It’s not every day that I get a chance to run with an Olympic gold medalist. Jan Frodeno, a member of the Breitling Triathlon Squad, was kind enough to take me on a training run (a training run for me, he was doing his real work later in the day, an eight kilometer run where he would average 3:30/kilometer). I’m a long-time runner, but I’m not too fast; luckily he was a real gentleman, adjusting his long stride to match my rather pedestrian pace.
Surprisingly for an Olympic triathlete, which involves swimming, biking and running a full marathon, Frodeno only started swimming at age 15. “I came late to triathlons,” he explained. “I was introduced to it by a triathlete who I used to swim with when I was a surf lifeguard in Australia. I thought I would give it a try.”
Frodeno has been phenomenally successful, winning Olympic gold in 2008, and he loves the training part of his sport. He trains three times a day, just about every day of the year. “After all, I only compete eight to ten times a year, so my life is training,” he explained. “I have a love/hate relationship with time. I love to take time in the morning, but my performance is all about time, because that’s what we are measured by.
“My life is governed by time,” he continued. “I start my day with coffee, which I am passionate about, and in order to make coffee the right way, it’s all about time and timing. I wear my Breitling watches all the time, even when I go for coffee ride with my friends.”
As we ran along the Rhine in Basel, it was apparent that he was really enjoying himself, commenting on the sunrise and the beautiful scenery. “I still run, ride bike and swim for fun, as I love getting out and getting fresh air,” he explained.
Not long ago, Frodeno had a stress fracture in his back which forced him to take a three month break from training. “I was able to evaluate everything in my life and I realized that I wasn’t done with training, and I came back more committed than ever,” he detailed.
Frodeno and I had a great time running and the three miles/five kilometers was over far too quickly. It was a real treat for me to run with an actual Olympic gold medalist, and Frodeno couldn’t have been nicer, never complaining about the slow pace I set.
In fact, when we finished on the Mittlerer Bridge he said, “Thank you for getting me out and running.”
After the obligatory selfie, Frodeno talked about his work with Breitling. “I love watches and I really cherish the opportunity I have with Breitling,” he said. “The Squad is all about connecting with people. Unlike Formula One, where all you can do is wave at the cars going by, here you can run the same courses we run and we get a chance to interact directly with people.”
Well, he certainly connected with me, and I’ll be rooting for him in everything he does going forward.