By Karl Hayes
At the end of January this year I had the great opportunity to spend the day with Chris (Macca) McCormack, Pete Jacobs and a bunch of great people that had all come together as passionate triathletes to ride, swim, run and chat with these two great ironman triathletes.
The day was put together by the team from BPM-Sport.com. They specialise in organising training days and coaching in general.
The day began with everyone meeting at Northside Runners in Manly. We were introduced to each other and to our two guest professional triathletes. This was the first time I had met Macca and who wouldn’t be excited about meeting the biggest name in the sport right now. Most in the group were in the same boat. We are aware of Pete Jacobs and his amazing feat at last year’s Hawaii Ironman in the marathon posting the 3rd fastest time in history but as a still relatively young guy he is more of a mystery to those outside the Northern Beaches of Sydney. For those of us around the north shore who see Pete around we all know that he is an easy going guy that is always happy to chat and loves to do swim training sessions and now run technique sessions with his new company born2run.com.au.
The thing that struck everyone straight away was how down to earth and relaxed Macca was and how he and Pete Jacobs bounced off each other. They were a lot of fun right from the start and continued like this throughout the day. We learnt a lot about Macca who we all see in the media and hear about his often seemingly out spoken views on many things and also his banter with his competitors. It was interesting to hear him talking about this and we all came away with a huge amount of respect for this very professional triathlete. It was both very funny often but also made us realise that many in the sport could learn a lot from Macca and the way he approaches the â€˜business’ of triathlon. I have heard people often comment that professional athletes are â€˜only doing such and such for the money’. It is interesting that no one has ever approached me to say that I only go to work each day for the money. That is their job and income source so you would expect them to do almost everything for the money.
After introductions we all stashed our gear out in Northside Runners store and got on our bikes to head up to West Head in Sydney’s north. If you live outside the north side of Sydney you possibly won’t know that right on the edge of the city we have Ku- Ring-gai National Park that allows us to ride around the water in unspoilt beauty with natural bush as the only surrounds.
We stopped in a park at Church Point to regroup and talked about our first session. Macca and Pete talked about the bike strength training they do. Both had slightly different variations of how they tackle hills and strength work. They then took us up the hill to McCarrs Creek and then up to the West Head turn off. This area is where Pete Jacobs does most of his bike training and hill work. We did two repeats then headed back to Northside Runners to prepare for a swim from Manly Beach around to Shelly Beach.
A number of people in the group took some wetsuits that Northside Runners made available for testing and we walked down to the beach. On the way down there myself and another triathlete attending the camp, Angus from Lindfield, walked with Macca and Pete Jacobs and were privy to a conversation with Macca telling Pete what he has to do to win Kona this year. To the two of us it was one of the most fascinating conversations to listen to. Here was the current and two time world ironman champion and the guy who just posted the 3rd fastest marathon run in the history of Kona talking at depth about what it will take to win Kona. Initially we wondered why Macca would be telling another competitor what to do to win. It wasn’t until later that he told us he wasn’t going to be racing there in 2011.
We all dove in and started to swim around the point towards Shelly Beach. A handful of us promptly got smashed by a freakishly big wave that we didn’t see. The water was crystal clear with sea life everywhere. As we got around the point and out in to the middle we swam in to blue bottles. Peter Walker, Angus, Macca and myself were leading the group and where the first to get stung. Pete and the second group were coming up behind with Pete and his underwater camera. Contrary to Macca’s report back at Northside Runners this triathlete was not crying like a girl out there. Thanks for that… Although it did sting for a bit.
We cut the swim short and swam in half way around then walked around to Shelly. Once there we swam out in to the bay where Pete and Macca talked us through mass starts and drafting in the swim. Macca explained what he does when starting in major races. He showed us how he will hunt out a stronger swimmer and swim up to them and get on his preferred side to wish them the best for the race while positioning himself to swim off their hip for as long as he can hold on. In this case he was demonstrating with Pete as his target. As Pete pointed out this was not role play but more of a re-enactment of what did take place at Kona last year. We then did some exercises swimming off another swimmers hip as opposed to their feet and were able to see the difference. We did a couple of mass starts with around a 150mtr dash.
We decided to walk back to Manly rather than swim through the blue bottles again.
Back at Northside Runners we grabbed our gear and headed around to a nearby park to have lunch and do some run technique. The BPM-Sport team put on a great spread and we were now fuelled to tackle the last couple of sessions of the day. At the park a representative from Shotz nutrition talked us through the benefits of sports nutrition and the different types. In particular we learnt about sodium tablets and the benefit of them to delivering nutrition to your muscles.
The run technique session was great. Both Macca and Pete talked us through their run techniques, warm up routines and general info about their training. Macca always does four run throughs when he warms up for an event and he explained why. He did say that he had picked up some good tips from Pete previously at their last BPM-Sport.com camp together. We were all taken through their pre race dynamic stretching and other warm up routines. Pete is passionate about running and having a session like this is invaluable. This was my third session with Pete this season and him and his business partner John Marsh have a passion that has helped me greatly this season with my runs times dropping dramatically this season.
Once we had finished our run session we were then taken through an altitude training session with Peter Murphy from Altitude Technology Systems who had a mobile altitude training room and two bikes set up with respirators. Most of the attendees took the opportunity to try the stationary bikes with the altitude mask on to experience this. It interesting to see the speed in which the oxygen levels in the blood dropped.
We had a question and answer session which unearthed a lot of interesting facts from both guys. It was interesting to hear their favourite and least favourite ironman courses. Some very surprising answers here. Especially with the least favourite course.
A special thanks once again to the team from BPM-Sport.com for arranging the day. Was it worth it? Absolutely! I would recommend that next time you have an opportunity to attend one of their training camps with the pro’s, don’t hesitate, just do it.