Best of Training Camp – Week #3.3

Hey you 🙂

I am in Bordeaux, on the Atlantic coast of France for a 2.5 week training camp. Great preparation for the 5150 Marseille triathlon which is in 20 some days. Too bad I am scheduled for this race, I would have loved this camp to last 2.5 years 😉

3.3 – Training Camp  3:21 – 9k 26:43 – 655k 3:10 – 33.1k 33:14 – 697.1k
3.2 – Training Camp  4:52 – 11.8k 14:19 – 343.1k 3:15 – 30.7k 22:26 – 385.6k
3.1  5:19 – 13.3k  8:00 – 182.8k  1:55 – 19.5k 15:14 – 215.6k

This camp promises to be amazing both in terms of quality…and training quantity. Each day is highlighted by a lesson, a moment, a sentence. Okay, I’m telling’ you all.

The main 3 characters are my coach (Benjamin Sanson, also pro Ironman athlete), Greta (pro Hungarian female triathlete) and myself, Gregory B. We are together everyday with also a few other athletes.


Early august, Greta is racing in Tiszaujvaros, Hungary, an ITU World Cup stage. It’s the key moment of her season. After today’s 5h15 of training, she finishes her last swim set, drained and a bit less motivated. Coach tells her:

“Remember him? Remember me? Remember her? To win a world cup, you gotta be crazy. If you’re normal, you’re gonna finish 15-20th. So this last month, we’re going to work on getting crazier”

It reminds me of Puff Daddy who once said that to succeed “believing in yourself is not confident. You gotta believe to the point other people think you’re crazy”.

Greta is driving me back home. “What are your goals?”, I ask her:

“To turn pro in 2015 and go to Rio in 2016”. “And you?”, she asks:

“To turn pro in 2015 and go to Rio in 2016”, I answer.

From then a link is created and I dream to see the two of us race in Rio with our Coach at the finish line.


Greta has 4 sessions scheduled today. Coach “only” gives me 3.

I spend all night thinking “Should you also do the 4th session? Or should you stay with 3?”.

“Greta wants to go to the Olympics and she’s up for 4 sessions. Me too, I want to go but I should keep it at 3 only? No, it’s not normal. I gotta want it”. 

It’s decided. I’ll do 4 sessions.

It’s 5pm and it’s time for the 3rd session of the day: 2×12 hill sprints. During the first half, Greta finishes in front of me most of the time. She has 14 years of triathlon experience more than me so I guess it’s normal.

No, it’s not normal!

I want those games. I gotta be crazier.

During the 2nd half, I win 10 sprints out of 12.

There I learnt something. To be willing to win when you finish 2nd is easy.

But to win twice, 3 times, 4 times, 5 times, 6 times is difficult because you must say goodbye to all the kindness, mercy and other human qualities you have inside. And it’s even harder when the person finishing 2nd is someone you appreciate.

In fact, after 2 or 3 sprints, my “sweet” half thinks I won “enough”, that I can let Greta finish in front, that I can relax a bit.

But the crazy part of me looks straight ahead, screams in pain, doesn’t think, doesn’t look at the impression on Greta’s face…and win the next sprint.

We’re then going to the pool for today’s 4th session: series of 25m all out.

Greta kills me in the pool. But I give my all. I am going all out for the 19th time. My body burns but thinking about the tsunami in Japan gives me the extra boost to speed up a bit more. I come out of the water. Get on the block. Ready to dive.

I have about 8 seconds to recover and breathe. Then Coach says:

“Greg, I know a Frenchman who swam like you (meaning: not great) and who was World Champion. His name is Olivier Marceau. You too can be World Champion. And you can go to the Olympics too. Only if you want it”.


Brick session today: 2h bike time trial followed with a 3x5000m run.

Greta and I are by ourselves on the track. Coach is in the middle. Advising and motivating us.

I am doing the work during the 1st rep but Greta looks dead.

During the 2nd, we’re together.

During the 3rd, I am dead. Coach tells me to only go for 3000m and set the pace for Greta so she can finish it. I am starting but I am dead. Coach sees it and asks me to go for 2000m instead. “2 laps to go, Greg…”

In addition to my natural drive, I have 5-6 “shots of adrenaline” I use to motivate myself when I am dead.

When I can’t move, I think about one of those shots and…somehow I find a way to speed up. I don’t know how. Here are my “shots”:

  • I think about the earthquake.
  • I think about the anger I feel against the whole wide world. Sorry but I have some…
  • I am singing the French national anthem.
  • I think about “Pain is temporary. It may last for a minute, for an hour or even a year. If I quit however, it will last forever”.
  • I am singing the chorus from this song by Keny Arkana.
  • I am thinking “Hit the Beach”: a phrase, I read in rugby star Jonny Wilkinson’s autobiography, that refers to the Normandy Landing during World War 2 and the fact that sometimes, when you’re down in the ruck, you gotta be ready to die for your team.

It often happens to me. I feel dead but I use one of those shots. I get teary and BOOM, I find another gear.

But here, I am already full speed with 800m left and Greta right behind me. But I don’t have any “shots” left. I am empty.

Greta is right behind. “Come on Greg, a bit faster”.

In my head, I’m like “Damn, I am sorry but I can’t”.

Coach is 10 meters away, on the grass. He cheers me up one more time. I don’t remember what he said but he talked about the strength of the group. And there it my head something tilted and I thought “Yeah, I am doing this for Greta. I am doing this to help her, for her World Cup”.

And there I increased my speed. Finished my 800m and kept on running at 0.8km/h to cheer on Greta.

Why do you do what you do? For you? For someone else?


Here in Bordeaux, I live in the house of my dad’s sister, my aunt. I am lucky because ever since I got here, uncles, aunties, cousins, nephews and nieces are visiting non-stop. They all are family members I haven’t seen for 25 years because for 25 years, the relationship with my dad has been “average”, let’s say.

But here I realize all the love these people with the same last name as me have for me. They love what I do. They are super curious. They help me big time during this camp. They ask me 45000 questions per day and there I realize all the love that my last name BERGE represents.

Whereas before, I thought my last name BERGE only represented MY DAD and what I feel for him.

So if you made the same mistake as me and thought for too long that your dad and your mom are the only family you have or that they are the symbol of one half of your family, well you’re wrong. But you still got a lot of time to rectify things 🙂

How happy and proud I will be when I see my last name BERGE on my blue, white and red tri-suit. There is so much love behind that name actually.

How ironic it is that I picked a Coach living in a place where so many of my family members are gathered 🙂


It is dinner. Talking with my “new” family and I learn that one of my aunts participated in one of the sailing races of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. She finished 8th, I think.


Light 1h jog on the grass. My calves are crazy sore from the 5000’s but I am so proud to see what I am becoming.

Believe in your dream. Find allies. Be crazy. Dig deep. Love people. But go hard sometimes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s