Leonard Mitrica: “The first international race I took part abroad was the World Championship.”
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Leonard Mitrica is one of the best mountain runners in Romania, managed an extraordinary 11th place at the Marathon du Mont Blanc, last year, a race in which he held an entire country nervous.
Find out from the TrailRunning Academy interview how come the first international race was the World Mountain Running Championship and get inspired by the immense ambition and discipline it shows!
We will start with a question where we are sure you can give us at least two answers if you think about it from a philosophical perspective: for how long have you been running?
Officially, since the end of 2015, I started running several times a week as a recreational activity. Then it gradually turned into a passion that I wanted to develop as much as possible.
Everyone knows you as one of the most disciplined and conscientious athletes, as clearly evidenced by your continuous rise. Are the years spent in the military education system the ones that helped you to organize yourself so well, or did you choose this system precisely because you had these qualities from the beginning?
I consider that running and the desire to have the best results disciplined me the most. I can’t necessarily say that the years spent in military education have done that to me because when something is imposed on you it is more difficult than when you do it on your initiative. So, along the way, I saw that those who have results are constantly training and I realized that I should do the same thing because, in the beginning, I was not training that often.
You suddenly appeared at the races and started to win most of those where you participated. At the first World Championships, top 15. From the outside, it looks like you “burned” a few stages. Have you ever had a moment, or maybe a condition, in the area of impostor syndrome?
Sincerely, I have never had any problems with this syndrome. On the contrary, the very good results I obtained in school and high school at the sports tests and the resistance I had because I rode my bike a lot gave me the confidence that I have potential in this sport as well.
In 2016 we finished in 20th place at the Intersport Half Marathon race and in 9th place at Ciucaș X3.
Then I started to pay more attention to training and nutrition and the results started to appear, which gave me a lot of confidence that I was on the right track.
I participated for the first time in a World Championship after three and a half years of training, being the first international race that I participated in.
How much talent is there, but most importantly, how much of what we see is work? What is the best asset you currently use, but which you have cultivated without realizing it as a child?
Work highlights talent so one without the other doesn’t work. I am a hardworking person and most of the results are due to this, managing to realize my potential. Of course, I’m sure the gene I inherited also helped me, but all my skills were developed through work. The trick I cultivated as a child is to get things to an end no matter why. I can proudly say that I have a low dropout rate in races or training.
I wanted to ask you what surprises you are preparing for 2022, but I realized that it would be superficial to call them like that. So, what amazing results can we expect from you this year?
I always want to evolve from one season to another and I always want to get at least the results from the previous years. I want to get better results at international competitions and to be able to reach the top 10 in the European and World Championship.
You had 2 races last summer where you, unfortunately, lost some important positions in the last part of the race. Which is the most important lesson you have learned from these experiences?
I can say that I overestimated my fitness from that moment and in the first part I ran next to some of the most valuable runners, and then I paid for this mistake. But in this way, I managed to increase my limits to run above the level I was used to doing.
Was the OCC just a longer marathon, or an important first step towards the ultra?
For now, I prefer to focus on racing up to 50-55km where I can value most of my motor skills: strength, speed, and endurance. In the future, I will try some ultra-races but when I take this decision, I will gradually increase the distances covered in the competitions.
The last question, which is actually more like a kind request: which are the top 3 books that helped you in your sports career?
Atomic habits-James Clear
Eat & run- Scott Jurek
Nutrition for Amateur and Performance Athletes-Renee McGregor
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