Archives for posts with tag: Running

It’s the occurrence and recurrence of Nature: uphills followed by downhills followed by yet-another uphill; I don’t know which I like the best, which the least.
September arrived suddenly at the end of a muggy and slow August and it’s already half-way through. August was spent, as all summers should, racing: I pulled two road races, one cross-country, and I was regularly at Northampton Community Gardens for the Noho XC 5k. In between races were track workouts and long runs which sometimes were becoming tempo runs. Training was unplanned; it wasn’t, if I have to say, training at all: I was racing because I love (and hate) racing, and because it kept my mind off the rest of life — it was therapeutic more than working out.
After such disorderly ordered training, the beginning of September seems slow in comparison; running took an almost sudden halt as I had various unrelated commitments and I sadly had to miss two track workouts and this week looks like a repeat of the last.

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The Larch Hill English Style X-C Classic is certainly one of the most atypical race I’ve ever run, and possibly one with the longest name.
I ran it last year as a come-back that wasn’t: I ran the Hot Chocolate after but, had I listened to my body more carefully, I would have taken a break instead of forcing more miles on what became a pretty awful tendinitis and almost a year in the sidelines.
It was a bit a feeling of revenge and a bit the joy of running a race so different from those I usually run that I went to my car on a barely-above freezing Saturday morning and drove to the Bramble Hill Farm. I got there unreasonably early and had the chance to talk with people of the farm, take pictures, and enjoy a jog mostly out of the necessity of warming up myself and my frozen muscles.
After the kids’ fun run, it was the turn of the grown-ups: 3 miles run around the external perimeter of the farm jumping on hay bails and fences, a cross-country style steeplechase. The route was the same as last, what was different were the conditions: the freezing cold temperatures and the snow fall of Thursday and of Saturday night (I am looking outside my window to the brightly colored leaves and to the snow on the ground) made many feel like few days off of Christmas rather than of Halloween. It was a tough run, not only for the freezing air, but mostly for how hard it was to navigate through mud and cold water. And I am using to navigate not by chance: every step was an inch deeper in mud and water; the frozen feet, the uneven terrain, and all the energy lost in the soft ground made for a slower, though tougher race.
It was possibly one of the toughest race I have ever run, and it was a lot of fun! (At home, I did truly and utterly enjoy a hot shower!)

I am still waiting for the official results, but my time should be of 22 minutes and spare; a race run for the experience rather than for the PB. (Here are all the few photos I took before the race.)

[update] The results are finally in: 22:03.

Bramble Hill Farm, Amherst, MA

in italiano …


So long! As I woke up this morning I thought I shouldn’t have registered: I am slowly getting back into running and training, and definitely I am not ready to race. Not at all. Not with not even 20 miles a week on my legs and for no longer than a month or so. But then as I was getting ready, as the coffee was coming up — Italians say “coffee is coming up” when it is ready — I thought again and … oh well, that was the most sensible resolution I had in months: I was not going to race, but I wanted to be in a race.
I drove to Hadley a bit early; I was getting restless in my apt and needed to get out. The morning was chilly and I wondered whether it was a bad idea to race in shorts and short sleeves shirt, looking around I certainly had that feeling: most runners were wearing in long sleeves if not in jackets and pants. I started an easy warm-up, leisurely without rush: I was there to enjoy the scenery, the race, and the company of runners. (Runners are cool!) The trees are putting up their fall dresses, the bright yellow and red leaves framing the road, the grey sky naturally contrasting the New England foliage. Either was I warming up or was the air; I tossed the warm sweater in the car and wandered around jogging.
The race was supposed to start at 10am, but the organizers decided to move it up to 10:15 since people were still showing up. I ran along the dike exchanging smiles and looks with other runners; when I saw them heading back I followed suit: I didn’t bring the watch (I may have forgotten it in the locker at the gym) but that was the idea — run the race because I love running and not because I wanted to improve my PB.
We gathered behind the start line, and then it hit me: I felt happy, absolutely utterly happy; it was my element, a comfortable dress hanging weightless on my shoulder. I was participating to the excitement that comes the few minutes before the gun, when directions become clear and focus is centered towards whatever objective one has.

Fall Foliage in Hadley, MA -- 5k for Farmland

the race …


Running has been an important part of my life for almost four years now. I sometimes go back to that faithful question — what about running a halfy? — a friend of mine asked me while hanging before trying again a V2 problem at Coles Rocks in NYC. (I was a boulderer in a previous life.) That first half-marathon was the toughest race I ever experienced, not that I ran any race prior to that, but I do remember running the last few miles in Prospect Park wondering how insane would it be to run a full marathon.
Needless to say, I was captured by the road and running never left me.

Running is what keeps me sane when I’m stressed or tired or angry; on a run is where I find my true self. I does sound corny, doesn’t it? But even bad runs are an experience I need to take in and learn from; I’m glad I’m (partially) back into running. This week had a volume of 15 miles, an incredibly low volume but I’m not thinking about it: the Achilles is (still) not acting up and I hope to continue, to gain my strength back and to be able to get back to real training: I miss the track, I miss the long runs. I said all of this already, I’m repeating myself but I’m longing for those workouts: the quietness of the road, the lonely sound of my steps, the weird feeling of freedom one obtains when the body works like a well-oiled machine.
I will get there. I need to get there.

