Sunday, December 21, 2014


It's Christmas time so get yourself something nice to read. I've read everything about running that's available on your local There were two books that stood out for me.

Matt Fitzgerald - Brain Training for Runners

While his training suggestions in the second part of the book are solid advice, you can actually stop reading after the first half. That's where the real stuff is. Forget about lactate thresholds, drop your heart rate monitor and learn how to hurt. Why? I'm no Fitzgerald so I won't even attempt to write about Noakes' theory.

Duncan Larkin - Run Simple

I love Duncan because he calls it what it is. He's not packing running in fluffy stuff to make it appealing to the data freaks or puts out dozens of varied training plans for the OCD among us. The only thing you could ever accuse him of is writing the book about something that - according to him -could barely fill a booklet. But someone had to do it. I'm glad it was professional writer like Duncan and not me so it's actually a very pleasant read.

My favorite review is the 2/5 he gets from a certain Alex Geller on Amazon: "The beginning is attractive. Minimize electronics. The rest of the SIMPLE is fairly complicated. The plans involve a variety of not so simple daily routines. Some of which have nothing to do with training for any run or especially a marathon. This is not a book that I would recommend to anyone who wants to start running."

And that's exactly why you - a seasoned runner - should consider reading it.

Friday, December 19, 2014


The last 20 odd years have been an interesting journey for me from a training perspective. If you would look at my book rental log at uni, it would show 80% rentals from the sports science section and 20% from law. Not ideal for someone studying law. I often wished I would have had the same curiosity about law that I had about training. In hindsight it was the perfect choice.

I went to a lightening quick transformation from trying strict training plans to adhering to more general rules because life got in the way too often. Plus, from the get-go I steered clear from coaches because no one else knows how I feel. By my mid 20s I was old school like a 50-year old, keeping it simple and just putting the miles in.

Given that this is neither a cycling nor a triathlon blog, I'll focus on what I learned as a runner. I didn't run growing up and got into it at 20 simply because I wanted to finish an Ironman, something that had fascinated me as a kid. I got hooked and was running as a triathlete but only became what I would call a serious runner when I was running out of time to put in 20+ hours to be a triathlete.

"Get to the fucking point", I hear you say. Agreed. Here are my personal rules to be the best runner you can be:

1. Run often
2. Run tempos
3. Run fast on the track
4. Run long
5. Race lots

Disappointed? You shouldn't be. Running is simple. Don't overthink it. While the above is stock standard, I abide to a few varieties of the norm. Those include the infamous FMP and 40-50k long runs. More on this in the next posts.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lifetime miles

(first triathlon and Ironman in 1996)

Once the GFNY month - by our predecessors often referred to as "May" - is behind me, I will be in Ticino, Italy and France during the months of June and July. There, cycling will be inevitable. But unlike the last four years, I will continue to run regularly which means every day I am not bike racing. In the past four years I would try to get one 10k jog per week in which I sometimes did, sometimes didn't. This year I didn't even try and just stopped running entirely from Boston Marathon to September. I hope to get a few races in, wherever I will be. Whether it's the Capriasca 5000m track meet or a mountain run, anything will do.

August I will be back in NYC and try to hit as many track and road CPTC workouts as possible. Plus, I will continue to race whatever comes along.

If you are reading this, you are probably interested in my training (if not, read this instead). I won't provide a training log or a detailed account of every run because I don't think it's helpful, let alone interesting. Please keep in mind that everything is relative and everyone is different. This is my athletic background, which puts my racing and training into perspective:

Age 17-20 bike racer maxing out at 20.000k per year
Age 21-29 Triathlete with focus on Ironman, training up to 1.000 hours per year, Ironman PB 8:59h
Age 30-35 Runner with focus on Marathon, PB coming down from 2:39 (Dusseldorf 2005) to 2:33 (NYC 2009)
Age 35-39 racing granfondos during spring/summer (about 7000k per year) and running fall/winter (about 2000k per year)

While I did race in the pro category in Ironman for two years, I was always an amateur either working or studying. Ironman suited me quite well. I lacked talent and the ability to win a peloton sprint to be a successful bike racer. Upgrade races usually ended in a mass sprint that rarely someone escaped. And if so, it was the guys who went on to pro careers. And at 6'2, 165lbs I'm too big and tall to be a good runner. But I was a decent swimmer, a passista and able to endure an Ironman marathon. Jack of many trades, master of none.

I had a training log where I wrote down hours and type of training since I was 17. While I rode naked (no computer) since I'm 20, I have been running with a watch until a few years ago. Nowadays I rarely wear one when I run. And after Boston this year I quit writing the log. I felt like I had stopped training a couple years earlier in favor of exercising so the log was no longer useful. I used to go back to old logs to learn from mistakes I made, to make sure I changed things and to remember what it took to get to a certain level.

