Ironman World Champ Shares Secrets for Increasing Energy and Performance

 

– The MOVEMENT Movement with Steven Sashen Episode 090 with Pete Jacobs

 

Pete Jacobs is the Ironman World Champion and a Health and Performance Coach. In 2012 Pete won the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, improving from 2nd the year before, and holds one of the fastest ever marathon splits at the World Championship event, a 2:41:05, at the end of the Ironman, in Hawaii!

Since then, Pete has learnt endlessly about health and performance to overcome fatigue and inflammation that had troubled him since he was a teenager. Now a certified MAF Coach, certified Health Coach, & calls himself a Performance Coach for anyone seeking more energy, through his business Live Your Own Fit | LYF Performance co-founded with his wife Jaimielle.

 

Pete has always run in the most minimal shoes he could. Even when sponsored by a major shoe brand, he chose racing ‘flats’ for all his training and racing, and even modified those to make them more minimalist. Pete loves being barefoot, running barefoot on grass tracks, or using minimalist shoes when he does wear shoes, casually, or in training.

 

Listen to this episode of The MOVEMENT Movement with Pete Jacobs about secrets for increasing energy and performance.

 

Here are some of the beneficial topics covered on this week’s show:

  • How our brains create stress that doesn’t exist and leads to misplaced emotions.
  • Why being able to de-stress is so important for people to master.
  • How people need to become more present and lie in the moment.
  • Why people should work on improving their posture when they rest.
  • How mindset can be one of the most limiting things, especially on race day.


Connect with Pete:

 

Guest Contact Info

Facebook

facebook.com/liveyourownfit

 

Links Mentioned:
liveyourownfit.com

 

Connect with Steven:

Website

Xeroshoes.com

Jointhemovementmovement.com

Twitter
@XeroShoes

Instagram
@xeroshoes

Facebook
facebook.com/xeroshoes

 

Steven Sashen:

So in this podcast I often say, “Oh, let’s call them very bad things about normal shoes, but maybe normal shoes are really fine, if you do one little thing to them, or maybe not.” We’ll find out on today’s episode of The MOVEMENT Movement, the podcast for people who want to know the truth about what it takes to have a happy, healthy, strong body starting feet first.

Because those things are your foundation. We break down the propaganda, the mythology, sometimes the flat out lies you’ve been told about what it takes to run or walk or hike or do yoga or CrossFit or just play or enjoy your life. And to do that enjoyably efficiently, effectively. Did I mention enjoyably? I know I did, you don’t need to tell me, because it was a trick question because look, if you’re not having fun, do something different till you are. Life is way too short.

By the way we call this The MOVEMENT Movement, because we are creating a movement that involves you, and I’ll explain that in a second, about natural movement using your body the way it’s designed to work. And the part that involves you is really simple. If you find what we’re doing here cool, go check us out at www.jointhemovementmovement.com because you are the people who move this whole idea that natural movement is a good thing.

And the way you can do that now is find the previous episodes of the podcast, subscribe and you’ll hear about new episodes. Depending on what platform you’re imbibing this on, if it’s on YouTube or Facebook or on any of the places that people do podcasts, leave reviews, or give us a thumbs up or hit the bell icon on YouTube. You know how it goes. In short, if you want to be part of the tribe, please subscribe. It’s really simple. And I’ll say more about that at the end of the podcast. But first let us jump in. Pete Jacobs, how the hell are you, man? Long time no chat.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah, yeah. I’m really good, thank you. Well, just beautiful days here in in Noosa in Queensland.

Steven Sashen:

Well that’s being redundant because it’s pretty much always a beautiful day where you are. It’s not too different from Colorado, actually. Today we’ve had three seasons, it started out cold and snowing and then it went to sunny, then it went to raining, then it went back to sunny and now it’s sunny like in the sixties, when literally it was snowing when I went to work this morning.

That’s what happened. We got five inches of snow two days ago, gone yesterday, more this morning… anyway, it’s crazy. So do me a favor, tell human beings before we jump into this magic thing you can do to make regular shoes, be okay, tell people who you are and what you’re up to and whatever else you want to share about who you are and what you’re up to.

Pete Jacobs:

My name is Pete Jacobs. I am the 2012 Ironman world champion. That’s my claim to fame. One of my other favorite highlights from my career as a professional triathlete was running a 2:41:05, which at the time was the third quickest marathon only behind Dave Scott and Mark Allen, to have been run on the big Island in the Ironman. So it’s now the fourth quickest, but it’s still up there. So I love running-

Steven Sashen:

As long as you’re in the top five, you can pull that one out at any time.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah. So I love running and I’ve always had health issues up and down. So for the last few years, I’ve really focused on learning about what the body needs and how to get it most beneficial. Our mutual friend, Dr. Phil Maffetone, I chat with him a bit. And I’ve become a health coach through this journey and passion for seeking answers to health.

So now I work with people around energy. What is energy? How do we get more of it? How do we get rid of fatigue and how to be healthier for longevity for what we want to do, how do we get more enjoyment? Because energy is everything from being able to perform well, to just being happy and have emotions and hormones that let us live a great life.

Steven Sashen:

I’ve wondered something for a long time and I’ve never bothered to look it up. And that is, I wonder if there was a different word that we used other than energy prior to the Industrial Revolution, prior to electricity becoming a thing. Because the metaphors change over time. Prior to the computer world or computer age, we didn’t refer to the brain with computer metaphors, which we do now.

And so, I’m saying this because maybe it’ll inspire you one night if you can’t sleep to try and find that out whatever we used to say, what were the other words? And I’m sure there’s a Latin word, or maybe energy or some variation is what we’ve used, but just that sort of feeling. But one of the reasons I asked is, people misuse that word and talk about it in ways that are not really appropriate or not accurate biologically versus what you’re talking about, which is really a subjective thing above and beyond all else.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah. I’m exactly the same. It really annoys me when people say, “Oh, I just need to eat more, to have more energy.” And I’m like, “Calorie is the fuel, but it is very, very small part of actually what is energy and why you feel good. It’s really never the answer.”

