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Running up Mount Conero in Italy

Sitting on the sofa, looking at the grey sky and hard wind outside, daydreaming of sunny days and thinking back of my run up Mount Conero in Italy. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because it was warm and sunny then, maybe because I’ve been writing about it a few times lately. Maybe because it was a special run, a very special one.

Physically it was challenging, but the biggest challenge was mentally. Yet, let’s start with the physical part. It was June 20 2022, in Italy. That means it was hot, very hot. I left before 6 am to enjoy at least a little bit of the coolness of the day. From our apartment to the top of Mount Conero and back was more than 19 kilometers; in those days that was a serious distance for me. On top of it all, I had to overcome 813 meters of altitude. Up until today the highest climb I’ve ever done in a trail run.

Mental challenge

However, the mental challenge was far bigger, and probably just stupid. See, I used to travel a lot. I’ve lived in Australia, Nicaragua, India and Spain. I’ve backpacked through New-Zealand, Costa Rica, Thailand and many more countries. Yet, after 2 years of Spanish lock-down, in which we first weren’t allowed to leave our house, and later weren’t allowed to leave our village, I lost all trust in myself.

I mean I had no problem going to Italy, as long as Sara was by my side. She’s Italian, so she speaks the language, I don’t. Going out for a long distance on my own scared me. Yes, I had run around Lake Levico the week before, but that run was only half the distance, always close to our hotel and – as we already had walked around – a route I knew. This trail run was into the unknown.

Outside my comfort zone

So I had to force myself to go. I always teach that we can only grow when we step outside our comfort zone. This run was far outside my comfort zone; running in a country where I don’t know the roads, where not a lot of people speak English, up a mountain higher than I’ve ever ran up to, running alone, and running a distance I hadn’t run yet.

And it all went … fine. Of course it did. As always, the fear is inside our head. My legs did good, the climb was relatively easy, as it never got very steep or impassible and – as soon as I had found the start of the climb – the trail was marked pretty good. Especially for Italian standards. I even found my way back to the apartment, without any problems, thanks to the AllTrails app.

Now, whenever I have a big race coming up, I think back of Mount Conero. If I could do it there, if I could step out of my comfort zone there, I can do it anywhere.

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