Training Notes: Italian mountaineer Alba De Silvestro
Will Ross, August 9, 2017
Swipe through Alba De Silvestro’s Instagram and you’ll struggle to figure out what exactly she does, or rather where her numerous athletic snapshots find their focus. In fact, her various accolades do have a focus, defined by the seasons. In winter, the Italian races in ski mountaineering, switching skis for trail shoes in the summer to compete in footed races across Europe.
Here are some her training notes, which are translated from Italian (original Italian version).
Where do you normally train?
I live in a small village in the Dolomites, so I don’t need to go far from home to workout. There are many mountains where you can run and walk, and the roads are not very busy and all the climbs are ideal for riding the bike. I would say that I am lucky to live here – even for my winter skiing, there are really great trips to do. If you are curious, just take a look at the photos on social sites to get you an idea.
How important is location for your training – access to land or facilities?
I do not use many facilities, I like to work outdoors and avoid gymnasiums as much as possible. I believe where you live is the most important thing. Living here you can’t look at the mountains without thinking of climbing. Also, in a small country like Italy, the activities you can do are rather limited so it’s normal to be passionate about doing sport.
What does a typical week look like when you’re home?
In both winter and summer, I am training from home. In winter my main activity is ski touring, but I try to also keep running and occasionally also put on alpine skis for the descent. During the ski season, I can’t also ride your road or mountain bike and keep up with the snowfall, so I run and walk. So a typical week is full of workouts but one day a week I like to take it easy and devote it to the relaxation of friends and shopping.
What kind of workout do you do when you have no time?
When you’re short of time, the absolute best workout is running. Getting ready for a run doesn’t take much preparation, and in even an hour you can get in a really good workout.
Do you mainly practice by yourself or with other people or groups?
When I’m at home I train alone but sometimes I go out with my sister who is an athlete too, so we often share the same workouts. I was also enrolled in C.S. Army last year in November, so we often rally with the whole team and train together in different places.
How does your winter training differ from your summer training?
My discipline races in winter, so I use the summer season to prepare myself for the best performance in the snow. My workout varies a lot during the year from January to April – during this period there are many races and it is better to rest between competition. In the months of May and June it is perhaps the hardest time because I leave a full season of races pretty tired, so the workouts are more relaxed. Starting from June onwards with the workouts until December, concentrating the bigger part of the volume in the autumn months.
How did your training evolve during your career?
At the start, I had very little to do with the world of competition, initially practicing alpine skiing during the athletics season, with some racing. Later I was offered to put the two together: if you know how to run and can ski, your sport should be ski mountaineering. So since choosing it as my chosen sport, I haven’t stopped. Now I am a professional athlete so I can concentrate to the maximum and aim higher and higher.
How important Is nutrition for you?
I do not follow specific specifications, and I love sweets but try to contain myself because I know that proper nutrition is important to achieve results. So I try to eat well but without uncomplicated restricted diets.
What are nutritional secrets, recipes or snacks that everyone should think about using?
I can’t provide any advice – just don’t eat too many sweet things!
What other parts of your work are important to your career, but are not specifically related to training? What is important behind the scenes work?
The training is undoubtedly the most important part. Everyone sees the races, the good results and great pictures and thinks that’s it, but behind it there is so much effort. When it’s raining and you’re tired it is not always easy to find the energy to do the daily workout. So what is behind the scenes is more hard work: we are not just pictures with sunshine and smiles, but there are also training sessions in the rain, in the cold where certainly you do not have to smile. But I know without a little sacrifice, you can not go far. But I love what I do.
If you were not an athlete, what would you do?
If I was not an athlete I do not know what I would do. I still have the passion for the mountain so maybe I would be in the same environment but without the races.