How much – Week #2.4

Last week, 24h after a 20k time-trial bike work-out, I woke up, limping. So I took 2 days off. My coach then told me: “Alright. No bike and no run for next week. We’re gonna go for a swimmer’s week”. Here is what a “swimmer’s week” look like.

2.4 8h09 – 21.4k / / 8h09 – 21.4k
2.3 5h53 – 15.9k 6h34 – 140k 1h – 13k 13h27 – 168.9k
2.2 5h11 – 13.3k 11h33 – 221.4k 2h35 – 30.8k 19h19 – 265.5k
2.1 4h01 – 11.3k 10h57 – 245.1k 2h18 – 26.4k 17h15 – 282.8k

This week, for the first time in my life…:

  • I lost my way during an open-water swim!
  • I succeeded in an english interpreting test 🙂
  • I spent one afternoon, tourist style, in a small town, 40km away from my place 🙂
  • I swam 100m in less than 1’30’’. Yes !

This week, I failed when…:

  • Following an argument with my mother, I shouted at her 😦

I think I discovered something this week, regarding learning and improving.

In sports, during studies or in many other fields, we often ask the same question: “How much time?”

“How many minutes of abs per day to have a 6 pack?”

“How much work-out per day to lose 3 kilos?”

“How long should my long run be if I’m training for a half-marathon?”

“How long should I study to learn a new language?”

How much, how many, how long, how, how, how????

We ask this question for two reasons:

  1. Either we’re lazy and we want to do the minimum.
  2. Or we really want something and we want to make sure we succeed.

The first time I met my coach was in Singapore, November 2013, for an open-water swim clinic. Among all the tips he gave on that day, I remember one thing he said:

“Professional athletes are among the most boring people on Earth” (PS: He’s a pro triathlete).

“Because training is always the same, repetitive, monotonous. There is no secret. When you train for an Ironman, you go to a track, fix a pace and do it 100 times”.

I think that’s what Chris Mac Cormack calls “consistency”. He says it’s the capacity to reproduce an effort again and again which determines your chance of success (rather than training like crazy for 2 months and then stop).

My mother seems me train and she’s like: “I want to go to the beach in the morning, then head to the pool and to the gym, at night”. I tell her: “No mum. First, try to do one thing everyday for a week, then you’ll see if you can do more or not”.

When I used to teach english in Japan, my student all used to tell me: “Urayamashii! I wish I could speak english like you. It’s not even your mother tongue. How did you do?” (PS: “Urayamashii” means “I’m jealous”)

I used to always answer them: “Everyday. Never mind if it’s for an hour, 30 minutes, 10 minutes or only 1 minute, you need to do it everyday”.


I remember ultra-marathoner Anton Krupicka say: “to me, a good training is one I can do again tomorrow”.

Today, I was at the gym for my 4th weekly session of strength-training. My exercise routine is always the same. It’s been the same for months. Abs, gluteus, my right leg and other exercises I come up with every week.

I often wonder if I should change and adjust the number of minutes…etc.

Today, I was doing the “invisible chair” exercise and flexed my legs for 40 seconds more than usual (3 minutes overall).

So how much do you do it in order to reach that point and improve?

That’s where I realized that how much you do it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you do it. Period. That you do it regularly. Never mind how much. When I do the chair exercise, I flex my thighs and just stop when it burns too much. Never mind how much.

“How much” is a question I often ask when it comes to my study of Japanese. 30 minutes per day or more?

Never mind actually. I should sit at my desk and do it. A bit everyday. What I can. Everyday.

4 weeks to go before the 5150 Marseille triathlon. I saw the results from last year:

  • The winner finished in 2h.
  • The 1st in my age-group category finished in 2h21.
  • The 50th (out of 500) in my age-group category finished in 2h49.

Usually, when I start a race, my target is always to do the best I can. I never think about the ranking and rarely about the time.

But when I saw that my age-category winning time was 2h21 (I finished London in 2h23), I suddenly realize that one day, I am going to have to race to win. One day, during the race, I am going to have to look at the guy in front of me and think: “No way this guy finishes before me”.

I realize now that mentally “to do your best” and “to win” is way different.

Last night, I dreamt of that race 🙂 Dreamt I was 2nd out of the water but that I was losing my way during the run course! 😦

At least, my unconscious knows I’m becoming a better swimmer 🙂

Have a great week. You’ve been doing your best for a long time. Time to win now.


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