Motivation for training: two inspirational speeches by John Doman.

When the weather is cold, or the crucial race seems to be too distant, or simply if you keep on making questions to yourself, instead of giving answers, these two inspirational speeches by John Doman could be really helpful for your motivation, whatever your favourite sport is.
The first one is about second places and here’s my favourite quote: “Knock knock, who’s there? The guy that finished second. The guy that finished second who? Exactly…”.
The second one may be a bit more intense, if possible, even if too resonant in certain passages. My favourite quote is: “The only thing, the only thing you can count on at any given moment is you! It’s you versus them. You versus no. You versus can’t. You versus next year, last year, statistics, excuses! […] You versus the odds. It’s you versus second place. Clock is ticking, lets see what you got.”.
Again: enjoy.
Here you can find a list of my running-related posts. Now shut down the notebook and have a run!
Science and Training:


The hardest 400 m of the World: the "Red Bull 400".

Have you ever tried to run a “full throttle” 400 m? It’s bloody difficult. But…what if your quarter mile race included a sensible climb? Let’s say something like 37° of maximum slope. Let’s say half on slippery grass and half on the glassy concrete of a…Ski Jump! Pretty weird, isn’t it? Well, this is the “Red Bull 400”, a race held in Tauplitz/Bad Mitterndorf’s Ski Jumping facility.

With an average gradient of 45% and a nickname of “Highway to Hell” given by the athletes, this is probably the most difficult 400 m race in the World! Take a look at the video: aren’t you curious to give it a try?

We could organize a bus for next year’s race! Take a look at the official website, it’s an interesting collection of news and articles (they discuss, for example, the difficult choice of the right shoes for this strange competition). Just to let you know, the 2011 winner was the “Turkish chamois” Ahmed Arslan, with a time of 5’04″58. Keep on running, people!

Here you can find a list of my running-related posts. Now shut down the notebook and have a run! 
Posts about training:
Posts about races:

Trail running in the dark: 4^ Notturna di Sant’Antonio – Miane (TV), Italy.

Shhh…silence, please. I’m in the woods. On a trail. It’s completely dark except from the light emanated from my headlamp. Shhh…silence, please.
Can you feel it?
This race is organized from a small group of running enthusiasts, there’s no promotion, no advertising. It just happens every year, since 2008, and if you know it, you do it. Simple. As simple as the route: 500 m of positive slope, 500 m of downhill, 8.3 km the total distance; a gift for no more than 50 lucky runners, choosing a different way to spend their Saturday night.
The trail to discover during the race, meter after meter, is a typical “troi” (“trail” in local dialect), with a mixture of hard and soft slopes and a stunning panorama on the “Valsana” (“Healthy Valley”): it’s difficult to find such dark places and hence seeing so many stars. Something that makes you feel lucky and erases all the pain. But the idyll is roughly stopped by a silence-breaking voice, right in the middle of the second climb. A man that convinced his wife to come and run this charming race, suddenly says with a sort of dyspnea: “after this climb my wife will ask for divorce; I must enjoy these moments as much as I can”. It’s a good training to improve your VO2max: running uphill and laughing as a child! Give it a try!
As usual, for the record, I post the results, the GPS track of the race and some pictures of last year’s start. Keep on training, people!

Maurizio FURLAN
Alessandro SANTUZ
Alberto FURLAN

Running at 4000 m: the hypoxic chamber (altitude training).

Have you ever thought about training at altitude? If you are a runner with passion for mountains, probably the answer is affirmative.
But what’s altitude training?
Wikipedia says that “the basic concept of living or training at altitude is to cause the body to adapt to the lower oxygen content by producing more oxygen-carrying red blood cells and hemoglobin. This improves the athlete’s ability to perform work, because more oxygen is available to the working muscles”.
Why is there less oxygen at high altitude?
At sea level the air contains around 20.9% oxygen. On the top of Mount Everest (8848 m), too. Why do we say, then, that there’s less oxygen? The difference is all in the air pressure: at sea level there is a pressure over our heads equivalent to 10 m of water. At 8848 m this pressure is equivalent to around 3.5 m of water. The percentage of the oxygen is the same, but being the pressure lower, the molecules are less compressed and, thus, more distant from each other: there are few molecules of everything in the same volume. That’s why the oxygen intake is lower, if the respiration rate is the same.
Does this kind of training really improve performance?
Apart from the cool thing of running at 4000 m even if your city is at sea level, the results of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) training are not clear. As Prof. Dr. Joachim Mester said in his speech titled “Altitude training: on myths and methods” (you can find the pdf here), the analysis of more than 100 international studies in the last 40 years show:

  • “practical experiences and also controlled studies indicate performance enhancement effects, other do not;
  • acute and chronic hypoxia induce well-known physiological effects in gas exchange, hematology etc.;
  • performance enhancement may occur; it is, however, in onset, magnitude and duration very individual;
  • re-adaptation to sea level is quite rapid, the duration of positive effects is scientifically unclear;
  • the effects of all options live high/train low – train high/live low are not sufficiently proven;
  • criteria for individual input (training load at altitude) are often insufficient: High-low responders, early-late responders.”

