Packing for a race

I normally pack in one bag but by normally I mean not for a race.Do I even travel anymore if not for a race? Anyway..if you have this problem I think I might have a solution

What you actually need?

Make a race list and if you don’t have an app for this download a…grocery shopping list, mine is called MyGroceries (#shocking) and it works just fine both for shopping and for race packing.

Take no more than 2 sets of clothing for the race, it’s not a beauty contest. If the weather changes drastically you might get something from the race expo. Hint: check out if you have everything once arrived at the hotel and before heading out for the race expo.

Recap: you need your running clothes, energy gels, of course your shoes and other gadgets like cap, gloves, chafing gel, gps watch and charger for it.

And of course your shoes. My personal advice if you take plane for the race: always put your shoes in the hand luggage. If your main luggage gets lost you can always buy running clothes but buying and running in the new pair of shoes is a bad bad bad idea.

Imagine them gone..

What should be on your ‘emergency list’?
Ahhh, emergencies. Don’t we love them. All the unplanned problems like gut issues, flu, sore throat. You might notice that I mention all possible health issues. The thing is all the other running related emergencies you can resolve easily aka buy stuff. If you, on the other hand, have fever, something you ate made you puke, ecc. it’s better to have something on hand. I know, I sound like a grandma. Call me running grandma.

Things I put on my emergency list? Painkillers,pills for urinary infections and anti-fever pills. You might say that if you need those you shouldn’t run and you’re probably right. Sometimes you’ll decide non to run and it’s ok, sometimes you take one pill and your ready to go the day after . No matter what will be your choice you still need a pill

A ‘nice-to-have’ list

Not so important as emergency list but I would argue that you still need to think about it. It’s all about relaxing and feeling a bit less overwhelmed and more like at home when you’re away. You know best how to achieve it. For me it’s a herbal tea and a good book the night before, for you it might me and essential oil or your favorite good mood play list. Something to chill is easy to find, just remember to take it with you!

My go-to de-stress set before the race

What’s on your list to pack for a race?

Do you have an emergency list?

How do you relax before the race?

I want them all

..especially electronic devices: gps, power meters, massagers, oxygen levels measures, compression sleeves. All the hydration belts, caps, earphones,glasses.

Oh, and socks, never enough socks, right?

I want all the gadgets and if I only had a black American Express and could switch off my conscience..  

Are you tempted by the gadgets? If so, let’s take a look at what might be useful and what..can wait

Fancy GPS

How fancy? The thing is those new and sophisticated watches cost a lot. How advanced are you with you’re running? Maybe the simple entry level model will do and won’t break a bank. If you’re running for some time now and you’re doing long runs, intervals, tempo runs or you’re thinking about multi-sport then maybe the more expensive watch is a good idea. Think twice and if you have doubts research first, I can recommend the DC Rainmaker blog for everything tech related.

Bottom line: you’d probably don’t need that fancy watch if you’re a beginner

New running clothes…that you actually don’t need. In every race pack I got a technical t-shirt and most of the pants/shorts don’t wear out that easily. In general running clothes last. Have you noticed that although you probably own numerous running t-shirts you wear the same 3 all the time? I justify owning more and more technical winter gear as it dries slowly and the temperature can change from chilly to super cold overnight and you need something really good for keeping the sweat away when it’s cold outside. Apart from that: save your money on running clothes and put them into running shoes fund, you’ll need them!

Bottom line: save your money!

Compression sleeves/socks There are compression socks that you wear during a run and other types for recovery. Nowadays they don’t cost a lot and you can get them on sale and, in a opinion of someone with big calves aka me, they do make a difference. From what I understood they prevent the lactic acid from accumulation and help blood circulation. It’s worth give them a try, especially if you have circulation problems. If you don’t, just use them when needed, like during your long run.

Bottom line: worth a try!

