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!


My road to the NW50

I have almost planned all the races I will do before taking part in the NDW50.

This is my schedule so far:

I think there is still room for another half marathon or a 10/30 Km trail race in December, early January, but I have not yet found any close enough to my part of London. Any suggestion is welcome.

I am very much looking forward the Kingston Run Challenge in a couple of weeks. Half of the route is on my usual training grounds, on the Hampton Court side of the river. I’ve done it last year (in 1:54) and did the very similar Whole Foods Market Breakfast Run (basically same course) in March (in a better 1:46). They are usually very well organised races. Plenty of participants, but not too crowded to make it problematic. Humanrace are top organisers and I suggest anyone to take part in their events whether is a running, cycling or swimming one (or all three together).

I don’t think this time I will be as fast as 1:46 as for the past month I have trained at a much slower pace, but I will still try.

Training this week was a lot more relaxing than last week. I am still following The Cool Impossible schedule and I have just finished the fourth week. It was a mostly recovery week, with 2 days of rest. In total I did 67.7 Km.

Monday was the usual 12.5k easy run.

Tuesday was a recovery day. 8 easy km. I did not feel like needing to recover, but I trusted the book.

Wednesday on the other hand I did not follow the book. I was supposed to do half an hour in Speed Zone 1, which is even slower than the slow days speed. After a recovery day and before a rest day? That did not make sense to me. Plus there were no speed training in the whole week. So I decided that the book was wrong and was supposed to say Speed Zone 2 and I aimed to run 30 minutes at a bit above 4:00 min/km (after the usual 15 minutes of warm up + sprints). I ended up running 7km at 3:57 min/km. I enjoyed it a lot. I used to basically do all my runs at that speed before deciding to train for longer distances and I was missing the feeling.

Thursday rest. Nothing. It felt strange to spend an extra hour and a half in bed. I still fell asleep on the train on the way to work.

Friday I did the same as Monday, my usual 12.5k route. Soon it will be so dark I will not be able to run on the river.

Today, Saturday, was the long run day, but as this is a rest week I was not to run more than Week 2, so I did 22.5 Km in Bushy Park and then Richmond Park, coming back via the Ham river side. As always: beautiful.

Next week it will be more challenging and then I will rest a bit before the race.


Week 3

Training is going very well, this week I ran a total of 82km which is a record for me. Now I only have to be able to do the same in a single day in 8 months time.

I am very happy I managed to stay consistent for the whole month (as the image below shows). So far increasing the distance I run has made me want to run even more, no negative side effects.


Monday I did 13km of fartlek alternating easy sub 140bmp (my heart rate zone 2) sections with 20″ sprints roughly every 5 minutes. It has been fun.
Tuesday was nothing special while Wednesday was a killer. 15 minutes of warm up with some sprints and then 8 x 2′ at 3:45 min/km with 2′ rest. By the fifth one the rest interval seemed too short but I managed to always keep the right speed (except in the one before last, due to some movements in the belly 🙂 ).

If doing speed training on Wednesday was not enough I also decided to do some cross training and went for a swim in the evening. I am not a good swimmer at all, but after my eldest “semi-pro” daughter told me how to fix my head and breathing problem I feel a lot more confident and powerful. I have always finished a pool length feeling like I was dying. Now in the bits where I breath in I feel like I am really pushing well into the water. Anyway I did not do much, 30 lengths (6 breaststroke and 24 front crawl).

Thursday was the recovery day. I only ran 6.5km and quite slowly. So as I had more time before leaving the house I did some abs work: 2 minutes plank, 1:20 side plank (each side), 100 crunches, 100 bicycle crunches. I do abs every morning as part of my warm up sequence (not as many as on Thursday) and it is really helping me keep the correct running form in the long runs. I think I should do more exercises, but I really cannot find much time left in the day.

Then Friday arrived and I realised that Wednesday was not the week’s killer. Friday was! After the usual 15′ warm-up plus a couple of sprints I then did 5 x 1′ at a speed between 3:20 and 3:30 min/km, which is fast with 1:30 rest between them and then (and this was the fun part) 5 x 30″ at a speed between 3:00 and 3:20 min/km plus 2′ rest. I like speed training a lot.

