Ever since I got selected in the French national team in January, I am on another planet. It’s unbelievable. I’ve never been that motivated and focused. I repeat myself “I am on the French national team” as if it was a mantra. The consequences are that when I start doing something stupid, I stop right away and when I think of something that can improve my triathlon, I start doing it right away. I am locked-in. I’ve never felt like that. I’ve also been doing some cleaning in my life. Getting rid of a maximum of distractions. I even managed not to go on Facebook for one week! I even went to a 10 day-triathlon camp in Fuerteventura, in the Canary islands, without taking my laptop! Can you imagine??!! Before leaving however, I was afraid to do this. My computer is an important part of my lifestyle so I was really wondering if it was the right decision or not. Nevertheless I hate the idea, the possibility that my computer might control me, which might actually be the reality. But I decided and went to the airport and during the security scan, they asked me: “No liquids? No electronic devices?” and I said “No and no”.
And you know what? I didn’t miss my computer for one second. I didn’t even suffer from this. Not one second. Not one second did I get nervous thinking about the amounts of email potentially piling-up in my inbox. Honestly, I think I had only walked for 10 meters outside of my house that I already felt relieved and happy for leaving my Mac on my desk. Now I can say it loud and proud: “Computer, I control you!!” 🙂
As I told you, this selection in the French national team make me spend most of my days on Cloud 9. I did achieved some crazy things in my life, some things I am crazy proud of and some things I would have never even dreamt of. But never did something had that effect on me, my mood and my self-confidence. I explain it in the fact that succeeding in sports is probably what I’ve been wanting the most ever since I was born. It makes me think that deep inside of me, that’s what I really want. All the other things I accomplished were probably compensations, I believe. Do you know what you really want? Yeah tough question, I know.
Okay, let me take you to the Canary islands now and tell you about this training camp. We are 13 athletes and 4 coaches, staying at Playitas, on the island of Fuerteventura. To make it simple, this resort is heaven for triathletes. In fact, 75% of the clients must be triathletes, 20% swimmers and 5% family of athletes. Over there, no one has more than 10% body fat. There is an outdoor heated olympic pool, a huge fitness center, dirt running trails and great clean roads. The average temperature is 20 degrees. It’s sunny but each time we ride our bikes, we get a crazy head wind during the first hour.
It’s really nice to be able to train with 12 other triathletes but it’s even nicer to be constantly surrounded with other high-level athletes. Here, we meet Frederik Van Lierde and the Raelert brothers. I spend a lot of time at the fitness center and I ask questions to every athletes who does a little something that I don’t know. This is how I start chatting with Anja Beranek, pro german triathlete, 70.3 specialist. At first, I didn’t even recognise her and teased her saying that her drills looked easy 😉 In the spa, I meet Cristanto Grajales, short-distance professional triathlete. At lunch, I speak with Javier Gomez. I ask him about the upcoming season. I ask him how he’s feeling. He says: “I got a bit of fever but I’m okay, what about you?” Such a nice guy and great example. All these athletes have something in common. They look superior on the outside. They make you feel like you’re afraid to speak to them. But when you finally engage them and hear their voice, you realise they’re just super kind and super on the same level as you.
When I seat in the stands, beside the pool, I can see nothing but great swimmers. The unexpected impact is that it’s completely changing my definition of “normal”. To me, seeing a graceful swimmer, sliding 5 meters with a couple of strokes is becoming my new “normal”. If this changes in my brain, it should change in my body.
This is paradise, you got it. In one week, we swim 4 times, run 3 times and ride every day. The group atmosphere is awesome. We each introduce ourselves on the first night. Most guys race Ironman and 70’3 races. I tell them: “I just got qualified for the World Championship and I do nothing but short, short, short distances” 🙂
During the whole week, my friends tell me: “So Greg, you must only be at 40% of your maximum heart rate now, right?” but the coaches tell me: “Greg, come on, at this pace, you’re gonna get your ass kicked at the World’s!”
It took me 48 hours to be tired. During a 3hr bike ride where we got lost and climbed 18% hills, I finally got up on my bike seat and overtook the other guys without my heart rate going too high. I wasn’t at 40% but I was still in the right zone. For a second, I felt like I was Armstrong.