But I do occasionally still take a peek at the CNN clock at Columbus Circle before and after my run.

NYC Half

Once back in NYC at the end of February, I'd like to be at the Washington Heights 5k and the NYC Half. I've never mastered the 5k up there and I no longer will but it's maybe the best 5k in the country after Carlsbad 5000. Being part of it should be fun and also help me to have a decent NYC Half.

Decent would be something like a 1:16/1:17. For some reason, the half and I have never gotten along well but I do like the NYC Half because when I fall out of my bed, I'm almost touching the start line. Plus, it has become quite a big deal which is great. I was signed up this year but sick the week before so I slept in, watched the first miles on TV, started last and just jogged it. While my time was certainly not enough to qualify again for the race, it now is quick enough to qualify for the NYC Marathon after the NYRR changed the qualifying rules last month. That rule change is a story for another day for a variety of reasons.

After that, I'm hoping to jump into the odd Central Park race and CPTC workout on Thursdays before GFNY month (aka "May") hits me hard and running becomes an afterthought.

In the next days I'll talk about the rest of the racing year leading up to the marathon as well as training. Just a general note: this will not be a daily blog going forward but certainly have regular updates.

Status update Markus: silence.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Let's talk racing plans

Let’s talk racing plans. My year is fully geared towards NYC Marathon but it’s the journey that’s supposed to make it fun. I don’t need to race to just stay in shape but if I have a specific goal, I need races to learn to hurt and stay motivated when the going gets tough in training.

I’m a competitive guy but I enjoy exploring on my bike as much as racing it and I’ve brought that philosophy into running. I’ve run every corner and grass patch of Central Park and enjoy exploring new areas when I travel.

My year will again contain lots of cycling and bike racing, mainly June/July but this year I will not lose focus of my running. I’ll open the racing season with two events in Puerto Rico: the XTerra 10k on January 24 and the SanBlas Half Marathon on February 8.

Why Puerto Rico? One of the biggest goals in my wife’s and my life is to be warm. In recent years, we hibernated in southern Italy where winters are more like eternal springs. Not truly warm but you can’t argue with the cycling there. It’s amazing. This year, however, we stage GFNY Puerto Rico on February 15 and decided that we want to be REALLY warm January/February. So winter basecamp is Puerto Rico.

Now, running in a tropical climate is hard, sweaty and very exhausting, especially for a 6’2/165lbs guy like me. But my body generally functions so much better in warm weather. Everything works smoother and the risk of a cold is much lower. I gladly trade the downside of less than perfect running conditions for a perfect living conditions.

I’ve never run an XTerra race but I assume it’s just a fancy word for an offroad run. It’s there so I’ll race it. The San Blas Half, however, is a big deal in PR and will be a great experience. I expect to struggle running within 10 minutes of my PR given the hilly course and warm weather but the goal is to get through without falling apart and getting some racing miles in.

Markus? I'm working on it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mzungo is back

Mzungo is back – and I’m taking it into a new direction.

Markus and I – Uli – created this blog in 2008 to provide African as well as all other distance runners a platform to boost their visibility and popularity around the globe. For four years, we passionately posted on all things distance running. We created the Mzungo Mile that was – and still is – bound for greatness. Others took the same concept and made it big (Park Run 5ks).

Life got in my way and the blog wayside. While I was busy creating Gran Fondo New York and GFNY World, my running turned into the stepchild of my cycling passion. I kept running during the winter and ran the odd marathon. My times plummeted from a PR 2:33 in NYC 2009 to a barely sub3 in Boston 2014 off 40 miles per week of jogging.

After Boston I decided that I wouldn’t run another marathon unless I properly trained for it. I dropped running entirely for the rest of the summer in favor of cycling but got back into it starting September. It somehow really excited me so I decided to give proper running a go again. I turned 40 in October which means I can’t expect to run another PR (I've been running for almost 20 years). I do believe though that I have a shot at finishing in the Top 100 one more time at NYC Marathon on November 1, 2015.

I’ll use Mzungo to write about my journey to get there because it will help my motivation. Markus now has his own blog but I’ll continue to try to convince him to join me here as well. He’s a very entertaining writer and even better photographer.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Interview: Running the dream - Tito Tiberti

New York City Marathon two weeks ago. Who is this white guy running with the lead pack and suddenly drops out at the 5 kilometer mark? Its Tito Tiberti from Brescia, Italy!

We caught up with Tito to get some feedback on his run in New York.

You ran with the lead pack at the NYC Marathon until 5k and then suddenly dropped off the pace. What was the motivation to do so? It looked like you went for a 5k PR. Looking at your splits, you then continued to run a 1:11 half before you had a nap on Pulaski Bridge at the half marathon before jogging to the finish, maybe with a friend. Was that the plan all along?

