Mixing sports with nature, was something magic and that changed my life
Ten years ago, he decided to turn his professional career upside down and started studying sports and training on a professional level.
Fernando is a 40 years old Spanish guy who loves the mountains and everything about practising sports in its natural environments.
In his previous life he worked in the town centre of Madrid as an Industrial engineer, and he wasn’t 100% happy about the situation. One thing led to another and finally he decided to make a change of direction in life and moved back to his birth city Zaragoza and his beloved Pyrenees.
After a lot of hard work, studies and also some doubts that he was ever going to make it. He is now where he wants to be in life.
Fernando is now working 100% with his own business as a personal trainer with focus on trailrunning. He trains both experienced athletes and normal people that like to improve their physical capabilities, and to prepare for any race or challenge.
He does part of the work with his clients online, and with help from modern technology and smart training tools, his online method has proven to work out very well.
It hasn’t always been easy, and Fernando has put a lot of work in this to get him where he is today. Very happy!
This is Fernando’s story…
Your passion for SkyRunning? Where is that coming from?
Ten years ago, when I worked in the town centre of Madrid 12 hours a day, I realised that it was during the weekends in the Sierra de Guadarrama (the mountains just outside of Madrid’s capital) were I came alive. Out there in the mountains I felt that I could breathe, and that helped me to keep sane during the rest of the week working in the office.
I was already a city runner, but I had never before mixed sports with nature, and that was something magic and that changed my life.
I remember my first big trail of 25 km and around 1 500 meters in vertical. It was extremely hard, and I suffered from terrible cramps in my legs. I can honestly say now afterwards that this was a huge challenge for a cosmopolitan runner, and that I wasn’t prepared enough for the vertical meters.
Despite this tough challenge, it was a fantastic experience, and I loved it.
Can you tell us a little more about your new business in trailrunning?
I am a personal trainer specialised in running-sports and trailrunning.
I design individual training plans that will help my clients to achieve their goals, and I motivate them to reach their full potential. I also offer continuous advice on nutrition, equipment’s, tools and any other matter that would lead to an improvement of performance and health in relation with outdoor sports.
I work both with athletes and ordinary people that wants to increase their physical ability, or to prepare for any race or challenge. Most of my athletes are preparing trail races (KV, short trails, Marathons, ultras, stages races…), but I also work with road runners in long distances, from 10K to Marathon and even longer races).
Because of my on-line training method, I can be able to work with athletes all over the world. With help from new technologies and smart watches the possibilities are endless. I can see every detail of the training of each athlete through an internet sport web platform for coaches and athletes called Trainingpeaks.
Through the physical parameters and the feedback from my clients that I get from the platform, I can be able to control the training load and adapt the training process continuously.
Every Monday I analyse the training from previous week, and I program the next week’s training in collaboration with the athlete. It’s wonderful because I can control adaptations and schedule the best specific trainings for each athlete in every moment. I programme the whole training kit for each runner: from running and technique sessions to strength and flexibility sessions, all according to the possibilities of each athlete.
Moreover, I work in a sport centre (Holmes Places) in Zaragoza. There, I work with people who wants to change their life trying to incorporate a sport routine, people who wants to lose weight, or whom are recovering after any injuries.
I love my job, and I always put all my energy on every single client, both online and on site.
What did you do for a living before “Your trailrunning business”?
I worked as an industrial engineer, for a big enterprise building power plants. I was almost ten years there.
You have done a change of direction in life that many people are dreaming about. Can you please tell us a little about that?
Well, it is a great question and it has made me remember how everything was growing bit by bit.
It all began when my girlfriend and me knew we were going to have a baby. We did not want to raise a baby in that context of life that we had at that moment. We were both working long days, in a type of job that didn’t passionate us, and in a city that didn´t offer what we needed at that moment.
For this reason, we decided to come back to our birth city, Zaragoza, with our families and our loved Pyrenees near us.
So, I left my job.
I had to stay some months living between Madrid and Zaragoza, until I finally finished up the training of my substitute. I had already started studying my bachelor in sport science and several other courses about personal training.
In parallel, I was also matching my own training for long distance races. Training together with a team of runners getting a 1-year university degree of expert level in trailrunning. That was an excellent course with the best trailrunning trainers in Spain.
Those were times with mixed feelings, illusions and doubts.
Although I was happy because I was doing exactly what I really wanted to do, I had some nerves because I did not know if all this effort finally would turn into a professional career.
But nevertheless, everything was flowing…..I launched my web to the world and I was finally up and running.
Which is the most challenging and demanding situation you been through to get there?
Maybe those years of student when you are almost 40 years and you don´t really know if all the time and passion you are dedicating, will be enough to succeed, in a sector unknown for me at that moment.
The more I learn, I realize that I will always be a student, but I love that. It is my responsibility to offer my clients the absolute best knowledge and solutions in order to get the best results.
Which are your personal strengths that has helped you through this journey?
I´m just a normal guy who loves the mountains and everything about practising sports in its natural environments. I find inspiration there and it helps me to tidy my ideas and to charge my battery’s completely!!!
In combination with that, my personal strengths are motivation, aptitude, mental strength, persistence and resilience.
How do you manage your time being a successful entrepreneur and runner at the same time as taking care of your family?
