation.

How and why did you get into backward running?

In the youth, I played soccer as most of German boys. Then I started with normal running and mountain running. I could win the bronze medal with the youth team in the Mountain World Championships in 2002. In Feb 2003, a team mate asked me to join him to the German backward running championships. Immediately I could win the 1000m title. I realized then that I have a talent for backward running. The same year I set my first world record in 3:36min for 1000m.

Backward Runner Thomas Dold
Photo credit: run2sky.com

Why is backward running important for you?

For me backward running has also a huge mental aspect from which I benefit in business context. I also use these clear and useful pictures in my speeches and also in my business trainings to show the participant how the world changes, just by doing things the other way around. You have to trust in yourself as you can’t see where you are running to and in addition it is the best picture to prove, progress is only possible by regress.

How do you train and become better at running?

I am the coach of Germans best marathon runners Anna and Lisa Hahner. Both are Olympian. The most important thing in training is that you always get a new stimulus that the body has to adapt. Moreover, training is divided in two parts, physical load and very important, recovery. The goal and the secret is to find the right balance between these two parts. Then the athlete can achieve the best results.

What are the hardest parts of backward running?

The hardest part of backward running is to trust in yourself and also the person who is guiding you, if you have one. When I run on the track, I am by myself but for example I have also set the 10km world record on the road. In this case, I needed a biker who was riding in front of me (I could see him the whole race) and who was telling me all the time curves or road holes. But with hundreds of kilometers backwards, I get used to this.

Backward Runner Thomas Dold
Photo credit: run2sky.com

How do you prepare for events/races?

For me preparing an event or a race in sports is similar to prepare an important event in business context. You have to get clear of your goal and then find several milestones on your way to your big goal. I am also coaching companies in digital and leadership questions and the sport helped me to get clear of my strategies of achieving a goal.

In backward running, I have to get the body used of this movement. Once the muscles and everything else has adapted a bit, I can start with the real intensive training. This means at least once a week an intensive interval session.

How do you eat and sleep?

I am an early bird, I love it to get up of bed pretty early so I can already work for 2h before the business world is waking up. Sometimes I start the day with a run so I can use the rest of the morning to find new ideas and strategies to bring the business forward. This is really lovely, because when I go to my computer around 7 or 8 am, I feel really relaxed and open minded after a run early in the morning and the breakfast afterwards.

Backward Runner Thomas Dold
Photo credit: run2sky.com

How do you handle injuries and recovery?

Luckily, I am hardly injured as I am very sensitive with my body. When I have a problem, I do not continue training, then my focus changes. The goal is then to get healthy again and not to train. It’s important for me to have a complex training. This means, that the whole year includes core exercise and also alternative training like biking and swimming.

What is your best advice people new to backward running?

Backward running is a great way to make running more fun for those who think that running is too monotonous. You can start with 3x1min backward running during your normal run. Moreover you need different types of muscles so it is a good way to prevent injuries.

Best advice for people who have been backward running for years?

I think it doesn’t matter how long you are running (backward). It’s always a goal to improve the technique, to run more efficient and get closer to a perfect running style.

Backward Runner Thomas Dold
Photo credit: run2sky.com

How do you balance normal life with running?

In my opinion, doing sports is important to show a good performance in all parts of life. To exercise is something very natural. Doing sports helps you to be more concentrated, healthier, focused, balanced, and even happier.

What kind of running shoes and clothes do you wear?

I am an Adidas athlete so all of my clothes and shoes have three stripes. And I really like the “world record” shoe, which is the Adidas Adios Boost. I use them for my competitions.

How do you bring things with you?

Normally, I do not wear backpacks or anything similar during running as I do not run that long distances. Some years ago I did the Keppler Track (62km) in New Zealand in one day. There I needed a backpack to provide me with water and some food. It was a great adventure in an unique territory. Doing that in one day was really something I will remember for the rest of my whole life. It’s an adventure and freedom you can’t buy and compare with anything else. With just running shoes, water, nuts and two bananas — doing that was great and one of the moments I was really happy that I had enough fitness to do that.

What favorite gear do you have?

I am always running with compression socks from Bauerfeind. They incorporate medical compression technology to increase transfer of oxygen and promote better circulation. This translates to longer endurance, faster regeneration, reduced fatigue, more energy, and less damaging muscle vibrations.

Backward Runner Thomas Dold
Photo credit: run2sky.com

What will the future bring?

At the moment, I am putting lots of passion, time and knowledge in the app “Running Fitness”. This is an app that generates training schedules for everyone. The goal is that the schedules are as good and as individual as having a personal trainer. This will help runners to run easier with more fun. And we also include a little bit of the great benefits of backward running. That’s really great and unique.


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