What hits you most upon meeting James Tebbs? He is a force of nature. A mountain of a man standing 186cm tall, together with his beard & long hair, you could be forgiven for thinking Thor’s Viking cousin was about to beast you on his road bike. I had the privilege of catching up with the Beast from the SouthEast (of London) recently between pool laps to get a little insight into just what it takes juggling a career, triathlons and parenthood and discovering the odd grey hair.
How many people do you know that begin any career, let alone an athletic one, at 43. Then have the results to contemplate representing their country? We are not talking playing darts here either, we are talking Triathlons consisting of 1500m swim, 40km bike ride and a 10km run to finish, which pro level triathletes finish in 01:50:00. You will be forgiven for feeling tired just reading that.
What does it take to be a competitive Olympic Distance Triathlete and still have a life? James took the time out of his crazy training regimen to share some insights into his world and has some advice for those considering delving into the mad-bad-world of Triathlons.
Have you always been involved in sports? Yes, sport is in my genes. I played football competitively as a junior. Rugby, cross-country running and track and field followed at secondary school along with basketball. I took up Thai-boxing for 4 years which I thoroughly enjoyed and it taught me a great deal about myself.
Who do you respect most in the sport & why? I have the utmost respect for any athlete that has the confidence to take on a challenge. It shows they have the will to succeed and to push themselves.
What does your average training week look like? I train between 8 – 12 hours a week. My day starts at 4:30am and finishes with a session around 11pm some nights, being sure to fit in my work and family life.
What is your current diet and supplement regime? I have a wildly overzealous metabolism so I burn calories at a ridiculous rate and need to eat a lot, (checkout the burger mountain on instagram). I’m on a keto-based diet for the most part of the week, lots of meat, healthy fats. I don’t eat enough vegetables but I’m working on that. I snack on fruit and nuts through the day. Main supplement staples are protein, creatine, multivitamins, BCAAs (brach chain amino acids) and GABA
What is different about your training this year? My swimming technique was poor having only really begun to swim properly in 2016, and as it would take years to properly hone a better technique, to get me race-ready endurance was the main focus so I would be able to complete the swim and recovery quickly for the bike discipline. Not having run or cycled for a long time, a lot of time was spent building stamina, leg strength and focusing on active recovery, essentially being able to lower my heart rate while still exercising. As a result of this approach, I ended 2017 season in a strong position and with my training tools this has only continued to improve.
When you are not training, what hobbies or passions capture your focus? Lol. When I’m not training, some days it feels like that is all I do, I love spending time with my daughter, who is my world. I read and I play guitar as often as I can. I really get immersed in writing music or just playing.
What are your key aspirations with your sporting endeavours? To represent my country as a triathlete. Through hard work I am becoming a strong competitor. I’m genuinely passionate about triathlon and have learned a huge amount from my coach, Gary Spencer, who has represented Great Britain as an Age Group triathlete. As he has done for me, I want to be able to give others the same opportunities and guidance, as a Coach in the future.
What advice would you give to amateur athletes looking to start with triathlons? Just book an event. Start small. There are so many events around the country, all of which are open to the public. You can borrow or hire equipment so there is no need to spend lots of money initially. The atmosphere of all the events I’ve entered is phenomenally up-lifting. Training certainly has transferable skills and has improved many aspects of my life. I feel more alive and approach many things with the same tenacity. There are the obvious health and fitness gains which has improved the bad posture I previously possessed, courtesy of the desk job. Its also fun.
James is proof that with a little focus and work, no matter what age you are, you can improve your health and wellbeing and enjoy life on another level. Travel, meeting like-minded people and improving health and wellbeing are just some of the benefits of trying new things. If you are inspired by James’ story and want to follow his progress you can catch him, if you are quick in:
2018 has been a mammoth year of events for James and next year proves as challenging. Until then, its consistent training, lots of Coaching with aspiring urban athletes and a co-hosting a Fitness Retreat in Bali in February.