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Chopping wood and riding horses - Thomas Blanc returns to fitness

by Editor
Wednesday 18th March 2015

Follow one of obstacle course racing's nicest and most successful athletes, Thomas Blanc, on his journey to the Spartan Race World Championships 2015

Chopping wood and riding horses - Thomas Blanc returns to fitness

When we last spoke it was Christmas; I was injured, I was not feeling 100% and to be honest I was pretty sad. However the New Year brought a lot of hope and a lot of physio. I was visiting the guys at Six Physio (Luke or Chris) 5 or 6 times a week and we worked on my bio mechanics; trying to get me to the stage where I could run again or at least hope too.

I supplemented this with some cycling, swimming and some strength training such as 100 pull ups a day. Although I struggled with the strength training as without the running it became mundane and to be honest cycling has never been my strongest discipline.

After racing is taken away from you, it makes you realise just how much of a part of your life it is. I suddenly found myself with nothing to do at weekends and I felt that the best way to get out there and see events was to start marshalling; it seemed to me it was the only way to keep in touch with my friends and the Obstacle Course Racing community.

I cycled from London to the Brecon Beacons to help out at the Fandance (which was a challenge as the terrain was far from flat). The Fandance is a race that I have always wanted to do and I knew I could not run in it, let alone compete so it was really good to see other people compete and I could encourage them to push on and do it. I instantly hit it off with some of the members of the team from the military, although I fear that they thought I was from the French Foreign Legion!

This helped me stay motivated as people would ask me how I was doing, when was I coming back or said it was good to see me. This gave me the push I needed to concentrate on my recovery and take the time to ensure that I was taking small but strong steps back to the start line.

To this end I decided to go back to France for a few weeks and see my family before I could start running again. My family own a farm and I was quickly pulled in to doing some labour work; such as chopping wood for eight hours a day or riding horses.

Chopping wood and riding horses - Thomas Blanc returns to fitness

In or around Valentines Weekend I made my first steps to run again. I cannot expalin the feeling to you; it was fantastic. Although I was only running for small distances, such as for a minute then resting for two minutes, it was a huge relief and I felt that a massive weight had been taken off my shoulders. I knew I had to be careful (and I still do) and I had to be wary of getting too excited; but I am up to about 9k and I feel so happy just to be able to do this again.

During this time I thought long and hard about my training, my goals and what I wanted from OCR going forward. I have always had a good relationship with Team inov-8 OCR and even when they were my biggest rivals, I always had respect for them and if I am honest, I was always a bit jealous of them.

I think this is down to their approach towards obstacle course racing; their team is set on the premise of friendship and they always give the impression that they are just looking to have fun and enjoy the experience.  I guess my relationship started before the beginning of this year though and dates back to the Spartan World Championships in America when I flew to the United States with James Appleton and we joined Jon Albon, soon to become the OCR World Spartan Champion.

I got to see first hand how they were with each other, their camaraderie and their passion. This feeling stuck with me and was noticeable once again when I was racing against Team inov-8 OCR at the Nuclear Rush in November. So it was in my mind that I could develop, I could raise my game and I could be part of something very special by joining them.

I am very grateful to Michael Cohen and the support, training and experience he and Wild Forest Gym have given me for the past couple of years. However, I was coming to that point where I wanted to train by myself and, like everyone I guess, try something new.

Surprisingly I was not nervous about joining Team inov-8 OCR and some of the best OCR athletes this country has; to me it was a fantastic opportunity to develop as an athlete and push myself further and harder than before.

There is a distinct difference between the backgrounds of some of the team and myself: where as my team mate Ross is an Ironman and former Duathlon World Champion and James Appleton is an incredible athlete, I just came to this sport, like a lot of people I guess, because I was good at running. With some real pedigree in the team and a winning mentality, I really thought that I could learn from these people and hopefully add to the value of their team.

This being said, one of the main pulling factors for me was that I wanted to have fun again and Team inov-8 OCR offered me the opportunity to play hard, train hard and race hard. Since joining the team the first few weeks have been quite different to what I have been accustomed to. I have started training with the team at BMF (who are one of the team’s main sponsors) at Hyde Park; the mixture of bodyweight training and running is fantastic for the needs of OCR and I am really enjoying the chance to do it. In addition there is much excitement over new sponsors, such as 2XU, and the amount of races we are looking at doing. 

So looking ahead there are some big things coming up, for both myself and Team inov-8 OCR. Although I am not back to full strength, I aim to be competing fully at both RatRace’s Dirty Weekend and Nuclear Rush in May. The main focus for me personally has to be racing back in the USA and do the big four: the Spartan World Championship, the OCR World Championship, the Battle Frog International invite and World’s Toughest Mudder. Also I have to defend my title in Madrid at the Spartan Super and I hope to do a few of the United Kingdom’s Spartan series.

I will see how we get on, but for now it is good to be back running and surrounded by new supportive team mates.

Chopping wood and riding horses - Thomas Blanc returns to fitness

At the time of this article; Thomas took a last minute place for the Brutal 10k at Windmill Hill in Surrey and despite running for “fun” placed an incredible third. The comeback is well on track and with a move to Team inov-8 OCR - this has to be one of the most exciting years yet for Thomas.


Six Physio is located in London and can be found here: www.sixphysio.com

To see Thomas' journey over the next few months, please visit his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Thomas.Blanc.OCR or for more information on Inov8 OCR please visit: www.inov-8ocr.com


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