How to get over a failure aka get back on track

I trained, I was ready, I couldn’t wait. And when the race day came all went wrong. I wasn’t enjoying myself, I was tense and my pace followed. The race I ran twice the third time wasn’t that magical and fun as I remember. I finished with the worst result in years (1h51min) and I was quite down. Still am. What next? Am I as good (relatively) as I imagined or maybe I’m a fraud? After the last sentence you can imagine how I feel. But life goes on and I want to run. Have you ever been in a similar situation? How to get out of this post failure funk? Here’s my personal list, apply this to every failure

Analyze&learn. This is the worst part for me but maybe not for you. What went wrong and how to prevent it next time? Mental part, execution or some detail that ruined the whole thing? When running some things are predictable, routine, like e.g. eating before and during the race, clothes you’re wearing, your pace strategy. Other things like weather or sudden gastric issues are out of control. What you do when unexpected happens? When I got late into pre-race area I panicked and tried to surpass everyone. I was so tense for the first half and then… I just stopped caring? I still have to figure that out.

Give yourself a break In Italy people use to say ‘not all doughnuts come with a hole’, that means not everything you do will be a success. It’s a part of life and although it seems so deep and philosophical please remember that you shouldn’t identify with your failure. It was a moment in time and it passed and you should pass over it. You’re not your mishap, it just happened to you.

Put things into perspective. Will you remember this particular event in a week, month or a year? Maybe but will it matter and will that weigh on your overall happiness? It will if you choose to dominate your life and change your attitude. Make a list of things that go well in your life and list of things that are more important in your life than this event that went wrong.

Focus on next goal Every time something bad happened to me I look amazed at nature. Somehow I expect that the world should notice I feel bad and stop for a while. It’s stupid, naive, but sometimes with all the violence and conflicts that happen around the world I wonder how come the globe turns with no regards to what is happening.

Still, the sun rises and so should you. If failure left you with no love and passion for what you were doing you need to move to the next thing that will make your heart beat faster. But if you still love what you failed at then ‘dust yourself off and try again’ as the one and only Aaliyah used to sing.

In my case running is always raising my heartbeat so I’ll stick to it. I’m used to trying over and over again.

Do you dwell on your failures? How do you get out of the post failure funk?

How to avoid injuries: 4 simple advice

The short answer is: you don’t

But of course the longer answer is: it depends. Experienced runners know what to do but it doesn’t mean they apply those rules. Why? Because we’re mad, we’re addicted and we always think that running will heal everything. Just another one, only 10 km and I’m done.

Runners: we’re different..

Pay attention

Injuries (I’m not talking about accidents) usually don’t come from nowhere. They creep on you, they come as a nagging pain, small ‘thingy’ that grow bigger until it becomes unbearable. Like taxes. But, unlike taxes, you can avoid them or mitigate the damage. Sometimes a day or two of rest will do the trick: you have a tense muscle and if you run on it you might pull it. Or maybe you should change your running shoes but you forgot to keep track on how many miles/kms you run in them. Pain that stays with you is always an invitation to stop and find a reason why. Or at least stop.

Don’t be greedy, good things come slowly

Most of us believe we’re made of iron (or rubber, you choose) and we can do whatever and our bodies will follow. News: you’re not a Superman, if you start running too much too soon you will get injured. It sounds so obvious but we still forget that your body needs to adapt to a load of workout. A small amount of it will make you progress and become faster and stronger but if your body will be subjected to too much too soon it won’t be able to process it.

Small addition of kms (miles)= you’re sore, big load too soon= you’ll be sorry.

Invest: foam roller, massage and maybe a coach.

Aah, investments..they said running was the cheapest sport of them all. But then you decided to run more, race, eat gels wear fancy shorts and have a smart watch that tell you that you’re slow.

To be honest you can skip most of the gadgets (keep the shoes and sports bra) but invest in foam roller. This torture device will give you a good muscle release, use it on your legs, glutes or even on your back. It hurts sometimes (almost always) but it works like a good deep tissue massage. If roller is not enough go to osteopath that may spot flaws in your posture and maybe give you some corrective exercises. Another good investment is a good coach. If you keep on getting injuries maybe someone should take a look at your running routine and goals?

Running is not enough

That’s the saddest and most interesting part. The saddest because running is fun and everything else is sooo boring.

Interesting because in reality there are a lots of other sports and activities that can make you move, be entertaining and even…wait for it..make you a better runner. Cycling, hiking, swimming will condition your muscles differently and will help you building endurance. Personally I consider very beneficial taking up activity that you won’t take so seriously as your other sport. You’re a great runner? Start dancing and laughing at your lack of coordination!

