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Daniel Fontana and the triathlon, an endless love story

From a story by Gabriele Ferraresi
They told me that I'm old, that I'm done, that I'm not hungry anymore and that I don't have the balls. I say thank you to all #IMTaiwan is the tweet that triathlete Daniel Fontana, 42, has set high on his Twitter profile. He wrote it on October 2, 2016, just after winning the second Ironman full distance of his career in Taiwan, the only Italian ever to succeed.

He wrote it after 3.86 km swimming in open water, 180.26 km cycling, and 42.195 km of marathon, in harsh weather conditions, concluded in 8 hours, 40' and 45''. At forty years old.

Daniel Fontana: head and heart in the triathlon

The triathlon, a challenge for men and women of steel, especially in its most extreme version Ironman, is among the most gruelling sports competitions ever thought of by man, with different distances to be covered first by swimming, then by bicycle and finally on foot. Daniel Fontana is one of the greatest Italian athletes of the discipline of all time
How do you get to the moment before the dive?
"I feel a lot of tension the day before, maybe two days before: when I go to pick up the kit of the race or do the briefing, or maybe I try the routes, there yes, I'm a bit 'tense and I am a little during the many months of approaching the race".

The night before I sleep badly, but when I feel the cold sand and wet under my feet, the tension goes away. It's all automatic, because I know what's going to happen and I know what I have to do.

Even if the triathlon is made not only of hard work, but also of unexpected events: At the start of the race you can start badly: in Milan I cut myself in the water, I had a hole under my foot, they put five stitches on me! Even if everything is planned, then everything is always different: on an emotional level, but once I'm there I just want one thing. I want to go. The race? I face it with serenity, but I'm very careful: let's say with a careful serenity.

That kind of serenity you get by training between 20 and 30 hours a week in swimming, cycling, running, gym, stretching, yoga and strengthening. Even when you're over 40: who is it that was old and finished?

Training a triathlete

Characteristics of triathletes are resistance and adaptability in switching from one sport to another in a heartbeat. Although everything is concentrated in a single race, the three different disciplines must be trained separately and in a specific way, programmed preferably in the order of running, cycling and swimming.

Triathlon is not just the sum of three disciplines, but a unique and complete sport.

Triathletes train at least 4 times a week, dedicating one session to each discipline and one to combined training (bike-racing). This last training session is key to accustom the body to the sudden change of athletic gestures, which engage different muscles and forces.

What it takes to be a triathlete

  • Good cardio athletic preparation
  • Good dexterity in individual sports
  • Improving and perfecting the technical gestures (pedalling, running, breathing...)
  • Focus on power and lacticidal resistance

Usually the program is based on the type of race you are going to face, whether it's a Super Sprint or an Ironman. Those who usually approach triathlon for the first time have already approached one or more of the three types of sports. Therefore, the important thing is to become familiar with the one in which you are the least trained.

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