Massagger (like Compex, Mark Pro, ecc.) This one is fancy and potentially useful. And deadly to your wallet. I said  ‘potentially useful’ because it all depends on level, intensity and frequency of your activities. The more you do the more useful it can be. Do you work out numerous times per week, find yourself fighting with cramps, sore muscles? Do you invest a lot into sport massage sessions? Maybe you also have a partner who work out? You do cross fit, running, biking, weight lifting? If you answered ‘yes’ to more than one of the above questions then you might consider a compex or similar. It’s costly but effective.

Bottom line: it depends.

All the supplements and protein powders

I’m convinced we all should supplement Vit D (combined with vit K) as we don’t get enough sun exposure to synthesize it. Magnesium supplement could be a good idea if you work out and have some trouble to fall asleep.

And then it all depends on your blood results and what you do (sports, life). In general it’s hard to overdose vitamins but ask your doctor anyway (and don’t sue me). If you’re an athlete try your best to eat balanced diet. Do you need protein shakes? I personally take them after a long run because I can’t stomach anything solid. But for me long run starts at 21 km or more. Stop obsessing over losing muscle, make them in the first place. Get your veggies, fruits and invest in good food. If it’s not enough look for protein shakes and other powders.

Bottom line: real food first, astronaut food later!

If you were never tempted by all the running gadgets than I seriously envy you. There are times I’d buy all the things I don’t need but then I open my wardrobe and see so many running clothes I don’t know what to do with. I have a new GPS watch. I try to supplement the essentials and not to go overboard with all the new superfoods, I’d rather spend more on the farmers market. Anything new on my wishlist? Sure but I don’t have limitless resources and at the end of the day I tell myself that the most important things in my running is my body and mind, I must take care of them first.

Confessions of an ex race junkie

My name is Hanna and I used to race every weekend.

Or every other weekend.

Ok, I wrote every other weekend just to make you think I wasn’t a junkie. I was. Big time.

I don’t know where are you in your running history but for most of us it goes like this:

  • You start running, God knows why, and you suffer. No breath, crampy legs, the struggle is real
  • The struggle is less painful
  • You still suck at running but somehow you enjoy it and becomes your thing. You may even meet other people who enjoy the same type of masochism.
  • You sign up for your first race and even though it’s stressful the adrenaline, going for the race, all the rituals before and after, seeing your friends makes it the best thing ever.
  • You’re officially hooked

Maybe you’ve been there or maybe you’re heading there,I’m not in a Race Town anymore. I’m actually trying to get back but let me tell you why I don’t live there anymore

It’s pretty stressful. Even if you tell yourself it’s only just for fun and you won’t give your all, that the race is just a part of training. The adrenaline is contagious and there’s no way you won’t be at least a bit nervous. Your ‘fight-or-flight’ mode will inevitably kick in. Imagine living this every weekend. Waking up Sunday morning with that tingle in the stomach..You’re only racing against yourself but…

It’s not the way you want to train. Some runs are easy, some are faster. If you race instead of training you’ll always give 100% instead of taking it easy. Then if you race you should recover the week after.

Once you recover you race again which means you never train, you just rest and recover. You will have a wall full of medals but few PR’s.

Can I get a mortgage for this? You might race close to home but it will cost you money and time. Races are getting more and more popular and even if you plan ahead traveling for races can damage your budget.

Racing is a lifestyle. If  you want to live that way, that’s ok just bear in mind you have to organize everything around it. No more lazy weekend mornings, either you travel for a race or you wake up early to go on a start line. No brunch or Sunday roast with non running friends (do you still have non running friends?) Then you recover so Sunday afternoon is quite different as well: cold baths, foam rolling or legs up against the wall. But you decline most of the invitations for the weekend anyway, racing, remember?

Someone said: injury? Recovery and steady training makes you less prone to injuries, needless to say racing all the time is not. Plus after the race you body is weaker also in term of immunity and you can get sick quite easily.