Steven Sashen:

When you think about energy or when you’re working with clients and this is the concept that’s part of what you’re doing, how do you think about it? And what do you think are the things that sustain it, allow it, create it, sap it, all the things that one can do with this mythical energy that we’re talking about?

Pete Jacobs:

Well. I have a very, very long list.

Steven Sashen:

How much time do we have?

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah. So, I go from a scientific, biological perspective, which is energy is ATP, which is adenosine triphosphate. That little spark of electricity that we use to move muscles to drive life. It is our life force. It is the thing that allows us and plants, all living things have ATP that keep us alive. So from that perspective, then we go back and look at… okay, well, in all aspects of what we want to do in our life, like performance, athleticism work, our brain function, our skin function, all of the things that we measure as health and performance.

If we say, “Well, how is energy and energy inhibition relating or let’s say making that easier or harder?” So what is inhibiting energy? And that’s where my long list of stress, and stress has a long list of 30 different things that it could be coming from. So I try and explain it as all this gunk and pluck and stuff builds up around the mitochondria and inhibits all the good stuff getting in like oxygen, like blood flow, like nutrients, vitamins that make actually producing that ATP harder.

And so that is why if we think of people who are really fatigued, and I’ve had fatigue issues, since I was a teenager, you feel like you have no oxygen. Your brain doesn’t work, you’ve got brain fog, you go lactic very, very quickly when you exercise. And it comes back to… that is exactly what’s happening. The oxygen can’t get through because there’s a lot of inhibitors to the ATP being produced in the mitochondria.

So, these inhibitors are what we try and reduce by having good sleep, which clears the stress every day, by having good food, which helps by you becoming a better fat burner, which helps more oxygen flow. So, the reverse of hyperventilating with bad breath, the reverse of eating a high sugar diet, which lowers oxygen carrying capacity. So all of those things that Dr. Phil Maffetone has been talking about for decades, I’m now taking into my own little niche, which is, well, let’s look at how all those factors are actually inhibiting energy production.

Steven Sashen:

You know, I’ve been following Phil since the ’80s and when I started Xero Shoes and got hip to what we were doing and how it relates to what he was doing, I called him up and I said, “I’ve got to ask you, do you feel vindicated that people are finally coming around to your way of thinking, or do you feel that it’s taken him so long?” He says, “More of the latter.”

And I had a similar conversation, actually with Nick Romanov who created what people call pose method and said the same thing. It’s like, “Now that people are starting to understand running mechanics, do you feel vindicated because you’ve been doing this for 50 years,” or like “Come on, people.” And he goes, “That one.” So it’s a challenging thing when you’re way ahead of the curve.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah. I think being ahead of the curve really just means that you understood evolution and you were able to look back in time.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Pete Jacobs:

So, basically if we want to get ahead of the curve now in the next evolution or the next evolution of what health and performance means, just go back into time and look back a thousand ago. And the obvious ones are like, as you mentioned, electricity. It didn’t exist a hundred years ago. We didn’t have bright, blue LED lights disturbing our hormones. And that was just such a short time ago. That’s one of the major things, but there’s a lot of other things that really did not exist a couple of hundred years ago.

Steven Sashen:

The going back in time thing is interesting, but of course rife with challenge. I remember I was on a panel discussion about natural movement things related to exercise. And I said, “Look, let’s call a spade, a spade. We’re not doing things we used to do, like walking down to the river, picking up rocks, bringing them back and turning them into a house. We’re not running to get food or running away from becoming food.”

And I can say that thing, just that phenomenon about running is so interesting to me as a competitive sprinter. So, when I work out, just doing regular workouts, I get a little sore. But when I do a race, first of all, I run faster than I do in my workouts, and secondly, I am super sore for way, way longer when I’ve done less during the race day than I did during my training days.

So clearly there’s a biochemical thing going on with the stress of competition that’s similar to, I imagine, that stress of running after food or running away from food, probably even more… or becoming food. And we can’t replicate that, you can’t fake that. You can’t fake… I don’t care how much functional movement you’re doing, it’s not the same as spending all day every day, getting materials to build a house. And so what are your thoughts about the fact that we can’t really go back and recreate the way these things have evolved? Because that that ship has sailed.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah. We no longer live in caves. And we can’t go back there.

Steven Sashen:

I’ve been decorating a cave lately. Actually, we’ve been redecorating the house or renovating a house that we moved into and we’re living in the basement and it feels like we’re living in a cave. We have to remind ourselves there’s an upstairs.[crosstalk 00:10:49]

Pete Jacobs:

Well, if you want to really do it, disconnect the electricity and then use little candles and your health boosts will just be out of this world, if we did that stuff. So how do we live this day? Was that the question? How do we live when that ship has sailed?

Steven Sashen:

Yeah.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah, I think… I do in the back of my mind, my instinct says, “The closer I can live to that caveman lifestyle, the healthier I’ll be. So that is obvious the less light, the less fake light the less processed food, the less restricted movement, as that’s what we’re talking about, definitely. So that would be in the form of the less shoes, the less repetition under stress.

And as you mentioned, that’s an interesting one when we get chased by an animal or something back in the day. That stress would have been there and our nervous system and all the hormonal impact that we get. And that’s fine when it’s just for the moment and animals still can do this because they only exist in the minute. They can shake off something that’s happened in the past very quickly.

But we don’t. We now carry that. Our brains are actually one of the things that are destroying us in a way that we are able to create stress that doesn’t exist in this moment, the way that we are able to create emotions connected to things which don’t exist. So all stuff in the past or the future. And so, instead of just… let’s say you did the race and you have more stress. Your nervous system, hormonal response, as well as oxidated stress all goes up.

