Serena Caravelli’s Journey to the 2023 European Championships

Serena Caravelli is an incredibly talented athlete. She rekindled her passion for athletics in the master’s category in 2014 after an eight-year pause. Post-Covid, she joined the Scirocco TF team. After two years of success, Serena embarked on a new journey in the world of training, leading to extraordinary results.

Just months before the European Masters in Pescara, life threw a curveball. Momentarily robbing her of the vital psychological confidence needed for a major international competition. Serena reached out to Scirocco TF to prepare for her grand comeback. Twenty-eight days of training to rewrite destiny.

The rest is sports history. Serena secured bronze in the 200m, gold in the 4×100 relay, and dominated the 80m hurdles, setting two Italian category records, one in the semifinals and another in the final. Serena’s story represents one of the most significant chapters in Scirocco TF’s history, where the impossible becomes possible.

1. How did you overcome the challenge of regaining self-confidence and the determination required to compete at the highest level?

The track has always been my second home, guiding me through my growth from adolescence into adulthood. Where I formed crucial friendships and encounters, always shared with family as a gathering place. The thought of losing that space was unbearable. So the first step was to step onto the track, without any thoughts or expectations. Just to return because it’s a part of me.

The answer came there; I began to move, cautiously, just to feel. Instead of getting tired, my body found energy. The thought naturally occurred to me: “Why not give it a try?” I didn’t resurrect my previous expectations when I initially decided to participate in a European championship, at that moment, my priority was to regain well-being, not to vanish.

Over the years, I learned to love myself, and in a difficult moment like this, I found it again because it became my priority. So, I utilized what had always benefited me – the track. It became my safety tool. The European championship was the challenge, but the first goal was to regain my appetite, start eating again, to regain energy because my body demanded it. I knew I already had a foundation of previous work, so it wasn’t all to be discarded. I felt I could do something, taking one step at a time.

Despite the limited time, I forced myself not to rush because every step was crucial.

Serena Caravelli leading the 80m hurdles in Pescara.

2. Who were the people around you, and what role did they play during this period of intensive preparation and renewed self-confidence?

My friends, primarily, supported my decision – friends near and far who understand what athletics means to me. They didn’t hesitate for a second when I told them I wanted to resume training: “Yes, do it for yourself, and remember to eat!”.

My sister, whose opinion is always precious to me, gave me the green light. It felt like she said, “Yes, you can do it. After all, you were coming out of a competitive period, even though with a significant and meaningful break.” This gave me strength. My parents, who never judge my choices, support me regardless of whether they agree or not. My psychologist helped me trust my feelings, understand them, differentiate between one thing and another, explore every emotion, and understand its origin. She taught me to stay as close to myself as possible and to use my body to converse with me.

And, Alessandro Vigo, the Team Director at Scirocco TF, a person I trust blindly because he has seen both my strong and weak technical aspects, he has known my fears, but also my determination. I knew he could make me confront the parts I would have tried to avoid due to fear. I needed technical, emotional, and mental guidance to face a journey that I truly wanted to undertake but felt too difficult to do completely alone.

3. Can you talk about a specific strategy or technique you adopted to stay calm and focused?

In general, what I try to do to avoid negative emotions is to stay in my body, feel my body, move it, and feel its movements. It’s like entering an instant meditation, not giving space to thoughts. During warm-up, I focus on individual exercises, without future projections. Behind the starting blocks, I try to feel the movement in synchrony with the stopwatch. In the 80m hurdles race, I had the advantage of having run the 200m two days earlier. The 200m race was the most challenging, with high expectations and immense emotional pressure.

After completing that race, I felt a sense of liberation; it was like crossing a significant threshold that lightened my spirit. I was eager to run hurdles, and I embraced that enthusiasm entirely, running with a smile. This helped me stay focused on myself, on the pleasure of running, and on doing it well. For me, it usually works to feel happiness in my body and transform it into running energy. I accumulate the desire to run, similar to when you want to shout loudly and wait a bit to take in more air.

Serena Caravelli with her three European Medals.

4. How did you manage personal expectations and What advice would you give to other athletes?

Managing expectations was very difficult because they had obviously changed – from when I registered to when I decided to participate, there was a mix of various expectations. By the time I arrived, I had almost no expectations, but that didn’t mean settling for anything. The most crucial part happened during training, where taking one step at a time led me to understand my capabilities, knowing that this part existed and was therefore possible.

I knew that in the race, I would have to face the emotional and mental aspects, which were genuinely unstable. So, I decided to carry fear with me, hold it close, run with it. My body and my ability to silence my mind when I’m on the starting blocks would take care of the rest. Thus, I trusted myself because I knew I would find myself in that “on your mark” before the “set.” Managing others’ expectations worried me, but I knew it wasn’t my “duty.” I chose whom to listen to and whom not to.

I knew I wasn’t alone; Alessandro, was the answer if I had any doubts, and this gave me confidence. I knew someone was sharing the burden with me. To those people whom I wouldn’t have known what to say, I chose to smile always because I know what I have inside, and that’s enough. Each of us has our difficulties, more or less expressed or visible; expectations are always proportional and never absolute.

My advice is always to remember everything you’ve invested, give your best in intention and action, and if you’ve done that, you have nothing to reproach yourself for. Rationally, see all the pieces on the chessboard. When rational and emotional aspects agree, you’ve hit the mark.

5. What are the key elements to maintain a winning mindset even in the most challenging moments?

Never take it for granted that difficulties won’t come your way. I believe that everyone, sooner or later, goes through them. Thinking that we’re exempt is already a limitation. I’ve hung a quote by Mark Twain on my kitchen wall that I read every morning:

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

Never take anything for granted; difficulties cannot be predicted, so when you find yourself facing them, it’s essential to make room for what needs to happen. Anger that may follow is fine, but so is the desire to recover. Blaming takes away energy, in my opinion. It’s much more effective to gather yourself and take care of yourself. Whether they’re physical, emotional, or psychological challenges, self-responsibility is crucial.

Speaking as a therapist now, in my professional experience, those who have had the best results, regardless of the problem, are those who have consciously and unconsciously understood that the first movement toward healing starts with ourselves.

It’s right to trust those who can help us; professionals have valuable insights and very effective strategies. However, the movement towards healing starts with us. I wanted to seek help from professionals, friends, people I trusted, but I know I was the one who made the journey.

The winning mindset, I believe, is not making excuses, remembering that we all have value, and it’s our duty to respect ourselves first. Once we know we respect ourselves, that what we want to do comes from the heart, and we allow ourselves to do everything within our potential, then we’ve already won.

Enter the Scirocco TF world

Serena Caravelli’s incredible journey at the 2023 European Masters Championships showcases the immense power of determination, self-belief, and the support of a dedicated team. Her story resonates with the core values of Scirocco TF, a place where athletes are nurtured, challenges are turned into triumphs, and dreams become reality.

If you’re an aspiring athlete, longing for an environment that fosters growth, Scirocco TF welcomes you. Our expert coaching staff, coupled with the spirit of camaraderie and relentless pursuit of excellence, creates the perfect atmosphere to elevate your skills and achieve your goals. We invite athletes from around the world to join us in Spain for specialized training camps, where you’ll receive personalized guidance, hone your techniques, and prepare for your own remarkable journey in the world of athletics.

Dare to dream, train with purpose, and let Scirocco TF be your guide in the pursuit of greatness. Reach out to us at hello@sciroccotf.world to embark on your athletic journey today.

The future is bright,
Scirocco TF

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