On the 4th day, we do a series of bike-run sets: 5k bike and 1,5k run, 6 times. Each time with a different theme.
But no one cares about the theme 😉 For most of us, it’s a race. I am usually the 2nd of the group. The 1st guy is way better. The 3rd, the 4th, the 5th are slightly below my level. To make it short, everybody expects me to be 2nd.
Right from the 1st running set, a buddy sprints right by me. It’s only the 1st set so I am pretty sure he’ll be dying before the end but still, coaches scream at me “Damn Greg, they’re gonna eat you at the World’s!”
During the very 1st bike set…my chain derails. I get off. My watch is right under my eyes. Seconds are going fast. I repair. Get up on the seat. I lost 71 seconds. Everybody expects me to be 2nd but they don’t give a care, they all went by me!
We’re far from the end so I am still confident. During the 3rd bike set, the theme is to get up on the seat and climb the hills. This is when I put a crazy big gear and catch #4 and #3. One bike set later, I even catch #2. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am strong on the bike.
The 5th run set must be run 50% hard, 50% easy. Of course, #3 doesn’t care and keeps a solid pace to catch me back before the transition zone. I can hear him breathe hard so I know he’s in the lactic zone. But still coaches see us and tell me: “Greg!!! What are you doin’??!!”
#3 (who’s now #2) gets to the transition zone about 3 seconds before me. Of course, everybody’s either cheering for me or screaming at me. Guess, I’m already a star.
I tell them “Calm the f**** down, he was at full speed! I’m gonna eat him in no time!”
There, while I am talking to the guys on the side, #2 is barely changing shoes. I change mine, put my helmet, clicks it, take my bike and boom!
There everybody goes “Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!!” as if it was the transition of the century! 🙂 (PS: it was)
It’s almost the end of the camp. My coach GoPro’s me while I’m swimming. 5 minutes to see all of my weaknesses. Super worth it…even if the pool is super cold.
We finish off camp with a sprint triathlon: 500m swim, 20k bike, 5k run.
Start in the pool. 5 per lane. No interval start. All at the same time. #1 goes like an arrow. Behind, we are 4, side by side. There must only be one centimetre between each of us. It’s chaos! I touch the wall one tenth of second before and #3, #4 and #5. That’s how I will be the 2nd out of the water. I make a beautiful mistake during the transition to the bike and forget to open the scratch of my shoes. I end up trying to pedal old-style, pushing on the pedal like crazy. But quickly, the others catch me back so I have no choice but to stop, get off, and correctly unscratch my shoes. One bike lap pater, my chain derails again. You know the deal: 71 seconds! Another bike lap later, I fall! I am in 5th position and I seem to be paying one week of effort and cannot catch anyone 😦 It’s the end of training camp, as we say.
I am back home in France. I touch my computer for the first time in 10 days. Man, that feels weird.
French national team in January. Training camp in Spain in February. And to think that I almost gave up triathlon last November.
You should never give up. Same for me. You’ve already seen this picture on Facebook of one guy digging and digging but stopping inches before finding a diamond cave. Well, that’s exactly how reality works.
When I am champion of something with a medal around my neck, a lot of people will see me for the first time and think that I am so great, that I must have something special…etc…etc. But you, you know the truth and you won’t do that mistake. You know that the only difference is that I kept doing and did not give up.
No matter what you do or what your dream is…never give up. Give up something only if it’s make you unhappy. That’s what I did with osteopathy. But I refuse you to give up just because it’s “too hard”. If it’s too hard now, the reward will be “too good” in the future.
It’s impossible to fail if you don’t give up. If I am world champion this year, it means it would haven taken me 31 years to achieve this dream. 31 years is a very long time but if someone told you “choose anything you want to be, in 31 years, it’s yours”. Would you say yes? Or just say that “phewww, it’s too long”.
Never give up. If the heart is not here, keep on and on, until it comes back. Last December, I told my life coach: “My heart is not there anymore. My drive is gone. I don’t know what to do”. When it’s like that, don’t think too much. You know that after every dark night…the sun comes back again.