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Dion Finocchiaro: Marathon Man of 2018

Dion Finocchario is a Melbourne based Marathon and Ultra marathon runner.

He has an impressive range of P.B's and over the past few years he has become a consistent performer across the road racing circuit of Australia.

Yuki Kawauchi is a runner from Japan, entering many races each year (averaging a marathon per month) ranging in distance from the 1500 m to the 50 km ultramarathon. In 2018, he won the Boston Marathon.

Dion's PBs include:

• 1500m = 4:01.05

• 5km = 14:54

• 10km = 31:29

• 21.1km = 1:09.06

• 42.2km = 2:25.03

• 100km = 7:08.37.

However what has captured the Australian running world's attention has been Dion's 2018 racing campaign, which has included a staggering 10 races, 3 podiums,

Dion's busy start to the year.

We sat down with Dion to get an insight into his season so far and in particular his goals for the rest of the year.

Thanks for your time, I am sure time is a precious commodity for you!

How do you fit it all in? What sort of mileage and hours are you putting into training and racing?

Thanks for having me. My mileage can change quite dramatically. It usually depends on what events I have coming up. But recently, having ran quite a few races and marathons, its been below my usual amount of running. If I am training consistently and not racing too many marathon races, I can generally train around the 180-220km per week. 

I am lucky with my job as a massage therapist that I can create a flexible working schedule so I can often plan in advance what days I’ll have to train more and which days I’ll have to run both of my runs in the 1 run. 

So far, for me, its working. Its definitely better hours compared to when I was a chef for 50+hrs a week. Plus its a lot more rewarding work too!

You are focussed on racing the Gold Coast Marathon at the end of the month, what is the goal, and how do you run the race?

I would be lying if I didn’t say I want to get a better marathon PB. So I’d be happy to get a 2:24 guy and anything faster will be a bonus. I’ll just have to wait for the day to see what conditions are thrown at us and find a good group to run with. If there is a 2:20 group, I’ll probably sit back. But if there isn’t a group faster than 2:25 pace, it could be a lonely day.

In terms of hydration and fuelling in your marathons, can you share what you consume in a race and how often?

Good question. While it can be so different for so many people. I have been playing around with my nutrition during races recently and have found that 4 gels (Hammer Nutrition, Nocciola flavour) mixed between 6 pop-top bottles will get me through a marathon feeling like I could run an extra km if I had to. So I’l aim to get one in every 5km. Often I'll try to take on some flat coke towards the end as well.

When things get tough in the marathon, are there any mental strategies that you employ to help you?

I often look for really small and achievable goals. I’ll try to run to the next km, the next corner, the next witches hat, the next runner or try not to be passed by another runner. I’ll reflect back on my training and my long runs. Generally, its not the distance that scares me, its the speed at which I have to run to achieve my goal.

I’ll have my watch face showing me my elapsed time, lap pace (5km split) and lap distance. So I’ll never actually what my real time face or overall average are until the end. I find that helps too.

Dion battling it out along the Great Ocean Road Marathon in May. Also pictured, Julian Spence (eventual winner), John Dutton and Pete Kerr.

What is your favourite training session and location?

For me, the toughest I’ve ever done is a long run session. 20km easy then 5x 2km progressive (4:00, 3:50, 3:40, 3:30, 3:15/km) with a 2km jog. 41km all up but it felt much harder than a marathon towards the end. I was totally stuffed!

Here’s a link to it here: I’ve found that 3 x 400, 800, 1600 a really tough session. I used to target 3-5km pace for the 400’s, 10km pace for the 800’s and HM pace for the 1600m.

Another tough session that I find really tough are long tempo session longer than 5km. Probably something I could spend more time training at.

What motivates you to get out the door in the cold mornings of winter?

Are there any tips for other runners who are finding it a grind!

I try to go to a new location when motivation is dropping off. Just the past few weeks I have done this during the cold mornings for my mid week long runs. It was a big help. I also commit to group runs, sessions, races and I’ll generally get out the door more often than not. I won’t do too many runs in the same spot too often and will often tune into a podcast when I can too.

You have a big following on strava, posting every session you do throughout the week.

How important is knowing the data such as heart rate and pace for you, and how do you use it?

I find that all of the data from Strava/Garmin is really useful. I don’t pay too much attention to my heart rate in tough sessions but its great to have that data to look at afterwards. The wrist monitor I don’t hold very accountable so I always run with my chest strap which has only rarely been slightly off.

I also like the use of the lap split workout so I can do any workout on any terrain or distance and still get a really good reading of what my session way and the break down of the data too.

For easy running, I’ll take note of my heart rate so I don’t push too hard. Its also a good sign that you’re recovering well from sessions if your heart rate is still low after a big day or weekend.

You have just been selected as part of the Australian 100km Championships, how will you prepare for this event?

I will aim to prepare quite similarly to when I made the team in 2016. I’ll have a few double long runs over Saturdays and Sundays. Saturday will be an easier, more aerobic run and the Sunday will be more specific to running closer to my 100km goal pace (4:00 pace).

My weekend may look something like 40-60km easy on the saturday and 30-50km on the Sunday at a faster pace and possibly some marathon pace work too.

But with only 9 weeks between Gold Coast Marathon and the 100km WC, it will be a short/ fast progression to ultra training.

Finally, do you have any tips for those hoping to achieve a new P.B in their chosen event?

I think mixing up your events can be really revitalising to your running. Earlier this year I ran my first 1500m and mile races and was pleasantly shocked at how well I did considering my lack of speed

training. Join a group of people to train with and always try to have a reason for your run. For me, its because I love it and use it as my meditation. And am now in a position to try and take it further. Never forget what brought you into running.

Dion, thanks for your time and good luck for the rest of the years races!

Dion is sponsored by 2XU, Hammer Nutrition, and Physio@Sandringham

Follow him here on Instagram and Strava

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