1..2..3…GO!

New training regime

It took me days and days of planning but I finally came up with a nice and challenging plan for 2017.
I am a big fan of excel tables and making plans and stick to them, but this year I went one step further. I am now using Training Peaks for all my planning and the amount of data that comes out of it is amazing and lovely.
Towards the end of 2016 I read the new book by Jason Koop and I liked everything he says so I decided to base my training on his ideas. I have always been a big fan of repeats and speed training but I tended to do it once, maybe twice a week and mix it with other sessions. The concept of periodisation was new to me and I am trying it now.img_8983
I am now almost at the end of the first block completely dedicated to quick speed interval sessions at above threshold and I have been doing sessions like those for 3 times a week!
Sometimes it’s been really hard, especially when done early in the morning like I do. Basically for 3 times a week for the past month or I have been doing 5k of warm up and then 5 times 3:00 at killer speed and 3:00 of rest. Then a cool down between 3 and 4k to get back home. Once you finish a session like this you are happy to be alive. I have also tried to do them uphill if I can. To add to the fun and get the heart rate go up faster.
It seems to be working well.

Races

I have also planned most of the races I will do this year. The main ones are going to be the four 50 milers organised by Centurion. Last year I wanted to do all of them and complete the Grand Slam but due to the injury, I have only done the last two. This time I will try to stay fit and do them all. Since I now have a bit more experience on that distance I want to try to push myself a bit more, hence this new training regime. I would love to do one under 9 hours (8:30 is actually my target, I say it here now so I have to do it!). Nine hours I think are feasible as I would need to “just” shave 22 minutes from last year CW50.
In July I will also try to do my first 100k. I entered the Race to the Stones as I love the Ridgeway.
In between those “A races” I entered other shorter ones, trying to match them to the training block I will be doing at the time. The first one was a 10-mile race on the North Downs Way I did last week, the Denbies 10 miler.

The Denbies 10

What attracted me to this race was the location and the length. Ten fast miles were perfect for the type of training I would be doing in that period and the race takes place in bits of the North Downs way which I love.

The morning was super cold. When I got into the car it was -4 degrees, but the sky was clear and the sun came out by the time we started running which made the temperature better the views stunning.

I started strong as I wanted to be towards the front by the time we hit the single track trail. The first couple of km were uphill on the tarmac. I managed to run at a decent pace and kept my eyes on the people in front. I wanted to try and stick to the top ten group. The first 3 guys disappeared pretty quickly and the fourth person was gaining terrain and it was clear it was going to be hard to catch up with.

By the time we reached the top of the hill I was in 8th position but really struggled to accelerate, partly due to the legs refusing to do so after the uphill start and also because we mostly ran on frozen mud, which was really a killer for my ankles. Luckily that was my favourite part of the trail as it goes through some very nice wooded land in the Ranmore Common.

At around the 5th km, I started accelerating and catching up with the group in front and when we go to the White Downs Descent, which is a 1km long steep descent I let myself go. I felt like one of those young Salomon runners, no braking, no fear. I overtook everyone in that descent and by the time we reached the bottom I was in 5th position and the others were back by a bit. I tried to keep running at a good pace for the next three km that were up and down, muddy and tiring. I almost tripped on a stile and was very close to disaster but I did not want to slow down. I was running strong, almost always under 4 min/km and I felt that all those repeats really made a difference.

Unfortunately, we then reached the bit of the race I was most afraid of. What goes down must come up at some point and the two km climb up back to Ranmore were really tough. By then the mud was not frozen anymore and my feet weighed a tonne each. I was overtaken at the top of the climb and could not stay with the guy.Events to Live Denbies 10, Jan 2017 by SussexSportPhotography.com  11:54:50We then reached the final tarmac descent and again I was overtaken there too even if I really bombed down that road, 2kms at around 3:20 min/km. It felt fast, but not enough to catch up with the guy that just overtook me.

I finished in 7th position. Dead, but very happy. I was so tired I even said “grazie” to the lady giving out drinks.

I only found out later in the evening that I was the first in my category (MV40), which is nice. I hope I have not missed anything by not staying there for the prize giving. I am very happy with the result, I was a couple of minutes faster than I expected and that gives me great confidence in the first part of my training.

Here is the Strava of the day.

80% Food, 20% Run

I spent the last week in Italy for Christmas. This meant eating a lot and running very little. 55k in total.

I still managed to go out and run 3 times, but I took it easy as I was weighted down by the many panettoni and wine.

On Monday I went for a run with Marco R. (my wife’s uncle and my running pen-friend). It was very cold and foggy (Torino is really grey in the winter). We did an easy 13km on the river Po and in the Valentino Park. It was good to run in the old places again after so many years. It was also a pleasure to run with Marco after talking about running together and giving each other tips for a year. As it was not enough I decided to do a quick 5km run by myself. It was also an excuse to go and check out my old house and neighbourhood. I ended up doing 5k at 4:02. Then it was time for more food and celebrations.

On Wednesday I went out for an early run (again in the ice and fog). I did my former favourite loop, running on the river up to Sam Mauro and then back on the other side via the Colletta Park. I stopped at 20km (4:21 average). I have to sadly admit that running in Bushy and Richmond Park has spoiled me, they are unbeatable. It would be nice to go back to Torino once in a while and see some improvements. Sadly I have seen none and I am glad we left years ago.

Then it was Christmas day. It was probably one of the best. As usual it was a massive lunch with 20+ relatives. It was good.
I also received a lot of running related presents. New kits and new books.

book

I read Marco Olmo‘s book in a day, he is such an inspiration. Strangely there is no English wikipedia page about him.

On Friday I went running with Marco R. again and this time we were joined by Marco O. (my wife’s brother). We did the same route as I did on Wednesday but without a bit at the end. 17km in total. We did not care about the speed as we spent most of the time chatting. It was a lot of fun as I never run with other people any more.

Foto0945 Foto0948

In the evening I finally managed to go out for a pizza with my old friends Abba and Davide G. (@unknowndest). See you at the NDW50!

Then the holiday in Italy was over. On Saturday we said the final goodbyes and and Sunday we flew back to London. Next week I am still on holiday and will run quite a lot. Then I will rest for a week, getting ready for my first marathon on the 10th!

Enjoy your holidays!