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Run Into The DMs: Alessandro Locatelli

We sat down with Alessandro Locatelli, ultra runner and podcaster, and talked about his relationship with Strava and how, his podcast, Buckled changed his connection with trail running.

Alessandro moved out from Milan to Veneto where he lives with his wife, Sara, and their two dogs in the shadow of Cima Grappa. He got stuck into running 10 years ago when they told him the famous lie: you only need a pair of shoes. When he is not running he spends his free time designing and printing things, recording his voice, and burning money on projects he can't keep up with - sic.

Let's start from the basics, how is your training going?

I would like to be able to wave my mileage in January as I did every year for the last ten, but in reality, I have been carrying around a few little problems for almost a year now, so I alternate between times when I manage to train decently and times when I see the physiotherapist more than my mother. Without immediately falling into the classic leitmotif of getting older, I think my body is presenting me with the bill for the last few years spent running without doing anything else: if I had one euro for every person who advised me to do exercises to fix my deficiencies (among many, I belong to the club of the single weak gluteus) I would have at least three euros. In short, as in racing, everything is experience, so in recent months I have decreased the training load and am trying to fix myself.

Now I don't watch my own activity, I don't watch what other people are doing and above all, I enjoy the slow rides.

When you uploaded your first activity, what did you learn during the process and what would you say to your old self?

The two things that have stuck with me over all these years of running are: go slow SLOW and don't look at what others are doing.

I created my Strava account on 11 September 2013, and in the first few years, it definitely dominated me. If I went out for a recovery run I always ran too fast because I obviously didn't want to show that I was running slow. If my workout ended at 11.2k, I go further to 12 to round it up. If someone who I compare myself to in terms of ridiculous athletic performance ran 20k more than me a week then he was sure to be fitter than me.

In short, after a few years - maybe too many - I realized I was taking a worrying turn and decided to back off completely and start experiencing Strava as just a tool. Now, I don't watch my own activity, I don't watch what other people are doing and, above all, I enjoy the slow rides.

alessandro locatelli corsa
Alessandro running in Monte Grappa

What is your favorite Strava activity or segment?

Here the list is long because even with its toxicity Strava has allowed Francesco Rigodanza and me to create the Segmenti Sotto l'Ora: a sort of curated archive of 4 segments, which in our opinion are perfect both for the purpose of exploring the area and for a personal challenge.

We started out a bit as a joke, calling the project Piccole Dolomiti sotto l'Ora because it took into account three well-known segments in our Piccole Dolomiti: Monte Cornetto, Val Canale, 52 Gallerie del Pasubio and a nearby bonus on Monte Summano. Then, like any noteworthy project, it obviously got out of hand. During Covid, it was almost hard to keep up with all the people who, in the absence of competitions, went into the mountains to try and enter our roll of honor.

In short, it's not easy to choose but if I have to pick a segment I'll take the one on Monte Cornetto because it's the one that made me suffer the most as well as being sincerely splendid (definitely not recommended for those suffering from vertigo).

Who are the people that inspire you when you open the feed or go out for a run?

This is not an easy question. As I said before I live a love/hate relationship with Strava, so I hardly keep up to date with what the people I follow are doing. This combined with my non-existent level of competition towards third parties means that I hardly think about what other people are doing.

If I want to abstract the question a bit, I can say that I was inspired by the classic tales of ultra-distance athletes from overseas. I go by the classics, the ones everyone started out with, the various Jurek, Trasons, Skaggs, Krupicka, Carpenter, O'Brien...people I heard about when I still couldn't run 20k but who in one way or another pushed me to always stretch a little further. I wanted to be part of a certain narrative. I also wanted to know what it felt like when the distances really stretched.

Alessandro locatelli lavaredo ultra trail
Alessandro at Lavaredo Ultra Trail

What is next for you? Next challenge, race, adventure?

This may be the platitude of the century, but it ties in with the answer I gave earlier: every year I am on the hunt for a ticket to the Western States 100. That race remains THE main dream, but Angeles Crest, Miwok, and Cascade Crest are on my list too.

In Europe, what I had on my bucket list I've pretty much taken off. That's not to say that I don't race here or that I have no incentive to do so (I'll be at Tuscany Crossing to get my 2023 ticket back), but you know that in the end, you want more of what you can hardly have and in my case. I can't afford to fly halfway around the world every year to race, so I prefer to focus on races that make some sense from a calendar point of view or provide a good excuse for a trip.

I would like to focus a little more on FKTs, definitely not because of the 'fastest' thing that is part of the acronym, but more to get back in touch with what fascinated me about running years ago when I started: that sense of freedom and of being able to reach anywhere simply one step at a time.

Bonus: among the various projects you created, Buckled is increasingly successful and has established itself as a leading podcast in the ultra trail segment. How has your relationship with the sport changed now that you are both an athlete and one of its commentators and storytellers?

Buckled has both improved and worsened my relationship with this environment. It improved it because it is a constant source of satisfaction, it is something I love to do - especially because I can share it with Marcello and Tommaso with whom I get on so well. It gives me an excuse to keep up to date with what is going on in the world of trail running. It has given me the opportunity to have a new project to work on - and as I said: I love new projects. Lastly, It has also allowed me to get in touch with wonderful people with whom I would never have had the chance to talk because I am incredibly shy.

On the other hand, it made it worse because I went from listening to a lot of podcasts about running to no podcasts about running: I don't want to know what other people are doing. I don't want to be influenced by their choices, questions, information, etc. It's stupid, I know. It's a mental mechanism that I struggle to get out of because one of my fears is not being authentic and creating derivative material. But it's a detail, and the benefits far outweigh the downsides.

This interview has been edited.


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