A Day in the Life of Pete Jacobs (aka Ironman World Champion) moves at a glacial pace in the morning, slowly waking up. A Mr. Lazy mug filled with a decaf blend of herbal tea in hand, sitting at the kitchen table with a laptop set in front of him, the soft sound of Daft Punk’s new album Random Access Memories fills the room as he silently checks his emails. Occasionally, he musters the energy to leave the stool and wander around his Noosa home, casually collecting bits and pieces he will need for his first training session along the way. In all fairness, it is 7am, and the triathlete was out coaching at the Henk Vogels Turbo Studios training camp till 9pm last night.
“I’m not really a morning person, I guess,” Pete says from the laundry room where he is pulling gear out of the clothes dryer. “This is what I’m usually like, just bopping around and can’t really find anything. I like to take my time to warm up, especially if I’m going out to train like today.”
In contrast, Jaimie – Pete’s wife of six years and fellow triathlete who just won her age group at Philippines 70.3 – is sipping a highly caffeinated cup of coffee, clearly a morning person. “Pete doesn’t drink coffee, but I can’t live without it,” she says, multitasking between asking Pete questions about sponsors and helping him get his gear in order.
“I do all the behind-the-scenes work while Pete does the racing. When I was working full-time, Pete was doing everything for the both of us; the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping. I guess now it’s payback for me,” she laughs. “I’m learning to be domesticated, doing all the cooking and cleaning, although Pete does it better.”
When it comes to food preparation,
Pete has more than the average person’s knowledge on how to fuel the body, having competed in triathlon since the age of 18. “If I was going to be home for breakfast I’d probably chow down two or three eggs with some brown rice, salad or fruit,” he says.
“Pineapple and papaya are probably my two main fruits. I aim to eat them around meals because they are good for digestion.” Pete doesn’t eat before training, although he does sneak in a few bites of pre-cooked sweet potato from a container in the refrigerator and a couple of teaspoons of home-made nut butter.
More than an hour of chatting with Pete goes by, but he seems unfazed as he pulls his bike from the garage. It’s full of boxes due to his recent move from his hometown, Sydney. While checking the pressure of his tyres and putting on his shoes, Pete warns us that he isn’t sure how long he’ll be on the road for.
“I don’t count hours or miles or kilometres,” he explains. “I don’t even keep a training diary at the moment. It’s just too easy to get caught up chasing the numbers and not listening to your body. My ride today could be anywhere between 50 minutes to five hours. I’ll have to see how I feel once I’m out there. I roughly know how many rides, runs, and swims I want to do in a week, but ultimately the amount of training I do is determined by what my body allows me.”
“I’m more about the feel,” he insists. There are no complex training plans, intricate wall charts or meticulous recordings of times and distances. “If I covered up the numbers and had to guess them I would pretty much be able to tell you exactly where I’m at, good or bad. I can just feel whether the energy is there and whether it is coming easily or feels like a hard grind.”
Taking each day as it comes, Pete could do anywhere between one hour on the couch resting to six hours of intense training. “When it’s a hard grind, I know I need to eat more and take a rest, and I allow my body to do that.” It’s this casual approach to training that has landed Pete his ‘recreational triathlete’ title among professionals – but other competitors’ perceptions don’t rattle him. “My own expectations exceed what anyone else thinks or wants me to do. It just doesn’t worry me,” he says. “If anything, I look at others and see what they’re doing wrong and make sure I’m not also doing that wrong. If I am, then I approach it in my own way and correct it.”
“I DON’T COUNT HOURS OR KILOMETRES… IT IS JUST TOO EASY TO GET CAUGHT UP CHASING THE NUMBERS”
With gels packed, tyres pumped and helmet on, Pete is finally ready for his ride. He quickly runs in to give Jaimie a kiss, exchanging ‘I love yous,’ and Jaimie runs back out to hand Pete the house keys he left inside. Yep, not a morning person. Giving him a five-minute head start, we find it hard to catch up, even with the advantage of four wheels and an engine. As we follow Pete along David Low Way, it’s easy to see why the pair made the move from Sydney to Noosa. It’s every triathlete’s paradise. Not only are the coastal road bicycle lanes wide with minimal traffic, but the average temperature for a winter’s day sits at about 19 degrees Celsius, making getting out to train a whole lot easier on the body too.
Clocking in five hours of riding time, Pete returns home with a confession. “I was a bit naughty today and stopped up on the hills, went into a cafe and ate a pie,” he smiles, while making his second lunch of the day. “Usually, at this point in time, I cut out all treats, and that was probably my last until Kona. I actually don’t remember the last time I did that –probably the Tour Down Under several years ago.” So why pies? “I’ve just always loved pies and I always feel good after having them. I can’t remember having a pie and waking up feeling like crap,” Pete says. “Can we please sit to eat? My legs are feeling worked.”
We can’t blame him, so we head to the back patio and sit while Pete devours what he calls his “fast food” lunch. We soon discover it’s not the kind of heart-attack-inducing fast food we all have in mind – Pete’s version of fast food includes chopped-up leftover meat tossed into a salad (see boxout opposite for exactly what’s on Pete’s plate). Heading inside for a quick look at the pantry, it’s not hard to see that this tri couple are serious about nutrition. Regulars at the Noosa Farmers Market every week, Pete and Jaimie like to stock up on all-natural goodies such as coconut butter, quinoa, herbs, and a seemingly endless variety of nuts.
