Three hours (success)

Last week I did not manage to run for three continuous hours on my Saturday long run and I was a bit disappointed.

My training schedule (I am still religiously following The Cool Impossible plan) for this week was a lot more relaxed with only 3 runs before the long one in the week end, plus I was not recovering from a race so I was pretty confident I could do the 3 hours run.

I did 10 easy kms on Monday, 13 easy kms on Wednesday and 10 more easy ones on Thursday. Nothing special to report, apart from catching a cold and having a sore throat all week.

Then the big day arrived. Saturday’s long run. The weather was perfect. Not too cold, but not as hot as last week end. I left slightly earlier than the previous attempt to avoid clashing with the parkrun in Bushy Park or the one in Richmond Park. I made sure to add 5km at the beginning of last weeks route, to avoid arriving back home too early and then not finding the will to continue to complete the 3 hours.

This time I also took with me not only the hand-held bottle but also 2 gels. I have to say, I am not used to running carrying a pint of water and I find it very hard to carry it with my left hand so I always carry it on the right. After a couple of hours I can feel my right shoulder complaining a bit. I also think 2 gels were probably too much. One and a couple of gel blocks are probably enough for this distance.

Everything went well. After an hour of running I entered Richmond Park where my friend Omar was waiting for me on his bike. We did the counterclockwise route and an hour later at the 24th km we said goodbye. I was still feeling strong and I had my second gel (I had the first one at the 14th km). At this point it was mostly a psychological battle. The legs were ok, the heart was perfect and I was basically just trying to run at around 4:45 min/km while my body was always trying to settle at 5 min/km. I arrived back home after 2 hours 50 minutes and did one extra lap around the neighbourhood to try to get to 3 hours, but then felt I had done enough and stopped at 2:55, for a total of 36.5km.

It is not the full 3 hours I wanted to do, but I consider it a victory nonetheless. I’ve never run for so long and it felt pretty good. I now feel like I could “easily” do a full road marathon, which is something 2 months ago I could definitely not do. I also think I could do it in under 3 hours and a half which I think is good.

See you on the road!


Three hours (failed)

It has been a tough week. The race on Sunday was amazing, but took its toll.

Monday I had some rest after the race. I was ok but my right foot was not perfect, luckily the issue only lasted one day.

On Tuesday I did an easy run with 20″ fast sprints every 5 minutes. I still was not in a good shape (the first 20 minutes my legs and abs were shouting “running again!”) so I did only 10km in a sort of fartlek.

Wednesday after the usual 20 minutes warm up I was supposed to do 5 intervals of 3 minutes each below 3:40 min/km (with 2′ rest) but I only ended up doing 4 and then run very fast home for belly problems.

Thursday: 13km easy. I was feeling better.

Friday: my favourite training, hilly intervals. Again I went to Kingston Hill (very quite at 5:45am, no one is around) and did 7 one minute uphill sprints followed by 2 minutes downhill rest. After those kind of training I usually go home very happy, ready for a nap on the train to work.

Saturday was the big day. I planned on doing 3 hours of straight running, aiming to run at least 35km. Sadly it did not happen. It could have been because I had a couple of beers the day before or the fact it was a surprisingly hot morning. I even bought a brand new UltrAspire hand held bottle and I felt really professional, but no, I failed in my intent. I think I was still very tired from the race and had not allowed for enough recovery time. I ended up running 2 hours and a half, for a total of 31.5km, suffering from the sixth km to the end.

Next week is going to be a more relaxing week, with only 4 days of running so I will try again to run 3 hours on Saturday. Check this blog next week to see if I succeed!



Garmin Kingston Run Challenge

Sunday I took part in my last race as an under 40 runner. The Kingston Run Challenge. 16 miles.

As mentioned before I have done this race more than once. It takes place twice a year with different names and sponsors, but the route is basically the same and I love it. Most of it is on the river on the Hampton Court Palace side where I run most of my mornings, when there is enough light (so not now). Plus it is always very well organised. Humanrace events always deliver. This time it was as good as ever if not better as the market square in Kingston is finally open and looking great. The only issue I had was that I could not find the bag drop.

But let’s start from the beginning. I woke up pretty early to have breakfast and spend enough time getting my stomach ready (if you know what I mean). I left home 45 minutes before the start. That should have given me enough time to get there and warm up for 20 minutes. Instead not finding the bag drop I wandered in the wrong direction for too long and ended up only having 10 minutes to get ready. Not too much of a problem.
I placed myself just behind the 6 min/mile pacer and got ready to start. It was a beautiful sunny morning, cool and perfect for running. There were a lot of runners. Around 900 people, but mostly doing one 8 mile lap, two third I think. The atmosphere was very exciting.

I had decided to run it at a steady pace around 4:20 min/km as I thought that my last weeks of training were not really geared toward speed and I was not ready to run as fast as the last time (4:07 min/km). I was wrong.
I started fast as usual, excited by having other fast runners around. For the first time in a race I decided to keep an eye on my heart rate. I looked at it after 500 meters and it was 180 bpm. Obviously wrong as usual. It is always off at the beginning (either that or my heart is crazy). I ignored it and tried to get into the pace I had planned to stick to.

After less than 4 km a guy (number 2265) caught up with me and we started chatting. That’s the reason I never run with headphones and music. I like to interact with people, especially in races. He asked me what my target pace was, I told him 4:15 as I was not sure I was going to be as fast as last time (I felt a bit stupid saying it, as if saying: I am very cool, but today I will take it easy). Anyway we agreed to run together. Last time I did that I attached myself to the wrong runner in a 10 miles race and after 4 miles at 3:45 min/km I was dead and it ruined the whole race. So I was a bit cautious, but joined him. Every 2 or 3 km we swapped. It felt like when he was in front we were going faster while when I was in front we were slower. It also felt like I spent more time in front. I think it is just that when you are leading you suffer more I guess.


