Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No, i will not run in Seoul this Sunday.
Sunday I went out for a test, but after 15km I started to feel pain in the hip and getting tight.
Maybe another week of easy run would settle the things but mentally I am no more there... leaving the family for a week-end and starting not being 100% fit would be not a pleasure.

Now I feel incredibly tired, like actually after a marathon... 5 months of training in the heat and humidity were at no use. I hope that I can rebound back because at 39 years old, it is increasingly difficult to train so hard, coping with so many job and family constraints...

My best wishes to those who will be running in NYC, Seoul and other places next week-end. Hit your own target!

Friday, October 24, 2008

24 October

Run easy 10km daily from Wednesday, but I am not ok yet...
After 30minutes I feel disconfort in the pain.
I have also a terrible mental fear of feel pain again, so I run with poor gait...
The Physio told me to persevere with streching and manipulation that maybe I can recover in time...
Sunday I will go for a medium lenght run to see how far I can keep...

Unfortunately in Asia the decent marathons can be counted on a single hand's fingers, so missing it would only leave as next chance the other marathon in Seoul in March (Tokyo has closed entries last August..., I can not move from Hong kong in december to february, so Taipei, Fukuoka, Macau are off-limit). There is also an interesting Beppu-Oita Marathon close to Kyoto, but the entry requirement is a sub 2h30' recent time !!! (They can still have 200 runners at the start, the level in Japan is crazy..)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


as a morale boost in this rough moment, I can draw the comparison between the run-up to Fukuoka 2007 and Seoul 2008.

- KM done in preparation (4 months up to marathon)
2007: 1382 km (Aug to Nov)
2008: 1807 km (not finished yet) (Jul to Oct)

- Exertion in the 4 months build-up (from Polar PPT SW: a kind of score of HR x time)
2007: 6813
2008: 8207 (not finished yet)

- 5K XC hilly race early September
2007: 18'16"
2008: 17'44"

- 10000m track race (late September)
2007: 35'18"
2008: 33'54"

- 5K flat race October
2007: 16'15"
2008: 15'51"

it all sounds good....
pity that I did not make a single long tempo run or a decent MP workout...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


In this desperate attempt to recover, i will take 2 days off and than run easily until the pain disappear. Obviously 7 days of easy runs should not affect my fitness at this point, but before flying to Seoul I must be 100% sure that I can at least keep the distance...

becuase it was quite interesting, here an abstact of the physioterapist visit:

- he made me stand single legged, closed eyes, to see how I could keep balance
- different check on the rango of movements
- palpation, etc

especially the first check was significant, because he told me that I have weak buttocks and weak core, so I can not sustain the balance well and all together this put too much load on the legs and the muscle stabilizing the legs.
So, this is a good reminder about the importance of strength training and core stability training. Do not do like myself, neglecting it for too long....

then, some US treatment and deep tissue massage. The massage was so deep and so painful that I was screaming... I thought whether the final 6km of a marathon would look like a joke if I could stand that pain...

final, a demonstration of some stretching position to loosen up the muscle. He recommended me to just run 10km at most easy every day.

I am now following the recipe... finger crossed. Final decision will be early next week, after a "test" of 10km at MP

Monday, October 20, 2008


It should have been a nice report about the nice 135km done in the week and a good final workout, but in reality this post is about my hip...
in short, I am injured at the hip: the muscle that runs above the hip until the knee (tensus lateralis or something similar) is strained and inflammated.
Yesterday the long run has been a nightmare: I started to feel pain and that caused an alteration of the stride until the leg "locked"... so I jogged home (10km...).
I am afraid it is quite severe because at the end in the past 10 days just went worse and worse.
Therefore I fear that my marathon is really in jeopardy and that is pretty depressing perspective.
Honestly, after 5 months of training under this scorching sun and breathless humidity, I would have deserved a bit more luck... just 15 days to go...
The physiotherapist this morning gave me a combination of remedies, but with only 15 days to go, sounds pretty desperate.
What to say more.... I got the worst "revenge" for those small mistakes done in the past months:
- not enough core stability excercises
- lack of sleep, with conseguent fatigue of postural muscles
- not enough streching...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Injuries list

Honestly the major concern I now have for the marathon is the long list of small injuries and pains that are with me already too long.
I think it is the doom from the orthopedic who discouraged me from running saying that my legs were not suited...

A) sore achilles
- root cause: tight calves and too much running on hard surfaces
- not affecting my running at all, so I am not concerned. Sometimes I ice them when I remember about it..
I will strech more in the next 2 weeks.
- risk: very low
B) plantar fascitis, left foot
- likely due to increase in mileage and always running on hard surphaces + poor mobility of the ankle/calf
(Goes together with A) ).
- not many ideas on how to solve it: already got several suggestions here and there. I am a bit lazy about some of them. Anyway is not much paiful, apart sometimes nighttime
- action: massage + using shoes with support
- risk: low to moderate
C) right hip pain
- occured first while trying the new marathon shoes on a long run
- appears usually after 15km and does not go away. Stride is seriously affected.
- cause: the literature say some overuse + weakness in back muscles + inflammation of tissues + tighness in muscles
- action: I now make streching on the area and take Voltaren.
- risk: high... If it happens on race day, I am dead... I am really scared about it. Any suggestion welcome
(General suggestions on Internet and literature are: changing running surface, changing shoes, strenghen back muscles)

Monday, October 13, 2008

13/October - long and "mean" run

This morning I was 100% committed to make a long and fast run, whatever it takes..
....it took a lot....:
a) my daughter was sick and I maybe slept 7 hours in the past 2 nights...
b) to be back on time for work, alarm clock at 4.15am (well, anyway I was not sleeping anymore)
c) it was another humid day, luckily only 25C, but 90%rh

regardless of a), b) and c) I went out with very mean intentions: at least 35km with 20k+ at medium effort.
So after 10km of lethargic warm-up at 4'10" pace, I upped the pace and the effort to slightly below 160 bpm (80%HRmax). The Km were passing by fast, at 3'50" pace and I felt overall very well and very comfortable in the effort... even after 30k, it was still a nice going..
Total: 35km in 2h17' (3'58"/km pace..). That is like a projected marathon in 2h47'....
Average HR: 151 (around 76%HR max)... (Polar Running Index was as good as 89!!)

in short... it was a very mean run...
(a pity I could not do many of them in the past month...)

in shor

Wk 41 Summary

- 127km in 7 workouts
- 1 excellent race, that left me satisfied in full
- 1 excellent workout on Tuesday (4x4km @ 3'25" pace approx), total 30k
not yet a decent long run... and I have only 1 week training + 2 weeks tapering....

=> right hip pain after Tuesday's workout, appearing now almost every day after 1hr. I guess the new shoes strained some muscle. Hope it will disappear with stretching and Voltaren.
My major concern is if the choice of the shoes for the marathon (NB RC902) is the right one, or if they are too light and not enough cushion... next week end I will make a final test.

Some nice pics from Saturday's race:

- early in the race, still together - in full effort with 500m to go (I should have been at 3'05" pace...). Nice to see that I look smooth...
- the winner

Saturday, October 11, 2008

2nd on 5K race ... But it was very sweet placement

2nd place can be a bit bitter, but today for me was all sweet: the winner is by far too superior to everybody and I come home with a huge PB on the distance and great indication of shape for the marathon.
Let's go in order...
Today was the final race of the 5K series and the only flat 5K in HK.
The course is on a pedestrian road not closed for the race and full of twist, so not exactly a super fat course (last year I was hitting a pooing dog....).
Honestly, I was not very motivated to race because I hate running in the afternoon, it was hot (27C/80F) and I do not want to affect the training for the marathon.
I went only because being the last race of the series I wanted to collect the "goodies" and prize for the series and at the same time it is unrepeatable occasion for a 5k PB.
All said, I felt good on the warm-up and decided to use a passive tactic to follow the pack of runner at my level and just kick for the final km.
It all went to plan. After the start, the winner (congratulation Stefano for the fantastic time) disappeared fastand we formed a pack with my usual opponents (all guys capable to run below 16min in ideal conditions).
I just hang out there, covering every move and trying to avoid overstriding. The first 2k were tough because I was not used to these paces, but progressevely I felt better and I was not even at 100% effort. Felt very confortable, waiting for the right moment. With 1500m to go, I felt that the others were hurting and I placed my move, easily gaining ground.
With 500m, no one was closing by, so I cruised in good form to the finish line in 15'51".
A great PB, also considering the weather and the twisting course. I was not even hanging out for death, so there are other seconds to collect here and there...
As remark, the Italian domination in HK continues... Whenever we took the start line, either myself or Stefano win. Also today a 1-2 like last time ....

What would you do after a PB and before a marathon ????
Well, obvioulsy putting the time in the McMillan calculator or Jack Daniels' VDOT, right ??
They both comes out with a marathon equivalence around 2h32-34', and I also played a bit factoring the hot weather (2sec/km), the twisting course, etc on a time in ideal conditions.... But it could become really a wild dream...
All said, for sure I have the right aerobic power and stamina, I feel good general endurance, but lacking of something in specific endurance (marathon pace for long distance).
The answer in 3 weeks...
(I can not give a displeasure to Jack Daniels and McMillan...)

