It gives me great pleasure as his coach and friend to introduce May’s Athlete of the Month - Patrizio Parrini (Pat). The Italian Stallion has been a member of Best Athletics for a year now, and has had a similar size impact as Science in Sports introduction of Beta Fuel to the supplement market.
Pat joined Best Athletics with a good level of running experience, looking to improve on his 1:27:47 half marathon time and short distance times. Pat’s strength of character comes from the many battles that he’d already had to go through in his personal life. The first of these came in the form of a skiing accident in 2014, where Pat ruptured his ACL which was due to be reconstructed in 2015. But life decided to throw another test at Pat in the form of a cancer diagnosis which Pat sadly received in March 2015. Following surgery and a chemo cycle later that year, it wasn’t until 2020 that Pat received the all clear, This also meant that the reconstruction of Pat’s ACL never happened.
Pat made it very clear to me on signing up to coaching that he would never do a marathon, but in my view he had already completed way more than that, so I knew I was working with someone very special. With that in mind, we soon got to work putting together a structured plan easing in frequency of training, then volume being covered and then finally intensity through speed work. With the help of the experience of Adrian D’Costa at the Running Room, we carefully managed the build into a regular structured running routine around Pat’s lack of ACL tendon!
Before we knew it Pat was regularly clocking 80km+ weeks, racing his beloved Park Runs regularly and shaving minutes off all of his personal bests across 5km, 10km and half marathon distances. Over the course of the last year, Pat’s 5km has improved by 1 minute from 18:38 to 17:38 and his 10km from 39:18 to 36:45, and that’s without really being a primary goal focus (that’s this summer's task!). Pat breezed through his sub 1:25 half marathon goal at Oxford last year, and more recently returned to his university home running a stunning 1:19:54 half marathon at Cambridge in March.
Now Pat’s life to date has been about overcoming marathon battles, so naturally with his new found running enigma and self-confidence it was only right that we set our sights and Pat’s size 13 feet on the marathon. By what can only be described as a stroke of fate, Pat won a London Marathon ballot place for 2023, so off we went with a rigorous but cautious plan given Pat’s ACL history. As a coach, there aren’t many better sights than an all green week on Training Peaks and as Pat has done throughout his life, he pulled out the near impossible challenge of completing every single workout in his plan. Given Pat’s half marathon performance, consistency and his mindset we set the ambitious goal of a sub 3 hour marathon for his first attempt. Pat achieved this with a time of 2 hours and 56 minutes, which given Pat’s story is one of my proudest achievements as a coach to date.
The biggest challenge throughout the block was holding Pat back, which is a theme of his training and racing where he likes to go out hard and fast which is all underpinned by his pure enthusiasm and joy when running. Pat is somebody who will always go above and beyond, which makes him the ultimate clubman who is always the first to take the opportunity to run with others, provide support or join in with banter! So when Pat informed me that he’d gone and signed up for the Edinburgh Marathon just a month after his first at London, I was a little apprehensive. But now knowing Pat well, and getting through his first marathon healthily and sustainably I knew now was the time to play to Pat’s strengths, and use his enthusiasm and joy to his advantage.
The month between London and Edinburgh was all about getting Pat to the start line fresh and ready to run another marathon. There wasn’t much in the way of ‘training to improve’, but sessions and weeks were based around optimizing conditioning for recovery. We made a call on race week that Pat felt fresh enough to give Edinburgh a crack, and with its elevation profile it felt like the perfect course to go for another PB. Being another city with personal sentiment for Pat, there was no question around Pat’s motivation. In typical Pat style, he pushed his own limits again coming in with an amazing 2 hours 55 minutes completing a successful spring of back-to-back marathon PBs.
Next up for Pat is a summer of shorter distance racing before we aim to smash the sub 2 hour 50 minute barrier at Valencia in December, and I have every confidence that Pat will succeed. I’m sure anybody reading this who knows Pat will agree with me when I say that there is nobody that deserves this success more. He is a pleasure to coach, and one of the warmest, kindest human beings that we all know.
On behalf of everybody at Best Athletics, Pat Parrini, I want to congratulate you and say a massive well done on being May’s Athlete of the Month.