“Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life. (…)”
- Haruki Murakami, "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running"
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional"
- Haruki Murakami, "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running"
"There is no evidence that people became more intelligent with time. Foragers knew the secrets of nature long before the Agricultural Revolution, since their survival depended on an intimate knowledge of the animals they hunted and the plants they gathered. Rather than heralding a new era of easy living, the Agricultural Revolution left farmers with lives generally more difficult and less satisfying than those of foragers. Hunter-gatherers spent their time in more stimulating and varied ways, and were less in danger of starvation and disease. The Agricultural Revolution certainly enlarged the sum total of food at the disposal of humankind, but the extra food did not translate into a better diet or more leisure. Rather, it translated into population explosions and pampered elites. The average farmer worked harder than the average forager, and got a worse diet in return."
- Yuval Harari
“What is best about our lives -the moments when we are, as we would put it, at our happiest- is both pleasant and deeply unpleasant. Happiness is not a feeling; it is a way of being. If we focus on the feelings, we will miss the point.”
― Mark Rowlands, The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death, and Happiness
"Eight days with a fever! I could have written another book ..."
- Honoré de Balzac, just before he felt into a coma.
Alice: “How Long is Forever?”
White Rabbit: “Sometimes, just one second”.
- Lewis Carrol
The purpose of life is not happiness: it is meaning.
In September 2015, after completing the UTMB 170K in August, with great suffering, I was already starting to forget the pain and longing to face an even bigger challenge:
Tor des Géants Endurance Trail - TDG 2016 - S01E00 - Próximo objetivo
Nothing short of completing the challenging and mythical 24,000 mD+ 330K of the Tor des Géants Endurance Trail in the Valle d'Aosta in northern Italy in less than 150 hours!
The trail is a tour of Aosta Valley following the two "High Routes" of the region, the Italian: Alta Via n.2 or French: Haute route n°2 for the first half of the race, and the Italian: Alta Via n.1 or French: Haute route n°1 for the second half of the race. During the tour, the runners cross 34 municipalities, 25 mountain passes over 2000 metres, 30 alpine lakes and 2 natural parks. The minimum altitude is 300 m (985ft) and the highest is 3,300 m (10800ft). The total elevation gain is about 24,000 m (78700ft).
I followed the race closely in 2015:
Tor des Géants Endurance Trail - TDG 2015 - Relato de uma prova seguida à distância
Then, on February 1, 2016, at 12:00, I pre-registered for the race:
Pre-registrations closed with 2544 candidates
The draw took place on Wednesday 24/02 at 18h00 and I was one of the lucky ones with a place for the 2016 edition:
Tor des Géants Endurance Trail - TDG 2016 - S01E02 - Sorteio
Unfortunately, my sports year left a lot to be desired, and in August I decided I was not in a position to take part in such an extreme adventure:
Tor des Géants Endurance Trail - TDG 2016 - S01E03 - Adiamento
My participation was postponed sine die.
Now that 3 years passed by, and I have already successfully completed a 100-mile adventure after a 3-year desert, it seems to me that the time has come for me to take on this MEGA challenge again:
For an adventure of this magnitude, I would like to plan 12 months of training, or roughly 13 4-week mesocycles.
More than the distance covered, the most important thing is to include a lot of climb, positive and negative, in training.
The ideal would be about 100K with 4,000 mD + and D- per week. But this is difficult to achieve as about half of the distance and almost all of the gap will be necessarily completed on the weekends.
One should also do muscle strengthening and / or cross training. Muscle strengthening does not necessarily has to be done in the gym, but it is easier to do it in the gym than at home alone.
As for cross-training, I would especially like to (re) start swimming training, because I am interested in taking part in Swimrun circuit events.
I consider that the first Mesocycle already includes this year's 100-mile race, as it was the success in this one that gave me the motivation to move on to a bigger challenge, as well as 3 weeks of (little) active rest.
(29, 30, 31 and 32 weeks of 2019 - 15/07 a 11/08)
One of the variables that is always important to control for is weight:
As usual, after the big challenge of the year, I feel the need to eat and drink without restrictions, and always increase 6 to 8 lb in a short time.
It is worth reading the following article on this topic, weight control:
Coaching “Race Weight” Intelligently: A Case Study
Another important variable is the amount of sleep. It is very important to be able to rest well: in my case, the ideal would be 8 hours of sleep per day:
A telling indicator of whether we are getting enough rest is the resting heart rate. It is easy to see that I have not yet recovered from my 100-mile race in July:
The March and April values are due to a peak of work and little rest:
In my strategy for preparing for the 100 miles of Ronda dels Cims, I focused mainly on completing a lot of volume and ascend at the expense of training quality.
Now I should start introducing more speed and power workouts:
After the very intense week of the race, the most recent 3 weeks have been active rest.
I should have taken the opportunity to do cross training at this time, but I had no strength or motivation to do so.
In fact, after such an effort of a 100 mile race, you feel like anything but running. And that's precisely what happened in these latest 3 microcycles: willingness to race: none!
Let's see if it returns now, because other intermediate challenges lie ahead, on the way to the Tor.
A little note about mesocycle-based training planning: A mesocycle is a training period consisting of several weekly microcycles. In my case, I chose to make 4 microcycles for each mesocycle. The theory goes that from microcycle to microcycle one should increase the load and intensity of training until after completing the last one it reduces again.
