Thursday 5 October 2023


What is freedom? Freedom is: not having to peak. As you may have noticed, I just love training. I've written so much about training and my love for it, on this blog, that it's not worth to repeat any of that again. Over the years, one of the biggest struggles in my sport "career" was to take rest days. I hate rest days, I've always hated them. Rest days are important though: it's in rest days that you grow stronger and you recover to perform. So, not having to peak in order to perform at the highest possible personal level in a specified occasion, is freedom. Freedom to train at will. And boy, did I train at will. A few days ago, while putting in some links on my board project (yes, I got sucked again in board projects, one thing that I swore I would have never done again), I realized that I've been training everyday for the last year. The last rest day that I took was September the 27th, 2022, after 67 days on. Now I wonder why I took that rest day. Let's define "training", in this matter. To qualify as a training session, it has to be some kind of muscular activity, done with a purpose, even if very short. For instance, every sort of weight lifting qualifies. Fingerboarding qualifies. Jogging qualifies. Well it would have, had I done it. Walking around doesn't qualify.If it did, I'd be probably a few years on. Uphill fast walking qualifies. Climbing qualifies. Stretching doesn't qualify. You get what I mean. So, over the last year or so, I managed to do some kind of training activity every day, sometimes twice a day. Sessions ranged from bodyweight squats in the bathrooms of courthouses, to 11 PM Tyson push ups before going to bed, to proper and regular sessions. I tailored a micro morning session that takes no more than five minutes, and that I can do whenever I want because it does not affect the evening session. I also tailored bodyweight sessions that I can do when traveling, if I can't access a gym of sorts. How was this project born? I sincerely don't know, I never had it as a goal. Just like Forrest Gump found himself running from ocean to ocean, I found myself training day after day. One thing I did: I never though it as a year. Days, there are only days. I wake up in the morning, and I think about when and how I'll be going to train that day, only that day. And that's freedom. The freedom that comes from not having outdoor projects (from not climbing outdoor at all, in my case), from not having to plan for trips somewhere. It is, sincerely, amazing. Et de hoc satis, about freedom. Death, then. Tragedy struck twice over Spring: in the brief space of five weeks, I lost two childhood friends. When I received the first message, I was snatching in the garage: Ghigo had passed away the night before, abroad, far from here, but at least in his house, surrounded by his wife and children. When I received the second message, I was climbing on my board: Gianluca had just passed away. He hadn't even told me he was ill, because he "didn't want to make me suffer." I have spent so much time with them, in different times and occasions: with one, long Summers at the seaside, cruising in his car - I could not drive yet! - with The Police blasting from the audiotape; with one, we basically grew up together in the block, we went to the gym together, we sat desk by desk at school. We were very similar, but then I changed a lot, and he remained the same: I guess I never forgave him for staying the same, and he never forgave me for changing. From time to time, we would bump into one another somewhere in town. In a small town like mine, every corner has a story ready to surface again when I walk around. I pass by one my friend's house every day, to go to work and back home, four times a day: morning, lunchtime, afternoon, evening. Every day I am reminded about him at least four times. My other friend had been living abroad for a long time now, but the sea reminds me of him, The Police reminds me of him, airplanes remind me of him, horses remind me of him. He was a very clever, very good, very unlucky guy. So, what do I make now of freedom and death? As of late, I have been delving into the majestic works of none other than Ernesto De Martino, ethno-anthropologist and religion historian. He knew death very well, and wrote a lot about death, especially in Death and Ritual Weeping (1958). He says, and I agree, that we need to "make the dead die again in us", to avoid his comeback as a persecutor, a haunting memory of pain and suffering, which visits us in our sleep or daytime, to curse our existence as survivors. How do we do this? First, through ritual weeping. Then, through, as he calls it, "the ethos of transcending the situation into the value". Training is my ritual weeping. When I got the news, not for one second I thought about stopping the session. I got to my knees and cried and wanted to yell, wanted to break things and curse. And I did some of that. Then I kept training, until I was so tired that I couldn't cry anymore. For each set that I completed, I thought "Another one for Ghigo.", "Another one for Gianluca." That's my prayer, the only one I am capable of. That's my ritual weeping. So, with my friends' evil phantoms now dead in me, I can recover just their good memories, purified. I keep them with me when I train, when I walk in town. When I get back home tired and don't feel like training, I think about them, I do it for them, I use their inner presence and good memories, to make my life better and with more value. It seems trivial, but it's not. It seems selfish, but it's only in part. If I allow their memories to haunt my life, to make me sad, angry and depressed, death wins: I lose the value. But if I manage to add something to my life that is important for me, because of them, then I add value to my life, and death loses. I gain in value, in human value. This is only a part of what I consider valuable, but it is a part, the only part worth mentioning on this blog. So, when I train and am tired, I think about them: I hear Ghigo saying "Turn up the volume Lore!" as when we were cruising in his car, years and years ago, and I hear Gianluca saying "Now gimme another set motherfucker!", as when we were training together, years and years ago. And everything seems possible. Even training everyday for the rest of my life.

