You are a very busy and active athlete participating in various races across Europe. What was your last race and how did it go?
I just finished a couple of unique races. One is called Farm Race in Italy where I took 15th place. It was a funny and ridiculous race with uncommon ‘obstacles’, such as jumping over hay stacks, carrying farm animal manure, even getting some chicken blood on my hands – all running like a farmer! Another race was an ultra trail run in Bolzan Italy at 71km length and 2.5km elevation. I finished it in 17hours. It was my first ultra trail race and I am super excited about both the overall experience and my result.
I am an athlete trying to push over the limits and give 100% no matter what extremities I have to face
The first one sounds crazy yet also fun in a way. What attracts you to the world of obstacle races with these unique events?
Just like everyone else in Italy and most of Europe I was a soccer player to begin with. I started my journey as a goalkeeper because I didn’t like to run much. Then gradually I joined the world of crossfit and now I’m competing in obstacle races. It’s funny because I hadn’t heard of obstacle racing before – one of my friends challenged me to do it the first time.
I am an athlete trying to push over the limits and give 100% no matter what extremities I have to face. Giving it all and at all times gives extra strength to perform and excel. I’ve also had some very unfortunate race experiences, which forged my determination to achieve more.
What was the most extreme race you’ve done to date?
During one of the night races we got caught out in the woods and had to literally survive a storm without any lights, with no shelter and no warm equipment. The harder it got I found myself wanting to persevere even more. After that experience I was hooked and now I can’t stop travelling and competing in various obstacle races around Europe.
Whereabouts in Europe have you been so far?
I’ve done a bunch of Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Polish and Slovakian races – a whole list of European lands. The toughest, at least of Spartan races, are the Eastern European ones. They have plenty of hills, mountainous areas with very harsh environments. Alongside this, the native people are more into the sport and have forged more grit.
For example, Slovakia has a population of around 6 million people of which at least 6,000 athletes participate (most of them in top fitness form, competing) while in Italy with a 60-million population only up to 4,000 commit to this crazy racing lifestyle. So those races in Slovakia are perhaps the toughest Spartan events there are, perhaps even close to the level of the world championships or the ultras held in the mountains of Vermont.
Let’s get technical. How do you train for your races given that you compete almost every week?
Like the majority of OCR athletes I run and do a lot of bodyweight exercises. Running is my weakest point, however I am persistently working on improving it. On top of that I do crossfit too.
What 3 exercises do you think are essential to be a complete OCR beast?
Pull-ups, dips and balance work.
How do you incorporate them into your training routine?
I like to schedule my exercise days into different segments. Some days I will do interval training and runs, and on others pure bodyweight training. This could consist of 100 pull-ups and 100 dips accompanied by proprioceptive exercises to improve my balancing.
On running days I split my workouts into the following training sessions: short speed intervals, longer interval training and pure endurance long runs. And lately a lot of mountainous and hilly runs.
I’m also a big advocate of staying active at all times and optimising performance via basic shortcuts, such as walking a lot. As a personal trainer I spend most of the day on my feet. My golden rule is to never ever take an elevator – just use the stairs and walk it. Those small bits do add up, trust me.
What about your nutrition plan?
I try to follow a high-fat, low-carb and moderate-protein diet. My race days are the exception as I tend to eat a lot of carbs before and after the race. This is usually rice with dried fruits and some protein. Other than that, I try to avoid dairy and gluten-rich products, since those do not play well with my physiology.
What is your true kryptonite/cheat meal?
I love sushi. It is a clean form for cheat meal, but since I’m an Italian who does not eat pasta or pizza, I need to somehow once in a while substitute the lack of carbs.
What are your goals for the near future?
I have completed several races in the same day and now I want to earn the whole trifecta in one weekend. I’m also hoping to qualify for the Spartan World Championships next year and possibly start a training camp and centre for OCR training in Italy.