Flash news: Italiani ancora dominanti !! Doppietta 1 - 2

A Hong Kong ormai non c'e' ne per nessuno.... Continua I'll dominio italiano.
Gara finale della serie 5km e un nuovo filotto:
1o Stefano 15'15" (tempo fantastico considrerando i 29C ed I'll percorso piatto ma non veloce)
2o io, Roberto 15'51" (gara tattica, ho succhiato le ruote fino a 1km all'arrivo e poi allungato facile sul mio gruppetto)
Bravo Stefano, penso che I'll record di HK sui 5k sia per te fattibile (in pista)

Friday, October 10, 2008

10/October - Running Index

After the "Golden Week" of holidays for the China National Day, back to work for the factory. So I swap the "running camp" to Dongguan...
2 easy run yesterday and today, about 19km each. Weather was warmed up again, but obviously it is not so dreadful like in Summer. So the pace was comfortably around 4'05"-4'15" + some stride.

More interesting is that I extracted again the chart of the Polar Running Index and it looks really awesome.
I can not swear on the validity of the Index, but the correlation between HR and speed during the workouts makes sense as indicator of the general fitness.
Obviously I dot not think that gives any useful indication on the specific endurance/performance for a certain race distance, but at least makes comparable different period of the years or year-on-year.

All said, it is very confortable that my current level is much higher than the run up to my last marathon. It also shows the period of "stale" in September due to "heat fatigue" and mental tiredness.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

8/Oct - tired

24C/humid... worse than yesterday
I felt tired from yesterday's workout (unavoidable...), so only 13km at a leisurely 4'25"/4'30" pace. I guess also tomorrow must be taken easy.

Stefano: and you ? feel tired legs ? (relative to your potential, you took it a bit slower)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

7/oct - another great group run

Today is public holiday in HK (festival of ?? according the lunar calendar)
So I sent out another invitation for a group run and the response was overwhelming !! Even more fast runners than last time... Basically 80% of those in HK who can run below 2h45' for a marathon show up !!
Weather was great too: overnight the northern monsoon cooled down the temperature to 22C overnight.
It was all set for a perfect workout !!
Good warm-up alone, met the others and we had for the planned workout:
- 4x4km @ HM effort, with 1km easy run in between.
Being more or less everybody at the same level, we set the reference pace of 3'30"/km. My personal agenda was to maybe increase the pace gradually if the HR would have not entered in my target zone of 177+/-3.
What can I say ?
- after months at 30C, at 22C it was a joy
- a paceline of 10 runners going at 3'30" is a show in itself and it was mentally very easy to keep the pace in a group rather than alone.
So it was the "easiest" workout of the year to complete...
Here the numbers:
-30km in 2h10'
-Intervals (time/pace/HRaverage/HRmax/feeling):
1 13'50" / 3'28" / 162 / 171 / felt easy but it was the first...
2 13'40" / 3'25" / 167 / 175 / also easy (tailwind), but start the real effort
3 13'45' / 3'26" / 169 / 181 / stride a bit altered, felt like working at the right intensity
4 13'13" / 3'18" / 174 / 186 / we raced it... But I felt good, good sprint

Overall: with lower temperature, running is a different thing.. Felt really well and in control at 3'25" pace. Very positive. Maybe we could have pushed a bit more during the recovery to make it tougher and closer to a full HM effort.
Everyone was enthousiastic at the end about the great workout and the effectiveness of training in such a group. To be repeated

Monday, October 6, 2008

Wk 40 summary

- 148km in 7 workouts . (WOW.. it is my lifetime record for a week)

Overall: I wish I could have had several weeks like this... it was almost perfect in terms of quality and quantity of the work. The cooler monsoon helped a lot because reaching 15/18km in my "easy" days was really easy.
Unfortunately the hot weather in September really killed me and I have not done yet many really "high quality" workouts. The number of Km really hitting the pace has been very low.

I am really in doubts for the next 2 weeks on what to do:
- work mainly on quality workouts and try to become more familiar with "high" speed, even sacrificing the distance
- continue the plan as mixed endurance/speed, with the risk to have great stamina, but not mechanically used to the 3'40" pace...
I think it over tonight... (suggestions welcome)

Sunday, October 5, 2008


after yesterday fast and long run, I was expecting to feel tired today. I WAS tired..
15km easy @4'25" average pace.
Note: friday I did the silly mistake to run faster because I felt good even if it was supposed to be a easy run. That is rule #1, #2 and #3 of training... when it is your easy run to recover before/after hard workouts, do it easy, regardless on how you feel !!

