I am 5’11’’ tall and I have always weighed between 156 and 165 lbs, 9 and 14% body fat. 156 lbs during my marathon years where my family said my hollow cheeks made me look sick; 165 lbs during my basketball years where my shoulders were broad and my abs so strong that I looked a bit overweight. Yes, I had once gone up to 176 lbs, during the summer of 2000, because I had decided to stop playing any basketball (definitely in the top 5 of the most stupid ideas I ever had) and I had once gone down to 152 lbs during the summer of 2012 because I wanted, at the time, to focus on marathon running. I was happy but I ended up anaemic.
When you play team sports, your weight is not very important. Whereas when you’re into endurance sports, you live with the reality that 2 lbs less will make you 40” faste and that 4 lbs less will make oyu 1’20” faster. Therefore, ever since I started running, I’ve always wanted to perform and weigh 154 lbs, or even 152 or 150…
It must be 4-5 months since the last time I officially weighed myself, that is to say, first thing in the morning with an empty stomach. Yes, I weighed myself at the gym in Singapore but I still had my shoes on, a wet shirt; I had already lost 20 oz of sweat, drank half a can of sports drink and had a banana in my mouth while climbing the scale.
But on this monday morning, after months of intense training, it was time to do it officially:
150 lbs – 12.9% body fat.
I was really satisfied to reach that weight and be healthy at the same time. Yes, it makes me feel light and I do have a flat stomach but what strikes me the most is that I reached it, while not paying a lot of attention to it. Of course, exercising and watching your diet helps but I had never gone below 154 during those years of weighing myself daily, where my weight obsessed me.
In June of this year, I am obsessed by other things, some I think about all the time. And there, I wonder if a subtle mix of efforts and an “I don’t care much” kind of attitude is not the secret to “have” something, see what I mean?
You know I am obsessed with Japan, that I love the japanese language. I am so proud to speak it but also so frustrated at times not to speak it fluently. It is something that I want, that I truly want…but learning this language is a battle between me, myself and I.
In June of this year, I spoke to a Life coach and told her I was craving to speak this language and feel “free” in my study. She asked: “Do you think you speak english well?”…”Yeah, yeah, I am very proud of my english level”…”So, how did you learn english then?” How did you do? How long did it take? How many hours per day?”
People, my former students and foreign friends, often tell me that French people do not speak english very well, that they once were in Paris and that a waiter refused to speak english to them. Just like this Life coach, they ask me where I studied and what did I do?
I have never “learnt” english. The only time I “studied” it was in school…and I simply didn’t like it. I became bilingual because when I was 14, I listened to 2pac in my walkman, in the school bus. When I saw my best friend, I told him “Waddup fool?” instead of something in french. At home, I used to watch basket-ball games in english. English was a part of my daily life and one day, just like that, I was bilingual.
When I said that to the coach, she said: “Well here it is, if you dream to speak japanese the way you speak english, you already have the secret to success”.
1 step backward, 2 steps forward, you know the saying. This morning, I went to the track to run my 25x400m. Then I had the legs, the spirit and I was ready to rock the session. But after 5 laps, I had to stop because of a pain in my right Achilles, that I had since last sunday. Then suddenly, on the field in the middle, I saw a guy running, a guy I used to treat back when I was still an osteopath. He ran the 10k in 31 minutes and I even believe he was in the National team. So I called him, we spoke about the last few years and he told me he was now coaching and that one of his athlete finished 5th in the World Championships…etc. In my head, something clicked and I told him I was looking for a coach. We then ran 800m together, trying to find ways for me to learn his cell phone number by heart.
Yesterday, despite the pain in my calf, I was able to swim and bike without any problem. So today, no exception: off to the pool! The swimming program was 1500m steady, 500m race pace and 5x200m steady. I love going for 1500 steady because if I beat my personal best, it means I am for ever better. It means my engine is stronger. Last week, I had finished in 30’30”. Today, 29′ flat. So happy!
This morning, 17k run. I didn’t want to take any risk with my leg, I decided to take a day off.
“To take a day off” is not something I know how to do. When I am in training mode, everyday is the only word I know. Period. Some think that to get a good job, you need to know someone. Me, in my brain, I believe that to be successful in sports, you need to train harder. Yes, I know. To improve is not to train hard. It is to digest the training you had. If you’re tired after 4 weekly sessions, it means your body doesn’t digest the training volume. If you train 15 times a week and feel good, it means you improve. Therefore, the limit between the 2 is hard to evaluate. It takes experience and probably also…maturity.