Monday 3 January 2022


Hello motherfuckers. When I last wrote on here, I couldn't imagine that a far worse shitstorm than another broken meniscus was about to hit the fan. And I won't spend another word on this matter. Anyway, luckily I had sorted myself out with a decent home gym over the years, so the first lockdown was spent working from home and training, with my knee surgery obviously postponed. I had set myself the goal of training everyday, and so I did for the 61 straight days in which Italy was locked. I came out two kilos heavier at 6,2 % body fat. The highlight of this process was nearly completing my 30 moves board project, falling off with only two moves to the top. Then came the surgery, that went very well, but left again my knee quite tender and resulted in a very undesired switch between kilos of muscle and kilos of fat, courtesy of large amounts of food and wine. Autumn came and with it another lockdown. I started struggling for climbing motivation and started training again for the project, but to no avail despite some good progress. I could always climb it in two overlapping halves with minimal rests in between, but the magic never happened. On the other hand, I kept moving lots of iron. The days and weeks kept coming and going always the same, with a monk life made of work and training, but with less joy than usual and no particular progress. I didn't touch the board for weeks and weeks and I did very little finger training. When I started back, I found out - surprise surprise - that I was quite below par. At that point reality struck me: my idea of a continuous progress over the years, at 49 years old, was simply delusional. Hello motherfucker. Maintaining is gaining they say... I sincerely don't know how it happened, but I went back to the board. At first it's been very hard to keep getting back to it. I was used to feel in a certain way while climbing, and I had to let the thought that those sensations were gone forever sink in. Or so I thought. My fingers are still averagely strong I think: I last tested the Lattice Edge at around + 2/4 kilos consistently, and I have to take into account that I am more or less four kilos heavier than a few years ago. I can hang the Lattice Edge back3 two armed at + 30 kilos. On the board, I basically had to re-learn how to climb, and I realized how well I used to use my feet and legs on it: I was really a very good climber on that board. I learnt that I was playing it too prudently and I started pushing things a bit more, legs wise. I also started to plan my sessions according to my motorcycle riding: board climbing and leather gloves don't go along very well. Session after session I could see some little improvement, and I reckon I had the good idea of not going back on previous projects: without false modesty, some of them - that I did or nearly did - were simply ridiculous. I set myself the goal of setting lots of new problems, and I stuck to this idea: over the last few weeks I've done a dozen of new problems or so, while before I would set a couple of hard problem and work them into submission for weeks or months or even years. Obviously, being myself after all, I got quickly sucked into setting hard things that I could not climb, and there I was again, stuck in project mode. I have to admit that, during the very few occasions in which I climbed with a friend, it's been very, very hard to watch how stronger than me they are now: they've climbed things that I can't do, and it's very, very hard to digest. But. There's always a but. The other day, I had one of those sessions. I was physically ready, and mentally even more so. I climbed three problems that were feeling very far away the week before, and I went out with my girlfriend to celebrate with a few Vodka Martinis. The magic had happened again, both in terms of climbing something and in terms, in advance, of setting something that was right at this side of the limit. I have to stick with this. I understood - after a few years - that I can keep my pleasure in hard climbing, or climbing at my limit, playing with the concepts of "hard" and "limit". Every session is different, every session had its hard and its limit. I have to stay on that line. And the dream goes on, I am still the strongest motherfucker of them all. Ceteris paribus, innit.