4/october "the power of networking"

by far, the most enjoyable workout in my 9 years in China&HK !!
In the past days I had floated the plan for this workout (20km easy + 13km @MP) to my usual running friends ... well, the word spread out and at the starting point we were more than a dozen, with (incredibly!) 6 out of 10 of the best marathon runners in HK and the current 2nd best female runner !! wow..
The comment from E. was the most amusing: "I guess that not even at the HK Marathon you have this starting field..".

The weather was at his most awful, with an incoming typhoon: 27C, 90% Humidity, hot humid strong wind.
Honestly I had not recovered well from friday's workout or maybe the poor sleep, but I felt not really OK. The HR was way too high for the easy pace (155bpm at 4'15" ... no way in normal conditions).

Anyway in such a good group, the first 20km went out very easily: we were pacing 4'15" and any of us could pace the group for a while... ideal conditions...
than we started the most amusing section: 12km @ 3'40"/k pace (target).
Honestly, given my poor conditions and the ugly weather, if I had been alone, I would have simply cut short home...
Even at that pace, we were all packed and it was really a great view... while we were overtaking several slower runners on the cycling path, I heard more than one of them commenting in disbelief that all of us ("know faces" in our small territory) could be running together ...
at the end, we did the 12km in 44'50" (3'43"/k pace). Really satisfactory given the weather conditions. My HR was way out the target of 168+/-2bpm, more flirting with 175bpm towards the end, but given my conditions of the day from the start, I took it as unavoidable and it was good to finish well without drop of pace. No doubts about my marathon endurance at this point.
Total 35k in 2h22" and a real good running experience !!
My thanks to Stefano, M.K., Keith, Lai HK, K.T., E., S.F. and the others for joining !!

Friday, October 3, 2008

from now on, daily

because it is now only 1 month left to the Marathon day, I will try to blog more frequently... maybe almost daily update.

Latest developments:

- on Oct 1st (China's National Day), we did a great workout with E.
31km with 6x2km @ HM effort (target 3'30"/k pace).
Honestly something was wrong because I felt very awkward on the pace. The 3'30" pace felt too fast on the legs, but in reality the HR was barely touching 170bpm (so more in "Marathon" effort than "HM" effort). I could barely hit the 7'00" target for each interval, even if I did not feel it like a particularly tiring effort.
I do not know if someone out there met the same issue. I am not sure if it is due to still some residual fatigue from the 10k race or "too much" endurance training, without faster workouts.
From now on, I will add strides at the end of each workout to bring up to speed the legs...

- 2nd October:
easy run, 14km. Felt very tired from yesterday (understandable)

- 3/Oct:
the main purpose was a test drive on the marathon shoes.
I opted for the NewBalance RC902NR because the most similar to my previous RC600.
They are great shoes indeed... comfortable, responsive, good support for pronation control and the cushioning is decent (for a 220gr/7.2oz shoes).
I held very easily a 4'05" pace and also pushed for 2k to see the response of the shoe: 3'35" pace felt very easy.
Summary: 16.7km in 1h08' (4'04" pace), with 2km in 7'08" at medium effort (!!) + stride.

tomorrow Saturday, I was able to gather most of the best runners in HK to come with me for the long run !!! incredible... I guess at least 5 out of the 10 best will be with me for the long run with MP section !! (I feel some pressure now... better go to sleep early tonight)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Italians strike again - filotto italiano

This post is mainly focused on the Italian running community and the endless strip of victories in from August until now (obviously not all mine...), so I will write in Italian, for the benefit of the spare italian readers...

Forse a Pechino non e' andata alla perfezione per l'atletica italiana, ma qui nel Sud della Cina sembra un momento molto favorevole alla nostra comunita':
a Hong Kong ci sono circa 6-8000 partecipanti regolari alle svariate gare, con una punta di 50.000 per la HK Marathon e manfestazioni collaterali. Di questi solo 3-4 sono italiani, quindi una minuscola rappresentanza statistica...
E' quindi incredibile che nella stagione podistica 2008-09 appena iniziata, abbiamo vinto TUTTE le gare a cui uno di noi ha partecipato !! Da fine agosto ad oggi, una gara dietro l'altra !!
Le mie 2 vittorie si aggiungono le 3 di Stefano, che anche ieri (Public holiday per la Festa Nazionale) ha sbaragliato gli avversari in un 10km con un ottimo tempo di 32'38" (non male... era ventoso e 26C (secchi)). Bravo Stefano !!
Speriamo che il filotto continui ...