Now, an animal in that situation would have been, if they were getting chased, after the chase is over, they go back to… nervous system, calms down. Something like a rabbit, you can see them. They do a little shiver and they shake it all out. And they’re like, “Okay, I’m back to normal.” And that tremor is actually… we’re able to do that as well, if we can tap into it. So you see in the animal world, this, okay, stress exists, then stress we clear it, we forget it, we’re back to just chewing on grass and being happy and all good.

But in our world, it’s do the high intensity interval training session in the morning and then go and sit at work and work in the office in a stressful environment. And then we come home and we’re having an argument with our spouse because we’re tired and irritable because our hormones are messed up. And then we stay up late watching TV to try and de-stress, which is really just wrecking our hormones in another way from the lack of getting the melatonin and production for good sleep, and we’re suddenly in this chronic state of stress.

So it isn’t that we can’t… stress. Yes, stress happens and it’s good if we do a race, that’s great. You’ll perform really well by pushing yourself harder than in training, but being able to then de-stress is the most important part. And there’s so many ways to do that. As well as there’s all the problems that inhibit energy production by increasing stress, there’s just as long a list of things that we can do to try and reduce that stress and get back out energy.

Steven Sashen:

So, throw out a couple of things on that list since I’m sure… I mean, we already hinted at a few, but for people who are going, “Hey, you just described my life. Now, what?” Give them a couple of ideas.

Pete Jacobs:

Well, becoming present is one, like I mentioned, the animals do. They live in the moment. So really just, even if it’s just 30 seconds to a minute, breathe in and out your nose, into your belly, which is great for vagal time, which is your parasympathetic nervous system, which is your opposite to fight and flight. Parasympathetic is your rest and recovery. And so breathing in and out of the belly and bringing your mind present. So that basically means you think of nothing and you’re bored for one minute. Absolutely bored.

Steven Sashen:

Well, I’m going to give a clarification… or not a clarification, I’m going to give another version of that, because there’s a lot of people that I talk to who have gotten ideas about what meditation is and they think that it is, “I’m supposed to clear my mind. I’m supposed to have no thoughts.” Well, I don’t know any better way to say this than, “Good fucking luck.”

So, that’s not the way minds work. And in fact, if you actually look at most of the instructions for mindfulness meditation, they’re not about trying to really stay focused and single pointed, as much as this paradoxical thing of trying to catch every moment possible. As many as you can, as fast as you can. But the paradox is the only way to do that is by relaxing, or there’s a balance between relaxing and putting in the effort to try to catch that next moment.

Whether the next moment is a sensation, a thought, a feeling, a sound, an image, whatever shows up. Just one after another, after another. And again, paradoxically, the better you get at being more granular, getting more moments per second that you’re noticing, the more relaxing it is. Because again, the only way to get better is by doing something that makes you accessible, that makes you available to noticing all that by relaxing a little more. And that’s something anyone can do, try to catch as many as you can. And when you miss it, that’s okay. Go back again. But this thing of stopping your thinking, again, good luck with that.

I was actually… I’ll stop ranting about this in a second. I was hanging out with a friend of mine who’s a Tibetan monk, actual Tibetan guy. And he was teaching a meditation in this big group and someone said, “I can’t do it because I can’t make my mind get quiet.” And he says, “Well, you just need to practice more.” And then he says, “But FYI, when the monks who were living in monasteries and living in caves, come down to this big city and go to a shopping mall, they can’t do it either.”

And so, after this is all done, I punch him in the shoulder. I said, “Did you hear what you said?” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “You just said that the professionals, the best of the best, the Michael Jordans of meditation can’t do it after they leave the cave and come down into the marketplace. But then your instruction to this woman who lives in the marketplace was practice more? Doesn’t work that way.” He goes, “Good point.” So anyway, it’s a bit of a tangent, but…

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah, that’s where the connecting it with the breath work. And like I said, just slow your breath down five seconds in five seconds out into the belly, through the nose. You are bringing your awareness. Your awareness comes into your breath and your body. So you’re noticing all of those granular things, as you say. And I try and get them to notice, with each breath, your body becomes more relaxed.

So, focus on the muscles becoming more relaxed, your mind becoming more relaxed. That feeling of after you’ve had a massage and you stand up and walk out of the spa, you can get that feeling in 30 seconds just by relaxing and doing it. You literally just go, “I feel relaxed. How can I get more relaxed? And with the next breath, more relaxed?”

Steven Sashen:

The irony in what you just said is, so we have the stressful thing and then we need to relax, and that’s the part we’re bad at. And another great way to relax is by deliberately creating specific stress, namely, tense up a muscle and then let it go and feel that spreading to the next muscle group and then tense up the next muscle group and let it go and feel that spreading. Another way of doing the same thing, where you’re deliberately creating the stress relaxation response in real time.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah. And then added to that is when you’re doing that breath work and relaxing your body, increase your posture. Improve your posture. So, a big part of being in present and calm and in control is having a quiet confidence. So, too much ego is obviously… can be overly confident and your mind is like, “Ah, I’m amazing. I’m so good. I’m going to kick these people’s ass.” And you start to maybe get a bit aggressive and a bit out of your own awareness. Whereas quiet confident is much more like just saying to yourself, “I’ve got this.” And that is what athletes are always doing. And I love always referring to Usain Bolt, how relaxed he is before the race, during the race, afterwards.

Steven Sashen:

Dude, I was in Berlin at the race where he set the world record, where he ran 9:58. And I happened to be there, my wife has friends… she was an exchange student in Germany. Her exchange student sister, her husband was the head of Berlin tourism. So he said, “Do you want to go to the race?” It’s like, “Yeah. It’s the world championships.”