Ok, that’s it. I’m sure there’s a way to avoid injuries but they happen anyway to even the best of us. The art of dealing with it is another blog post…

Treat yourself as you would treat your friend

Have you survived the September detox/back to work/school/grind? I did nothing of that but it doesn’t mean September hasn’t been hard on me 😉

I’ve already talked on this blog what I think about all the detoxes (apart from one I will talk about later). Why do we think it’s ok to punish ourselves while we actually need the opposite: care, attention and encouragement? Here’s what I have in mind

Let’s talk to ourselves like we actually like ourselves

Can you imagine a conversation with your friend that goes like this:

You friend: I’m going to try this new job/run a marathon/learn Spanish

You: Are you sure? Have you ever succeed in anything? It will end up like every time you try something.

If you’re a good friend this conversation wouldn’t go that way, first of all because you believe your friends can achieve whatever they want and even if you don’t positive encouragement is way more effective that bringing people down. I’m almost sure that the person you talk negatively like to nobody else is you. Every day. I’m always amazed how powerful words are and what an amazing power positive thinking is. This is coming from a very skeptic and sarcastic person (that is me). Each time I read a positive quote I feel a rush of courage and good energy. I guess positive thoughts  have the same effect on your mind as the good, nutritious food for your body. Don’t think it’s easy for me, for lot of people it’s not.

Practice, write it down, put on a positive song.

wait for it…

Let’s leave our cell phone for at least 30 minutes a day

This one is extremely difficult for me as I take my phone everywhere. And by that I mean literally everywhere #TMI.

Two weeks ago I had no Internet connection for 2 or 3 hours and I went crazy. I realized how much I depend on Internet, social media, emails etc. Funny enough I managed to do so many things in that 3 hours and when I had Internet back I discovered that nothing actually happened when it I was gone. Of course I didn’t practice digital detox since then because…I’d rather go hungry. Just kidding, everything is worse than being hungry but I’m convinced  that putting  my phone down for 30 minutes is a challenge. Willing to take the challenge with me? Hey, at least you can do in 30 minutes everything you’ve been postponing whole week and then stay on Instagram for the rest of the day..

Sometimes you scroll though your Insta feed and sometimes you put your phone down and take your mala

Let’s get physical

Yes, you can interpret this one however you want. At this point of my life running is my game but I think you should always aim for your activity of choice. Hike, jump, dance, walk, do yoga or pilates. Why? I do this because moving my body changes my mood from any state to awesome (endorphins, heyyy) and I have time to think things over or think about something else than everyday troubles. My best ideas come when I’m running, I sort my thought out when I’m getting tired. Sometimes I get so exhausted during my runs that I have no choice but to honest with myself. You know that state when your body is so out of energy that all is let is pure thought? If you don’t, try. You and your body need to reconnect and this is the best way to do it. Weirdest and most amazing thing? You’ll be tired and soon after full of energy.

Me after a run: happy

Let’s give ourselves a treat aka #treatyourselfwell

The easy choice would be buying something lavish, booking an expensive trip or going out for a dinner in Michelin restaurant. I’ve had a fare share of expensive gifts ‘from myself to myself’ in my life and the joy lasted for a very short time. Can I get more creative? I go back on the theme of being good and gentle with ourselves, dedicating attention and time that we deprive ourselves of because ‘it’s only me’. I’m very grateful to my mum and my grandpa for teaching me that eating should be, whenever you can, on a set table. Even if you eat on your own, especially if you eat on your own. Preparing your food with care, even if you eat alone. So if I eat on my own I set a table and prepare the food I like. No shortcuts. Attention is priceless and I’m worth attention. Let’s treat ourselves to something simple and something that put our needs first.

A wild asparagus risotto I made only for me. Because I like wild asparagus and I love risotto.

And now…a treat for you! Recently I’ve discovered  2 ways how to make easily plant milk, or as someone call it : mylk. It’s simple and it’s fast and it’s economical. I mean: win win and win!

Nut milk: you need your nut butter of choice, I’d choose something  without as clean as possible, that is peanut butter with only peanuts and no additional and useless sunflower oil, etc. But it’s your call I don’t judge. Ok, so you take a 1l of warm or hot water, add a generous teaspoon of your peanut butter or almond butter and blend it for 30 sec/1 min. Done. Of course you can add some sweetener if you like: honey, stevia, maple syrup, etc but you don’t have to. Done.

