Holidays!

Here is a post with a quick update on what I have been up to in the last 3 weeks. Obviously I ran a lot, which was made easier by the fact I was on holiday for 2 weeks. I went to Italy to enjoy some rest. The weather has always been amazing and very hot. I managed to run a lot on the hill behind the seaside. I explored some amazing locations with beautiful views on the hill son one side and the sea coast on the other. It’s a shame I never bought my phone with me so I do not have any photos to post.

The main issue with running the trails this summer was the amount of wild boar I encountered. There is a real invasion right now in the Savona region. You cannot go for a run anywhere without meeting some boars, even on the road or on the sea side, and they are quite scary when they are big and are with their young ones. But let’s go in order.

After the long run with Craig and South Downs Way recce I rested for a day and then ran a 10k recovery run before leaving for Italy.

The first full day there (Thursday) I went for my usual 10k loop on the coast with a couple of hill climbs. I wanted to acclimatise to the hot weather before doing anything longer. Then on Friday I put on the trail shoes and went for the highest hill, the Monte Mao (400 something meters) behind our place.

mao

Photo stolen from the internet

I took the straight path which required a lot of power hiking more than running. It’s a shame this summer (again) someone tried to set fire to the hill and part of it is all burnt and black. From the top I kept running on the crest and went up and down 2 more “peaks” and then run back going around them for a total of 13 tough kms.

On Saturday I went back to road running and did 20k on the coast at 4:32 m/km.

Sunday I did more road running but going up and down the hills and spotted the first boars: 15k to complete a 68km relatively easy week.

Most days during the holidays I also tried to improve my swimming, but I am really not that good. I used the Open Water feature of the Fenix 3 to record my swims and they are really disappointing performances.

The week after I did another rad hilly run of 13k and then on Wednesday I went again up Monte Mao. This run was really adventurous as I first had to change path to avoid a boar and then when I was on top of a hill I took the wrong turn and found myself stuck with nowhere to go. I turned around and found another boar in front of me. This time I got scared. The “beast” started making noises and coming towards me. If I went right it moved left and vice versa. It was always in front of me. I tried to circle around it and when I got up again on the path it was there waiting for me. My heart went racing. I decided to run down the hill in the middle of the bushes as fast as I could hoping it was not where the boar wanted to go. Luckily after a while I crossed a dirt road and took it all the way around the hill and back home. It was a 14k run with a scary encounter.

boar

Photo courtesy of Mr. Angsat

The day after I went for a 16k road run at 4:34 to avoid more encounters, but then on Friday I decided to go trail running again. I was told to try the “Passeggiata Dantesca”. It’s a 12k loop on the hills behind Noli. I added to it 4k to get there and back from home. It was beautiful. Not too steep, but the views were amazing. The trail goes from rocky parts to single tracks in the woods and ends with an old Roman road. I loved it.

In the evening we went for a 6k walk up the same hills in the moonlight and torches. Amazing night. Full moon, clear sky, you could see half of Liguria from there.

spotorno
In the meantime I kept on checking my phone for UTMB updates and messages from friends in Chamonix. It was an epic race for my friend @unknowndest. He finished 27th, second Italian!

On Sunday I went for a long 24k run with my sister Alice (she is a kick ass biker). She followed me on her bike and we went up the hills and then down to Finale Ligure and back home on the coast. It was a very hot morning, around 30 degrees at 8am. And that was the end of the week, for a total of 83.5k and the holidays were getting to the end.

Luigi

Photo courtesy of Alice

On Monday I did the “Passeggiata Dantesca” again, but slightly changed it to get back to Spotorno faster, so I cut out the Roman road and did the normal road. Still a very nice loop, 15k at 5:58 with 400mt elevation.

On Tuesday, our last day in Italy, I went for a quick run on the coast: 15k at 4:27. Even there, on the promenade, I had to run away from wild boars! There were 6 of them, 4 young ones who ran away and 2 massive ones who ran towards me!

We flew back to London on Wednesday. All in all it was a very nice holiday, very hot, I ran in new places, swam a bit, ate a lot and mostly had a chance to see friends and family for a bit.

Thursday I went out for a run in my usual places, but the impact after the holidays was too much. Instead of 30 degrees it was 12. It was dark already, the park was closed. Back to reality! I did 15k at 4:37 m/km, not bad.
Friday I did a bit of speed training, which I had neglected while on holiday (having focused on up and down running). I did a 2k warm up and then 7k tempo run at 3:56 m/km. Tough, but rewarding. Concluded with 3 more km of cool down.