One thing is for sure: training at altitude (simulated or not) is hard!
I tried two different conditions in three different session. The first day (06/01/2012), the chamber was simulating the 4000 m conditions: 12.2% oxygen (18.0 °C the temperature, 41.5 % the humidity). The workout consisted in:

  • Warm-Up (2.50 km @ 4’35″/km);
  • 1×1000, 1×800, 2×400 @ 3’40″/km, 2’30” recovery @ 7’30″/km;
  • Cool-Down (1.0 km @ 4’15″/km, 1.0 km @ 4’35″/km, 1.0 km @ 5’00″/km).

And here you have the HR graph:

HR acquisition of the 4000 m training (06/01/2012).
The second (09/01/2012) and the third day (11/01/2012), the chamber was simulating the 2500 m conditions: 14.8% oxygen (18.5-17.0 °C the temperatures, 72.5-60.5 % the values of humidity). Both workouts consisted in:
  • WU (3.00 km @ 4’35″/km)
  • 4×1000 @ 3’30″/km, 2’00” recovery @ 7’00″/km
  • CD (3.10 km @ 4’35″/km).

Unfortunately the acquisition of the first training is pretty bad, but the data are very clear in the second graph.

HR acquisition of the first 2500 m training (09/01/2012).
HR acquisition of the second 2500 m training (11/01/2012).

When the oxygen percentage goes under 14%, things are really difficult: the recovery time appears to be far useless (actually it isn’t, but my body said the opposite), breathing is difficult and HR cannot increase (188 out of 195 bpm, that is my max threshold) or decrease (150 bpm the lowest value between the repetitions) too much. For values of oxygen around 15%, everything is much easier and you can carry on your workout without any particular problems, even if the paces are slower than normal (the recovery time starts to be useful!).
Obviously if you train at low oxygen percentage, you should being constantly monitored: the oxygen saturation in the blood shouldn’t go under 80%, to stay distant from hypoxemia risk (the use of a pulse oximeter, a device that uses a red and an infrared light to measure indirectly the oxygen saturation of the blood, is the easiest way to stay monitored).

Blood’s oxygen saturation monitoring right after the training session.

For the record, al the data have been acquired in the Himaxx Center for Altitude Training in Berlin (Germany). If you have any question don’t hesitate to contact me! Keep on training!

Here you can find a list of my running-related posts. Now shut down the notebook and have a run! 

Science and Training:

MAMMUT® presents: the biggest peak project in history – "The Zuitas™" are planning their tour.

It’s official: our tour has been selected between more than 2000 other projects and we are now part of the 150 teams that will take part in the biggest peak project history! From 10th to 12th February 2012 our team, composed by 5 of us plus a mountain guide, will attempt the summit of Monte Civetta (3220 m) from two different routes:
  1. the first team, composed by Alessandro “Ale” Santuz, Nicolas “Nikla” Bellomo, Alberto “Ray” Vianello and the mountain guide, will ascend through the “Alleghesi” route, that in summer is a via ferrata of medium difficulty (it’s classified III-/AD-), but in winter could become far tougher (if the conditions won’t be enough dry, the Normal Route can become a safest alternative);
  2. the second team, composed by Enrico “Gere” Geremia and another expert climber, will attempt the summit through the magnificent NW wall, through a route of outstanding beauty, named “Viva Mexico Cabrones”, opened from Venturino de Bona in 2001, counting just a summer repetition from Alessandro Baù and Enrico Marini and no winter repetitions.
The meeting of the two teams on the top will greatly celebrate the adventure, hopefully in the days planned (weather forecasts will make the final decision).
Mammut ( has provided us with a great clothing-set: GORE-TEX® Paclite Shell® 2-Layer Jacket (the Rainier Jacket), a pair of trekking pants (the Fiamma Pants) and a 30l backpack (the Taranaki 30), everything from the Summer 2012 collection.

We’ll also have the chance to record the ascent with this wonderful HD-GPS camera (the Gobandit GPS HD Action Cam), again provided by Mammut:

Stay tuned and visit our official Mammut page to know all the details!

Alessandro “Ale” Santuz 
Enrico “Gere” Geremia
Nicolas “Conne” Bellomo
Alberto “Ray” Vianello