Well, it's been a last minute choice. Something foolish came into my mind and I told myself: “Let's make those guys watching at home jump off their sofas!” (I was thinking to my friends, parents and training mates). Seven days before the NYCM, I completed the Frankfurt Marathon in a good 2h24.14 (My PB stands at 2h23.09); I felt obviously tired, but at least I was in New York! I decided to listen to my coach's advice, so I wasn't meant to “push” for more than 20km. But I split the 20km effort in a 5km sprint plus a 15km marathon pace run... I went to New York with a friend of mine, who was trying to run his first sub 3h hour marathon. At the half marathon mark I literally stopped for 18 minutes waiting for him and then I started running again with my friend (Teodoro Zanardelli who finally hit the wall and clocked a 3h08.54) getting by till the finish line! It was definitely FUN!

How did you catch up with the leaders, assuming you started a few steps back? All-out sprint?

Wow, that was the difficult part of my adventure! For strange reasons I was given bib number 8902 (I say strange because I was 37th in 2009 and 62nd in 2010), so my corral was pretty far away from the elite runners. I had to find my space going in the corral with the 1000 bibs (I know I shouldn't. So don't try this at home!!! I mean, I passed “irregularly” from a corral to the previous during the warm up, but at least I'm sure I did not damage anyone). In any case I started at the cannon shot with a 14” gap to the elite field. I made the first uphill kilometer (I'm Italian, I'm used to kilometers...) in 2'48” without a proper warm up. That was an all-out sprint! Then – once I caught up – it was easier. Till the 4th km mark I was running quite easy (I'm a 14'32” guy for 5.000m), but when we clocked a 2'56” on the uphill 5th km I had to raise the white flag. I surrendered but I was happy being there.

How tough was it for you while running with the lead pack?

It wasn't so tough, as long as my thoughts were completely devoted to enjoy the moment. It's been a privilege to be among those champions even for only 15 minutes. When I began thinking I had to be careful not to make anyone of them fall or something similar, I realized It was getting tough! But it's been amazing looking at them running so easy at such a fast pace. May I say I loved Matthew Kisorio the most? He looked elegant and his coach Claudio Berardelli is a friend of mine as we worked together in Dr Rosa's camp (Brescia, Italy, 2006).

Did you get any comments or looks from the elite runners?

Viktor Rothlin seemed the most surprised with another European in the pack, but none of them looked worried, obviously. I had tons of comments and congratulations after the race. Running (in Italy) is considered a minor sport, even if there are 35.000 Italians completing a marathon every year, so my presence for a few minutes in front of NYCM field was considered an excellent proof, while – for instance – my decent 10.000m PB of 30'20” on track was ignored.

You ran a 2:24 at the Frankfurt Marathon a week before NYC. Would you have stayed with the leaders until half-way if you wouldn't have run Frankfurt?

To tell the truth, NYCM was in my program while Frankfurt Marathon wasn't. On a last minute basis I was included in the elite field in Frankfurt and – as I was feeling fit – I decided to try my best in Germany and then fly to NY for a holiday. If I would not have run in Frankfurt, I would have tried a steady pace race in NY (targeting the first Italian in the race, who clocked only a 2h27'). Unfortunately in Frankfurt I lost more than 2' in the last 3km because of cramps, and in New York I was too tired!

Will we see you in London at the marathon again with a new 5k PR?

Do you mean in the 5.000m race at the Olympics? I'm only joking... I didn't think about it yet, but I'm sure I'll have to run my track PB to stay in the leading pack on London Marathon fast course! I'd love to run London Marathon, but I didn't register on time and I guess I'm not good enough to be included among the invited athletes out there (not even for free!).

My friends keep having fun! As Mr. Jobs said: “stay hungry, stay foolish”

Oh, last but not least: I should have run with my beloved “volpain team” orange Saucony singlet in NY, but I forgot it in the washing machine, sorry Berty!

Thanks very much for the interview Tito! M.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ooh, you're moving too fast....

We are still moving, only on a different platform. will serve you with all that's hot in running exclusive via our Facebook fanpage.

Just "LIKE" us at our - Message from Mzungo Facebook Fanpage and be in the loop.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Birthday! Nike Swoosh!

A simple check mark established itself as a timeless symbol on this Saturday some 40 years ago. With all the submissions in place, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recognized the Nike Swoosh logo on June 18th, 1971. But what became the designer of this icon, who reportedly gotten only $35 for her effort? Reporter Allan Brettman of The Oregonian tracked down graphic designer Carolyn Davidson, who indeed only billed the company $35, or $2 per hour for 17.5 hours, for her work. An assistant professor at Portland State University and a part-time executive at Blue Ribbon Sports, Phil Knight’s chance meeting with Davidson, then a graphic designer major, landed her a freelance gig with Knight. After years of chart and presentation productions for Knight’s numerous meetings with Onitsuka Tiger of Japan, whose sneakers Blue Ribbon Sports distributed at the time. Knight asked Davidson to create something else, a logo. Disagreements between Knight and execs at Onitsuka made it clear he should create his own firm. But obstacles, especially the mammoth adidas, meant Knight needed something as symbolic as the 3-Stripe. That task went to Davidson.