I think the main reason I quit compulsive racing was stress and being exhausted all the time. Plus I wanted to bring my running on the next level and constant racing wasn’t helping at that. Instead of getting faster I started to become slower and irritated.

I’m not sure if there are a lot of addicts like I used to be, for sure not having a family on your own can limit the damage in the first place, I mean you want to and have to spend time and money on your loved ones as a priority. Otherwise you can slip quite easily into the new lifestyle which is being away every weekend and collecting bibs.

Are you addicted to racing? Maybe you used to? Why dis you quit?

What do you love about racing?

Any race on your calendar?

A week in the life of a runner, winter edition


If you like me, movement and running are a very important part of your life. Thankfully it’s not all of my life and I try to live a balanced life although there are times all I’d do would be running, hiking and biking.

But life is not an Instagram feed and we all have to squeeze sport to sometimes busy schedule. Here’s an example of my winter week of running

Monday rest day,

Maybe the one and only rest day. God had a free day on Sunday but who am I to rest on the same day as God? I’d rather take Monday as it is hard enough for million different reasons. Monday is when I recover after a long Sunday run. I’d like to tell you I go for a massage or sauna but let’s be real. My osteopath is on sick leave and I don’t trust anyone else plus I have a lot of races to plan so the budget is tight so..I’ll go for foam rolling and tumeric tea (and some tiger’s balm for aching muscles, it’s the best!)

Tuesday easy run

run in the fog and since it was also a short one I’ll do and abs or legs workout afterwards. I’m sweaty anyway so why not take advantage of that?

Wednesday speed work

That run left me unsatisfied but hey at least I have a goal to reach for…a quick strengthening workout for legs and I’m done. Shower!

Thursday rest day

so I’m squeezing in a longer session of mobility and strength exercises. Honestly: I hate them, at least part of them but I guess these are the ones I need the most.

Normally I prepare some falafels or veggie burgers in batch to freeze and have them ready for those days I need to have a quick lunch.

Thursady gives me a breath of fresh air, I needed a day off. I promised myself to foam roll this year..I’ll do it tomorrow.

Friday I feel the air of weekend and everything looks brighter on Friday so I do my quick’ish run in the park and quick abs at home. TGIF!

Another run, another breathtaking view

Saturday is kind of rest day but I fit in a yoga session if I can and it’s quite demanding one but I’m on a break up terms with yoga nowadays so one class a week is better than nothing, right? So yoga it is. A walk around town to relax, carbs for dinner thinking ahead of my long run tomorrow. What’s your carb of choice before long run? It used to be pizza for me but somehow in the past year my legs are so heavy the day after that I decided to go for risotto

Sunday runday funday which means long run. In winter I stay longer in bed because heading for a long run early in the morning means cold air and my hand and feet suffer a lot in winter..Plus I need a bit of sleep and laziness sometimes, right? I like long runs, they are like a treat for me and on Sunday I don’t need to be nowhere.

Then a good lunch afterwards, trying to put in some proteins #teamtempeh and later in the day…foam rolling finally! I should do it more often, right? But it hurts!

If I’m in a right mood I’ll go for another yoga session, maybe a yin yoga, my latest discovery and I have to say it’s the best after a long run. Steady and focusing of different muscle groups.

That’s it! I’d love to hear your week in sports or whatever you do to keep moving! Isn’t that amazing what we can do in a week?

Few random Q&As on running

Are you on Quora?

Quora in an online platform where people can ask questions and other users who deem themselves experts or just think they know the answer can reply. I like to read and comment on Quora and reply to questions about running. I’m not an expert, I just ran a few marathons and running is a passion of mine. I thought it would be fun to post a few questions from Quora I replied to. If you like them please follow me on Quora  https://www.quora.com/profile/Hanna-Gierzynska-Zalewska or just give a look on the website!


Why do people pay to run a marathon? Why not just run the 42 km on any other day?

Because you want to measure yourself on a given day on that distance and have a proof of that. And a medal. And photos.