“Natural is key. It’s not a specific diet; it’s just steering clear of processed food,” he says. “For anybody trying to get the most outof their body, the easiest thing to do is eat natural. You don’t have to go on a crazy diet or limit what you are eating; all you have to do is stay away from processed foods. It makes understanding what you are eating very simple. Whether it has sugar or wheat or gluten, it doesn’t matter. It’s not about the ingredients – you just have to remember there is no such thing as bad natural food.”
“There are three main things I like to cut out of my diet before a championship race, which I also try to stick by most of the year. Firstly, I steer clear of processed foods, even gluten-free bread. The second thing I get rid of are sugars, such as ice creams, chocolates and lollies. Lastly, I try to cut out irregular foods. I make an effort not to go out to dinner as often, where I might have Indian or Thai. Consistency is the main thing I am going for to get my body used to it before going into a big race.”
One of Pete’s ‘must-haves’ in the pantry is sweet chilli sauce. “That is for emergencies, when it’s just like brown rice, beans and tuna on my plate,” he says. “It adds some flavour to the mix. Even though it has sugar in it, I like to tell myself that the chilli cancels that out, which makes me feel better.” Nice try, but with Kona coming up and sweet chilli sauce the only flaw in his otherwise perfect diet, we don’t see fit to judge.
Apart from a weakness for tangy condiments, Pete manages to stay focused and steer clear of temptations in an almost inhuman way. “I was doing the same thing last year for Kona, except now that I have the knowledge and understanding behind why I’m doing what I’m doing, I can be more consistent and stick to the same food a bit more, knowing how good it is for me.”
Regarded as one of the world’s premier Ironman runners, pulling a third-fastest marathon of all time at the Hawaiian Ironman in 2010, Pete Jacobs has mastered his technique to get the most out of his runs. While some might believe the run is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, Pete certainly thinks otherwise. Scan the QR code below as Pete talks you through the technicalities behind each step, and learn how to go the extra mile with minimal effort.
“I WANT TO KNOW HOW FAST I CAN ACTUALLY GO. IT’S A REAL ART FORM; IT’S NOT A SCIENCE. IT’S MORE ABOUT SELF-DISCOVERY”
With the help of sponsors, Pete has become something of an amateur nutritionist, allowing him to fine-tune his body through food and training. “Every minute I spend thinking about what I need to do to be in the best shape,” he says. “There are days in the year where I eat whatever I want, but I feel crap and can’t justify it. These days don’t occur two months before a world championship though.”
This is where the conversation turns a bit more serious. You can see the determination on Pete’s face when talking about Kona. Taking the 227km Ironman World Championship last year in just 8:18:37, and second place in 2011, it’s no wonder Pete has become known as the ‘King of Kona.’ “Last year I was in good shape,” he says.
“I knew I had a really good chance and had done everything I could. I was really confident in what I had done in training and I didn’t have doubts. I was positive and prepared really well. I had planned and visualised the race that many times in training that on the day it was more a matter of just going through the motions. I knew I had to do it once as hard as I could,and I was sure that I could do it quicker than the rest. Having that kind of mind control requires no extra physical effort but will almost instantly help you pick up your pace in the race.”
Returning in October as the reigning champion, Pete isn’t phased by the constant questioning as to whether he can do it again. “Kona is something I will keep aiming to achieve,” he says. “The only pressures I have are my own expectations, rather than anyone else’s. It’s my expectations that exceed what anyone else thinks or wants me to do. It just doesn’t worry me.”
After we’re done exhausting the world champion with questions (or perhaps his five-hour ride was more to blame), he excuses himself to have a quick lie-down and allow his body to make a quick recovery before hitting Noosa National Park for a sunset run to finish the day.
Reaching the headland walking track, just as the day is coming to a close, we ask Pete what it is that keeps motivating him to get out of bed, train every day and be the best triathlete in the world. “For me, it’s the desire to find out my natural ability, what my body will allow and to test to see how good it can get,” he says. “I want to know how fast I can actually go. It’s a real art form; it’s not a science. It’s more about self discovery.”
That journey of self-discovery may have to recommence tomorrow, however. After a few snaps from our photographer and a quick run uphill, Pete decides his body isn’t quite up to a full session today. He starts jogging back to his car – but not before forgetting he left his house keys with 220 Triathlon. Classic Pete. 220
Few would argue that there is a more perfect paradise than the relaxed beachside community of Noosa. Just a 90-minute drive north of Brisbane, located in the heart of sub-tropical Queensland, Noosa has it all. With its beautiful beaches, lush green hinterland, stunning coastal national park, pristine river and cosmopolitan lifestyle, it’s no wonder the locals prefer to keep it all to themselves. Residents include some of triathlon’s most notable names, such as Ironman World Champion Pete Jacobs and 15 x Iron-distance champion Belinda Granger. In fact, since 1983, Noosa and triathlon have shared a special bond, as the annual Noosa Triathlon is the largest triathlon in Australia, the largest multisport festival of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and the second largest Olympic distance race in the world. For more info visit visitnoosa.com.au