We finished the first 8 mile lap strong. We did not say much apart from “you OK?”, “cool”, ” nice one” etc. Going through the market square was a nice boost with all the people cheering. Plus it feels good to keep running and skipping the exit for the one lap finish line.

We ran a bit more and then I started losing my new friend. We where on the off road bit on the river. That part is my Bermuda Triangle. I have no idea why, but every time I run there, that particular bend, in any direction, I slow down. I cannot help it. I saw him adding meters between us and I was a bit desperate. I did not want to see him disappear in the distance and do more than one quarter of the race “alone”. Then something strange (but cool at the same time) happened. At km 18 in front of Hampton Court I accelerated to stick to him, overtook him to do my bit in front and kept running. Without realising it I accelerated and kept going until after 2 km I realised I was going at a pace under 4 min/km. I turned around and felt a bit guilty. I left him behind, exactly what I was hoping he would not do to me! But it felt too good for me to slow down. I was at around 20 km in the race and I felt like I just started. I was going at 3:50 and my heart was going at less than 160 bmp. I silently said thanks to the training plan I am following, I understood how wrong I was in thinking I was training too slow and just smiled and kept running. Feeling elated and indestructible. I overtook everyone I saw. If I spotted someone in the distance I aimed to reach them as fast as possible. It was probably the most enjoyable race I ever did. I admit the last km I was happy to see Kingston approaching. Then the crowd cheers, a final acceleration to look good and bam! crossed the line with the same average pace than last time. 4:07 min/km. Wonderful. My family was there which was super nice too. My daughter took the video below. We later found out I finished 10th. My best ever result. I could not have been happier. After a couple of minutes number 2265 arrived. I thanked him for helping me keep a good pace three quarter of the race. Without him I would have been a lot more conservative, so thank you again!

 [wpvideo dVNBB6Ls]

So overall I am extremely happy about the result. I am now even more confident in my training plan and I am looking forward to waking up at 5 am every day until the next race! And then do it again. Here is the Strava page if you are interested.

What did I eat before and during the race:

  • Breakfast: tea with one toast and jam plus one scone with jam (very British)
  • While walking to the race: one HIGH5 Energy Bar
  • Just before the start: one HIGH5 Energy Gel
  • At Km 10: 1 CLIF Shot Blok
  • At Km 16: another HIGH5 Energy Gel

I had a bit of water at km 9 and 22, but not much. I also tried the PowerGel Shots that were distributed at Km 16, but found them too big and could not chew on one while running.

A big thanks to Human Race for organising the event and to the wonderful marshals. Thanks to my family for coming to cheer me up and to number 2265 for helping me a lot. See you next time!


Easy training week

This week I took it easy as I will be running the Garmin Kingston Run tomorrow. I have ran 45k, to which I will add 16 miles tomorrow.

Monday I did an easy 13km run. Tuesday was raining too much and I was lazy and went back to bed. I wanted to rest on Wednesday but after seeing the weather I decided to swap the two days.

Wednesday I did the usual warm up run and then 4×5′ intervals at roughly 3:50 with 2′ rest.

Thursday was the most epic day of the training week. I started it with the usual 15 minutes easy run plus 5 minutes of alternating quick and slow run. Then I did 5×10″ sprints with 1′ rest after each. Average speed during the sprints was between 3:00 and 3:30 min per km. And then the killer bit: 6×1′ at 3:15 with 2′ rest. A bit of cool down and then home, dead.

Friday I took it easy: 9.2km at 4:30 min per km.

Today, Saturday, I am resting. Eating pasta, drinking a lot of water and just relaxing, looking forward to tomorrow’s race. I will do a post about the event soon after.

In other news, from my running buddies:
my friend Marco from Turin today ran his fist 10k under 50 minutes, well done!
@manuontrail is running the Schwarzwald Marathon tomorrow, go go go!
Davide is running 100 miles in the Pyrénées as I write this, epic as usual.


New distance record

Nothing special happened this week. Training went well, I ran a total of 83.6Km this week. It has been a week with a bit more speed than the others, which I enjoy.

Monday after the warm up I did 3 x 2′ fast repeats (3:45 min/Km). Tuesday was warm up and then 8 x 10″ super fast sprints (faster than 2:40 min/Km). Wednesday was an easy day, 13 slow kilometres.

Thursday was a lot of fun as it was all about repeats again, but this time going uphill. I went to Kingston Hill just outside Richmond Park which unfortunately is closed at that time on the morning (and it is now too dark anyway). I only managed to do 5 instead of the 8 I had to do as I woke up 15 minutes too late and I was running out of time, but I really enjoy those kind of training days.


Friday was terrible. I don’t know why, but the GPS was all over the place. Luckily the training was based on running 20 minutes fast, the distance did not matter, but I hate when I cannot collect data from my runs.

And then today was the long run. Fantastic day. It started very sunny but by the time I was home it was raining (I love running in the rain). I did 30Km in 2 hours 20 minutes. I took it easy as I never ran that distance (28Km was my previous record and it resulted in a plantar fasciitis). So I ran at a an average pace of 4:40 min/Km, trying to keep the heart at around 140bpm as suggested by the training plan. There were something like 3 different races happening at Richmond Park and it was the 10th anniversary of Bushy Parkrun so it was a very busy day in both parks, runners everywhere.

Now I am going to rest and eat like a pig to get back those 2Kgs I burnt today. I also bought a foam roller, so I will try that this evening.

Next week I will run a bit less to have more energy for Sunday, ready for the Garmin Kingston Run.

Have fun!