And so, we’re sitting like five rows off the track at the 70-meter mark, right where he’s hitting his top speed. But the important part was not that. The important part is that before the race, they done all their warm outs and he comes out and he sits down behind the blocks next to Tyson Gay, who everyone thought was going to win the race. And the two of them… they had to wait like 15 minutes before the race actually started for some reason, I don’t know why.

And the two of them, each one of them, they looked like they were going to fall asleep. They were just sitting back, a little hunched over, not paying attention. And they just looked like they were going to pass out. And my favorite part, almost no one noticed it, right before the race started, they’re both head down, just chilling and then Bolt and Tyson Gay, they looked at each other at the same time and just gave each other a subtle low five. And then they got up and got in the blocks. It was awesome. I mean, cause I had been trying to get psyched up before a race and they were doing the exact opposite.

Pete Jacobs:

Exactly. They’re just being in the present moment. And that is when your body is the most relaxed, the most powerful, energy is flowing. As you said, if you tense your fist and then with that tense fist, try and punch something or grab something, you’re slower and less accurate than if you’re totally relaxed and then try and move as quickly and accurately as you can.

So, that’s an easy thing to test. And so you combine just taking that breath in and out of the belly, through the nose, relaxing your body with each breath more and more as well as improving your posture with each breath. So you’ll stand there, and this is an easy thing, I would say, stare at a dot on the wall that is just going to make you feel bored because there’s nothing there.

And then you’ll notice as you do this breathing relaxation, present practice, you will get taller compared to that dot on the wall and that… you then walk away with this posture and posture as we know, there’s been 100 Ted talks about it which I recommend you go and watch, is that your posture influences your hormones as well. So you will increase testosterone, you’ll increase your parasympathetic nervous system function.

All of these things that come with feeling calm and confident and in the present moment as the most beneficial things in our day and age to recognize that you have this stress chronically. So, you only need to do it 30 seconds to a minute. And if you can do that every time you get a cup of tea, or you go to the toilet, have a trigger place. And while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil you do that, then you can actually just check in and build that awareness. And as you said it, the practice is that you get better at building the awareness of when you’re stressed.

And so, you can do it. And then in a performance mindset, you get good at doing that while you’re exercising so that as you’re running harder and your tension is building, let’s say your traps, your trapezius muscles start to tense up and your shoulders raise up. You get really good at noticing those changes and then go, “Oh my God, I’ve got to relax my shoulders.” And then you can do it in a race.

So, in training, for example, bringing it in to my career as a professional triathlete, in my long runs, I would notice when that tension would build. My mind would be starting to say, “Oh, this is starting to get hard.” And I would feel the tension physically and mentally. And I would just take a break. I’d have a sip of water, splashing water on my face. I’d do a couple of dynamic stretches and then I’d reset and start again as if it was the first step of the day.

And because I did that in training, obviously in a marathon in Hawaii, I mean, every race that I did even running 2:41, I walked eight stations. And that, practicing the reset in training and in your day to day life gets you really good at it. So you can then do it really quickly, really efficiently and get this a huge benefit because it’s all you’ve got to then do, is use a trigger phrase, for example. If you tie a trigger phrase to this practice, like in 2012, my trigger phrase was love. That was the word.

And that’s the sense of gratitude. It was a trigger word that I related to this change in my nervous system and mindset. And so I literally just had to use the word love or told my supporters, tell me I love this. I love the pain. I love the challenge, all of those things. And yeah, it was one of the easiest races of my life.

Steven Sashen:

I’ve watched a couple of things on YouTube recently of runners. Mo Farah had this happen, a number of other runners have had it happen where they’re in a race and they get tripped and they fall down and then suddenly they’re last. And then they win the race. And everyone talks about what an amazing thing this was. And I’ve been thinking about this just in the last week. It’s like, “No, they got a break. They got a couple of seconds to reset and they probably had more energy than the other competitors because of that.”

I mean, I have flashbacks to riding my bike in Boulder, Colorado, where… again, I’m a sprinter so distance and I don’t get along very well. And I can tell there’s a time where I start getting progressively more tired. And if I just stop happily at a stoplight, or if I had to just pull off to the side of the road for 20 seconds, then the whole ride will end up being faster because I did that reset. And no one’s ever tried this as a deliberate strategy to go into a race. And then just like, “I’m going to pull off for just a moment here,” and then come back and beat you. Well, I think that would be hysterically interesting to find out if that actually works as a strategy.

Pete Jacobs:

Well, you’re resetting, for one. And if you’re falling and you’re introducing some chaos, and chaos is a great thing. That is where, as humans we’re faltering because our brain is now in this, we look at our phone, we get up, we have our coffee, we go to work we’re stressed. We’re in this pattern, even running, we run exactly the same way on a perfectly smooth path in these shoes that take away the appropriate perception and the changes in the surface and the chaos is now taken out of our life.

And re-introducing chaos is an excellent thing. So, whether it be in the gym… I was speaking to someone the other day and they said, “So how do I get better? I’m small a guy. I’m trying to do this sport that involves strength.” And I said, “Okay, well you need to do some different stuff in the gym.” He now just currently has forever done three sets of 10 reps in the gym all the time.

I was like, “Well, your body is just really good at doing three sets of 10 reps. You’re not actually giving it feedback of how strong it could be if you did some max weight.” We are strong. And what you said made me think of Tim Noakes and the central governor theory that the way that we get energy is defined by our brain. And so falling, tripping, suddenly we’ve adrenaline and the adrenaline gives us more energy. And it allows us to demand more energy by triggering our muscles and all that. Anyway, so you can that. Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

For people who don’t know, can you tell them what the central governor theory is? It’s very interesting.