You want to test your luck, maybe you’ve trained but on that day you will suck anyway.

Travel: you want to run where you’ve never ran before. Sometimes running a race is a cherry on top of your training.

The best way to know is to run a marathon or watch a marathon in person.

What it means to ‘hit the wall’ in the marathon?

When you finish your physical and mental energy. I would argue that it’s mainly your brain because when it senses that your finishing glucose it just goes on energy saving mode to save itself. There’s enough glucose for the brain so it says to your body to shut down. Which sucks cause you mentally and physically feel like you can’t go any further BUT

You actually can, you just have to tell your brain ‘I know what you’re up to, you’re not fooling me’ and go on.


Will anyone ever run the marathon under two hours?

Humanity is getting there and the latest record in marathon (Eliud Kipchoge 2h 1 min in Berlin Marathon) shows that we’re close.

I’m quite positive that it will happen.


Is it important to monitor the heart rate while running? If yes, why?

It could be very useful as it gives you a feedback on intensity of your workout or your overall health. If you don’t have a special heart condition it’s just something you might use not something that is necessary. Many runners look at heart rate monitor too religiously.

When I would strongly advise running with a heart rate monitor? If you’re running while pregnant as you must keep your heart rate way lower that before pregnancy.


Should I treat life as a sprint or a marathon?

Orienteering but without map and compass.

Who are you looking for on social media?

I’ve been shying away from social media recently.

Because I got bored and annoyed.

We all know that Instagram photos are not all real, most of them are filtered and for many people it’s a daily job so they work hard on light, angle and perfect shot.

I know and still I got bored of people who yesterday were normal and today they’re trying to sell me proteins.

So I stop following or paying attention to merchandise and I ask myself

Who do I look for on social media?

A lot of people I follow on social media are athletes, entrepreneurs or creatives so mostly people that inspire me, that are in the position I’d like to be one day. I look into their insights, I look for their advice and I’m jealous in a healthy way. What it means? I envy but at the same time I think how to get one day in that same spot they are in.

Then I follow people who are not super humans but make me smile and never fake a smile themselves.

Sometime though I have a weak moment and all I want is peace and quiet and I don’t mind being vulnerable.

That’s why people I follow must be authentic. If they show me 24 hours of their day or 7 days of their week I can’t believe it’s all smiles and roses. I’m not looking for drama so I don’t need to see your tears but don’t sell me motivational quotes all the time. Authenticity, weakness and getting up after you fell. And celebrating your victories.

You might say I look for a real life online while we all know real life is elsewhere. Social media are a huge part of my life so yes, I want realness on social media as well. I look for humor, art, information and opinion. There are no more boundaries between real and online life and we’d better get used to it and make online world better.

I don’t mind people having their accounts set like a pieces of art but that’s quite evident and you know what to expect. I don’t mind people putting some filters on their photos or telling their stories in a certain way.

Just tell your story, choose your filter, choose your soundtrack but be true.

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?

5 for Friday!

Podcast

One of my favourite YouTubers, The Lean Machines, have finally launched  podcast!

Leon and John are personal trainers and movement aficionados from UK and on their channel you’ll find great advice for training, nutrition and life. They have a great sense of humor and some distance to this crazy fitness world. If you don’t know them yet it’s time to make amends!

App

NTC, Nike training center. I used to train with the old version refusing to switch for the new one but I finally had to..the old one stopped to function. I shouldn’t have waited for so long! I use mainly 15-20 min long workouts for abs and legs (sometimes arms) and I really like the. The best part: they have stretching incorporated which means I can’t skip it..which I would always do.

Food

Oriental-ish, that’s what I would call many of my favourite dishes recently. Miso soups, ramen, lots of veggies, lots of spices. Last few weeks has been cold and I was craving hot soups. It’s not difficult to prepare once you got some essentials: soy sauce, rice, rice sheets, miso paste, noodles, fresh ginger. Cook your favourite vegetables in water with miso paste and fresh ginger, add your protein of choice (or not),throw in noodles for the last 5 minutes and it’s done.

