"To give up, you must know how to suffer"

Cristian González

11 November, 2011

Kilian Jornet has become one of the icons of Catalan sport and also a model to be followed by many young people. His figure has transcended the modest scope of mountain sports to enter the big door of the news of the media. A sample of his popularity is the unexpected success of his first book, Córrer o Dies (Now Books, 2010), which has been widely disseminated.

Kilian Jornet i Burgada was born in Sabadell the 1987 but she grew up in the Cerdanya, and already very young their parents were inspired by the fans of mountain sports. His capacity for effort and sacrifice have led him to be a champion of the world several times in the trail running mode (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010) and also in mountain skiing (2010 and 2011) .

How did you start on trail running and mountain skiing?
The fact that they do these mountain sports is no coincidence since, as a child, we lived with my parents and my sister in the mountain refuge of Cap del Rec, located in the ski resort of the bottom of Lles de Cerdanya, in the Catalan Pyrenees. It was where we started going to the mountain and skiing. Before taking the first steps on foot, we had already made the first kilometers with skis. Aside, our parents were and still are enthusiasts of the mountain, and when we had some days of vacations, we were always going to do some crossing or climb some summit.

In winter, apart from skiing (we went every day to school and club), we did a day skiing lessons per week and we participated in cross-country skiing competitions, not just in the Pyrenees, but also to the Alps in classical races such as Foulée Blanche, and school crossings.

This was how, without realizing it, we were already inculcated from a very young age the love of the mountain and the fact of enjoying sport.

When did you decide to compete?
It was at 13, when I went to school, that, almost by chance, we learned that there was a Mountain Skiing Center (CTEMC). I was presented to the selection tests and it was then when I met the competition mountain ski and I began to train in a serious and planned way.

It was also thanks to the people of the world of cross-country skiing that I discovered mountain races. They were the ones who made them in the summer to keep the shape and remove the worm from the competition that encouraged me and, little by little, I was also engaging so far, that I combine both seasons.

What are your most immediate sporting challenges?
In this season there are two major projects: the Kilian's Quest, which is in its third edition and that this year brings us to Greece and Peru, and the project of five races on five continents, where I will run the most important race of each continent We have started in Australia with TNF 100, now we are in the USA with the WS100, and then Europe with UTMB, Africa with the Table Mountains and Asia with Kinabalu. Apart from these, I will also run Zegama, Giir di Mont and Sierre Zinal, three races that I love.

What do you need to be the strongest?
Everything is important: food, physical form, material, psychological factor, etc. The strategy only serves if you go first, because if you go second the only strategy that you pose is to catch the front. I also think it's important to meet you. For example, if you go down well you can let someone go a little because on the descent you can catch it.

Do you only use sports from the competitive edge?
No, I especially understand sport as a way to have fun, I never conceive training as a job or obligation to improve competitions, but I go out every day to the mountain to enjoy. The competitions are the excuses to be able to travel, meet people, discover cultures and also to be able to give everything to force me to look for my limits.

What happens to you when you compete in such hard tests?
In long distance tests, when you run more than twenty or thirty hours, many things happen to your head. You start with the excitement of the race, then pay attention to the landscape, you are distracted by the music, think about the things you have to do, as if you were at home or at work. In fact, running becomes an automation more, like breathing. When you begin to suffer try to deceive the mind to hide the pain. First, you set small goals such as «I get to that neck or control and then abandon it» and you always want to continue. You can imagine that you are a soldier or an Indian who chases you and when fatigue is very large, you simply enter a bubble where you have no strength or thinking.

How do you physically prepare yourself?
Normally a type week is based on two to four hours of training in the mornings, and an hour and a half in the afternoon, with skiing in winter or running in summer. This seven days a week.

And mentally?
I do not prepare it specifically, although I love psychology and work it, I think it's a job of viewing the race (route, other runners, supplies). It is necessary to have everything inside the head and imagine the race before running. It must also be very rational and positive. When problems or unforeseen events occur during the race, and always arrive, it is important to be very reactive to quickly find the best solution.

To give up, you must know how to suffer?
In training and during the race, if you do not know how to suffer you will never get to give everything.

What has been the toughest race?
I remember the Tahoe Rim Trail, a race of 280 kilometers and 17.000 meters of unevenness, in which I suffered a lot during the last ten hours. The race lasted 38 hours and a half. I had problems with the twin, I was sleeping ... and I had to overcome difficult physical and mental states. But at this time the power of the mind is fundamental. The desire to complete an objective led me to run thirty last kilometers at a rate of three kilometers per hour faster than the previous sixty. I have always liked to play with the mind, and deceiving it is a key in the trail running.

What is your sporty dream?
I do not have any sporting dream, but a dream of life, which is to be happy with what I do and try to make the people that surround me as well.

Did you expect the success of your book?
No, no one was expecting it. Neither I nor from the publisher expected this welcome from the readers. It is very gratifying to see that what you do can motivate people.

Why are mountain sports relegated in the media?
I console myself to see that, little by little, both mountain skiing and mountain races are gaining momentum. There are more and more practitioners and more knowledge of these modalities. It is true that they may not be sufficiently valued and I believe that these disciplines deserve more. And I do not mean the athletes, but the disciplines themselves.

What is your secret to have become a media sportsman?
I do not think it's media or fame. I do not like being recognized, but it is an important step in being able to live from what I like and to convey the values ​​of this sport and to make it known. It's a pride to see people start getting to know him and practice more.

Also, I think the athletes are overvalued, since after all we do what we like, and with work and genetic conditions we do well, but nothing else. We should not be better known than a good teacher or scientist.

The day you stop winning you will consider retiring?
The limits are far and the motivation is important. The day that gets up and I do not want to train, this will be the day you leave it. For me, it's not a sacrifice because although conditions are not always good, I always go to enjoy what I like.

Very personal questions

A city to live? Chamonix and Font Romeu
A place to go on a trip? In the United States with a van
A plate Vegetarian pizza
A book to read? Many, now I read Anatomy of an instant by Javier Cercas
A movie movie? Derzu Uzala by Akira Kurosawa
A means to be informed? Internet
Sea or mountain? Mountain
A singer or musical group? The Friends of Arts and JS Bach
What historical character would you like to know? Mahatma Gandhi
A current character? I think we can learn from each person
A sportsman who admires Lance Armstrong and Kenissa Bekele
What values ​​more people? Humility and the ability to fight
If one day you were the president of the government or the UN, what first decision would you take? Restore the system. Humans have taken on a planet that is not ours
Straight or Left? Left
What do you think of a desert island? somnis
A confessable desire? That it serves as something that the people are saying in the cities

the author

Cristian González

Graduate in Journalism (UPF), Graduate in Contemporary History (UB), Master in Business Communication Specialization in Digital Technologies (UPF).

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