Pete Jacobs:

The central governor theory is relating to the brain as the central governor, the governing part of your whole system that is limiting your performance and that’s Tim Noakes’s theory. So you’ve basically got… one side of things is the condition that you turn up on race day in. So your biological condition, what adaptations have you done in training? How rested are you, how hydrated and vitamins minerals, all of that stuff. That’s one part of it.

The other… the key part of what limits you, the part that limits you on race day is then your brain. So his point is, “Why doesn’t the guy that places second in the marathon suddenly collapse at the finish line? How has he not given everything to have caught the guy in front? What was the limiting thing?” And the other, I love this analogy that I did say on a Ted talk, is your pain tolerance and motivation wears out. It runs low. So if you’re being chased by lion and have to run through a whole heap of cactus bushes and get pricked all the way through, in that first couple of minutes of being chased, your pain tolerance and motivation is really high and you’ll run through and you’ll barely even notice the pain.

If you’re still getting chased by the line two hours later, and you come across this same bunch of cactuses, you’re probably going to get a couple of meters in and just go, “Oh, whatever, just kill me. Just do it. I’m over it.” And that’s what happens in long races, especially if you… so central governor is improved by keeping calmer throughout the race, which is where being in the zone, being present. It keeps all of that pain tolerance and motivation that you need for the back end of the race rather than exhausting it early.

So if you are in the first part of your race and you’re present, you’re grateful, you’re happy, you’re relaxed, you’re confident, you’re calm, your nervous system is not having to tap into adrenaline and these other factors of pain tolerance that you can save till later. So later on, when you suddenly got a shorter time to go and you can go, “Okay, I need to tap into this now. Let’s get aggressive” or “Let’s fight the pain and let’s push through,” and you can then do what you need to do.

Steven Sashen:

So I have another race strategy that no one’s ever tried, which is to take some hallucinogenic drug that on a regular basis makes you think you’re being chased by a lion. At will, you can turn that one on and you’re convinced that there’s something behind you. And then it would actually have to be a drug that mixed up the animals. So you wouldn’t know what was going to chase you.

Pete Jacobs:

Well, one of the things I love about… which is around introducing chaos a little bit is, do stuff that is slightly stressful, but get really comfortable being uncomfortable. So, that could be a position. For example, I do it in a leg press where I bring the weight down really low, where my hips are cramped off and my knees are near my chest and I will just hold it there and I’ll move back and forward through that space of a few inches and try and relax my nervous system as much as I can, my mind and body through those uncomfortable things.

And so same thing goes for doing a max effort in the gym of other types of things or a max effort sprinting. The more you can maintain that control of your mind in a relaxed, emotionless state, the more you will adapt to being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. And therefore your central governor will allow you to push harder-

Steven Sashen:

In the race.

Pete Jacobs:

In the race. Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

I just heard someone talking about one of the best reasons to do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was exactly that, is that in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, more than many other martial arts, you’re continually placed in very stressful situations. And the only way out is to be calm and relaxed and figure out how to solve the problem. And over time that becomes a habitual process in the rest of your life, because you’re familiar with that feeling like someone’s about to choke you out.

That’s a pretty significant thing. You don’t have anything like that during your day. You get things that are way less than that. So it’s an interesting thing of acclimating to discomfort in a way that’s useful rather than just gritting your teeth and bearing it, which is the way many people think of dealing with that.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah. 100%.

Steven Sashen:

So, backing up to a point you made that of course is near and dear to my heart and what we teased at the intro to this thing, which it has to do with footwear, which is how you and I originally met. So, let’s talk about the footwear phenomenon and how this relates to everything we’ve been talking about actually. But we have to start with the part of, if you’re starting with regular shoes what’s the one thing you can do to make them extensively better and your experience with that experiment.

Pete Jacobs:

Well, in one way, it made them better by reducing the heel to toe drop and in another way, it made them quite… it made them quite dangerous in another way. So I always wore racing flats. So even being sponsored by a major shoe company the shoes that I would choose were basically the cheapest, the racing flats.

Steven Sashen:

And just to start, what inspired that thought to begin with? Why were you doing that?

Pete Jacobs:

Always been interested in technique and efficiency and it was probably in around 2009 or ’10. I read Born To Run, the book, and I was training for Ironman as a professional triathlete. And I had a mate who was an engineer and we would go for long runs, chatting about technique, trying to break down what was suggested in that book of natural running and what could we draw from it? How could we do it?

So, we spoke for hours on our long runs and basically figured out that, yeah, we need to be landing over the top of our foot. We need to be really tall and we need to be landing and putting more weight through the forefoot. And so from there it progressed, we were teaching some running classes as well. So we really had to dive into how do we break this down to explain it to people, which helped our understanding of what running was and how… and then we were watching people run and we could then learn to see how they were doing it right or wrong.

And so, from that, it was just right. And anything I run in needs to be pretty minimal as much as I could get for the forefoot. So yeah, racing flats became the best option on the market. And what I then started doing around that 2011 or 2012 period was taking off that hard plastic on the back of the heel of the racing flat. So basically, around at three mil… two to three mil, maybe of that harder plastic, which just left on the heel, the soft dense foam.

And I realized pretty quickly that, that soft, dense foam, if you are running in the wet and step on concrete or pretty smooth surface, especially tiles that has water, it’s like putting two sheets of glass together with water between them. It just compresses the water and suddenly you’re on ice. So it made it better that… yes, it made the shoe slightly lighter, which I’m always going for lightweight. It made the heel-toe drop less, which obviously allows more of that natural spring to occur in the tendons. And so I could get more energy rebounding from the heel dropping. And yeah, no one ever noticed it.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. There’s a lot of things that people don’t notice. I did some stuff with Dr. Bill Sands, who was the head of biomechanics for the U S Olympic Committee for a while. And he said… we experimented with some runners where we put a little bit of carbon fiber inside their shoe just to make the shoe a little more… actually, ironically, to make their foot a little more responsive because when some pressure hit the carbon fiber, it transmitted through the carbon fiber faster than it would the foam in the shoe.