Another thing I’ve been doing with my veggies is changing the form of serving: chop them differently if your bored and instead of salad wrap them up in the rice paper, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Most of the time the ingredients are the same, only the form of serving them change.

#lesswaste

Do you wash your face or/and remove makeup? I do and recently instead of traditional  cleansing balm and face wash I decided to go naked.

That means go for products without plastic packaging. Once more my beloved Lush came to rescue. First I go with solid cleansing oil ‘Like a virgin’

Like a Virgin solid face oil
Movis soap: loooove it

and once I removed all the dirt,makeup I clean my face with Movis soap. Both products are incredibly gentle yet effective, they have no packaging and easy to travel with. If you know any other similar products let me know!

Athlete: Latoya Shauntay Snell @iamlshauntay

I knew her already from Rich Roll’s podcast but her Ista Stories got my attention recently. She’s a badass woman and incredible athlete.

Actually athlete is just a part of her life; she runs, she writes, she’s a professional cook

Runner who is a living proof that when it comes to running it’s your will that makes all the difference. She fights prejudice about race, sex, prejudice. She struggles with more than that. Do you know what endometriosis is? I’ll let you do the research and think about it next time you’ll search for an excuse for not running.

she’s so fierce!

What are your favorites?

Plans for the weekend? Anyone racing or cooking something good?

Ayurvedic rituals in my daily routine

Ayurveda means the science of life. It’s a series of indications for your health and by health I mean both mental and physical aspects of your life. In fact Ayurveda does not make distinction between the two.

What you take in (energy, food, relationships) and what you put out into the world makes up your health.

From our Western perspective Ayurveda has more of preventive approach to health. In fact, in presence of a disease Ayurveda can alleviate the symptoms but not cure (for example a tumor).

I tried a few daily rituals from Ayurvedic tradition and I think I’m going to keep them. Let’s see:

Oil pulling

Sounds weird or horrible? I know, it sounded also impossible the first time I heard about it. Basically consist of putting in your mouth a tablespoon or more of coconut or sesame oil and swishing it for at least 5-10 minutes if not more. Then you spit it out, wash out your mouth with water. You should oil pull after washing your teeth.

Why? It supposed to pull all the bad bacteria from your mouth, prevent bad breath,inflammations and it’s anti-funghi. Ayurvedic medicine prescribes oil pulling for more than 30 conditions

What benefits do I see? It works like a good mouthwash but without nasty things you would find in traditional products: fluorine, alcohol. And the results last for longer-good breath and better oral hygiene.

I have to say that putting in my mouth solid oil and wait until it melts was not pleasant at the beginning but I got used to it and it seems so normal now.

Dry brushing

You take a brush for body and you brush your body dry. I decided to try once I was scanning my bathroom trying to use less plastic and I noticed how many body scrubs I use. I love scrubbing, it makes my skin soft and I like the sole process of scrubbing.

Why? Dry brushing is indicated in Ayurveda to help your circulation, moving the brush in the direction of your heart. It is especially indicated for my type of dosha*. I do it before the shower.

What benefits do I see? It helps a lot, in particular after a run, I feel it refreshes non only my skin, it keeps my blood flowing and has the same effects on my skin like a good scrub. I don’t buy scrubs any more so my plastic consumption has decreased!

Spiced milk after dinner. Some prefer a tumeric latte (a powerful spice with anti inflammatory properties) other like less hyped (so far) chai masala latte.

Why? Both ghee (clarified butter) and milk are considered a powerful medicinal food, adding a mix of spices to milk can help with digestion and even insomnia. I opt for plant milk and add a chai masala mix (cardamon, pepper, cinnamon, aniseed).

What benefits do I see? I often drink a herbal tea after dinner but spiced milk is even more soothing for my digestion.

These rituals are of course a simple approach to Ayurveda which is much more deep and sophisticated than adding spices. The more I learn about it the more I think it’s a true science of life.

