And you thought your training was tough! Layer in issues like smog monitoring in order to maximize the best time to be outside, as well as food from a different culture, and well, you’ve got an interesting paradigm to manage for your training. That doesn’t stop our November Athlete of the Month, however.

Boris Bourdin was nominated by his coach because while living abroad in Shanghai, China, he’s found a way to blend a very demanding work schedule and busy family life, with his goals for the sport he has come to thoroughly enjoy! Coach Brad recognized that Boris has had to get very creative with his training due to the smog and traffic around Shanghai. Brad noted that he was confident Boris would have achieved his sub 6-hour goal for Korea 70.3 even without the shortened swim! Boris’s commitment to training and the focus he keeps has earned him this recognition!
Enjoy the Q&A with Boris below:
Tell us how you came to live in Shanghai (where are you originally from).
Basically, my company offered me to take the GM China role. I have been working for Danone Group for 12 years, and this is our 5th country in 12 years. Originally, I am a French Kiwi and left France 17 years ago.
Where does your passion for triathlon stem from?
Actually, my passion is sailing. I was doing competitive inshore and offshore racing, finished 8th of the Quebec Saint Malo Transat in 2012, and still hold the World Speed Record between Taiwan and Hong Kong! When I arrived in Indonesia for my previous posting, no racing – so I had to find something else. There, you have access to outdoor pools 365 days a week, and I started with the Bali triathlon in June 2011 – and loved it!
How is your training different in Shanghai/ Have you had to make any accommodations for training by living there?
First thing in the morning, you get your smartphone and check the AQI- Air Quality Index. Then you chose your options – training indoor or outdoor. Weird, right? Good things do exist though as there are many biking options, large roads, and low traffic, but all dead flat.
Describe the racing opportunities in that part of the world.
In China, triathlon is getting more popular. There are a couple of ITU races every year, and a few local ones. They are worth doing. And, considering the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, there are plenty of 70.3 or full IM in less than 3 hours on a flight. So, racing is a great way to discover the region. And beautiful scenery as well!
What is the international community like for triathlon?
There a great club (Shanghai Tri Club) near my office, and its a good blend between Chinese and expats, with all ages. So, it’s extremely easy to find some groups to train with (swim, bike run).
Describe your experience at Korea 70.3.
I trained very efficiently with Coach Brad, starting mid-Aug for a race in early October. So, not much time with a sub 6-hour target, and goal to achieve a 30 minute better time than my May Japan 70.3 time. I basically stuck to the plan, did not push it as hard as I could on the bike to save the legs for the run, and I had a very smooth run, which is where I always crashed before. I enjoyed every minute! Funny thing, the swim was shortened because of heavy fog, and the Koreans had some fun activities (dancing, singing) during the waiting time. The most memorable moment is the last 7k, a Korean ran side by side with me, and “pushed” me to the finish line, we had awesome teamwork!
If Coach Brad could make it to Shanghai, what favorite training route would you take him on?
I would take him 45 min away from Shanghai, behind the airport, at Dishui Lake. A nice 8k loop of an artificial lake, then 15k straight line along the seawall – the sea on one side, the rice fields, and birds on the other. Then, I would take him running along the Bund, the traditional Shanghai on one side, and viewing the financial center in Pudong across the river. Magic!
What are some of your key nutrition components? Are you eating more local fare, or how are you managing the international cuisine with your training?
When in China, better not eat too much local, not because of the taste, just because you are never too sure of what you eat. So, I bring back some sardines from France! I am a big fan of www.sardinespirates.com. They have sardines from all over the world, with different oils – great intake of Omega3 and proteins.
Please share a nugget of advice about training or racing you’ve learned from Coach Brad.
With Coach Brad, I was surprised about having something to do every day, no rest day. And realized that actually, some low-intensity workouts were just as relaxing as a day off. The heavy load was on the weekend, which was very well balanced with my working life as well, and kept me very quiet on Sunday afternoons after the long Sunday rides. For racing, we aligned on a race plan, and basically, I had to stick to it, which I did!
How does your family support your triathlon goals?
They are incredibly supportive, and I thank all of them big time for that! Especially my wife, as I can be very picky at times about food during high-intensity times, and she is alone with the kids when I am out there racing. My son loves when I bring the medals home!

Coaching like Boris has is ...

RIGHT HERE!