I work as a teacher at a sports school in the south of France. In the morning the kids go to school and in the afternoon they train for four to five hours in tennis. Some of the kids are quite talented and will go on to be professionals. Others less so but are still competitive. All of them benefit enormously from being physically active and outdoors for most of the day.
After working at this school, I don’t know why every educational system doesn’t adopt at least two hours a day to physical training. I’ve never met a bunch of healthier, happier kids in my life. They’re not perfect and they have their own set of problems but as far as general well-being and health goes, I’ve never met a batch of kids that comes close to these ones.
A few weeks ago one of the kids remarked on my Uto Swimrun sweatshirt and started asking me about the race. After I explained it, she asked me what place my wife and I finished the race.
“I have no idea.”
She was shocked. This is an athlete that is used to winning and is one of the top under 16 tennis players in her country. She is not used to showing up unless she is going to go home with a cup in her hand. In other words, she is not getting out of bed unless she’s sure she’s going to win. I could see the wheels turning.
“Have you guys ever won a race?”
“Have you ever won a race?”
“Oh. So you just do these things because you like it?”
“I suppose so.”
The thought of just doing a sport because you enjoy it was as foreign to her as the truth is to Donald Trump. Eventually she let that concept of participating just for the sake of it roll around in her head.
“Oh cool.” Which could be teen speak for ‘I don’t get it.’
So I thought I’d come up with my own list of reasons why I train.
Years of training have taught me what my limits are and how to train. I am in awe of the fact that Jasmin and Thomas are planning on doing Hvar, Uto and Otillo. Even if I did not have a job, I know there is no way I could mentally and physically tackle those three races in one season. I can only mentally take on one big race per season. Also, I can’t even think about training for a race unless I’m truly ready for it mentally.
When I have finally made up my mind to do an ultra or a swimrun and I feel it in my bones I like to take about five months to train for it. The first two months are spent shaking off the rust and losing some pounds. The following four months up to race day are spent piling up mileage and getting faster. I try to do at least two speed interval training sessions while training for a race. I find that any more than that and I am prone to injury.
I wish I didn’t have to let life hamper my training but there are certain realities I have to face. I have to be at work fairly early and I live 20km from the school. While training I try to bike to school a few times a week and also run home from work every now and then. However, I am a morning person when it comes to training. I have the most amount of energy during the day about half an hour after I wake up. As the day moves on, I lose my energy and drive. After I’m done teaching there is not much left in the tank so I really have to kick myself in the butt to get going. When I really don’t feel like training at five or six, I have to ask myself honestly, “Am I truly tired or just being lazy?” Most of the time, it’s the later and I try to motivate myself with a cup of coffee and some loud and fast music.
I also like to do some substitution training. Throw in a bike instead of a run or a tough core workout instead of doing speed training. I find mixing it up keeps me from being bored and injured. When I’m not training for a race, I still like to keep an eye on my nutrition so I don’t pack on the pounds but I’m not so religious about my workouts. I rarely wear a watch for running or swimming and will do what I feel like doing. I still try to be active for about an hour to two every day for five or six times a week but that might mean more jiu-jitsu and less cardio or even just more stretching.
On a final note, got some good news this week. The Osteopath is quite happy with how my back is coming along and gave me the go ahead to start running again. I’m only allowed to do a couple of 5K’s next week but I’m ecstatic. She has advised against doing Hvar in April but if I keep up my physiotherapy, it looks like we’ll be able to do the new race in the Otillo series at the end of November. Woo Hoo!
I grew up in a small town north of Toronto. I started running on country roads and fell in love with long distance running when I was twelve years old. I loved (and still do) getting up just before the sun and going for a run in the country. Running in Canada you get everything from 30+°C heat in the summer and minus 20°C cold in the winter. I started challenging myself when I was 13 and would just run for hours on the weekends not really knowing the distances or pace but just seeing if I could run to the next town and back and then set a new challenge. I first heard about an Ironman when I read an article about it in Sports Illustrated when I was about 13 years old. At the time, an Ironman was a disorganized, crazy endurance challenge and I set my sights on doing one. Finally did my first Ironman more than ten years later in Canada out in British Columbia after completing several marathons and several smaller triathlons. I finished. I still remembered how exhausting that first one was. Although I’m not fast, I love the endurance aspect of sports. This led me to the world of ulra-marathons where I’ve done a 50 mile, 100KM and 100 mile race. A few years ago, my wife told me about these swimrun races in Scandanavia. Easily the toughest endurance event I’ve done because you need to not only have endurance but you have to be quick. Then there’s the challenge of nature, the cold and trails. The best thing about it is being a team with my wife and sharing the highs and the lows that a demanding endurance sport brings. One moment you’re telling each other to fuck off and the next you’re kissing at the finish line.something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
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