Have you ever heard about Ayurveda?

Do you have a daily routine or a ritual that you’re attached to?

*dosha is a psychosomatic characteristic of a person, everyone has 3 types of dosha, usually with one type dominant over the others

Who’s afraid of the half marathon?

Are you a new runner or you’re already a runner but races are not your thing? Then you’re probably a bit afraid of your first half marathon. 21km, 13 miles, it’s not a bike ride. Even on a bike 21km is a good distance, imagine running it.

Well, I’ve done so many half marathons I don’t even count them any more.

Run baby, run!

And I’m still afraid of half marathon. Why?

Let’s face it, I’m a slow type of runner. Of course you can discuss that, everything is relative, my pace can be fast for someone or slow for another runner but in my standards I’m slow. I’m not negative, I can recognize my strengths: I’m resistant and I recover quite fast. Speed- not my forte. That’s why half marathons are a really serious test for me.

When it comes to running, the shorter the distance, fewer excuses you can have.

In the marathon or ultra everything can happen, you start at the top of your form and then, after 10-15 km something happens because it takes time to cover the distance and the load on your body is major. 10 km or half marathon..a little bit of strategy but in essence you give what you have,the faster the better.

Race adrenaline

For someone who used to race every other weekend (yep, I’ll tell you about it in another post) I ran not a lot of races last year. And I have to say it was good for me, last year was, from the personal point of view, really stressful and delusional. As a result I had little to none motivation to go out, race, ecc.#life You can imagine that in this situation standing on the start line with thousands of people wasn’t something I was looking for. #anxiety #stress #life

Now I feel better and my objective for 2019…

aaah, you thought I had no resolutions  for 2019? Think twice.

Is to do things that scare me. A bit. It’s like with exercise: a bit of stress in small doses is good, too much too often.

So half marathon it is. Or two half marathons. I’ve signed, I’m sealed (training hoping to be ready) and I hope to deliver.

What’s the distance you’re afraid of?

Are you preparing any race this year?

Are you more stressed or emotional before a race?

Any pre-race routine to calm down?

3 Italian marathons you can’t miss

Weather you live in Italy or you’ve been here on holidays you know it’s a beautiful country: each region is different, food and wine are amazing and people are kind.

What you probably don’t know is there are different running races you shouldn’t miss. I could babble for hours but let me introduce you 3 amazing marathons I ran in Italy that should be on your bucket list!

Rome Marathon

http://maratonainternazionalediroma.it/

Happy and tired..but how come my plate is still empty?
..and bring the wine!

When? At the beginning of April.

Course: mainly flat road race with some bits of pebble-like road (called sanpietrini from San Pietro, Saint Peter, a patron of the city)at the end of the race. Nothing dramatic but just be aware. What is incredible about this race is the beauty of the course:most of it crosses the most iconic places in Rome. The weather is almost always perfect for running and the arrival at Colosseum is worth every mile you sweat.

I ran it twice and every time I couldn’t believe it’s a race you can just sign in without a ballot. Just sign in and think later.

Around the race: best part of running marathon in Rome? The food! Go and have a dinner at ghetto and order fried artichokes. Life will make more sense afterwards.

Rome is in Lazio, central Italy. If you have spare holidays visit Rome and then take a short trip to Tivoli and Frascati.

Venice Marathon

http://www.huaweivenicemarathon.it/it/venicemarathon/

Tired and happy with my medal from Venice Marathon, best marathon EVAH!
Yes, it was a PB.

When? At the end of October

Course: I know, I know, you probably expect all ups and downs as it is Venice and it’s known for its bridges and canals. It’s partially true. The marathon starts outside of Venice and at the beginning you run along the Brenta canal but it’s flat and you can admire a lot of beautiful villas. Before the arrival to the city itself you see the industrial part of Venice, then you cross the Freedom Bridge (il Ponte della Libertà) around 32 km (and it seems incredibly long) and the last 10 km are in the Venice itself. 10 km of bridges, ups and downs and it’s a pure torture. Worth it, trust me.

