The unthinkable story of Berlanas
At 47, he has just stayed a minute away from being the absolute 10k champion of Spain en route. A man whose Achilles tendons made life so difficult in elite athletics, with four surgeries, three on the same foot. He came to train three and a half hours on the elliptical bike.
If Luismi Berlanas were 37 years old today he would not write about him.
If Luismi Berlanas were ten years younger, we would return to 2009 when I wrote a story in which he, sadly, told me thatthat the Achilles tendon had "thrown him out of athletics." He regretted that his daughter, who was then three years old, would never see him compete at the highest level and I titled that story: "No one is eternal."
It was a mistake.
Luismi Berlanas is today a 47-year-old man who, as a coach, has not stopped competing at a great level. In my eyes, he looks like an eternal athlete. Last Saturday, in the Spanish Championship of 10 kilometers in Tudela route won in its category (over 45 years), of course. But if I had run in 1 minute and 3 seconds less I would have also won the absolute. Fate has commissioned him to show that we have no expiration date. Destiny has chosen a perfect character who is still so thin, without an atom of fat, almost like when it was elite. Keep thinking that "if it tires, I like it". His legs obey him. They continue doing great things.
Motivation is not a trap. But if there is a man in the world, who does not need to train that muscle, called motivation is him: Luis Miguel Martín Berlanas. The athlete who caressed the Olympic medal twice in the 3,000 obstacles (Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004).
Today, he no longer confronts the Africans nor is he pringa, when landing his foot on the ground, with the splashes of the estuary. But it's still in a state of amazing shape that we could not imagine ten years ago when he explained that he had four surgeries, three on the same foot, and when he summed up his ten-year penance by fighting against his Achilles tendons. A chronicle of life that forced him to spend the winters in the gym to save impacts. TOI went inside to be three and a half hours giving him the elliptical bike, simulating the circuit of La Tapia in the Casa de Campo, overcoming all evils. His nature did not surrender to genetics. "Mine has been a purely genetic issue. The bones have pulled so much of the tendons that I have paid for it, "he told me.
That's why, at the time, we did not imagine that ten years later I would continue running at this level. Not only in Tudela this weekend. His social networks often remind us of weekends when he goes to work. Compete even in duathlon and still competing beautifully.
If Luismi Berlanas had told me ten years ago, I would not have grown it. At least, I, who am the one who now has given to write this story, for to get closer and away from the past, to imagine it in competition.
Do not say it's easy because it can not be easy. But it does show us that what we do any of us has nothing to do with the wear and tear caused by being an elite athlete that is what drove Berlanas out of that union. I remember then that outburst of anger, in the last 300 meters, in which we saw the medal, in the Sydney Games, or in Athens, which was the best tactical race of his life. Then he had the bad luck that no one failed. But to be there you had to leave your life, your tendons. Each impact was like risking an injury.
Today, at 47, Berlanas works as a coach every day in the Blume. And what his athletes do is more important than what he does, that he is not so important anymore, that he no longer fights the second and that he is no longer injured as before when he got to do 8'07 "44 in 3,000 obstacles or 3'36" in 1,500. But his merit is to continue at this level, continue to beat himself as it was so difficult to imagine in 2009 when he counted all those medical penalties, fatalities.
If Luismi Berlanas had told us then that in 2019 he was going to do a 10,000 in 31'21 "it would have been difficult for me and I do not know if it is impossible to believe.
Afterwards it is true that I have returned to coincide a few times more with him. Of all, the one that surprised me the most was in that rally of Moratalaz in the stands. He had come to see him from his home in Las Rozas on a bicycle and was going to go by bicycle. I was surprised, even more than when, after retiring from the elite, he managed to do 2h 17m in a marathon. I remembered then that conversation of 2009, example of hardened and different type. He remembered that, being champion of Spain, in the times in which it was paid hard, he was driving a discreet Opel Astra. The companions told him that this was not a car for him and he refuted: "Why do I want another if he brings me and takes me?"
He also recalled that his father came "to compete with Mariano Haro and his only training was to go running to work with espadrilles" and it made me think that where is the instinct of survival that everything else is removed. The first five years in which he arrived in Madrid had almost no time to go to the cinema and if it had not been for the substitutions that he made in summer of mailman in Correos, if it had not been for that course of masseuse that did and that allowed him to take out money for the winters, anyone knows what would have become of him. I also invested in Stock Market and it seems that with intelligence. "I won to buy a car and something else."
It was different Berlanas. It's different, actually. With 47 years old, working for others, after everything that has been crushed, there are few who maintain this motivation. But the motivation is not a book of instructions, but a very personal matter.
If Luismi Berlanas wrote about motivation, there would not be enough pages.
The last time I spoke with him, he could not remember if he was happier when he got close to the Olympic medal or when he was proclaimed Spanish champion of 1,000 meters with 2'31 ", he looked around and saw his coach crying with emotion. That being the case, one explains that, at 47, he has been one minute away from being the absolute 10km champion of Spain en route. Until kilometer 4 Luismi Berlanas was with the first classified, at his pace.
At his side, therefore, I distrust that there is an expiration date and that everything in life has a stage. Your declaration of intentions in your social networks ("if you tire, I like it") also seems different to understand a guy who at 25 years old knew how to reinvent himself. Until then 1,500 ran. It had a mark of 3'39 "09 that was very little in the times of Cacho and Viciosa. That's why he reached up to 3,000 obstacles and, although his first day of obstruction in Seville was a horror ("I ended up with pains even in my head "), he never gave up. He endorsed that slogan, which almost always worked like a first sword, "I'm here to annoy the favorites," and he polished it.
Exactly like now, at 47 years old.