Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - BY LOREEN PINDERA

It’s hard to imag­ine what Jérôme Bres­son could do in the year ahead to top 2015 – the best year of his life so far.

The 33-year-old en­gi­neer-turned-ki­ne­si­ol­o­gist and triathlon coach from Ac­ton Vale, Que. saw his coach­ing ca­reer take off. Bres­son, who only be­gan coach­ing in 2013, was nom­i­nated Que­bec’s coach of the year for his work with the up-and-com­ing U15s at the Tri­omax ju­nior club in Drummondville.

As an age-g roup triath­lete, the ac­co­lades just kept pil­ing up for the trans­planted French­man: provin­cial sprint-dis­tance cham­pion, win­ner of the Coupe du Que­bec for his age group, bronze medal­list at the Cana­dian Olympic-dis­tance na­tional cham­pi­onship in Ma­gog. In long-dis­tance triathlons too, Bres­son made his mark: He was the first Que­be­cer to cross the line at Ironman Mont Trem­blant last Au­gust in a per­sonal best time of 9:09:21. Oh – and 100th over­all at Kona last Oc­to­ber.

And did I men­tion? His part­ner Joëlle gave birth to their son Bastien last April.

“The baby’s ar­rival meant I had less time to train,” Bres­son says. “I’m de­vot­ing time to my fam­ily… De­spite that, I had my best re­sults ever.’’

Af­ter the birth of his el­dest, Anaïs, six years ago, Bres­son adopted a “less is more” ap­proach to triathlon train­ing.

“For an ama­teur ath­lete who has a job, a fam­ily and other in­ter­ests, it’s im­por­tant that the train­ing doesn’t take over ev­ery­thing,” Bres­son says. “You have to keep a bal­ance.”

A decade ago, when he took up the sport, 20 hours a week was doable. To­day, he trains as lit­tle as half that – out of that ded­i­ca­tion to bal­ance, yes, but also be­cause his re­sults are proof that a min­i­mal­ist ap­proach can work.

The trick, he says, is making ev­ery work­out count. That means no junk miles on the bike, un­less they’re just for plea­sure.

“You can go out and ride five hours at a re­laxed pace, with­out push­ing, but it’s not go­ing to de­velop you as an ath­lete,” Bres­son says. “Those rides are a waste of time. For me, it’s about be­ing ef­fi­cient, about op­ti­miz­ing your train­ing.”

Bet­ter, he says, to do three hours of hard cy­cling at your race pace. Sim­i­larly with run­ning – es­pe­cially in the weeks lead­ing up to a race – it’s about get­ting your body used to run­ning fast on tired legs.

“If you are lim­ited in the train­ing time you have, it’s really im­por­tant to tar­get the speed at which you are able to race and to do your long work­outs at that pace,” he says.

As for swim­ming, rather than head­ing to the pool alone to swim end­less lengths, Bres­son rec­om­mends join­ing a Mas­ters’ swim club, where you’re forced to push your­self against other, of­ten stronger, swim­mers.

It all be­gins with a solid base of fit­ness, of course, prefer­ably gained pro­gres­sively, over a couple of years.

Bres­son doesn’t have much time for the seden­tary “wannabe” who signs up for an Ironman so he can check it off his bucket list.

“The dras­tic change in their rou­tine, all the train­ing, it’s just go­ing to leave them dis­cour­aged,” he says. “They’ll drag them­selves over the fin­ish line so they can tell their friends, ‘I did it.’” But, Bres­son says, few will do an­other one.

“It’s not what I’m look­ing for in my ath­letes,” he says of the 30 age-groupers of all lev­els he has in his stable. “I want them to look at the longer term, to take two or three years be­fore even think­ing, ‘I want to do an Ironman’ – to take plea­sure in the train­ing as much as in com­plet­ing the race.”

With his age-group ath­letes, Bres­son takes the same ap­proach to­ward plan­ning their train­ing as he does with his own pro­gram – look­ing at how much time each has avail­able, their past re­sults and their goals for the com­ing sea­son, then map­ping out an in­di­vid­u­al­ized, re­al­is­tic train­ing plan.

“If you take on too much vol­ume, if you lose your work-life bal­ance, you lose the plea­sure you oth­er­wise get from this,” Bres­son says. “In the long run, it’s not sus­tain­able.”

Hit­ting just the right bal­ance, on the other hand, works on ev­ery level, he con­cludes: You hit your goals as a triath­lete, and ev­ery­thing else in your life is man­age­able, too.

“Your morale, your phys­i­cal well-be­ing, how of­ten you get sick, your pro­duc­tiv­ity at work – it all goes to­gether,” Bres­son says. “It all gets bet­ter through the prac­tice of this sport.”

Triath­lete Loreen Pindera is an ed­i­tor and broad­caster at CBC News in Mon­treal.


Jérôme Bres­son

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