Series11 Aug 2014

Work, rest and play – Valeria Straneo


Italian distance runner Valeria Straneo (© Getty Images)

Italy’s Valeria Straneo won the silver medal in the marathon at last year’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow.

This week she will be aiming to go one better at the European Championships in Zurich. Here she offers her take on the IAAF’s work, rest and play questions.

Valeria at work

What is your favourite training session?

Valeria Straneo: I love fartlek and repetitions (fast and slow for recovering) because they build speed and endurance and I never get bored with that kind of training.

What is your least favourite training session?

VS: Progressive training (increasing speed). Those are killer work outs for me.

What are your three favourite things about being an athlete?

VS: Running is my big passion, so I love to be an athlete because this is what I want to do in my life. I also love to feel strong and in good health and I like very much to compete.

Who is your favourite training partner?

VS: My friend and team-mate Emma Quaglia. We prepared together for the Moscow World Championship (Quaglia finished sixth in the marathon). I enjoy training with her, everything is easier training together.

What is your favourite music to train to?

VS: Pop and rock music! Any artists.

Valeria at rest

Describe your perfect non-training day.

VS: It would be to have family time and do the normal things such as playing with my children, watching a movie or going out shopping without being in a rush.

What is your favourite stress reliever?

VS: To take a bath or to be out enjoying nature, in silence with nobody around.

Where is your favourite place to relax?

VS: Outside enjoying nature.

What is your favourite meal?

VS: Melanzane alla parmigiana (aubergine with parmigiano cheese and tomato sauce).

Valeria at play

You have had a passion for books since you were a child; what was the last book you read?

VS: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

Who is your all-time favourite author?

VS: I don't really have a favourite, but I like Ken Follett, Raymond Queneau and Primo Levi.

What is your all-time favourite book?

VS: Se questo è un uomo (If This is a Man) by Primo Levi. It's a true story about Nazi deportation and extermination camps. I read it several times; it's really hard to believe that a man can harm other human beings in such a way.

What is your all-time favourite track and field book?

VS: Non dirmi che hai paura (Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid) by Giuseppe Catozzella. It's the true story of Samia, a girl who lives in Mogadishu (Somalia) and loves to run, but in her country it is so difficult to train and to compete as a Muslim woman, so she decides to leave to realise her dream of running and winning the Olympics. It’s a really sad story.

Which track and field athlete’s story do you think would make the best book?

VS: The Dibaba sisters would make a smashing story.

Steve Landells for the IAAF