The road-race season is in full swing: the weather is calling runners and like in Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, runners are answering back. The Berlin Marathon produced an astonishing new world record, Makau’s 2:03:38, and breaking the 2:03 limit has become a question of when rather than if. Then we had the Chicago Marathon a couple of weeks ago with another great race, and I’m not hiding it felt weird to watch the race without the slim figure of Sammy Wanjiru, about whom I am reading a brilliant article at Grantland — Anna Clark’s The Mysterious Death of Sammy Wanjiru. And finally IAAF decision to strip Paula Radcliffe of her world record because she ran in a mixed-race; the only reason I can find for such a ruling is that a mixed-race offers the “unique” chance to be rabbited for the entire course, but it still feels like gender discrimination, since most races are mixed and then Makau wasn’t stripped of his world record for an analogous reason.
Also, the qualification standards for the NYC Marathon have become stricter with a 2:45 for men under 40 and 3:00 for women; the standards were decided to follow the WMA age-graded performance of 75% — a decision that I think should have been followed by the Boston Marathon as well, since the WMA have become a gold-standards of road races.

in italiano

Oh my! mi sono completamente scordato di scrivere questo post! Per essere 31 settimane dopo l’iniezione di PRP, doveva essere pubblicato settimana scorsa, ma ho avuto mille diavoli per capello e me ne sono scordato.
A che punto sono? Sono passati mesi da quell’iniezione di PRP e sto ricominciando a tornare a correre regolarmente: ho appena finito con un 13 miglia (~21km, dovrei cercare di riabituarmi ai chilometri … prima o poi …) alla settimana. Il volume è ancora molto basso, considerando che la mia base prima di rimanere bloccato quasi un anno era di 50mi (~75km) alla settimana, ma sebbene è frustrante e sogno di tornare a correre 15~20km come se fosse la cosa più naturale di questo mondo (lo era) sto diventando più fiducioso delle mie gambe in generale e del tendine in particolare.
Il tendine, that little bastard, ogni tango si lamenta ma è più un sussurro, come un prurito più o meno generalizzato intorno a dove avevo fatto l’iniezione, ma con mia sorpresa e sollievo non è dolorante durante la corsa e non rimane o diventa dolorante dopo! Grande respiro di sollievo: un anno fa dovevo correre cercando di non pensare al dolore, ovvero suck it and shut up!
Ovviamente — e questa è la mia grande paura — è che il tendine possa ripeggiorare e ripresentarsi con la tendinite; per ora cerco di non pensarci e cerco di essere fiducioso del recupero (sto già adocchiando corse e gare!): ricostruire la base è l’obiettivo di questi prossimi mesi.

Rocky beach with red sea-weed in Snæfellsnes

dell’allenamento …

It has been more than a month since I started to get back into normal training levels: the road ahead is still long as I’m averaging a mere 13 miles per week, while my regular base mileage is much closer to 50, but I start feeling more and more confident on my legs and on the Achilles in particular.
The tendon still complains at times, more like an itch than pain, but the more I run, the more I forget about it and enjoy the run. The legs seem to be getting back to their old selves with the mulling of the steps becoming more natural; my breathing is flowing seemingly effortlessly as I fly over the 3 mile runs. Three milers, that were not even considered training material months ago, are now my bread and butter.
I run four times a week as I preferred to take my time to get back, without rushing, without forcing a still healing tendon; the plan is to proceed by saturation, that is, I started with 2 milers every day for one week, the week after one run becomes a 3 miler, the following 2 runs are 3 milers and in four weeks I am running 3 milers every day. To put it simply, I add 1~2 miles each week; the training is highly repetitive but it never bugged me, on the contrary high repetition increases my confidence as it is easier to compare one run with another. At this pace I should be running 20mpw by the end of October, 30mpw by the end of November and so on … I hope.
I don’t time the runs; I keep track of the time I leave the gym or home and of the time I’m back just for keepsake: speed is not important at the moment, as long as my legs are not back to their former strength it makes no sense to do speed-work or to go to the track. I am not sure when I will feel good enough to go back there (I miss the track!) maybe when I will be hitting the 40 miles per week, though by the time I will be there everything will be covered in snow and ice.

Þjóðvegur in Iceland, somewhere going towards Snæfellsnes


Quando mi sono trasferito ad Amherst 4 anni fa, mi sono reso conto che se — god forbid! — mi fosse successo qualcosa durante una delle mie molte corse, non ci sarebbero state 6 milioni di persone pronte ad aiutarmi come quando ero a New York; avevo sentito parlare di RoadID credo in una pubblicità in Runner’s World o Running Times e per serenità d’animo ne avevo ordinato uno. Si tratta di una semplice placchetta di metallo che può essere portata al collo o sulla scarpa (come faccio io) in cui ci sono stampate informazioni mediche (gruppo sanguigno, allergie, etc) ed un contatto telefonico; nel caso — e faccio gli scongiuri — stessi male od un autista beota mi andasse troppo vicino, un’anima pia potrebbe non solo telefonare ad un pronto soccorso ma anche dare queste informazioni ad i paramedici.
Tutto questo non per fare pubblicità a RoadID ma perché ho appena ricevuto un buono di 1$ per ogni ordine (fino a 20 per i prossimi 30 giorni) … non so se è possibile fare l’ordine dall’Italia, ma visto che ce l’ho tanto vale pubblicizzarlo.

Buono Sconto: ThanksLuca9085812

an example of a RoadID - ©

in English