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Top tips for endurance events: by Daniel Fontana and Elena Casiraghi

If you’re about to face an endurance race, there are some tips that I want to give. The first is to be “cheap”. “Resistance” and “economy”, for you have to become synonyms:

If you want to run a long distance, you have to be able to manage your resources to the fullest. If you have limited quantities, you will have to use them carefully, especially at first.

I often tell my athletes that the races are of three kinds:

  • The first is dominated by emotion, by running with the handbrake pulled a little
  • The second is that you run through your workout. You feel good, follow the rhythms that you have prepared, pay attention to the technique, controls the beat and so on;
  • Third is the real race, the one that tests not only your body but also your mind. The training allows you to get to the bottom, but at this stage you suffer and you have to pull out the determination and tenacity to not give up.

In other words, do not burn everything in the first few miles, start slowly, but not too much, take advantage of the trail but make sure you still have resources for when you have to deal with the last part of the race, the decisive one. Endurance is my field and I know from experience that you must be physically fit but also mentally, if you want to cross the finish line, you must learn to tame your head. In the race anything can happen, from injuries to the crisis. When I think back on my career, I believe that the majority of my wins were not big surprises: I trained in the right way, I came to the race at the right time, when I was in my peak form. I ran and I won. However, there are instances where I surprised myself, for example in 2009 when I won the second place at Ironman 70.3 World championship: During the race I was able to better where I never thought I would be, in the bike. When I got off the bike in front of everyone else and I began to run, I did not believe it as anybody else. If I was elated and I lost lucidity, I doubt I would have got the same result.

What I want to say is that whatever happens in the race your head will have to be there with you, aware and present. You’ll have to be reasonable and rational even when the instinct will tell you something else…

*based on the book “Dimagrire correndo” by Daniel Fontana and Elena Casiraghi