Saturday was the long run. I was supposed to run 15′ longer than last week. I ended up doing a bit more, for a total of 25km. I tried to keep a steady slow pace, but my heart settled to <140bmp only after 20km and I was running faster than the first kilometres! I stayed on trails (Richmond and Bushy Park) as much as possible, wearing the Brooks Cascadia. The more I use them the more I love them. Today I ran on roads, mud, gravel and grass and in all these conditions the Cascadia have a fantastic grip. Plus they feel like having the right amount of cushioning and protection for me and have no fear for my right foot old plantar fasciitis pain residue, even when running on pebbles which is usually something I suffer on.


Overall it has been the best week of training so far: 2 fast days, 3 slow/recovery days and a very nice long run. I still have to understand my heart beats. I think I am running too slow compared to what I used to do. I really hope it will help in the long run (no pun intended), but for now I am struggling to keep in the heart zones I should be in and I hope all this slow running does not affect my speed in the road half-marathons I am going to do soon.

Keep reading this boring list of things I do if you want to know how it all ends.



No turning back!

There is no turning back.

I now registered for the North Downs Way 50 2015. I was afraid not to get a place so I registered at 10am as soon as it was possible to do so.

This is it, my target for next year. My challenge for my 40s. Uncharted territories. I will keep on following the 6 run a week schedule, run more half marathons, a couple of marathons and definitely a lot more trails. It will be fun! I can now schedule all the races from now to May next year. I have 2 already in the calendar, I will add more.

Training this week went well. I ran a total of 75km. I had a cold for the first couple of days but nothing serious. Mornings are now all of a sudden a lot colder.

Monday was an easy run ending with 5 very fast 10″ sprints. I felt like Bolt. I managed to go as fast as 2:48 min/km which is a new thing for me. For 10 seconds only, mind you.
Tuesday easy. Wednesday was the interval training. First part on hills. The second on flat. Finding hills here is not that easy. Especially close enough for me to go at 6am. Richmond Park has some and Kingston Hill is the best I guess. So that is where I went. When the park is closed I will run on the roads close by. They are less steep but better than nothing.

It was a lot of fun. Bushy and Richmond Parks are beautiful every time of the day, but in the early mornings they are the best.

Thursday easy run again and Friday a mix of easy run, 2′ intervals and sprints. I like those days where things get mixed up. I just wish I still had my Garmin 405, but after 2 models with failing battery I opted for a cheaper Garmin 210 which does not allow you to program your sessions with the details of the 405.

Today after registering for the NDW50 I went for a long run in Richmond Park. 21.1km. Should have gone slower than 140bmp but did not manage to.

See you on the road/trails 🙂


Week 1

So I survived the first week following the Cool Impossible training schedule. 6 runs in 7 days. 75km ran.

It was not too bad. I felt like a king for most of the week. Even waking up at 5:10am every day was not as hard as I imagined (I had to cut my evening videogames sessions a bit).
At the start, on Monday, I realised that the 20 minutes test must have gone wrong. I cannot run with that sort of BPM. It is too slow for me. I am used to run at an average of 4:00-4:08 min per km. To keep in the heart zone required by the easy runs in the schedule I would have to go slower than 4:45. Too boring. So I adjusted the tables and added 4bmp only, but it made it more manageable. I still think it is too slow but I’ll see how the next weeks pan out.

HRZone 1 HRZone 2 HRZone 3 HRZone 4 HRZone 5 HRZone 6 HRZone 7
121 130 131 140 141 145 146 149 150 154 155 158 159 163

On Wednesday I did some speed training which I love. That was probably the most fun day of the week.
The other days were mostly slow days running around 10/12km.

On Friday I was glad I’ve ran slow the whole week. I had some belly problems and I had to cut the training short to run quickly home.
I spent all day in bed with super nausea.
I slept most of the day and 13 hours at night. Some people (my wife) might say that it is the result of running too much, but I prefer to think it was something I ate.
Anyway I was not going to fail on the first week. On Saturday I woke up weighting 2kgs less than usual and very weak so I waited until the afternoon to go for the long run of the week.
I went around Richmond Park. I tried to stay off road as much as possible as I was wearing the Cascadia and I wanted to feel like a trail runner. I suffered quite a bit and run 19k quite slowly (4:33 min/km average) but I am happy I completed the week.

Next week looks like more fun as the schedule is quite diverse. Next Saturday morning the NDW50 opens the registrations. Let’s hope I get a place.

Today I am going for a relaxing walk with the girls on the South Downs. One day I will run there too.

Run and Have fun.