And it also just made the shoe… It wasn’t stiff, the carbon fiber, but again, it was giving people more feedback about using their feet. And he says, “And it made them actually a little faster.” And then he looks at me, we’re alone in this big room. And he looks at me, he looks around as if there’s someone listening. He goes, “You know they never look inside your shoe at the beginning of a race, right?” I said, “Huh, very interesting.”

So, I like what you described of… it’s such a human thing of, we come up with a brilliant idea and we’re so bad at thinking of the unforeseen consequences that might show up until they literally put us on our butts sometimes. And then it’s like, “Okay, how do I do the next one?”

Pete Jacobs:

I just remembered something that I did around that time, it was right around 2011, was I made a thong, a shoe thong, like what you have, out of an old thong, like a sandal or what you call it… just the bit of rubber and a triangle at the front of the shoe at the front of the thong, the old cheap plastic style ones. And I put a bit of a tie around the corners and round my back of my heel and went running in them, I felt amazing. So I literally just made what the Tarahumara in Born To Run was running in.[crosstalk 00:36:57]

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. What’s so ironic about a flip flop or what’s referred to in the footwear industry as the zori style is just having that thong in the front and there is a name for it that I just lost in my head too. It’s horrible because you have to jam your toes into the thong. You got to grip with your toes to keep it on your foot. But if all you did was add the heel strap, which is effectively, it’s not even what the Tarahumara did.

If you look at the oldest bit of footwear that’s been dug up archeologically, it came out of Utah, is made of sagebrush bark. And it looks just like that. It’s got a thong and it’s got a heel strap. And so that way it’s holding all the way around your foot and letting you just get the benefit of having some protection without the detriment of having to do unnatural things with your body.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah. I haven’t worn a normal sandal thong in so many years, but when I did put one on the other… several months ago and had to realize, “Oh my God, all this time, I was gripping my toes when I walked in this for my whole life.” Of course, you get used to it like chronic stress and all these other things, you get used to it, you don’t realize that you have to do it. So, yeah, I’ll never go back to wearing a shoe, wearing something I have the grip.

Steven Sashen:

This is the secret sauce about natural movement, once you reawaken your body to it, you can’t go back. And my wife’s story is, she said to me one day, “I hate that we own this shoe company.” I said, “Why?” She goes, “Because I’ve been looking for a nice pair of brown boots and I found one, but the heel is like a quarter of an inch high. And when I put it on, I felt like I was going to fall on my face.”

And so, when we made our first boot for women, she couldn’t have been happier as now she had something she could wear. Same thing, I mean, we’ve done a lot of things where she says, “I need something for this. I need something when I’m going out and raising money for the business. I need something for,” and so we do those things. I can’t think of any of many other… I don’t want to say shoe companies.

I don’t want to talk about Xero Shoes specifically, but I can’t think of any other situations where once you get so… other than drugs, once you get so used to it, you don’t want to go back. I mean, we have so many customers who say things like I own 15 pairs of your shoes, and that doesn’t happen in normal products. But you get used to it.

Pete Jacobs:

I would say processed food, that can happen as well. If you really go without processed food long enough. And then something that I grew up eating, like let’s say biscuits with certain chocolate and fake caramels and all of this rubbish in it.

Steven Sashen:

Wait, you’re from the land of Tim Tam.

Pete Jacobs:

Yes. That’s the one I was thinking of.

Steven Sashen:

The chocolate coated, chocolate Tim Tam? Holy crap.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah, and you’re going to say you love it, and I’m going to say that I had one a couple of years ago and it was the most chemically fake thing that I’ve ever tasted.

Steven Sashen:

I haven’t had one, it’s been at least 15 years. Someone turned me on to them. And then there was a movie theater that had the triple chocolate ones. And they were 100% pure Satan spawn because you couldn’t eat anything less than the entire package.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah, they’re probably even more processed now than they were when I grew up. So, suddenly I can sense the chemicals in things that I never used to. And so even if someone’s nearby and they open up a packet of jelly beans or something, and I’m not totally adverse to having some of these glucose-based lollies, but the smell of them, I can smell from a mile away. And it’s just, wow, it’s basically like eating perfume. The smell is so strong.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah.

Pete Jacobs:

So when you cut stuff out, like some of that process stuff, you do really notice it.

Steven Sashen:

That’s true. That would be an interesting thing to find the ingredients from what it was 30 years ago. I started a relationship over an argument about whether they had changed the recipe of Twinkies. And so then in Boulder, Colorado, at eleven o’clock on Christmas Eve, we’re driving around trying to find a Twinkie so we can look at the ingredients list. That was very hard to do. But in fact, the next week I was in Chicago and I found a pack of Twinkies and it literally said new improved recipe. And you look on the back and the recipe was suddenly 50 lines long and included crazy things like beef fat.

Pete Jacobs:

Hey, don’t knock the fat.

Steven Sashen:

I’m not knocking beef fat, but what is it doing in a Twinkie? That’s the thing I don’t understand. But I haven’t thought to look and find from when I was a kid, some 50 years ago… Jesus, that’s a weird thing to say, what the recipe looked like then compared to what it looks like now. That’d be really cool to discover.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah. Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

So, backing up to talking about more things… By the way, I didn’t get to say, I love that you’re breaking down this ephemeral, often misused concept of energy into its biological basis, which is a very good thing. And mitochondrial health is a very big deal. There are a lot of people who are looking into that for longevity reasons and for other things.

