Valentino is known for his relaxed and sometimes unorthodox approach to coaching – and for the PBs that his runners consistently achieve. Here he gives us a peek into his holistic training philosophy.
I am writing this article at just about midnight, while keeping guard over our newborn baby. My shift will end soon, and then I’ll get a few hours of sleep before going to work.
I am lucky that I coach myself. I had a good plan in mind to deal with the adjustments that come with adding a new (gorgeous) little person to our family. I am training for 60k ultra and I can’t afford lots of miles out in the trails. What I can afford are a good diet, good stretching and home-based strength exercises. And I am methodically going on with them for the 4-week training block.
That’s the best segue I have to the point I want to make in this short article. Training is something you do all day, all days. You may get away with living as if training is something that will take an hour or two a day, but you may not get your best results.
When I catch up with my athletes, we’ll have a conversation about life, and how life will be organised to get a good result come race-day. I like to know how many hours of sleep they get, what hours they work, what makes them happy outside of running (yes, there are things that make people happy besides going for a run), how much they sit, how much they stand and how many meals a day they like to have. Do they have big holidays planned? Kids? Increased work demands?
All of that plays a role in how much time we have to devote to training, and more importantly how much time we have to recover for the next session and the week that follows. In my experience, the best results I’ve seen in athletes have seen them to be on top of every little detail of their daily routine. Every little detail is geared towards getting the best out of every session.
There are people that can live their whole lives like that; think of a bodybuilder weighing every meal to get the right ratio of nutrients. I can’t, but I can do it for 6-12-20 weeks if it means I’ll get that PB I’ve been chasing for ages or that I’ll complete the race I want to do.
It all comes to how hungry we are for that result. And if you’ve sought out a coach, that means you have that appetite. Our work as coaches is to help you get there with what we think is best for the occasion.
On the same note, your race result will not be a function of just your current fitness level. There is a lot to think about and plan regarding nutrition, race pace strategy, what gear you’ll use and so on. Picking the right lines may save you seconds or minutes of your race time. (I did that at the 62k race and saved about 5 minutes)
Training well and racing well are not just about doing the workouts. You need to go about your life with your racing goal as one of the things in the centre. And once you’re done with that, it is about enjoying the rest of life until you’re hungry for a PB again.
Here’s a photo of my alarm as proof: