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The wave of my life

“Manu, are you up for a challenge?”

I look up at my friend Agnes. The little spark in her eyes, her mischievous smile and her playful tone tells me that she has got a plan:

“Come surfing with me this Easter”!

Instantly, I can feel a little twinkle in my stomach: Nervousness, dread, excitement? I cannot say.

Her invitation takes me straight back to 2005, “come snowboarding with us, it will be fun” they all said: As it happened, I spent most of that week falling on my butt, feeling cold, fighting my tears while pretending to have a good time…

Today, life is different; I own my powerful secret tool box that will keep away the fear and the tears!




1- FOCUS: “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape”:

When you have 2 months to get fit for surf, where do you start?

After some quick research online, I define 3 key elements:

  • Swim to strengthen your shoulders: Swimming? Not my thing- Scrap it!

  • Build up your Abs and Core muscle: Abs and Core muscle, I can do that.

  • Practice the pop up: The pop up is essentially a massive push-up: All you should do is lie on the ground, face down, pretending you are on the board and stand up: Easy!

2- ROUTINE: As Mike Murdock states: “The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine”

2 weeks before heading off to Portugal, I decided to become the greatest routine master:

  • Daily nutrition plan (no baguette and stinky cheese for me!)

  • Fitness routine including many pops up a day!

  • Visualisation

3- VISUALISATION: My secret weapon, “if you can dream it, you can do it” - Walt Disney

The night before the big day, my heart was pounding, I was extremely anxious.

As I rest my head on the soft pillow, It became undeniable that the sandman wasn’t going to pay me a visit that night.

Sports psychologist Dr. Richard Suinn found that visual rehearsal triggers neural firings in the muscles and creates a mental blueprint that can ultimately facilitate future performance.

It was time to pull my super weapon out of the box!

So, all I did for the next few hours is picturing myself in the sea, waiting for the wave, jumping up on my board and sliding the wave all the way to the beach!

The next morning, I felt ready; we hit the beach, quick warm up and off we went. Sliding on to our board and paddling up stream, there is only one way and that is forward.

I push myself to keep the pace with my fellow surfers and after 20mns of uncompromising, determined and extreme swimming, I sit down on my board. I realized that my swimming is weak, I should have gone to the pool!

As my feet are dangling deep into the chilly water, I’m waiting for the next set of instructions; I can feel the quietness of the sea, its intensity and deepness is intense, I feel small, powerless.

“Manu, you’re next! keep looking up, when the wave arrives, you start swimming, I will give you a gentle push and when I say “up”, you jump on the board, got it!?”

My heart is pumping, I take a long deep breath, I visualize one more time my pop up routine and I hear “UP”.

The wave is pushing me forward, I keep my eyes locked straight forward at the back of the beach, and in one powerful push up, I jumped up, I made it!!!

As the wave is taking me as fast as a galloping horse, I can hear people cheering behind me, but I dare turning around.

I keep focusing on the beach, getting closer and closer, still balancing myself on the board, I can feel my smile, widening as I maintain my balance, salty water and tears of joy streaming down my face as I continue to ride the wave of my life. I can see the sand getting closer…and then, as a surfing babe who’d done that all her life, I jumped off the board, on the shore, with a huge grin on my face.

The joy I felt that day taught me two things.

When you have no time to prepare yourself, focus on the essential.

When you cannot physically do it, teach your mind to visualize it and you are half way there.

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