And I’ve played with some of those compounds like nicotinamide riboside, which when I first took it for the first couple of weeks, I had to learn to only take it in the morning because it kept me awake, which is an unusual thing. I’m usually not very responsive to chemicals and compounds. Eventually, like you said, though, you get used to things and stop noticing what that was doing. Yeah.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah. Well, I’ve cut out coffee in the last couple of months which probably surprises a lot of people there. So, I feel better without it. So there’s one thing which we take, “Oh, it’s a stimulant. It must be good for us. It must make us think clearer and better and blah, blah, blah.” And it may be the caffeine. It may be the plant compounds in that certain coffee products, but I just felt rubbish afterwards. And I just feel so much better without having coffee these days.

And so, I look more at what vitamins and minerals can I take to increase energy production and efficiency. Efficient energy production. So, it would be all the B vitamins. I take a really good B vitamin multi, when I want to sometimes I’ll take like ribose or creatine, L-Carnitine, all of these things that… yeah, there’s all these studies that are showing, “Hey, if we’ve put it in the lab and we put someone on a treadmill, they will perform better if we give them this supplement.”

And that’s how basically I look at how to get better energy with that because calories are not a problem in our world. We are not running around low on glycogen or low on fat for our energy source of fuel. So it’s totally, let’s look at what else we need to do. And that’s improving circadian rhythm. So our whole minds are doing the right clearing of this stress at night so that we aren’t inhibiting fat burning from too much cortisol and whatnot during the day. Those factors, as well as all the supplements.

Steven Sashen:

It makes me think about things that make you think… it’s a weird placebo effect thing where you can do something where you think you’re getting more ‘energy,’ functional energy, useful energy, but you’re actually just getting a symptom of something that you’re misinterpreting that way. And I don’t know if that means that there is a placebo effect where you get benefits, what I’m thinking of in particular.

I’m not very responsive to caffeine. I don’t drink caffeinated beverages because I don’t like the taste of them, mostly. And caffeine, I did try once taking a 200 milligram caffeine pill and it put me to sleep. I’m sure I wasn’t diagnosed with something like ADD or ADHD, but that’s what people don’t know, it’s for the treatment for kids who have that, is giving them stimulants because it actually calms your brain down by getting the base level of stimulation up to a point where you can relax.

I used to say, when I lived in New York city, I could meditate better on a subway because the noise was just enough louder than my base level of thinking that I wasn’t noticing that. But now I’ve been playing with niacin, which factors into the ATP cycle quite significantly. And a lot of people I know have acclimated to it and they can take a significant amount. For whatever reason, I can’t. 150 milligrams and I am looking like I’ve got a sunburn and… the whole thing. I’ve got the serious niacin flush.

But I can also imagine with things like niacin or beta-alanine that you get this feeling that something is happening. That’s probably not the thing that you necessarily need, but I wonder if that feeling has an impact on the central governor, for example, on something… on performance, just because it’s not quite a placebo effect, but let’s call it a fake cebo effect. You think something’s happening because something is happening, but not the thing that you think, but nonetheless, that still impacts you.

Pete Jacobs:

Yes. Yeah. And I use that example all the time when people… I’m very, very much a proponent low carb is great. But at the same time, there is a place for sugar. But it’s just not always the reason that you think it is. So, just tasting something sweet when you’re exercising, the taste of it is enough for your brain to go, “Hey, I’m safe. I’m all good. I’ve got energy coming. I’ve got calories coming in.”

And whether you absorb that and whether it changes your blood sugar, whether it gets to your muscles often just doesn’t matter. Sometimes it will, but it’s not always. As you say, what’s happening is not always happening and you get to the dopamine and it’s like what we said before. If tasting something sweet makes you happy, then you’re going to be more present. You’re going to be more relaxed, calmer, confident. So yeah, being happy and grateful brings you present, increases the perception of energy.

Steven Sashen:

And to your point previously about awareness and being aware of what your body is doing, the fine line, if you will, is that if you’re eating those things, and as a sprinter, I’m a high carb guy. The challenge, if you will, is to keep your awareness so that you’re not eating more than the benefit/feeling that you’re getting. And it’s not something that… I don’t have an issue with this personally, I’m not like a binge eater. I don’t eat a whole thing of ice cream.

I eat usually… in fact, we have some ice cream that was in our freezer for seven years because I ate the bite or two that I wanted, and then I was done. And that was about it. So, I had COVID back in January and I locked myself in the basement. I ate mostly peanut butter and jelly, oranges, apples, caramel rice cakes and I had one bar of really good chocolate and it lasts to be 12 days. I mean, I wanted just a little bit, I just needed the taste of it. That was it.

Pete Jacobs:

That’s the opposite of what I was saying. [inaudible 00:48:18] and nutrients are the most important thing. And then idea…

Steven Sashen:

Well, see I don’t know when I’m going to get hit by a blast diet. So I tend to go on, “Is this enjoyable?” And being in the basement with COVID was so unenjoyable. And I got to tell you, man, every time I made one of those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I was so happy. It made me excruciatingly happy. And it’s become more of a staple in my diet. I don’t do it… in fact, when I do it lately and I do it like almost every day now, the amount of peanut butter that I use is just enough to get the flavor. That’s all I care about. I just want that little bit of flavor and it makes me extraordinarily happy.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah. Yeah. That sounds good.

Steven Sashen:

I got to tell you something I haven’t told anybody… I told my wife about this last night. I haven’t told anybody else about this yet. But back to your point about gratitude. So I’m going to try and do the shortest version of this, that I can. I came up with a question that I like to ask about stress and problems that… it’s two-parter, but the first part is the most important one.

And so, I asked someone to describe the problem that they’re dealing with, the thing that’s causing them stress. And then I asked them a non-rhetorical question which is, “How long do you want to continue to use that problem as an excuse to be unhappy?” And they’re usually a little dumbstruck by that. I go, “It’s a legit question. If you had a choice of how long you want to keep thinking that to remain unhappy, what’s your choice? It could be, I want to stop right now. It could be, I’m going to hold onto that for the rest of my life and future reincarnations. I don’t care, but just give me a specific time and day.”

