Hey, hey, welcome to the Bodies Built Better podcast. I’m your host Jackie Tann. And it is so good to have you here today. This podcast is all about human performance. Whether that sports performance or showing up at your best every single day. I chat with experts, athletes, coaches, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. We explore the body’s incredible ability to heal, adapt and evolve so you can crush limitations, reconnect your body and mind and discover your extraordinary potential. And today I have the absolute pleasure of chatting with two incredible clients of mine, Tessa Moorfield and Julian Bennett. Both Tessa and Julian completed the ultrasound back in May and two have played a very small part in their journey is a real privilege. Tessa is a builder and owner of More Living and started triathlons seven years ago, and if you ask her friends, they will tell you that she’s incredibly disciplined, very inspiring and a very strong runner. Julian is working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. He is the director with In2EdAfrica Foundation and a youth mentor through Raise and only took up triathlons in 2018. Julian has been raising funds for four charities very close to him, which you’ll hear a little bit more about in today’s episode, having both been coached by World Champion Richard Thompson, who was on the show last week. If you haven’t heard that one, check it out. It was awesome to hear how much of an impact that he had, obviously, not only through the programme that he set for them, but the very valuable lessons that they learned throughout not only the sessions leading up, but also through the days of the events. I am in awe of both Tessa and Julian, not only are they incredibly disciplined, and driven to achieve their goals to the best of their ability, they are incredibly honest and humble about the entire experience. They are good people doing extraordinary things. Enjoy this episode with Tessa Morefield and Julian Bennett.
How It Feels To Endure (And Recover From) The Ultraman
Tessa and Julian, thank you so much for chatting with me today. Welcome to the Bodies Built Better podcast.
Thank you, Jackie.
It’s so good to have you both here because I’m working both with you currently in your recovery to be Ultraman Australia. And prior to working with you two. I had never even heard of the Ultraman. And so when I looked it up, I was I mean, I was in complete shock. Firstly, I thought Who on earth would not put themselves through this? Turns out there’s a few of you. And then of course, I was just incomplete awe of you both and just so much respect for for what you’re doing. For those of you who don’t know what the Ultraman is, it is a three day event. Day one is a 10 kilometre swim, followed by 140k bike ride. Day two is a 281.1 kilometre bike ride and Day Three is an 84.3 kilometre run. That blows my mind just saying it when you guys hear back, what goes through your mind when you hear that?
Yeah, it’s we’ve kind of desensitised a little bit. And certainly in terms of the training as well. But yes, it’s huge and you just when you start to do some just anywhere near that sort of distance, and you’re you know, there’s hours and hours more to go that you can have occasionally have the moment where it sort of blows your mind a little bit.
We must be getting comfortable with those distances, because it doesn’t sound as crazy that did it.
Yeah. And I guess because you’re just doing so much in your training that that doesn’t. I mean, could it possibly not sound as much because your weeks are so huge?
I think so. There was another part of the Lakers Club was doing a four hour ride a few weeks ago, and I think we were out doing seven or eight hours. And so they were sort of saying this is a really big weekend to make sure you recover more and then we were off doing a massive run the next day.
How Two Endurance Athletes Gave The Ultraman A Go
Well, tell us about the moment that you actually decided that, yeah, we’ll give that a go, give the Ultraman a go?
Well It was Tessa that mentioned it to me a couple of couple of years ago. And I think I showed, sort of feigned interest in it. And then from then on, she was like you’re doing Ultraman.
Just roped you in. Yeah.
Yeah, pretty much. But it always, it–when she first mentioned it, it really sort of triggered something inside him in terms of, that sounds like a massive, exciting and different challenge. And I’ve only really just got into sort of Ironman stuff. So I was kind of, kind of hooked from that, from that moment, I’d say.
So yeah, I I first heard about it around four years ago, when one of our fellow Lakers was doing the event. And one of our friends was out supporting her when she was doing a 10 kilometre ocean swim. And I remember thinking, why would you swim so far that you needed someone to walk alongside you and give them nutrition? But from that point on, I was kind of hooked and couldn’t let go of the idea and mentioned that to Julian, Julian was obviously on board straightaway. And, and I supported a friend who was doing it last year. And that sort of cinched the deal. Until Julian and I did Cairns Ironman last year, and caught up in the recovery area, was just outside of the recovery area afterwards, and decided Ultraman was a silly idea. And it was all off. So, so it was off for a period of time. And then on the day Ultraman entries were due to close, we caught up for coffee, and somehow Julian and I left coffee, both agreeing to sign up.
