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    Roberto Mandje: Lessons from the Road


    The past few months have been a bit of a roller coaster. The last few years had been dedicated towards making my 2nd Olympic Team. The stress and pressure of competing & training at such a high level can sometimes take its toll on the body long before the mind has felt the effects. Such was the case with me. Early in the spring season I suffered a small “niggle” around my right ankle. I only made things worse by continuing to train and race on it. Hindsight is 20/20, so fast-forward a few months and the small “niggle” had turned into a full-blown injury that I was desperately trying to combat while racing to make the Olympic deadline. Long story short, I ended up having to pull out of my Olympic bid, despite already being nominated by my federation. Tough pill to swallow, but a lesson well learned, that I’ll carry with me forward in the seasons and years to come. Rio 2016 is now the next Olympic on the horizon, but before that, there’ll be loads of World Championships, Road Races and even a Marathon debut! 


                That brings us to now, late September 2012. After a few weeks off from training and a ton of treatment, my Achilles/ankle is finally back to 100%. I’ve commenced training and I’m happy to say my fitness is coming along well. On September 9th, I jumped into a 10 mile trail race in order to gauge my fitness and experiment with longer races. The longest I’ve raced has been a half marathon, so 10 miles is still a long way for someone used to racing 1500 – 3000meters on the track! 


    The race started at 7AM with a chilly 45degrees temperature. Sporting my trusty Point6 compression socks, I took off and attempted to run within myself. Racing at altitude is a lot tougher than training at it, especially if you’re –like me- a “low-lander” (Barcelona = sea level). I was happy to run within myself and come away with the victory in a respectable time. My first race since the Olympic chase went well and left me hungry for the fall/winter racing season. 


    While summer is by far my favorite season, I do enjoy racing during the fall/winter months. That has traditionally meant cross country and road races. This season won’t be any different. My pending schedule for the moment will see me racing the Rock & Roll Half Marathon in Los Angeles on October 28th. A little over 5 weeks later I plan on toeing the line at the Xterra World Championships in Hawaii for the 21.1K trail champs (http://www.xterraplanet.com/xduro/championship.html). It’ll be a completely new (and TOUGH!) challenge, but I’m excited to tackle a new challenge as I build up towards a potential Marathon debut in early 2013. 


                So as you can see, there are a lot of exciting races coming up in the next few months. As the season changes and the weather cools, I must also start preparing mentally/physically for chillier/muddier/wetter runs. As the days get shorter, I must make sure I structure my training days a lot better. Whereas in the summer I can be a bit more laid back with the luxury of longer days, in the fall/winter I must make sure I maximize the daylight (and heat) available. 


    A typical day will see me leaving the house at 9AM for the day’s first workout (vs 10AM or so in the summer). In the summer I might fly out the door shirtless, only wearing a pair of shorts, trainers and my trusty Point6 “no show” or “ultra light micro” socks. They breathe well and are ever so light! In the cooler season however, I’ll head out the door with a long sleeve or jacket and thicker/longer socks. These could be ¾ light running crew socks or the “light mini crew”. As I’ve mentioned earlier I have my trusty Point6 compression socks, so those I sport all year around, although I usually reserve them for special workouts or races. 


    I’m usually back home by 10 or 11, at which point I’ll rest for a bit, catch up on some e-mails, ring the family overseas, have lunch and then get ready for the day’s 2nd workout. This could be a trip to the gym or a secondary run. Although typically on Monday/Wednesday & Friday I will have two runs and a trip to the gym. That is a lot of running around, a lot of changing up of clothing and going through a lot of socks! 


    I thoroughly enjoy running around the myriad of trails Boulder has to offer. Typically when I run trails, I’ll make a conscious effort –regardless of time of year- to wear heavier/higher socks. This is in part due to the extra support I feel they add, as well as to protect my ankles/shins a bit more from the overgrown bushes/twigs that I tend to zoom by. This is usually when I get to really enjoy the vast array of Point6 socks I have, as I can go out the door in a “lifestyle” or “active” sock such as the “active medium mini crew” or “active light crew”.  Much like different surfaces and races require different type of shoes, I find different runs (length/terrain/intensity) will require different socks. 


    So there you have it, I’ve hopefully brought you all up to speed on what’s been going on as well as given you a quick glimpse into a typical day. Thanks for reading and remember… “Happy feet = Happy Running”.