And then the secondary question is, “What do you want to do at that time and day to demonstrate that you’re no longer using that ‘problem’ as an excuse to be unhappy?” And you have to come up with a thing. You just wait and see what pops into your mind. Well, anyway, the thing that bothers me on a daily basis is people driving under the speed limit in front of me. It makes me crazy. Okay. And dude, I’ve been driving back and forth from my office to the house on a road where the speed limit is 55 miles an hour and never have I been on that road where there wasn’t someone doing 40 in front of me for some long stretch of the road. And every day, twice a day, it made me really annoyed.

So, I don’t know why it never occurred to me to ask the question until the other night, a week ago. It’s like, how long do I want to maintain that? And the answer was, I’m totally happy stopping, like right away. So, what would I do tomorrow as a demonstration that I’m no longer using that as an excuse to be unhappy. And for whatever reason, what popped into my head, here’s the punchline, was that every time someone’s doing that, every time there’s someone in front of me doing under the speed limit, I use that as a cue to start listing things that I’m grateful for.

And I’m having so much fun with people who are driving under the speed limit in front of me. And of course, one of the things that makes me grateful is that I have a car that if I use the left turn lane illegally and passed them at Mach 5, then I can do that. It makes me very… so it’s just not bothering me. I’m actually… I enjoy the fact that it’s happening because it gives me a moment to really relax, really appreciate what’s going on. And I’m not a fan of the phrase presentness for a list of psychological reasons, but it lets me drop the expectation of other things in a way that could not be more relaxing.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah. So someone driving slow has become your trigger. And then if you add it in the nose breathing and belly breathing into that, sometimes it’s when you get to a traffic light for people. Because traffic lights are so annoying.

Steven Sashen:

I added something for traffic lights. So I have a different one for traffic lights. My thing for traffic lights is I have to, for no reason, just start laughing for at least 10 seconds.

Pete Jacobs:

Well, that’s-

Steven Sashen:

It’s awesome. You got to try it. But it only works if I hit a light that I was hoping to not hit. If I thought I was going to make it through and I couldn’t, for some reason. If it’s just a red light, I don’t care. But it’s got be one of those ones that I think is slowing me down, that I think is getting in my way.

Pete Jacobs:

I read or heard on a podcast, can’t remember, about dealing with people who are driving slow or annoying you in any way in any part of your life. A good way is to wake up, expecting that people are going to do things that annoy you. And then when that happens, it’s almost like, “Yes. I knew it. I was right.” And you can actually congratulate yourself. So, every time you would get behind someone’s driving slow, if you woke up saying, “I know today someone is going to drive slow.” Then it happens, you’re actually celebrating. Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

Well, the other way to do that, it’s just move to India. When my wife and I… we were in India for a friend’s wedding and she said, “Why is it that we get more annoyed at home by little things than the huge, crazy things that are happening all day, every day here?” And I said, “It’s basically that. In India, you wake up expecting that it’s going to be all day, everyday craziness.” And then it is. And so it’s not at all surprising. But here we expect things to go well, we expect things to go smoothly. We expected the refrigerator isn’t going to break for no reason to cost us a thousand bucks. Whatever it is, the surprise is as much a stressor as… probably more of a stressor than the actual thing itself.

Pete Jacobs:

Yeah, absolutely.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. So, you and me both. So, all that said, let’s wrap this up. Do you want to give people any other last minute things that are mythological or something you want to debunk about energy and having it and not losing it or any other suggestion about what they might want to experiment with and have some fun before we call it a day?

Pete Jacobs:

Well, yeah. Perception is everything, pretty much. So, I like to just say energy doesn’t exist unless you demand it. So, eating more doesn’t store more energy, it just stores calories, and you’ve already got more than enough calories to have more than enough energy. It is just if you taste something that your brain perceives, therefore, “Oh, I’ve eaten. Therefore I can now go and do my run because I’ve…” It’s perception of energy.

So, energy, you’ve only got a few seconds of ATP stored. So really, it’s all about what your brain says about when you want to do more, think more that will increase energy production and to increase energy production with less inhibition of energy production means reduce your stress in all of those many ways that you can and getting good deep sleep with good circadian rhythm, probably the top of most people’s list these in our modern day and age.

Steven Sashen:

I think you nailed it. Dude, thank you so much. Before I let you go, for people who want to find out more about what you’re up to or how you might be helpful in their life, how would they do that?

Pete Jacobs:

So as… excuse me, I’m certified health coach now. My wife and I have our business, Live Your Own Fit, so liveyourownfit.com. On social media, follow me, just Pete Jacobs or that business and yeah, get in touch. And we’ve got our own podcast as well, where I delve a lot into what we’ve talked about today about energy, fatigue, mindset, all of that stuff. And that is Live Your Own Fit or just search for my name on your podcast app. And yeah, and that’s what we’re focused on at the minute, is yeah. We’re working through with people as health coaches. That’s my current passion. But I’ve not completely written off a comeback as a professional triathlete. Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

Oh, very interesting.

Pete Jacobs:

So I’m taking a big break. I am not really training much yet, but I’m only 39 and Ironman triathletes can go into their forties. So it’s not written off, but certainly focused on the business at the minute.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. Sounds great. Well, thank you Pete Jacobs. And before we let everyone go, just for everyone else, thank you for being here. If you want to find out more about what we’re up to and hear other episodes of The MOVEMENT Movement podcast, that’s really easy, www.jointhemovementmovement.com. You can of course find the audio version of wherever you find podcasts.

When you go to the website, you’ll find previous episodes as well. You can comment, you can share, you can do all that stuff you know how to do. If you have any questions or suggestions, people you want on the show, whatever you can think of, feel free to drop me an email, just send an email to move@ointhemovementmovement.com. Most importantly though, just go out, have fun and live life feet first.

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