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AMERICAN ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Pete Jacobs, The Perfect Technique (11/9/12)

After a second-place finish last year, Pete Jacobs won the 2012 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. The Australian finished in 8 hours, 18 minutes, and 37 seconds to beat Germany's Andreas Raelert by more than 4 minutes.

The Ironman Hawaii is the world's premier triathlon. Since 1978, the event has attracted thousands of competitors each year. The race begins with a 2.4-mile ocean swim in the choppy waters of Kailua Bay. Then, the challengers must endure a 112-mile bike ride through a sweltering lava desert. The final leg involves a full-length 26.2 mile marathon. It's a brutal gauntlet that most competitors hope to simply finish. Only a handful of elite athletes actually seek victory.

The most difficult part of triathlon preparation is deciding how to structure the training regimen. The athlete must decide how much time he or she focuses on swimming, running, and biking. As with any sport, there are dozens of books on triathlon training that give advice on the basics. However, just like coaches are tight-lipped about their game plans, many elite athletes are guarded about their carefully-developed training regimens.

Ironman Hawaii winner Pete Jacobs is somewhat unique because he's committed to sharing his knowledge of the sport with other aspiring triathletes. The Web contains dozens of interviews and free training videos in which the reigning world champion provides very specific advice about swimming, running, and cycling techniques.

Many of the videos have been produced as part of Jacobs' role as spokesman for Australia's SunSmart campaign. The program was created over three decades ago to prevent skin cancer. In addition to providing training tips, he also gives viewers tips for protecting themselves from the sun's dangerous UV rays. Australia has even created an app for people that tells them at which times the sun is most dangerous.

Earlier this year, Jacobs and his coaching team at BPM-Sport.com decided to offer personalized training to triathletes. It's an incredible opportunity for individuals to be trained by an elite athlete. Jacobs and his team create a tailor-made training plan for each athlete, in addition to private online interactions that include tips and advice. They even get to meet with Jacobs in person for instruction before and after the race. The entire experience costs less than $3 a day.

For Jacobs, successful triathlon training is more about technique than specific exercises. “It doesn’t matter how many kilometers in the pool you do, you’re still not going to swim quicker than someone who has a better technique," he said. "They have done thirty, forty, fifty kilometers in the pool in a week and I jump in the pool and I can still swim beside them and they hate me! I say to them ‘aren’t you thinking about every single stroke?’ and they say ‘well, not really, no.’ But I am, and that’s the difference.” Jacobs applies the same analysis to his running and cycling.

This Aussie believes that proper technique borders on the extreme. While many marathoners, triathletes, and other endurance athletes engage in long, hard workouts and rack up big mileage, Jacobs believes that he doesn't need to train as much as everyone else. "[M]y thoughts are now that if I train as little as I can I will be the best in the world." He believes in the importance of proper rest and recovery. The week before a race, Jacobs will only run twice, and relatively short distances. "If you need to rest, don’t be scared to take a day or two off."

Pete Jacobs has proven that an athlete can perform at an elite level without emulating the training routines of their competitors. It's important that every athlete embraces a regimen that works best for their own body. He's also shown that world class athletes shouldn't be afraid to share their knowledge with others.

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