Around the race: it’s easy to walk a lot in Venice but save it for later. It’s hard to eat well in Venice a s it is a very tourist town but look for ‘chicheterie’, that is small bars where you’ll be served popular and simple finger food, snacks accompanied by wine. I personally recommend “Alla vecia carbonera” or “Al mercà”.

Tip: book your accommodation waaaay before the race, hotels, b&b and all that stuff cost a lot in Venice

Florence Marathon

http://www.firenzemarathon.it/it/

Less tired not less happy

When? At the end of November

Course: has been changed in the last few years and became more flat and more ‘urban’ that means you can see more of the historic city center along the way. That doesn’t mean you won’t experience a bit of outskirts of the city. There are pros and cons to this; while outside the city center is probably not the part you hoped for (less picturesque) when you signed for a race but  it’s the less problematic,flat part of the marathon. City center means bridges, road that sometimes is flat asphalt but sometimes huge pebbles (like in Rome).

Of course the historic city center is one of the most beautiful you’ll see in Italy

Around the race: Florence is in Tuscany, one of the most well known regions of Italy. Make the most of it and if you can go and visit Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa. If you stay only in Florence take a stroll around the town, visit Duomo, Uffizi and taste the amazing Tuscan wines: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano and amazing but still under-rated white wine, Vernaccia.


Have I convinced you? I think running those races is one of the best things you can do in your running career. The views, the food and the wine are amazing, you don’t have to sign in for a ballot and the bibs cost way less than for the world’s majors marathons. Plus you can bring your family and friends along and all of you will have a great time. Win, win, win.

5 podcasts you should know

I rarely listen to music when I run (ultimately I rarely listen to music, I have to change that!)

but I always listen to podcasts.

This is the last post of the year so instead of hammering you with New Year’s resolutions which I kind of did last week I’d like to share my favorite podcasts of the 2018. I have a lots of them but I give you 5 because it’s a perfect number for Friday.

Check them out and take them with you on your walk/run/commute.

At the end of each show description you’ll find a type of run I’d combine:

For those who are interested in nutrition explained by a specialist  

The Funk’tional Nutrition. Don’t despair, it’s not an academic podcast. Erin and Kyle are both nutritionist who know how to explain the most burning issues about nutrition and understand that nutrition is not only about food but how we approach both life and our health.

Recommended run: uphill or sprints

For my ladies (and gents) who love cruelty free beauty products and a good laugh

Natch Beaut, a podcast by Jackie Johnson, a comedian passionate about all things beauty. What’s different about this podcast? This podcast is about cruelty free products and Jackie is a personality! I’m always for a good laugh and I’m quite sure that even if you don’t care about cosmetic industry you’ll love the show!

Recommended run: intervals

For those who love cinema and a good interview

Off Camera with Sam Jones. Sam Jones is a photographer who worked with many celebrities. Thanks to his unique talent to connect with people he manages to make great photos and great interviews. I discovered that many people I wasn’t interested in have a very interesting things to say (#life).

Recommended run: long run with steady pace

For those who love sports, adventure and new ideas

The Rich Roll Podcast. An old favorite that never fails to bring an inspiring content. Rich Roll is an athlete, speaker and author who talks to other athletes, doctors, scientists and inspirational figures. You’ll be inspired and amazed, trust me on that!

Recommended run: tempo run or broken miles

For those who want to change the world one step at a time

Ways to change the world Maybe it’s the Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s  soothing voice, wide array of guests (writers, musicians, politicians, actors) or in depth, meaningful questions but every time I listen to this podcast I feel compelled although every episode is a quite easy listen.

Recommended run: steady relaxed run

What are your favourite podcasts? Do you listen do podcasts or prefer music on your run/commute?

I hope you’ll find my suggestions interesting!