What is expected from the body is overcompensation:
Teoria e Metodologia do Treino
Good planning of intermediate challenges is very important for the successful completion of a XXL race, as it is not possible to complete train runs long enough to allows us to evaluate our condition for such an effort.
Until December I have nothing extremely challenging. But by April or June I expect to have something scheduled that will allow me to perform a test on my physical and mental condition.
My training measure, since I started training regularly in 2008, combines distance with altimetry as follows:
km-effort = distance (km) + 10 x ascent (km).
This is best explained here:
ITRA Performance Index - Tudo o que nunca quis saber nem teve vontade de perguntar
I resumed training in August last year after a hiatus with 12 very weak mesocycles (below 200 km-effort per week). For me a good mesocycle is one that is over 400 km-effort.
As I explain in this post:
III Ehunmilak 2012 - Preparação - 2º Mesociclo
The biggest difficulty is undoubtedly maintaining the freshness, both physical and mental, necessary to fulfill a demanding training plan. Recovery between training and races is not easy and lack of time induces the tendency to cut back on stretching and flexibility exercises, essential to avoid injury. You are chronically accompanied by pain: a poorly healed contracture, butchered knees, lower back pain, pubalgia, sore feet, etc ...
Much of the time, it is necessary to practice solo, and many hours on the mountain trails require a contemplative spirit and some dose of introspection. You must train in any weather conditions, withstanding the discomfort of rain, cold or heat.
Finally, constancy and persistence are necessary conditions, and if accompanied by some study, discernment and hard work, can also become sufficient conditions to achieve ambitious goals.
To see if I'm sticking to a good plan, I like to compare my training metrics with counterparts from previous years:
The average value of the previous seven years is shown in the black bar.
To make reading easier, I present the same graph but only with the values of my best year 2015, current year and average:
More important than the distance, for me the most significant is the positive climb:
My running philosophy is explained here:
Some useful information:
There are no qualifying races.
The registration costs 750€.
The Tor des Géants® will take place from 8th to 15th September 2019, with the start set for 12.00 on Sunday 8 September from Courmayeur.
Runners must complete the route by 6 pm on Saturday 14th September, and prizes will be awarded on Sunday 15th September. The maximum time allotted for completion of the race is 150 hours.
Tor des Glaciers:
Tor des Géants
Tor Des Géants® - ITRA
Certified Track - ITRA
Tor des Géants - ahotu Marathons
THE MONTANE TOR DES GÉANTS
RUI SEQUEIRA: DA SERRA DE SINTRA AO TOR DES GÉANTS
Running 330 km Through the Alps: Natalie’s Tor des Géants
TOR DES GEANTS: THE HARDEST ULTRATRAIL
Tor des Geants 2013 – Race Preview
TOR DES GEANTS 2018 RACE REPORT
Some isteresting stats in the following blog:
Tor des Géants: some statistics
Most people stay a bit less than 20 hours in the basi vita. Like the ranking of long sleepers indicated, the time in the basi vita decreased since 2010. The distribution of 2013 looks interesting. It looks like the people that would normally stay in the basi vita for about 10 hours have been trying to push their time inside further down. I assume that this are competitive runners that have learned from previous editions that sleeping as little as possible is the winning strategy at the Tor.
We see that people like to finish around 130 hours and around 145 hours into the race. They avoid to finish 135-140 hours into the race. In fact what we see is that people don’t like finishing at night. Over time we see that the fraction of finishers on day 6 has increased. This is probably not very surprising. What it means is that the increased number of participants (is has approximately doubled since the first edition in 2010) is mainly added in the back of the pack. That is something you see in any running distance.
The analysis follows in the next posts:
Tor des Géants: leg 1
Carlos Sá alcança 4º lugar, com 80h20'24''
Track of Tor des Glaciers 2019 (450K & 32.000 mD+):
"It strikes me that there are several skills necessary in these XXXL races that are unique to them and require deliberate focus and management to get through."
In the Really Long Run
PACKING FOR TOR DES GÉANTS - BY MATT DOVE
Inspiring stories from Tor des Géants and the summits around Aosta Valley
WHAT IT’S REALLY LIKE TO RACE TOR DES GEANTS
AnnaB's Race Reports
Tor des Geants -or how much can you experience in four days?
along a path
«So how did Bosatelli, the 47-year-old fireman from a town outside of Bergamo, Italy, whose longest previous distance run was 180 meters, do? What was his strategy? According to an interview he gave at the halfway stage, he said, “I don’t have a strategy, I’m just following how I feel. And what I feel is good.”»
The Tor Des Geants 2016: Battling the Giants
TOR DES GEANTS 2015
Tor Des Geants, Take 3 – Getting the Monkey Off My Back
Tor des Geants 2017: the Race I Couldn’t Quit
Tor de Geants Practicalities
CARLOS SÁ ALCANÇA 4º LUGAR NO TOR DES GÉANTS
TOR DES GÉANTS 2015
Interview with Alex Ouziel about TOR DES GÉANTS
TOR DES GEANTS RACE REPORT 2013
Running 330 km Through the Alps: Natalie’s Tor des Géants
The Persistence of Memory
Mountain Running – Tor des Géants – Nick Hollon
Cidadão de Corrida