This is why what I feel in my calf is not a tendinitis, not a tension, not a spike, not a sign of Destiny. It is a Lesson. A Lesson which tells me that if I want to be a professional triathlete, if I want to qualify for the Olympics, I need to learn how to rest intelligently.
One of my greatest success of 2013 is to have gone to see a nutritionist. Her advice changed my training! She told me “Hi, how can I help you?”…”I am a triathlete and I train all the time. I think I know about nutrition and I know what to eat. But if you look at me over the last few years, I always end up anaemic or empty with energy. So the truth is that I must not know anything about nutrition! I am here to learn how an athlete must eat”.
I have worked with coached and I have often designed my own training plans. I improve. It means my plans are good. But I always ended up injured. It means there is something I don’t know, something I need to learn. The time is now for me to rest, to LEARN how to rest. I am ready for my Lesson.
I spent the eve icing my leg, putting it in a hot water bucket and wrapping it with clay. In addition, no run today. Nothing but bike and pool, so I will try out my leg. You’re starting to know who I am now, right? I just wrote you a nice speech about recovery. Conclusion, 24h of rest and back to training 😉
I took my mountain bike this morning and accomplished 2 great feats! First, I overtook (I was telling you this last week) not one, not two but a whole pack of road bikes! In my opinion, the guys were so ashamed, they probably sold their bikes online the next day. 2nd achievement of the day, while riding and maintaining the handlebars with my right hand, I was able to to open my pocket’s zipper with my left hand, take a cereal bar, open the packaging with my teeth, eat and put the the packaging back in the pocket and close it!
Then, you know what’s next: off to the pool; where something is happening. I am falling in love with swimming. 2 months ago, it was my weakness. Today, I have a weakness for it 😉 When you swim well, you feel like you’re on water. I feel like I am just one with the water surface. I got 99 problems but breathing with one eye and half of your mouth below the water ain’t one. It is an amazing feeling of control and mastery. When you do a turn and propelled yourself with your legs, you can hear a sound, it makes you feel like a shark.
What I love in swimming is that modifying a slight detail can change everything. Today, I learnt that when you flip turn and dolphin kick, you must keep your head straight and watch the bottom of the pool. Before, I had the tendency to watch forward in order to avoid smashing other swimmers (but I found out I do it even when swimming alone). I adjusted my head position and now, when I finish my dolphin kick, rise from below the surface and turn my head to the right to breath, I am 3m farther than before.
I have watched this slow motion video of Michael Phelps free styling and dolphin kicking, tens of times. It is just…beautiful.
Up at 5am. Gotta be at the Vitrolles’ pool at 6:30, 45k away from home to meet my probable future coach, probable future teammates and of course, do a pool session. Vitrolles’ triathlon team is in division 1. This could be a good choice for my future career.
But once up, I touched my tendon and despite the fact that the 2 sessions from the eve went well, it is hot, which means “Inflammation”, which is synonymous with “Greg, you have a Lesson to learn”.
This will be another day of rest, learning what I don’t know.
When I was 17, the best basket-ball player I knew and that I scored 30pts/game, I remember very well listening to a professional American basket-ball player whom was asked: “How do you turn professional?”
I was very impatient, expecting the secret that would lead me to the life of my dreams.
“You need to have confidence in yourself”…”What! That’s it? That’s too easy!”, was my reaction.
But today and I understand and if I was asked the same question, I would answer:
“You need to have confidence in yourself…when everything around you goes wrong”
When someone tells you “I love you”, when you excel in what you do, when you receive a compliment or an award, when you want to qualify for the triathlon of the Olympics and that everyday, you beat your PB’s, yes, it is very easy to have confidence in yourself.
But when you’re injured and a coach tells you “Listen, forget about the Olympics, just do that for fun”, it suddenly becomes difficult to have confidence in yourself. This is when believing in your dream can become impossible.
Do I believe in myself? Am I still a teenager or did I become a man?
What about this fire that I feel inside when I say “Triathlon, Olympics”, is it fake? Or is it a do or die thing?
A few months ago, my mother read me “If”, a poem from Rudyard Kipling. It is time to read it.