Tuesday 18 February 2020


Another year has passed, my dear reader, and I wonder who you could possibly survive the long wait for the - now - yearly Totolore post. 
My last one left you trembling, picturing Totolore waiting to fix his knee, in order to get back to high(est) level bouldering. 
This post finds Totolore again waiting to fix his knee, the only problem is that I already had the other surgery... and now I need another one. 
In June 2019 I had my surgery, which revealed cartilages that seemed having been chewn by a ferocious dog (a nice surprise, innit) and needed sorting out: for this task I had the pleasure to be the first patient to experiment a new tool, aptly named "vaporizer". 
I lay on the slab, watching on a tv screen as this machine ate my broken cartilages with ease. 
My medial meniscus was broken, but the cut didn't reach the surface. 
I was home that very evening, no pain whatsoever, just 30 fucking days on crutches to let the cartilages heal. 
After some time, with a right leg the size of my right forearm, I started training again. 
And the shit hit the fan. 
I might have sligtly overdone it, in any case my knee started aching, swelling and feeling generally tender and unstable. This went on for months, and then I finally had another MR scan, that revealed that now my medial meniscus was broken for good, with a complete tear, needing another surgery.
There you fucking go. 
So, from april 2017, when I climbed my hardest board problem, I basically quit bouldering. 
My elbow injury kept me busy until october 2018, then my knee, now my knee again. Given my rehab times in the past, I feel that I am facing a three years long climbing hiatus, that, at 48 years of age, surely will do me good. I plan to be - somehow - climbing again this coming autumn. 

In the meanwhile, I've hit the weights and the fingerboard. I completely sacked the board, despite a few problems climbed before my first surgery and getting back to a decent level of fitness, namely being able to climb my two reference problems with 8 kg on and using only one foot at a time. 

With my knee even weaker than before the operation, I had to take a completely new approach. I ditched heavy training and focused on longer efforts and complexes. I started training on the pull up bar with some routines that I borrowed from gymnastics. Nice stuff. 
On the fingerboard, I did some half arsed tests on the Lattice Edge, and mainly focused on flat edges and pockets. 
As of late, I sacked the pockets session because it's too long and I don't have enough time. 
I keep training on my 14 mm edge one armed and on the 9 mm edge with back 3 and front 3 hangs. 
With good skin, I can one arm the 9 mm edge taking 7 kg off for my right arm and 12 for my left. Make of that what you wish. 

A friend of mine has opened a big climbing wall close to here, I've been there a couple of times just for a chat while getting back home from a bike ride (motorbike, obviously), but it's too painful to be there, unable to climb. 
In recent weeks I slightly reduced my training volume and it did me good: my muscles are a bit fuller and I feel generally more powerful. 
I am eating like a pig. 

I don't even have anything to complain about the climbing world, because I completely stopped reading any news whatsoever or following what's going on around here. Whenever I check the local climbing news, the level of bullshit goes beyond my imagination. 

On a side note, I spent the last year attending a second level university master in criminology, that I completed last week magna cum laude.
It's finally good to write an entry after so much time, even if with a boring content. I feel very far away from climbing at the moment, both physically and mentally. Little time to train makes it very difficult to have a proper session, it takes too long to warm up for hard finger training or even system climbing, hopefully this will change as I'll get my knee sorted: maybe the feeling of having a functioning knee again will give me the kick in the ass that I need to put in the hours again. 
I would very much to climb a hard route. Boudering, I fear, is too hard on my knees, or just too hard. 

And with this final note, this thrilling post is over.