Florentin Lenoir can hammer out a sub-2 half-marathon. So why is this power racer not part of any team?

By Eric Nicole Salta | Photos by Artu Nepomuceno

In the local triathlon scene, Florentin Lenoir runs on his own terms. The 28-year-old Frenchman who is into business development for jewelry and financial technology is a kind of free agent, neither here nor there, yet has made significant strides for himself and whoever he collaborates with. “It seems people don’t exactly know what to say or what to do, as it is not so common to meet a part-time team member. But we should ask them, maybe that’s a preconception on my side!” says Lenoir. Indeed, wasn’t it the French who taught us about joie de vivre?

How did you get into running?

Growing up, I hated running. I was doing many different sports but running was like a punishment for me. And then almost two years ago, as my schedule became quite hectic and as I was gaining weight significantly, I decided to give running, and myself, another chance. I started running two to three times a week, then it really became an addiction.

Is there a limit to how much running your body can handle?

In my case, I have some issues with my knees, so whenever I feel pain, I would not force it. This happened once or twice over the last two years. But the biggest limit I have would be on breathing and this is where I need to focus my training on. When running, I won’t be able to run faster or longer because of my inability to adjust and slow down my heart rate. When my body is okay, I try to train two to three times a week, eight, 10 or 12 kilometers.

What’s your best run to date?

The 21K I did in Subic with Team Encore. I ran six to eight kilometers almost every day to prepare for the race and completed it in less than an hour and 50 minutes despite running under the sun on an up-and-down track.

Is there anything surprising about running that you have come to love?

Besides the adrenaline that I get from pushing myself beyond my limits and comfort zone, I would say that it is also a great asset to my work. It really helps me structure my thoughts and gets rid of all the stress I accumulate during the week.

You’re not a full-time Team Encore member despite being a strong runner. What’s your arrangement with them? 

I believe this is more a question you should ask my team members! For me it is easy—I run when I can. It’s stress-free, but this arrangement is mainly due to my schedule, which prevents me from always being around for races. Being an expat, I don’t necessarily have all the equipment required to do a full triathlon by myself, for instance. And having awesome friends and teammates that I fully trust and respect was also a key factor in making my decision.

Why not dedicate yourself full-time to a team?

If I invest myself fully in a team, I need to make sure that I can always be there for my teammates. This is an engagement that is hard to commit to for now because of my work. I think it has little to do with the responsibilities that it implies. Even as a “free agent,” I take being part of a team very seriously. I give everything I have to support my team members and push for the win.

What other teams have you been part of for relays?

So far, it’s only been with Team Encore, but I would be interested in trying more relays in the future.

Is there any pressure of being a ‘runner by demand’?

The only pressure is the one you set for yourself. Whenever you commit to a race, you are signing a moral agreement with the other members that you will be dedicated to your training, and to be there for the team when they need you.

Do you feel that people have preconceived notions about you because you’re not a full-time team member?

I wouldn’t say preconceptions but more interrogations. Why would a team partner with me when I have no running history? How fast can I be if I don’t commit to be a full-time team member? What is he doing here? It seems people don’t exactly know what to say or what to do, as it is not so common to meet a part-time team member. But we should ask them, maybe that’s a preconception on my side! And no matter what, the best answer always comes from the results of a race.

What’s the biggest misconception about relays, and how do you address it?

I would say it is the idea that it is easier to do a triathlon as part of a relay than as an individual. I believe there is no easy race and whether you do a 5K run, a 21K run, or an Ironman, what matters is to reach the finish line and give it your all.