A new beginning

I am still on holiday in Italy enjoying the sun and the focaccia. Most of all I have been trying to run as much as possible (51km total) alternating one day on the coastal roads and one day on the trails.
I have explored different paths on the hills but I always end up roughly in the same places except today in which I was going uphill as far as I could via a new track. Unfortunately it’s hunting season and I met a guy with a double barrelled shotgun who advised me very kindly not to continue up the hills. Not wanting to be shot as a boar I decided to head home.

To prepare for the ultra I would like to do (and all the other races I have in mind) I have decided to follow the training schedule from the book The Cool Impossible. It’s a very good book if you are interested in training seriously. I suggest you read it after Born To Run.

I have been trying to run with proper form after the books suggestions for quite some time, I will probably not be able to follow all the dietary suggestions or do all the strength exercises, but I will definitely follow the 5 month training schedule.

The first things you need to do to follow the schedule is run two tests. A 1 mile run test and a 20 minute run test. In both you go as fast as you can and record your time and heart rate. Those results will help you define your Speed Zones and Heart Rate Zone to be used in the following weeks of training.

I did those test this week, probably I should not have done them both too close to each other.

I did the 1 mile test in 5:22 which gave me these speed zones (in min/km, not very readable):

SP Zone 1 SP Zone 2 SP Zone 3 SP Zone 4 SP Zone 5 SP Zone 6 SP Zone 7
04:51- 04:32 04:21- 04:01 04:01- 03:51 03:54- 03:41 03:41- 03:31 03:31- 03:21 03:17- 03:11

I ran 5.3km in the 20 minutes test and got these heart rate zones:

HR Zone1 HR Zone2 HR Zone3 HR Zone4 HR Zone5 HR Zone6 HR Zone7
117 126 127 136 137 141 142 145 146 150 151 154 155 159

I will try to follow the schedule as much as possible and will report the results here.

Have fun!


Holidays and Trails

I’ll try to post at least once a week with updates on my training and various news. I might be posting more often is something interesting happens.

The big news this week is that I decide to prepare for an Ultra (as mentioned in the intro post) and I want to do a Trail one. Also because I enjoyed very much the Wimbledon Half Marathon, which was basically a trail half marathon (finished 12th).

The plan is to try and get a place at the NDW50 in May 2015. There are only 250 places so I might not manage to get it. I will have to find another one, but I am so pumped for it that I will be very sad if I don’t get in.

The inspiration for this plan is my good friend Davide (4th place at the Lakeland100 2014). It’s all his fault. I hope he will come to the NDW50.

As I have always been a road runner (even if most of the time I run on trails in Bushy or Richmond Park) I had to get some trail shoes to get me started. I opted for the Brooks Cascadia.

Road or trail running?

This week I started my 10 days summer holiday and flew to Liguria in Italy. I’ve been running a lot here, but always on the same sea side routes. This summer, equipped with the Cascadia, I explored the hills overlooking the sea.

Amazing views and a totally different way of running. I have to get used to run at variable speed.

I have alternated one day road running / one day trail running.

A had fun on the road with another Davide, he is the guy that introduced me to running and got me into my first team. We went for a slow run on the cliffs, Slow because it was too early for him and we talked too much as we had not seen each other for 2 years.

The best trail run I had this week was this one, 20k with 986mt elevation.

I even saw a couple of deer, smaller than the Bushy park ones I am used too, but wilder. I also had to learn to run carrying water with me. I never had too, but it was very hot!

I am here for one more week. I intend to explore the hills more as I am sure that there are more trails to try.

Take care!


Where to start?

[This intro is quite old now. I have run many ultras now so the blog focus is more on what I am doing now that I am addicted to long distance running, but I’ll leave the old intro for historic reasons.]

Hello. This is a blog. My very first one. The idea here is to talk about running in general but more specifically about my training.
The plan is to go from being a happy half marathon runner to completing an ultra marathon.
From 21.1km to 50 miles. Hopefully in around nine months.

Here is where I am now. I am almost 40 and I’ve been running for around 6 years.
In 2014 I basically raced an half marathon (or 10 miles or 16 miles races) almost once a month and a couple of parkruns.

I have been mostly training three times a week, roughly running 50k per week. This is going to change!

As of today (20 August 2014) my PB’s are:

5k 18:30
10k 39:20
Half Marathon 1:22:54

Let’s see where the future takes me.

If you are really really interested in my progress you can follow me on twitter. I am @gigetto.

I am also a big fan of Strava.


UPDATE (29 Nov 2014): My new 5k PB is now 18:10
UPDATE (10 Apr 2015): My new 10k PB is 38:53