For the weekend I had planned to do two long runs back to back. I partially succeeded. On Saturday I did 35k at 5:00 m/km going around both Bushy Park and Richmond Park with some bits on the river. I enjoyed it a lot. I suffered a bit in the middle part, but then felt good and strong the rest of the way. When I got home I thought I would not be able to do a long run the day after. I still tried. I wanted to do 30k, instead I did only 23k. Still, it was a good running weekend that concluded a nice 116k week, one of my longest.

I will do more long runs and speed work next week and then start tapering before the High Weald Challenge 50km Ultra Trail. I am looking forward racing again!

Have fun!

Two weeks of serious running

Intro

The last two weeks have been quite busy and I did not get a chance to update this blog for those 3 or 4 people that read it. So here is a quick update of my last two weeks.
I have been doing a lot of running. the closer I get to the North Downs Way 50 the more I need to run to feel less scared.
Here is a quick rundown of what I have been up to:

Week 1 (30th March-5th April)

Monday I rested. I needed to, after 60k ran over the weekend.

Tuesday I did an easy recovery run of 12.5k at 4:37. The wind was crazy. It felt like going against it whatever the direction I was running.

Wednesday was the speed training day. I did 3k of warm up and then 3 times two kms at 3:50 min/km with 2′ rest. Finished with 2.5k of cool down.

On Thursday we flew to Italy for the Easter week end. So no running. I took with me only the road shoes (my current love, the Saucony Zealot), so no trail running planned during the holidays.

On Friday I went running on the Liguria coast for 20k (at 4:37) on the sea side road, from Spotorno to Finale Ligure on the coast and back. Lovely stuff. If you are not scared of being run over by cars it is really nice to run on the cliffs over the sea.
I then ran with my youngest daughter for 1k and then my wife for another 5k. I am trying to build a running family, without too much success.

On Saturday I did the best run of the Easter week end. I went from Spotorno to Finale Ligure again, but this time all around the hills and not on the sea side. So I did a lot of climbing too (for me at least), 994 meters. I ended up doing a total of 30k. I really enjoyed it, taking it easy going up and bombing it going downhill. At one point I was so excited that I even started singing. I was all by myself anyway and the view of the sea from the top of the hills was amazing. I felt so good I even did the last km faster than 4 min/km on the flat.

spotorno

On Easter Sunday I took it easy and did 12k at 4:54 on the coast with a bit of climbing. Then it was time to eat as much focaccia as possible.

And with that it was the end of the week. 94k in total, with 2127 mt of ascent, which is more than I usually do.

Week 2 (6th April-12th April)

Monday was my last day on holidays in Italy and I finished my Italian running session with another 20k on the coast at 4:37 min/km. At one point I met a group of 30 or so runners and I could not help feeling like I was in a race and started overtaking everyone. To top it off I ran another 1k with my daughter (it’s time for her to set up a Strava account and do some FKT by 11 year olds!).

On Tuesday we flew back home, so no running.

On Wednesday I did 12k easy (at 4:48) and on Thursday I ran 15k at 4:27.

I felt so good that I decided to try and do a new PB on the 10k distance. So on Friday I did a 4k warm up and they did 10k as fast as I could. I was very happy to manage to beat my previous PB. I ended up doing the 10k in 38:53, a handful of seconds better than last year. I finished the session with a 1k cool down and a big smile on my face.

Saturday I went out for a long one (not too long as I was tired from the fast run of the day before). I went out with the Cascadia and the UD backpack and run on some trails on the river, Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common for a total of 30k. The weather was crazy, started sunny, poured down like crazy for half an hour, then windy as hell. It was fun.

Sunday I went for a 20k run to finish the week. I went very early, the sky was blue, the air was cold. I did not meet anyone for the first 12k, beautiful. I even found £10 on the ground. The legs felt dead at the beginning, but really good after the first 5k.

Another good week, I ran 114km in total, a new record.

The end

Basically a good, solid, 2 weeks. The last month I have run an average of more than 100k per week and I feel good!

Last week my friend @manuontrail ran the South Downs Way so I followed him and the other runners in real time via the power of the internet and realised how daunting the task of running a 50 miler is. Six months ago I was full of confidence, thinking of doing some crazy times, running like a beast from start to finish. The more I train, the more I read, the more I look at other people performances the more I feel scared. Only one month left and then I’ll know if I have what it takes to run for so many hours. If I keep on training like this for the next couple of weeks at least I can say that I have done all I could training-wise since September last year. I could hardly do more and I am happy with that.

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!