Blog Roll - Reid Coolsaet

Nationals this year (June 22-25) are in Calgary, AB which sits at an altitude of 3400 feet. That altitude isn’t all that high but it will likely still make distance races a little harder (slower). In order to prepare for the elevation a bunch of us from Speed River are heading to Canmore, which is about an hour’s drive from Calgary. Canmore is at 4400 feet which is very similar to Sedona, AZ where I’ve done many runs while training in Flagstaff. On a typical run you won’t even notice any altitude but when you try and run fast on the track it’s just a little slower. It’s not like 7000+ feet when you’re gasping for air between intervals. I’m looking forward to the trip because I’ve never been to Banff and have heard great things.


The star-spangled runner: On your marks for the Los Angeles to New York Footrace 2011

"Treat it like a job" – that's the advice I need to remember this summer. It won't be your average nine to five. Going to "work" in the next few weeks will mean weaving through the Joshua trees of the Mojave Desert; scaling the peaks of the rugged Black Mountains in Arizona, battling across the windswept high plains of Oklahoma, and through the forests of Missouri.
But it's a good tip for tackling the epic task ahead. This Sunday, I will be in Huntington Beach in Los Angeles, with 15 others, for the start of the LA to New York City 2011 footrace (the world's longest, incidentally).
Three thousand, two hundred and twenty miles across an entire continent stretch ahead, all of which I plan to do on under own steam. Fifteen states; 45 miles a day; just the one pair of legs. In just over ten weeks' time, on August 27, I hope to run into New York, seeing the skyscrapers of Manhattan for the first time in my life.
You may well wonder why (and no, my favourite film isn't Forrest Gump). My mum certainly does. She hardly leaves Leicestershire. What's making me do this?


Get your kicks - NIKE LUNARGLIDE+ 3

Grandma's Marathon 2011: Schedule, Route, History And More

Grandma's Marathon 2011: Defending Men's Champion Withdraws From Race

Long-distance running generally is not a sport that lends itself to guarantees, but this one is pretty much set in stone.

The men's side of the Grandma's Marathon is guaranteed to have a new winner in 2011.

Defending men's champion Philemon Kemboi, a native of Kenya, has been forced to withdraw from the 35th annual running of Grandma's Marathon due to visa problems, according to the Duluth News Tribune. The withdrawl was confirmed by race officials on Tuesday.


Bid to con Wanjiru girlfriend foiled

Police in Nakuru on Wednesday arrested three people who tried to fleece a girlfriend of marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru three days after his burial.

The three are being held at the Central Police Station after their plan to lure Judy Wambui to sign up for a suspicious deal at a Nakuru hotel failed.

“We are holding three suspects and we are interrogating them to establish their motive for calling Ms Wambui to partner with them only a few days after Wanjiru was buried,” said Nakuru police boss Johnston Ipara.


Yuki Kawauchi Building Up for World Championships With 50 km Ultra This Sunday

by Brett Larner for JRN

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) became an international name when he finished 3rd at February's Tokyo Marathon, qualifying for the Daegu World Championships marathon with a time of 2:08:37 which made him the top man on the Japanese team despite an existence completely outside the corporate running leagues. At the recent Nittai Time Trials meet Kawauchi ran his last track race of the season before getting into the brunt of his marathon training, running 14:10.32 for 7th in the 5000 m in the midst of a typhoon. Before the race Kawauchi sat down with JRN to talk about his planned World Championships preparations. First up on his schedule is the Okinoshima 50 km ultramarathon this Sunday, June 19.


Blog Roll - Ian Sharman

Well, not quite to plan this time around. Comrades is always such an overwhelming experience and that was the case again, but this time in the sense that the race humbled me and left me heartbroken after spending so long focusing on it.

My race went bad after around 35km before even hitting the marathon mark and I could only jog from that point, losing motivation given that a sub 6h time was clearly not on the cards, never mind a gold medal for top 10. Luckily I perked up a bit nearer the end after seeing Kami Semick charging along as if it was the first few miles and with a shot of chasing down the Russian twins for a win. 6:25 was my final time, which was well off the 5:51 needed to get a gold medal this year.

But the real story, which I'm really glad I got to see first hand, was the set of amazing performances by the top Brits and Americans. Before I mention the names and times, I'll just lay out the stats of the course so people can appreciate how good their performances were.