I do not consider myself a successful entrepreneur. I’m just a normal guy that do what I love for a living, and for me that is enough and something great. If I had went on working as an engineer I´d probably earned much more money but I wouldn’t be as satisfied as I am nowadays. Personal satisfaction has for me no price.
When it comes to taking care of my family, it is those who have been very patient, letting me put all these hours down on studies and training. Moreover, this “new life” allows me to manage my working hours so that I can enjoy my family much more. This is also one of the most important keys of my happiness.
How does a normal day look like for you right now?
Monday and Tuesday mornings, I work at the computer, analysing the trainings done by my athletes the week before. After that I’m programming the training sessions for the next week.
In the afternoons I am training people in the gym and working in the park with some runners. Weekends I try to escape to the mountains, when possible from Friday to Monday.
Do you have any dreams and goals that you like to share?
Nowadays I´m focusing in my day to day business trying to go on learning to program the best trainings for my athletes and clients. Always trying to improve their skills and physiological parameters.
I think it’s a great responsibility. Always keeping an eye of health and performance, that in my opinion goes hand in hand.
In the future, I’m dreaming of opening a centre, where physical training of trail runners takes an important role and will become a reference.
Working in the sport centre, I have realised that my main goal in life is not only helping runners to perform, but also ordinary people to grow physically and mentally, to recover after any injury, to get a good quality of life, to feel better or to get a good routine for sport activity, ……, planning individual trainings adapted to every individual person.
For me that is something really beautiful.
How does your game plan look like for that?
Squeezing 24 hours a day, focusing in my day to day trainings and studying or reading at night. Some days are exhausting, but it is great!!!
This last two years my own training plan has almost disappeared because of the time, but I hope to get back there as soon as possible.
What is your advice to other “hard working office people” that is dreaming of an active lifestyle running in the mountains?
Well it depends, I think a hard-working office job, if you like it, can be compatible with enjoying the nature during the weekends. But if you do not like any kind of work where you are spending 8 or 10 or more hours a day, you must think seriously if this is going to be your life plan, or if you are going to fight for enjoying 24 hours a day.
We live only once, so in my opinion, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams. It is true that sometimes it is not easy, but if you really want it, for sure you will find a way to do it. You need a plan!!!
I usually say…
“Once you discover your dreams and goals in life, your life will never be the same.”
What are your best training tips for us SkyRunners?
Trailrunning is great, and it offers a range of variety in running. For example, there are completely different skills that must be trained and physical parameters that are decisive depending on whether you are going to run a vertical kilometre or a 100-mile race.
Moreover, it is not only about distance and vertical metres, there is also another important factor about the type of ground. (paths, rocks, forest, ….). Near my home, in the Pyrenees there are some alpine races, where running is almost impossible during the bigger part of the race. So, you have to be able to do a good walking technique to move along this terrain in a fast and efficient way.
For running in the mountains, you must also be a lot stronger than in a classic street race and I recommend 2 sessions a week in the gym (or at least 1), in order to build your body for these great challenges that Sky- and Ultra marathons are offering.
One of the first things that I ask for during the initial questionnaires when I’m going to start training someone is about time disponible. To prepare long distance races, you need to have experience and you need to train at least 5 or 6 days a week.
The great challenge of long-distance runners consists of being able to run with low energy cost. To achieve this point, you must train your aerobic metabolism, which will help you also with recovery times after bigger efforts.
On the other hand, it is important not to exclude high intensity trainings, because we need those too. Increasing your anaerobic threshold will allow us running faster without entering our anaerobic zone zone (where our performance would end very soon).
Finally, the key of a good training plan is to get the best balance for each athlete between volume and intensity.
I do not like to give recipes because every athlete is different, but a training week for a long-distance runner could for example look like this:
- 1 day long run in the mountains (3-5 hours). I always try to work some special skill during these trainings, it is not just running. (descents, technique uphill, …)
- 2 days in the gym. The content of this training will depend of the muscular beginning runner level and the period of the season he/she will be (preseason, competitive,…). Base training and high loads at the beginning and then specific trainings and explosive strength trying to transfer all the force gained to running. Performance and health, these trainings are mandatory. One of these gym days, can be compatible with one of the slow running days.
- 1 day fast interval training (high intensity)
- 2 days slow run (volume and economy)
Depending each runner and the time of the season will be, cross training can also take an important role when resting from impact trainings and to help recovery after hard trainings or competitions.
But my best suggestion I can give is about taking help from a professional in order to get the most out of your training.
Do you have anything else in your life that you like to share or talk about in the blog?
Finally, I like to add that I’m not a hero or something like that. I have been really fortunate, because my family has trusted me and let me do all the things that I needed to do. Without the support from my family, this life change would never have been possible. Thank you, my love!!!
Name: Fernando Armisén Navascues
Family: Wife & Son
Country/town: Zaragoza, Spain
Running level: Amateur (for the last ten years I have run all the distances for Road and Trail running, from vertical kilometres to ultras.)
Favourite races: Trail Valle de Tena 80K, Zegama, Gran Trail Aneto Posets
Thank you, Fernando, for taking your time sharing your fantastic story! Wishing you all the best luck in the future both with your trailrunning business and your SkyRunning.