MONTREAL – It should come as no surprise that Habs players are among the fittest in the NHL. It’s not often, after all, that a team can count on an Iron Man in its ranks.
Since becoming the Canadiens’ strength and conditioning coach in 2010, Pierre Allard has worked tirelessly at getting players into peak physical condition for the moment they jump onto the ice. A coach who takes the idea of practicing what he preaches to heart, the 42-year-old athlete is a prime example of both strength and conditioning, setting aside time in his jam-packed schedule to prepare for the North American Ironman Championship.
“It’s a competition that I’ve always wanted to partake in,” explained Allard, who completed the second edition of the Mont-Tremblant trial in August. “I remember seeing it on TV for the first time when I was 12 or 13, and I knew right away that it was something I wanted to try at least once.
“So when my playing career came to an end, I needed a new challenge and the choice was an easy one,” revealed the Université de Montréal grad. “One of my objectives going into the race was coming out of it intact. I wanted to be functional in the days that followed and not be confined to a bed from exhaustion. Being able to do that is something that I take a lot of pride in.”
True to its name, the Ironman Triathlon is a competition which is generally completed by real-life iron men and women. Case in point, by the time participants cross the finish line, they’ll typically have racked up 2.4 miles (3.8 km) of swimming, 112 miles (180 km) of biking and 26.2 miles (42.2 km) of running.
Allard himself can be counted among those iron athletes, whose 15 hours per week of training and disciplined lifestyle even enabled him to improve on his inaugural time from a year ago.
“I was able to shed close to an hour from my previous best thanks to the experience I gained from the event last year,” admitted Allard, who completed the grueling triathlon with a time of 13:22:05 in 2014. “It was my first time ever covering such a long distance, so this year I was able to better manage my stamina. I was very careful because I wanted to be sure to finish, and it paid off.”
With years of strength and conditioning experience to bank on – including a professional playing career in both England and France – Allard knows all too well that each of his athletic experiences have shared a common denominator: preparation. That’s exactly the tenet the fifth-year Canadiens coach teaches to his trainees, whether fresh-faced rookies or grizzled vets.
“What I like about the Ironman experience – and it’s something that I passed on to the players at our development camp this summer – is that we live in a fast-paced world today where everyone wants instant gratification. People want to see results now,” underlined Allard. “But the Ironman, just like the real world, is counter to that. It’s not the kind of thing you can prepare for overnight. It takes years and years of preparation and perfecting, just like a successful NHL career. And just like any goal in life, achieving it takes the focus and foresight to make the right decisions.”
Hugo Fontaine is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Steven Nechay.
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