Once you’ve decided..new goals you should put into practice

New Year’s resolutions

Wait, what? Aren’t we supposed to give up resolutions? You’re right, resolutions sounds so 2010, let’s call them running objectives that is much more athletic and professional.

We run for new PBs, we run to be in shape and most of all we’re running because we like it, we love it, it keeps us sane. Our running objectives change throughout the year and we can have as many as we want. Let’s make a list and draw a simple plan so all this won’t seem so unachievable.

Run/exercise regularly

Not all of us are fitness junkies (WOOT?!) and we just can’t make it. Or can we? It’s a matter of priorities.

HOW? Make a small, humble and doable plan. I know, we all want to feel like a superheroes and that means running a half marathon like it was a piece of xmas cake but the TRUTH is that everyone focus on that big race, huge medal and pain is temporary and other glory related quotes.

Nobody tells you that squeezing 15 minutes every day into your schedule to do the strength work or 20 minutes run is the fabric that superheroes are made of (make a t-shirt with that phrase. Or pyjamas).

Once you’re no longer suffering doing that add minutes to your walk or run or add another session.

Getting fitter is all about controlled suffering. Once your body adapt you must make it suffer some more so it will adapt even further and you will become a badass.

Oh, you can’t do that?  I apologize, I thought it’s a fast course to become a badass.

Dat DIET thing

OMG, don’t make me even start on that, you should eat cabbage and drink only water with apple cider vinegar all day long! What do you mean you like pizza and fries and beer? Stop!

HOW? In a ideal world I’d told you to throw away all the junk food from your pantry (and give it to me, no food should go to waste). In real world I’ll tell you that if you really want junk food you’ll find a way to get it. Get that chocolate, one piece of chocolate and make it a good quality, same with peanut butter or premium quality chips. Which doesn’t mean you should have it all the time, just as an emergency. Before the emergency occurs, prepare. Get the whole bunch of fruits and vegetables you like, not that fancy kale nobody knows what to do with. Everyone likes potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, apples, bananas. Buy those and buy good spices or soy sauce, something that will make it taste better without a load of calories.

Don’t plan elaborate recipes, cook a batch of good rice or quinoa (it’s good, I swear, you probably cooking it the wrong way!) to have it in the fridge.

Supplements

Let’s face it, it’s hard to survive in this world without some support (wink, wink). And supplements, at least the ones you should care about, are still legal. Consider including some into your diet.

HOW?

Don’t throw yourself on million things before blood test cause some supplements might be bad for you (like iron) and you can spend this money on junk food (joke: spend it on kale or beer). What you can experiment with (all drug related conversations starts with this phrase) is (drumrolls)

vit D3 combined with vit K2 because there are high probabilities you’re not having enough of it. D3 means healthy bones and vit K2 put that calcium only into your bones and not into your veins (horror story, just take that vit K2 with D3, okayy?). Anything else? If you’re an athlete try carnosine monohydrate that will help your muscles recover and stay in top form or build muscles if you’re a gym junkie.

Cross training

I don’t mean only abs. But abs are a good thing to look at so..your choice.

Still if you’re an ambitious athlete you can’t just do your sport without well shaped abs, glutes and legs (ok, add shoulders as well) because flappy muscles are the reason you get injured and not training sucks and we get angry and hungry. And abs.

HOW? The tactic is quite similar to the running regularly plan with the small twist: it’s completely different. If you make time for running you should get time for doing your abs or legs exercises. But probably you don’t like it or you think that running will solve everything, even the world’s peace issue. The solutions for you cross training phobia are two: you make time for abs (see the first point of this post) or you take up a new sport. Swimming, cycling, judo..anything that will make you happy and make that muscles work! Choose your happy path, that’s an advice that will get you far, my friend.

I hope I gave you some ideas for getting better, happier and putting that resolutions into practice! At the end of the day it’s your will to change and some strategy to put things into practise that make that resolutions work!