Training Notes: Ultra-distance trail runner Dioni Gorla

, September 8, 2022

Based out of Innsbruck in Austria, Dioni Gorla is one of Europe’s most competitive trail runners, recently taking a 7hr 13min result in Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB). Gorla toggles between 20km and 50km distances, and has graduated through the ranks with the help of a backyard with challenging terrain. This interview outlines some fo the practical aspects to training and nutrition – a handy primer to frame your own weekly mileage, training zones and dietary options.

Where do you normally train?
Usually, I train on my home trails at the Nordkette mountain range, right on my doorstep. There are pretty trails and awesome views down to Innsbruck!

How important is location for your training – access to terrain or facilities?
I’m very glad that I live in the beautiful city of Innsbruck, which is located directly in the mountains. I have just 500m to the trails and then, if I want, I can do 2000 vertical meters in one push.

What does a typical week look like when you’re at your home base?
I’m training 12-20 hours per week and my training plan depends on what race I have soon after. My week includes 100-140k running with 3000-7000 vertical meters,  2-3 hours cycling and also 1-2 hours strength training. After every session, I do 10-15min stretching to avoid stiffness in the body. On recovery days, I also do some yoga to relax body and mind.

What kind of training do you do when you’re short of time?
My everyday training is according to a training plan, so even when I have a busy day, I just wake up earlier to do the session. But, a short loop on my home trails in the forest or also a flat run near the city river is pretty nice.

Do you mainly train alone or with other people or groups?
Mostly, I’m training alone, but I also love to run or cycle together with friends.

How does your winter training differ from your summer training?
In winter, 60% of my endurance training is running and 40% is ski mountaineering. Because of the snow in the mountains I run more on the road, but also a lot of interval sessions are on the track. In the base training phase, I do a lot of strength training in the gym as well.

How has your training evolved in the course of your career?
Some years ago, I used to train too hard and too fast. Even the ”easy’’ sessions were not easy enough. For two years now, I have a coach again and now I train with 80/20 style: 80% easy Zone 1-Zone 2 Heart Rate and 20% hard in Zone 4-Zone 5 Heart Rate. 

How important is nutrition for you?
Healthy nutrition takes an important role in my life. In general, I follow a vegetarian diet and whole food and regional biological products are very important to me.

What are your nutrition secrets, recipes or snacks that everyone should think about using?
I really love berry porridge for breakfast that gives me the power for the day. Also, a go-to meal that gives energy after a hard session is a Quinoa bowl with veggies, avocado and eggs. And for dessert, a tasty piece of homemade banana bread is just perfect!

What other parts of your work are important for your career, but aren’t specifically to do with training? What is important “behind-the-scenes” work?
Quality time with friends in nature gives me the right recovery and the energy back to optimize my performance. But also, social media takes also a big part in my career and getting creative there is a lot of fun.

If you weren’t a professional athlete, what would you be doing?
Trying maybe more other sports, but I’m sure that running would be still the no. #1!

Find Dioni Gorla on Instagram and Strava. Header image: Ian Corless at UTMB 2022