Triathlon Magazine Canada



Olivier Forest

In just over four years as a triathlete Olivier Forest has made some impressive inroads in the sport. The 20-year-old TroisRivie­res native has represente­d Canada at American cup events both as a junior and elite. Determined to spend some time training “Kenyan style” Forest travelled to Kenya last year to see how his idols in the running world trained. The trip seems to have inspired him to take up long-distance racing himself.

First of all, how did you start triathlon? OLIVIER FOREST: I decided to start training a little bit when I was 15. My friend and classmate Pavlos Antoniades always inspired me with his discipline and his abilities, both at school and in sport, so I decided to start competing. I started working with Isabelle Gagnon, but now Pascal Dufresne is coaching me. I started from scratch; I couldn’t swim and had never cycled. It was complicate­d at first, but I liked it!

Last year you trained in Kenya for a period of several weeks. First of all, why Kenya? Second, how was your experience there? I decided to fly to Kenya because most of the people who inspire me are Kenyan runners. What I really appreciate about them is that they are people who give themselves all the means necessary to succeed, and they work very hard. The depth is incredible. I was in the small village of Iten, which is about a fifth the size of Trois-Rivières. Everyone runs and would easily be among the best here in Canada.

While I was there I had the chance to see Eliud Kipchoge, who has set the world record twice in the marathon and was the first man to run the distance in under two hours. I also saw Mo Farah, who was there for a training camp.

I think what I enjoyed the most was living with the athletes from the French team and the other people who were in training at the Bob Tahri Center.

Unfortunat­ely, before I left, I tore a muscle, so I couldn’t run as much as I wanted, but I still cycled on a makeshift bike.

What did you learn from your experience in Kenya? Have you changed the way you train since then? I don’t really think it changed the way I trained, but when I started triathlon I was having fun, I wasn’t trying to think too much, and I was pushing as hard as I could. My time in Kenya reminded me that training is supposed to be something simple, and there are no secrets.

This year will be your first year in long-distance triathlon. What are your expectatio­ns and how have you changed your training to meet this new challenge? I think this type of distance suits me really well, because I am better at endurance racing and I don’t mind training alone.

Soon, I’ll start to do more specific training for the distance and will practise my timetrial position on the bike – that’s still not comfortabl­e for me. I don’t really have any expectatio­ns, but I do want to be competitiv­e.

How was 2020 for you? How did you stay motivated? In 2020 I regained the passion I had for the sport that I had lost a little over the previous two years. I will always remember the Quebec triathlon training camp in Florida in 2017 when I had just started. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by several good athletes who inspire me, Alexis Lepage, for example, and got to train with them. I came out with a lot of tips and advice, and I had so much fun at the camp. I remember thinking that the sport is great because it brings a lot of passionate people together.

So in 2020, I feel like I returned to “simplicity” and stayed discipline­d, training hard and loving what I do. Of course I would have liked to compete, but I think that’s what I needed to continue as an athlete.

Describe a typical training day. These days I do a lot of cycling, because, since October, I’ve had a stress fracture in my shin. Since then Pascal and I have taken the opportunit­y to develop my cycling skills. For three months, I have made lots of progress. I’ve been doing 15 to 16 hours on the bike minimum. So, for me, a typical day would be either a two- to three-hour easy bike, followed by a strength and cross-country skiing session, or an intense bike workout for two to three hours.

Do you have any tips or advice for people who have trouble training all winter, especially on how to make indoor cycling more fun (or at least less boring!)? My friend Pavlos helped me discover Zwift – time goes by quickly on it because you’re focused on what you’re doing and it’s more engaging. Sometimes, even in summer, I would rather do my sessions on it than go outside.

There are also races on Zwift. Triathlon Québec has organized a series of races during these difficult times, and even if it is not like real competitio­ns, it keeps me motivated.

Also, I’d also say that it is better both mentally and physically to train a little all year rather than try to hit big training blocks.

What triathlons do you want to take part in 2021, and do you have medium- and long-term performanc­e goals? I’m currently planning my season, but my plan is to compete as a pro.

Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches is a profession­al triathlete and freelance journalist.

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