Archives for posts with tag: Training

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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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

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


The doctor said Run!
He didn’t use these very words, but he was very pleased with how the Achilles tendon is recovering.
To wrap it up, I decided, at the beginning of the summer, to not stress over the Achilles anymore, take the summer off completely, and see how the tendinosis will progress and more importantly whether the PRP shot I had in February did resolve the chronic inflammation on my left Achilles. The follow-up appointment was therefore scheduled for the beginning of September.
The summer flew away: I had a great vacation in Iceland early June and I then dedicated the following months to study the cell cycle and motor proteins, and to strengthen core, calves … the whole shebang; I even bench-press now! (45lb, not much, but considering that’s more than a third my weight…)

At Námafjall, Iceland - June 2011

what the doctor said and what’s ahead …


Ero così felice della notizia che credo di averlo urlato ai quattro venti elettronici venerdì: il dottore mi ha dato l’ok per correre!
Sono passati nove mesi; è stato letteralmente un parto, ma alla fine sembra che possa riprendere a correre. Se penso che l’ultima volta che ho corso è stato a dicembre, mi vien da piangere: tutto il duro condizionamento è andato ma, se tutto va bene (e tocco sia ferro che legno) dovrei poter riprendere gli allenamenti la prossima primavera giusto in tempo per prepararmi ad una maratona per la fine del 2012, in cui spero di poter redimere la mia performance alla maratona di Chicago. La maratona di Chicago … undici mesi fa! Shush! Non ci pensare.
Non riuscirò a tornare in Italia a fine settembre come in un primo momento avevo sperato. Non voglio tornare a Natale, perché l’inverno milanese è orrendo. Quindi pensavo a Pasqua magari, e pensando a Pasqua ovviamente non posso non pensare alla Stramilano. Facendo le corna: Stramilano 2012! (Ovviamente non c’è niente di deciso, ma spero che con il lavoro possa liberarmi per quella data.)

Pino ed io a Goðafoss in Islanda.

di quest’estate 2011 e di quello che mi aspetta …

As some may know, the East Coast has been hit in less than a week by both a one-in-a-century earthquake, which I didn’t notice because I was at the moment on the second floor of a low-rise building, and hurricane Irene, which wreaked havoc along much of the shoreline but was only just strong winds and rain up here. Since both Massachusetts and New York State have been spared by both the hurricane and the earthquake, these were God’s punishment for the Southern (Eastern) states not having passes a gay marriage law. Obviously.

In different news, the World Championships is in full swing and already giving staggering races. (I’m watching them online on Universal Sports, though mostly on a replay: 13 hours difference doesn’t make for easy real time viewing.)
First was the women Marathon and the first of the two Kenyan triplets: Kiplagat was the big favorite, but astounding was the overall Kenyan performance with Jeptoo and Cherop coming second and third. On the following day, more to the same with Cheruiyot, Kipyego, Masai, and Cherono coming first, second, third and fourth: all four Kenyans! By what I read, no other team ever managed such a sweep in both the Worlds and the Olympics.
I watched the second day while stuck at home because of Irene, and what a day it was: the greatest emotion came in the men 10,000m with the Ethiopian Jeilan coming out of nowhere and stealing the gold Mo Farah was probably already seeing in front of him. What a finish! Farah’s face in those last 100m tells it all; the final lap unfortunately overshadowed the other news-worthy event of the race: Kenenisa Bekele stopped and DNF’ed with 10 laps to go. (Event I didn’t see since the broadcast was focused on irrelevant long jumps. Really?!)
Finally the surprise for many: Bolt DQ’ed with a false start at the 100m final. Honestly the rule of ‘one mistake you’re out’ seems a bit too harsh to me, and probably to many others who watched the race. (The IAAF might have heard the fans complaining since they are considering changing the rule.)

Ibrahim Jeilan against Mo Farah in the last 100m of the men 10,000m

Completely unrelated. Here are few reads I found a couple of months ago, put on a draft hoping to blog them soon; they eventually ended up in an awfully long backlog. (This is what happens with not just one but two movings.)
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Sabato scorso da REI (una grossa catena di negozi di outdoor presente nel North-East), sono rimasto a bocca aperta nel vedere il numero di Vibram FiveFingers esposte.

Non è proprio esatto dire che fossi allibito; il fenomeno del barefoot running si è sempre più spostato dalla nicchia degli hippies con sindrome di Peter Pan al grande pubblico, e sempre più spesso si vedono runners correre anche maratone, se non a piedi nudi, almeno in Vibram.

Manco dall’Italia da troppo tempo per sapere se fenomeni analoghi siano diffusi — permettetemi quindi un po’ di background.
Correre a piedi nudi — barefoot running — non è un’invenzione moderna, chi non si ricorda la scena sulla battigia in Momenti di Gloria? E gli allenatori hanno spesso incoraggiato i loro atleti a correre a piedi nudi sui prati per sviluppare i muscoli della fascia plantare (per inciso, alcuni pensano che questo sia uno dei vantaggi di kenioti ed etiopi, in contrasto con i piedi di noi occidentali impigriti da decenni di calzature), ma è solo recentemente che se ne parla diffusamente, persino il mio fisioterapista mi ha chiesto cosa ne pensassi.

È innegabile che Born to Run di Christopher McDougall abbia la sua responsabilità nello sdoganamento di un fenomeno altrimenti così marginale; anche il rinnovato running boom ed una tentazione al primitivismo che è propria di qualunque società altamente industrializzata sono stati fattori catalizzanti.

Personalmente sono scettico verso il movimento barefoot, non nella sua promozione del correre a piedi nudi, ma nella sua forma più radicale che vede le scarpe come la causa di tutti gli infortuni e l’essere a piedi nudi come la panacea per ogni male. La spiegazione data è che gli essere umani sono nati per correre lunghe distanze velocemente, ma la verità è che molti di noi non corrono nella savana africana, ma su asfalto, cemento e gomma, quindi anche se forse siamo stati creati per correre, dove corriamo è tutto fuorché naturale.

Com’è la situazione in Italia? C’è un movimento barefoot?

Abebe Bikila running barefoot during the Olympic Marathon in Rome, 1960.

in English