Since then, and there you did it. That’s right.
Within sort of six hours of a coffee there wasn’t, there wasn’t about a man, it was just about catching up. Suddenly, we’d signed up again. So we’ve been, probably been questioning ourselves ever since. What the hell are we doing?
Yeah, I bet you’re dubious. Every time you catch up for coffee, you’re like, what are we signed up to next?
I think it’s probably more our partners and friends that sort of wonder what’s gonna happen next?
Beginnings in Triathlons and Endurance Sports
Well, you Julian, you mentioned actually, you both mentioned having done you know, the Ironman distance. Tell us, you know, how long have you guys been training? And what sort of races have you done in the past?
Well, I’ve only been doing triathlons for about four years. And I only did those because of, again, kind of looking for something. It’s kind of a very similar story in a lot of people. I was turning 40 having a few beers with my brother, who–he does a lot of crazy stuff. And we’re like, Well, what can we what can we do to sort of celebrate sort of turning, turning 40 and Ironman came up to that, alright, well, let’s give ourselves 12 months to train for it. And I, at the time, wasn’t really, I was doing sort of bit of sailing and kite surfing and other bits and pieces, but nothing really very serious. And so we said, well, let’s give ourselves 12 months and see if we can do do an Ironman. So yeah, over over that 12 months him and I made a pact to train to do Cairns Ironman in 2019. So it was almost, almost exactly four years. To the day it was around May time that we started. And at the time I ran I remember trying to run around the airport and I got this about 11, 11-12 K’s my knees were really, really hurting. And then went for a ride, I think the week after and got maybe about 40 kilometres. And I was like, What have I done? And so, yeah, we just sort of worked at getting the distances up over that time and done a variety of different things since then. So I’ve done two official Ironman’s with Cairns. And then last year. I did. We’re planning to do Busselton in December, and because of COVID SA was shut out. But thankfully, Tri-SA sort of put on a what was called a bootleg Busselton. So we did an Ironman in Adelaide, studying in Henley and finishing up in summer four. So that was my sort of third third Ironman and really sort of where, where I kicked on from for Ultraman training.
Yeah. Wow. And Tessa, what’s your story?
Actually, very similar to Julian, so must be the year of 40th. So the year about I turned 40 was the year that was seven years ago. That was the year that I did my first triathlon started my sights with it lower than Julian less. I basically did one of the westlakes our local triathlons, I can’t remember what distance was probably one of the shorter ones. Then did the Victor Harbour Olympic distance triathlon? I think maybe a year after that I did a half Ironman. And then, like Julian in since then I’ve done Cairns Ironman twice, and the sort of unofficial, bootleg Busselton Ironman late last year.
Physical And Mental Preparation For Endurance Training
So tell us what I mean, what do you take from your previous training in coming into this Ultraman? How is there anything sort of physically and mentally that you can draw on from your past experience going into Ultraman?
Yeah, there is, I mean, it’s a complete, the whole thing. For me, it’s been a learning process, like the first time Man, I just did by myself, in terms of training, just worked out, picked up some stuff off the internet in terms of what a training plan would look like. And never didn’t really picked up a coach after that for the for the second one. So took it a little bit more seriously. But–
Can I just ask, like, what was the difference between–like, well, you may be a little shocked at how different the programmes potentially was, between you having research something and just doing your own thing and then getting a coach. And that programme? Was there a big difference?
Yeah, well, you kind of when I was when we were getting close to the first one. And we sort of said, Who’s your coach, and I’m just sort of working it out. And I literally had no idea I had no power metres. I wasn’t I knew I had no idea what heart rate zones were about absolutely nothing about nutrition. So I was properly making it up. And so just to have somebody one with experience that had done something like that, and put plans together, but just just beginning to learn about more about your body and how it sort of begins to respond in certain situations was that that was kind of a really interesting part. Part of getting a coach was actually that experience and that sort of knowledge of, of all these different aspects of the sport.
