Get Addicted to Training with Marathoner and Triathlete Stefano Passarello – EP004

 In Podcast

Most of us believe that it takes a great deal of discipline to train for endurance sports like marathon running. But today’s guest argues that discipline is only necessary for the first 30 days. Once training has become a habit over time, you get addicted – and you have to run to feel good.




Stefano Passarello is a devoted husband and father of two. He is also the managing partner of Hong Kong-based accounting firm People & Projects Ltd, and a frequent consultant for startups. That would be enough for most of us, but Stefano somehow fits in elite-level marathon training – and he has added triathlons to his agenda this past year as well. Though he doesn’t consider himself to be a professional athlete, he does race like one, finishing the Hong Kong Marathon in just two hours and 31 minutes last February. How did he do it? I’m glad you asked.

Stefano joins Ali to cover his overall approach to training, including his resistance to following a structured plan, how the keto diet helped him improve his time, and how training for a triathlon contributed to his success in running. Listen in as he explains how to listen to your body and make training a habit over time!

Topics Covered

[1:38] How Stefano is able to accomplish so much

  • Find what you love, keep doing it
  • Each activity is habit created over time
  • Becomes ‘addiction’
[3:50] The role of discipline in forming a habit

  • Discipline necessary for first 30 days
  • After initial period, becomes habit
  • On 31st day, must do to feel good
[5:38] Stefano’s advice for aspiring runners

  • Start small – walk or run short distance (1 km)
  • Do it every day
[6:50] The harm in being addicted to training

  • Feel poorly (i.e.: down, aggressive) when unable to train
  • Meditation/mindfulness as countermeasure
[9:02] Why Stefano chooses not to become a professional athlete

  • Being a pro comes with expectations, change in lifestyle
  • Pros lose flexibility to choose own calendar
  • He acts on feelings, likes to remain in control
  • This allows him to pursue other interests as well
[10:40] Stefano’s un-coachable nature

  • Listens to body, uses wearables
  • Strays from training plan if doesn’t feel pleasurable
  • Has mentors rather than coaches
  • Mentors offer guidelines, support
[11:52] An example of how following a structured plan can be detrimental

  • Forced self to do interval training
  • Running posture poor because unmotivated
  • Sustained injury
  • Structured plans do work, but Stefano doesn’t enjoy them
[14:28] The training technology Stefano employs

[16:34] How Stefano structures his race training

  • Prep Work (1-2 weeks)
  • Base – increase volume (4-6 weeks)
  • Build – increase volume/intensity (2-3 weeks)
  • Peak – less volume, replicate race performance (2 weeks)
  • Taper (1 week)
[20:01] What a tapering week looks like for Stefano

  • Grumpy
  • Indoor bike/swim
  • 3-4 km run
[20:35] How Stefano rests and recovers after a race

  • Cold beer as reward (if performed well)
  • 2-3 weeks of unstructured exercise
  • ‘It’s all about managing your guilt’
[22:36] Stefano’s improvement in the Hong Kong Marathon

  • 2:28 in 2009
  • Sustained injury, times increased
  • Ran in 2:31 this year
  • 3½ minutes faster than 2016
[24:33] How training as a triathlete contributed to his success in running

  • Increased muscle strength
  • Likely prevented injury
  • Overall training volume higher (20 hours/week vs. 11 hours/week)
  • Much less training time devoted to running (4-5 hours/week)
[26:50] Stefano’s keto approach to nutrition in marathon prep

  • Wanted to lose a little weight
  • Reduced carb intake to 50 g/day
  • Calorie intake went to fats (e.g.: vegetable fat, nuts and seeds, avocado)
  • Taught body to burn fat efficiently
  • Consumed 300 g of carbs day before race, 150 g morning of
  • Stored glycogen much more efficiently during race
  • Quick recovery after race (no leg pain)
  • Recommends as weapon for use as endurance athletes
  • Not sustainable long-term
[34:22] Stefano’s latest venture

  • No place to go on vacation where he could train, eat right
  • Building ‘Training Farm’ in Thailand and Southern Italy
  • Includes garden and top-notch gym
  • Training facility for kids as well

Learn More About Stefano Passarello

Stefano Passarello’s Athlete Profile

Resources Mentioned

Elite HRV App




Bulletproof Radio Podcast

The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners by Amy Ramos and Amanda C. Hughes

Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet by Jimmy Moore and Eric Westman MD




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