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The Triple A

JawEver heard of A.A.A.? No, it has nothing to do with Aqua Addicted Anonymous. I may be addicted to swimming, but as you know, I’m more the noisy attention-whore-kind-of guy.
A.A.A. is simply the acronym of a mental approach to be practised when the odds are against you:


Or put another way – you can just sit and cry or you can choose to move along by making the most of it.

You never know when fate turns against you. For me, December 11th was my doomsday. I had an appointment with a dental surgeon for a regular apicoectomy, but things got more complicated as the infection had largely spread to the surrounding jaw bone and sinus, with one molar practically popping out of my jaw as soon as my gum was cut open. There I was, locally anaesthetized, lying with the surgeon’s tools and fingers stuck in my mouth, when the curse was laid on me – “Shit”. When you suddenly hear your doctor utter the infamous word, you know you’re screwed – as is your bank account! Only one thing is sure now: your savings are long gone and there’ll be no food, no sport, no fun, no life for you for the next few weeks! 😮

Desperate situations call for desperate reactions. So is my philosophy of life. Complete drama is allowed for the first 24 hours. Plenty of drugs and self-pity. Forget about being positive. And don’t even try to comfort me with the usual “It’s going to be ok!”. Hell no, it’s not going to be ok! Right now it’s a God-damned catastrophe! I’m game over! My world has fallen apart. This is the end of all things. This is the end of ME! The whole bloody universe should be mourning for me right now! Gin & TonicMy dignity, my pride, my life – everything has been taken away from me. Give me bottles of Tonic, buckets of Gin! If I’m going to sink, I might as well get plastered!
Then, the next day, it’s time for the Triple A. You wake up and you pack your boa away. You pull yourself together and try to make the most of the shitty situation you’ve ended up in. For whether you like it or not, this shit’s going to stick with you for quite some time.

Firstly – you acknowledge. No need to deny it. The damage has happened. The damage is here to stay. It’s a fact. No matter how much I hate it, I’m hurt. My body is weakened. I’m actually human! (Who would have thought?)

Secondly – you accept. What we dwell on expands, so let’s stop ruminating. My jaw won’t grow again overnight. My sinus is punctured. Healing takes time. Bye bye, my next workouts! So long, Sonny boy! Three-four weeks of recovery. Basta. No discussion.

Thirdly – you attack. You ask yourself what you could do that could make this better. Answering this question quashes every frustration right away. So I devised a way to keep myself energized. I decided to see my injury as an extra recovery I could use to reboot myself both mentally and physically. I dug into my library and found my favourite book by Stefan Zweig (don’t give me that face!). I read it again, along with other books I’d been stacking up on my night stand for quite a while. I caught up with friends and went to the movies. I browsed through my archives on my laptop to read/watch articles and videos I’d been collecting about running and swimming for the past few months. I grabbed the chance to revise my strength conditioning and swimming strategy up to my big challenge in August (Beltquerung). And most of all, instead of crying over my marathon training being wasted on this unexpected twist of surgery, I tossed my existing running plan away and made a new one based on January 15th as a fresh start. I may not be able to break Kimetto’s world record this March, but running in Rome will be a fantastic experience, so that’s what I choose to focus on. As well as the romantic part where Martin and I will be sharing a plate of spaghetti in an iconic alley on a moonlit date. He’ll be my Tramp, I’ll be his Lady. Or whatever…

Obviously those four weeks of recovery away from the pool and the roads have cut my stamina in half, but mentally they have left me more motivated and determined than ever before. My body and my mind have rested. I’ve found strength in relaxing and reframing my goals and strategies, taking all the time I needed to rebuild myself. Be a stronger version of me. François release 76.2.1 post-surgery. Bitch, I’m SO back in business now!

At the end of the day, the choice is always quite simple: live or let die. And I can tell you it takes more than a resected jaw to kill a Gaul!


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