Tessa, what do you draw on from your experience of Iron Man’s and triathlons and all different distances as well?
What’s you’re always learning so it’s, it’s constantly learning experience? You, I guess, we all tend to travel a fair bit for triathlons. So there’s a lot of planning and logistics that goes into it. And each time you do it, you get better. And I guess for me, because I did have that evolution from the shorter distances to the longer distances. The the amount of planning that goes into it just grows and grows and grows. And all of those learnings have, I suppose helped with the massive amount of planning that’s gone into Ultraman. So it’s been there has been a huge amount of planning that’s gone into it, but I feel as though we’re probably quite well prepared. That’s having done so many different triathlons and travelled for triathlons before.
Yeah, and I’d love to get into logistics of it soon.
How Coaching Makes A Difference
But before we do, tell us about your coach and the programming, because, you know, for something so enormous, I can’t get my head around the amount of training and programming that goes into something this big. So tell us about, about all of that.
Um, yeah, so we picked up a different coach for Ultraman. And my main reason for it was with, again, picking up the experience of somebody gone and done, at least an Ultraman. I mean, every every coach has a slightly different philosophy. There’s a lot of ground elements that are are the same and a slightly different approach. But I think we were both chose to pick somebody who’d had gone through that. So therefore, we could one learn from their experience, but we could get confidence in the programme that we were being set was specific for what is an extreme endurance event, relative to what most people are trained for.
And yeah, you’ve done a good job in choosing that coach because he is the world record holder, Richard. Right.
Well, I came across Richard, after crewing last year, I’ll come in and followed up with a conversation with someone else who’d done Ultraman last year, who also had children of a similar age to mine. So that conversation with her after Ultraman gave me confidence that Richard was someone who, I mean, obviously, he’s got first hand experience his, he’s, the world champion of Ultraman. And he’s won the Australian World Ultraman before as well. But it gave me the confidence that he would be able to set a training plan that would work for me, around my family and around the children. So that was a big part of the reason for touching base with Richard.
When Does Training Start?
And during our sessions, your recovery sessions with your massages, you’ve I think tests it was you that mentioned, you don’t actually see what the programme is, what, wait a week, it was like, tell us about that. What goes through your mind when? When do you receive it? How far in advance and yeah, all of that.
So typically, Richard will set the training programme for the next week on a Saturday, and that will be Sunday through to Saturday, the following Saturday. I suppose it’s fairly last minute. But it does mean that it the training that’s there is very responsive to the training that we’ve done in the previous week, and how we’re coping with fatigue and other life stresses. So I think it’s probably crucial to getting through all of this hard training.
Yeah. And so, so just so I understand that you receive it. Your programme on Saturday? Or the Sunday?
Usually the Saturday, the Saturday for–
Tomorrow, for example. Wow. So on
Sunday, Sunday, for the next, for the Monday.
Right? Right. So you could go so tomorrow, for example, you wouldn’t know what you’re doing until you receive the programme.
And it has gone.
How An Endurance Athlete Trains With COVID
I was going to say, early, early in the process. I think we’re around two weeks in when I got COVID. And at that point, Richard was setting my programme on a daily basis. So I didn’t know what I had more than a day out. Usually, we were just touching base each day, seeing how I was feeling and working from there.
Wow, that’s incredible. Talk about a responsive type of training programme. Incredible. How did you go with COVID?
And well, I had to do all of my training in the house. So I moved my indoor china upstairs, and I was spending hours and hours and hours on the indoor trainer. And the other thing that I was able to do, because I was 10 days in isolation, was a bit of water running in the pool. So my training for that for those 10 days was lots of training on the indoor trainer and water running in the pool.
Did you feel like you were affected? I mean, obviously you’re affected by COVID. But in terms of you know, cardiovascular wise, did, did it have an effect on you? That you noticed too much other than the obvious?
I was pretty lucky actually, I think I, my symptoms were very mild. And I had a couple of days of complete rest. And then I think I was able to get back into training after that with a little bit of fatigue that hung around, but beyond that I was pretty good.
Get to know Julian’s cause for Ultraman racing. For more inspiring conversations with athletes like Tessa and Julian, browse through the Bodies Built Better podcast page.