Small tweaks that helped me improve my running performance

I’ve learned a lot since I started running. How to train for a marathon, how be faster on uphills, how to survive when you’re injured and can’t run, what to eat before a race, or during a race, how to convince my mom that it’s safe to run in the mountains, what’s the best recovery, and how to shop for fluorescent shoes are just some examples. But these are the big lessons, the foundations.

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Hercules Marathon – Running memories of a legendary autumn

Isn’t it funny how life gives you an answer right when you need it the most? This year’s Hercules Marathon race in the rusty autumnal hills of Valea Cernei, Romania, was exactly the feeling I had been missing and was looking for.

I’d been feeling tired and not so motivated after my previous race, Maraton Pirineu, in Spain. Actually, this sensation that I don’t really want to train and compete had been going on since after Marathon 3200, in July. I felt like turning the engines a bit off after that one and took a few weeks off from training.

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The Fit Tales Newsletter

I’m so happy and excited to let you guys know that I’m *finally* starting my Fit Tales newsletter.

 

Why?

There’s too much noise about nutrition. Lots of it is accurate information, and lots of it is crap. I’ll be here to help you figure out what’s what and take better decisions for your health. 

I get to read, try, study, analyze, experiment so many things related to nutrition and sports and I can’t possibly share all of them. Through the Fit Tales newsletter it will be easier for me to do a selection of information that is valuable, relevant, and bullshit free.

Make no mistake, this isn’t a one way deal. I’ll count on you to give me feedback, ideas, and tell me what you’re experimenting and learning.

 

I’m just following the footsteps of several content creators that I admire, especially my friends Cristina Chipurici and Andra Zaharia, who are doing an amazing job with their newsletters – Cristina’s Friday Read and How Do You Know.

What we’ll do here is to work together towards becoming a tribe of like-minded people, willing to learn more about nutrition and exercise.

In every email you’ll get interesting articles, research, personal views on nutrition and sports, things I’ve come across in my experience as a food coach and I think you might find useful, ideas and recipes to try, as well as coaching techniques that we can practice together. Plus, some personal stories of the more vulnerable kind.

 

Is this for you?

It’s for you if you’re willing to dig deeper and not take all the noise on these topics as being the one and only truth.

It’s for you if you’re willing to be flexible and try different hypotheses without being radical in your beliefs.

It’s for you if you’re not looking for an easy way out. Because, surprise, there isn’t one.

I’m tempted to say that if you’re a radicalist, an 800-calories/day-starve-yourself-to-death type or a know it all, we don’t want you here. But the truth is, we do. I’ll get ready for this challenge so that we can all learn from one another.

 

Sign up here


 

More about me here.

Marathon 3200 – Cracking Romania’s toughest mountain marathon

What is it that makes your heart beat fast, your mind wander and your feet dance nervously?

What is it that brings hundreds of runners each year at the start of Marathon 7500, for the last 10 years?

It’s probably a mix between the beauty of Bucegi mountains, the difficulty of the team races, and the people that write the story. And especially about that one person that you team up with.

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Vall del Congost Marathon 2018 – Setting season’s expectations

Every race is a learning experience and an exam at the same time. You get to see how your mind and body react to the distance, speed, and elevation. You get to see how your quads feel in the first 30km and how they feel after km 40.

You learn how your stomach handles food and how it handles gels. You get to hear your mind speaking, your body feeling alive. And you learn how a different pace, different weather, or an unexpected detail in the competition can turn things around completely.

Plus, you get to live a totally different experience as you adjust all these variables.

For me, doing Vall del Congost 43km race with more than 3000 positive elevation gain was an opportunity to test myself:

– Can I run this distance and elevation so early in the season, after my 5 month break last year?

– Can I handle it well if it’s been almost a year since I’ve run this distance (EcoMarathon 2017, and that was actually shorter and less elevation)

– On a scale from 0 to 10, how crazy am I for signing up for my first 50K in May, at Transylvania 50?
but also, a very interesting question/lesson was:
Can I run it without being competitive, take it just as a training and not sacrifice my legs and liver on the rocky hills of Aiguafreda?
So that was the plan: run slowly, as a test, and enjoy the race and the lessons.
My friends who suggested this race also took me to two trainings, first doing the first half and then the second half of the route. I realized I had totally underestimated it and after the training I understood why everyone says about Vall del Congost that it’s one of the toughest races in Catalunya.
I should have realized that before, because it’s a competition that used to be part of the international circuit and now it’s the only race in Catalunya that offers points for the World Trail Running Championships. So you can imagine it’s a very attractive event for pro runners.

Race day

Aiguafreda, where the race starts, is a one hour drive away from Barcelona, so I had to wake up at 4.30 am on Sunday morning, to make it in time for the 7am start.
At the start line I met some of my training friends – some of them running, and others who were there to cheer for us and take photos. Also, I saw some of the top runners in Catalunya there, probably for the beauty of this race, the relatively big prize money and of course, the points.

What I loved about Vall del Congost race

– Refreshment points every 5 km. I didn’t have to carry a vest, I had a belt with a soft flask inside, two Raw Bite bars that I didn’t even eat, and two gels. You can go light.
– All the points were signaled in advance and after: “100m to Refreshment point number X” and “End of the refreshment zone” (with a nice garbage bag to throw the orange and banana pills and whatever else we had taken).

– A big plus point, compared to most races I’ve been to, is that they don’t require a compulsory list of equipment. You decide for yourself what you’re going to take with you during the race, at your own risk.

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Pau Capell: I always put family before running

Just a few days ago, the Catalan ultrarunner Pau Capell defended his title in Transgrancanaria, with an amazing victory in the 125km with 7500m elevation race, finishing it in 12h 42min 08s.

I was lucky enough to have him answer a few questions about how he trains his body, his mind, and his nutrition to achieve such performances. His beliefs reveal the importance of the emotional balance that maybe we don’t often realize is that important for ultra runners who seem to focus only on spartan trainings and nothing more. It turns out that his personal life plays a decisive role in his performance and it’s something he advises all runners to prioritize. 

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