Hemp seed milk: the same procedure. Add 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds to warm or hot water and blend for few minutes. Add sweetener. Or not. Done.

Less plastic in my life! What I’m doing and what you can easily do

I’m convinced that my waste production is similar to a small European country. And I feel weird (read: confused and guilty) about it.

I started cutting on plastic starting from my shower.

I use a fare amount of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. Fortunately some brands, usually the smaller ones, have started producing solid shampoos and conditioners. If you can’t find them on line go straight to Lush. Great quality and they last for ages! I also started using soap instead of shower gel and I find it less drying for my skin. Of course quality matters, the more natural soap the better but even the more pricey ones will last longer than an average washing gel.

This rosemary soap has a very useful string so you can hang it under the shower and grab it comfortably.   No plastic and no makeup day.

Coffee. To be honest I haven’t done an effort here because I’ve been using moka since forever but if you’re using one of those fancy machines with coffee pods I have news for you: every single one takes around 200 years to disintegrate. And coffee is simply better from moka not mentioning that ‘encapsulated’ coffee cost way more than the regular one.

100% Arabica, anyone with me? #coffeislife

Groceries: bring your own bag. I personally hate the plastic or ‘organic’ bags because they get holes just by looking at them. I try to have with me at least one of the fabric bags. You get them at almost every event if you want them or not. Get them and use them for shopping!

Buy in bulk. Of course not many supermarkets or shops offer that option but it’s worth looking for a place where you can stock on nuts, legumes, flour, detergents and so on. It cost less and it’s environmentally friendly. Weather you buy in stock or ‘in plastic’ I encourage you to keep things in your kitchen in mason jars. Plastic is damaging to the planet and it means you as well, so keep your rice, pasta, flour in something else than plastic!

from the left: venere rice, gluten free pasta, arborio rice and on top hemp seeds. In the background empty bottles I use for water.

Bring your own cup and..cutlery. This one sounds really cheap but you’ll get me if you travel a lot. When I’m at the airport I don’t always take coffee because I’m quite picky and I don’t want to get another dose of caffeine so I have my Starbucks tumbler with me. Sometimes I’ll take my favorite herbal tea with me (yes, I’m that boring) but even if I’m ordering a hot drink I don’t use another reusable cup. Coming back to plastic: I get my own fork and spoon. I wouldn’t risk it with bring a knife and I wouldn’t need to use it. Nowadays you can buy a ready to use cutlery kit online or you can make it yourself (aka: get it from your kitchen and put it in an old beauty bag or something similar)

Freedom is your own pair of chopsticks.

What I want to do in the near future

Throw away my plastic toothbrush. I don’t mind using it but it’s battery is getting worse and worse every day. I won’t get another one that will need its plastic head replaced every 2 or 3 months. I’ll probably get a non mechanical toothbrush made from recyclable material. Any suggestions?

Don’t buy cotton face pads. I use them every day in my bathroom but I found out you can buy a set of reusable bamboo pads that can be washed in the washing machine. Great invention. You ask what it has to do with plastic? Well, they always come in plastic confection. Apart from using less plastic I’m into buying less things this year.

Let me know if you’re on board with ‘less plastic’ and ‘less waste’ movement’ and what would you suggest to reduce plastic?

it’s always a detox time

September, the beginning of autumn. Every time I scroll through my Instagram feed I see that the world go on detox. Not just diet, a detox. That supposed to be cleansing after these 2 weeks period called vacation that was preceded by at least 1 month period of read-for-the-beach diet. And before that we had a spring awakening awakening cleanse because as you might have already guessed: we ate like pigs during Xmas.

Green concoction : managing your sense of guilt since..forever

People say that with climate change the seasons just disappeared. I believe it’s our culture that did that. Our year is made of periods of famine, brief feasts followed by detoxes and cleanses. All year round we should be vigilant. Calories are just waiting around every corner.

It’s rarely to hear, both men and women, to admit they ate something without any justification. “I had pizza but I’m going to the gym tomorrow” or “This must be like a thousands calories but I walked a lot today”. Food makes us guilty.

My cleanse juice of choice. Ok, it’s an image from my last race, Marathon du Médoc.

No matter how valuable you are as a person your value is primarily your looks. Looks is the first thing the world will judge you upon.. It’s a natural but it becomes toxic when it stays the main indicator of  your value.

You’d probably say it’s not true and that we value intellect and wit. If that’s true why one of the most common messages in the wellness and fitness community is self acceptance? Love yourself no matter what! You’re worthy and beautiful and even your flaws are beautiful! And you’re smart! You must love yourself no matter what the social media is trying to make you believe! If all of this is true why we’re constantly teated like children binging on sweets?

