Stefano Ruzza, an Italian in the USA

Stefano Ruzza

Believe it or not, the first time I met Stefano was a running and snowshoeing competition in Aosta Valley in Italy.

I think it was the winter of almost 10 years ago. And he was already one who ran fast!

Instead, the last time we met was in 2018 at the Monte Casto Trail (Trail Running in Italy, Monte Casto | EmigranTrailer), after the race, sitting around a table and talking about trail-running with Ottavio and Roberto, while we exchanged slices of cheese.

In between, through social and private channels, we had several opportunities to exchange our point of view on different topics. In fact, one of the characteristics that I like about Stefano is his availability and then his versatility of interests that goes beyond the trail-running.

In the occasion of the Monte Casto Trail, among laughter and jokes (and cheese!), I remember asking him how his period as an emigrant in USA was going.

In fact, Stefano is also an emigrant, as he has moved to USA over the last years. But, he definitively belongs to the category of “emigrantrailer” because he is also a “trailer”, being a trail-running lover and taking with great commitment and passion the role of personal trainer.

So tonight, we picked up the phone and we made a very pleasant video call Hesse (Germany) <-> Maryland (USA), talking about the current lives, some problems with his neighbors and finally concluding with my five TRAIL questions.

T like Trail-Running and Trainer

“Stefano, you are one of the Italian trail-runners who have always maintained an excellent performance and level. Moreover, you are also a personal trainer for running and trail running. How do you manage to combine your preparation with the preparation for your “students in Trail-Running”, avoiding to project onto them what, for example, is good for you?

“Well, there is no risk. I train in a human way, not in an exaggerated way like the professionals of the marathon. Therefore I manage to balance my training well with that of my students. I then had experience at home for years. In fact, I started to give suggestions, tips and training support to Eleonora, my wife. Obviously, it was even easier Because Ele never had complicated goals. So, my advices gradually changed based on her desire to improve. In fact, one of the most important things to understand if you train someone, is that everyone has their own training plan, based on their level, their sporting history and their goals“.

“The fact of being an athlete and a coach I see more of an advantage than a disadvantage, because I can understand more quickly the feedback I receive”.

R like Readings

“Stefano, you are a guy who likes to read and write. What are three sports books that have most impressed you?”

“Oh, it is difficult for me to answer. I really like a lot of them. I would say sports biographies in principle. Then I could tell you the first book by Killian (Kilian Jornet Burgada),”Run or Die. I also loved the book by Tyler Hamilton, “The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs“, for the clarity with which he talks about the rotten part of international cycling. Surely the book “Resisto dunque sono” by Pietro Trabucchi that I read when I started doing ultra trail and it was fundamental to get closer to this world. Finally, I also like the books by alpinists like Reinhold Messner, Walter Bonatti, Simone Moro, Herve Barmasse or Dennis Urubko, because they also talk about the artistic rather than the performance side of mountaineering“.

A like Amazing

“Your UTMB race (UTMB® (utmbmontblanc.com)) in 2018 was just….amazing! Your final result (7th place overall) did not come by chance, but it is the result of so much experience, between failures and successes, between mistakes and improvements, which you have never hidden and that you mentioned in your book Fallire e riuscire all’UTMB. Was that your best race?

“I would say “yes” even if I have done many others very well. For example I was very happy with how I ran the Trans D’Havet – Home some years ago (2013, European championship, 7th place overall, 1st Italian) and the Ultra Trail Lago d’Orta – UTLO (ultratraillo.com) in 2019 (3rd place overall). And there have been other very beautiful ones, especially many races between 50 and 80 km long where I got the victory, but above all where I have run without any issues or crisis, a confirmation for me of the right way to manage myself over these distances. Here in general for me the result is important, but it is even more important if I am satisfied with the psycho-physical management of the race. And at UTMB 2018 I know now that something could have been improved :-)”.

I like Improvements

“Ok, therefore what are Stefano Ruzza’s margins of improvements? What is this American experience giving you more in Trail-Running?”

“I start from the second question. The American trails are certainly more runnable. I do not know how useful they will be for the European races. But they certainly allow me to maintain a good base speed level. Improvements? I am now of a certain age. So going faster than that is difficult. Certainly, with experience I can still improve on a more meticulous preparation to reduce the risks of not having a satisfactory race. Moreover, in very long races, I can improve in rhythm management and certainly in nutrition”.

L like Lockdown

“In recent months, following some of my analyzes on the Covid-19 numbers (COVID-19 (Corona Virus) | EmigranTrailer), we have had the opportunity to exchange views on the different situations in Italy, Germany and USA. And of course, on the different Lockdowns. How much did all this impact you and did you manage to find a good balance?

“Well, the first few weeks were difficult, but having the hope of a temporary event it was possible to manage them. Then when everything seemed out of control, I must admit that I lost a bit of motivation. I never stopped training, but I was unmotivated. Then in parallel the pandemic affected my work as a trainer. Without competitions, many obviously suspended their collaboration with me. Fortunately, after summer 2020, things went better. In recent months here in America there has been a tendency to restart various activities. I can say that so far my training has not suffered any impact and I expect to have a good race at Ultra Race of Champions- UROC (ultraroc.com) in a couple of weeks”.

“And I also wish it for you! Thanks again Stefano”.

Additional information about Stefano

In case you would like to contact Stefano for more detailed information about his being an “emigrantrailer” in the United States, it is useful to know that:

Other short chats with “Emigrantrailers” around the world at the link: Emigrantrailers around the world | EmigranTrailer.

Enjoy Trail-Running!

Andrea De Filippo

Original post in english language. For other languages, please open with a web browser (i.e. Chrome) and apply the automatic translation.

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