Don’t get me wrong: I love good healthy food and I feel my best when my body is well nourished with food that makes me feel good. Having said that my looks should never be a fast jump to judgment of my persona. If I loose weight it doesn’t necessary means I’m in a good place in my life but that is what people assume. If I loose weight I might be sad, stressed or ill but the first reaction is compliment. My value is not my looks so don’t try to convince me that I should fit a certain size and then if I feel bad about myself convince me again that looks doesn’t matter and I’m worthy ‘no matter what’.

Superfoods: what are they, do you need them and how to get the best ones

I have to admit: I love following new trends in food/wellness industry and I will try almost everything. Don’t judge.

Just to say I was the first to try maca when the only place where you could buy it was a local shop selling all foods from Latin America, I don’t even know where I had my first spirulina and chia seeds ‘stash’ but I know I don’t regret it and yes, I always hope the next super food will be the ultimate recipe to eternal youth, health and, the most important of all: performance.

(more…)

How I ran 100km with no serious preparation

100km, Race to the Stones on July 14th 2018.

I did it and I don’t even know how.

Ok, I know, I wasn’t in coma for 15 hours. What I mean I didn’t train properly, in the last 3 months due to inexplicable feeling of weakness I dialed back my mileage and I didn’t run more than 13 miles in single workout.

My contract wasn’t renewed so I’m jobless, I had some serious personal issues and to be honest I’m not sure where I’m going to live in the next few months. Not the best scenario to run a race where mental shape counts as much as  the physical one. I knew i wasn’t ready so I had to do some damage control before the damage would be done!

  • I realistically estimated how far I could go and in my calculations it was 60 km. Whatever would happen after that wasn’t clear but I knew I’d be able to go that distance. I thought I would walk the rest
  • I had no idea about the pace so I decided to leave my garmin at home and go for an easy pace, in my estimation I shouldn’t feel exhausted at least for the first 20 km
  • I decided to walk every uphill, some of them were quite easy to run, others were more steep. I’m not shy of hills (at least not all of them) but I was on Energy Save mode

That’s about the technical strategy, how about my mental game? I’m not very good at it and as you’ve already seen I’m quite fragile at the moment.

Very often I can’t separate my every day issues from the race and I keep on thinking about them while running. It wasn’t different this time and some of the kms flew by while I was thinking about future and, let’s be honest, about the negative stuff. After some time I was able to abandon those feeling, maybe the meditation I’ve been practicing these days is really helping (I’ll tell you about it in a different post?

The last piece of this success is ‘everyday hero factor’ as I call it (ok, I just invented it on the spot):

lot of what’s happening to you is a patchwork of what you can do and what happens to you and not all of it you can control.

Race, exceptions not included, is your piece of reality where so much more depends on you and you can make it the way you want it.

I was aiming for a lot, I got it all.

last weeks before marathon

I guess marathon training is taking its tool on me as I’m incredibly tired this week after lasts week’s training (70 km in total). I’m behaving like I would after a marathon: running less and taking some rest.

What is bothering me now are…my teeth! One of those will have to be devitalized, I just discovered that and i want to have it done before marathon. I know it’s crazy to schedule your dental care around my race calendar but I don’t want to be on painkillers on the start line.

How was my last long run that made me rest this week? Terrible. My glute was on fire, I was tired, thirsty and slow. And I stopped like a million times. I guess the marathon will go just fine. Honestly, I’m more worried about my teeth than my pace now. Ok, just a little bit more.

The marathon is in less than 3 weeks and I’ve done all I could. It wasn’t perfect but everyday life is like that. You fail but you have to go on #life #wisdom

mud, mud everywhere

On Sunday I ran and easy trail but damn it was muddy like no other I ran.

I didn’t have that much fun: muddy, foggy and cold. Strangely the distance was bearable (30km) so at least I trained the mental part of the race (remember ? the one I struggle with the most)
So each puddle of mud has a silver lining I guess.
And I have a nice colorful pair of Brooks Caldera to run trails.

Trails&co

Last week I went with my friends for a non competitive run in the countryside. It was mostly off road with some uphill parts. I wasn’t terribly fast and it was only 24 km but I ran all the hills, I drank all the hot tea at the refreshment points and I finished happy.

Today I came back even more happy on my normal running route and I realized that for some time I haven’t changed it. So next week I’m running a trail, short one and not very hilly. My legs but also my head need some change sometimes. Overall I like running now and running likes me back.