Rob Lea is breaking data. And he’s doing it on a food plan of pizza, beer, and heavy whipping cream.
In July, the 38-year-old Park Metropolis resident turned the primary individual to ever stand atop Mount Everest and swim the English Channel inside a calendar 12 months, finishing his water crossing a mere 47 days after his summit. Each endurance feats are the primary two legs of his self-dubbed 2019 Final World Triathlon that concludes in September when Lea cycles throughout the nation.
So how does one man go from summit to sea in two of essentially the most inhospitable environments on the planet? Years of labor… and plenty of energy.
“You don’t prepare for these items in a month or two, or with a selected dumbbell rep scheme,” Lea says. “This sort of health comes from a lifetime of coaching.”
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Because the 2012 Males’s 30-34 Age Group World Champion within the Half-Ironman triathlon distance, Lea has a powerful health background and even contemplated going professional. However a severe ankle damage ended these goals when a health care provider suggested him to chop again on operating. He wanted a brand new objective.
First, he used his triathlon-level health to climb some massive mountains. He summited Aconcagua (the tallest peak in South America at 22,841 toes) in 2009, adopted by North America’s Denali (20,308 toes) in 2011. In 2018, Lea and his now-wife, professional skier Caroline Gleich, started chatting about Everest. (Quickly after, Lea began entertaining the concept of swimming the English Channel then biking throughout America to finish the trifecta.)
“The distinction between a 7,000-meter peak like Aconcagua and an Eight,000-meter peak like Everest is evaluating apples and oranges,” Lea says. “Going to these elevations is so totally different, so we used it as a coaching floor to see how we fared.”
The duo set their sights on Cho Oyu within the Himalayas. Dubbed the ‘Turquoise Goddess’ in Tibetan, Cho Oyu is the sixth tallest peak on the earth at 26,906 toes. After efficiently summiting in September 2018, Lea felt nervous but assured about Everest.
The continuing eight months had been crammed with lengthy days in Utah’s mountains. Lea turned a bonafide uphill athlete, that means he spent tons of of hours climbing mountains in numerous capacities. As an alternative of resort snowboarding the place you catch a chairlift, he’d go backcountry snowboarding and ski uphill for many of the day. Time on his toes was the last word objective, and Lea says his larger days amounted to 10-12 hours of out of doors adventuring.
Weighted hikes had been additionally a key part of his energy coaching. Lea used full water bladders to hold upwards of 50 kilos in his backpack on hike and ski ascents.
“The added weight is nice for energy, however I most well-liked saving my joints on the downhills,” he explains.
And the mountains had been solely a portion of his exercise regime. Throughout a median coaching week, he spent three or 4 days within the hills together with one other three to 6 days within the pool to prep for the English Channel. His greatest week amounted to 30-35 miles of swimming with one other 20 hours of climbing. Why? Private security and self-preservation.
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“I like being outdoors, however when you spend most of your time flirting with avalanche hazard, finally the mountains will catch as much as you—and they’ll win,” he says. “You actually want that have, however I additionally attempt to get a variety of my health from swimming and biking.”
Lea additionally utilized a Hypoxico tent. The science so far doesn’t present a marked influence on efficiency, however the concept is these sealed tents enable customers to simulate numerous altitudes in preparation for large peaks. In keeping with Lea, coaching or residing at altitude permits the physique to pre-acclimate by adapting to the decrease oxygen content material. Within the months main as much as Everest, Lea slept and rode his stationary bike contained in the tent.
“I’d sit on my bike, in my front room, in Park Metropolis, going for a leisurely bike trip at 19,000 toes,” he laughs.
On Might 24, 2019, Lea and Gleich stood atop Everest, attaining a lifelong dream. Shortly after returning to Park Metropolis, Lea’s coaching took a dramatic flip. As an alternative of specializing in his health, he turned his consideration to his food plan.
Due to spending 40 days on the mountain for a fast ascent, Lea misplaced a whopping 20 kilos, whittling down from 195 to 175 kilos. For a lot of athletes, a slim physique is fascinating, however not whenever you’re gearing as much as swim the English Channel. Open-water swimming guidelines dictate athletes solely put on a Speedo—no wetsuit. With common July water temps hovering close to 60 levels, Lea might be the fittest particular person on the market however find yourself with hypothermia. He wanted to pack on blubber to maintain him heat sufficient for his 12-hour journey.
“I broke each rule within the weight-reduction plan handbook,” Lea laughs. “I’d eat a ton of carbs, however I went as far as to eat pizza whereas I used to be actually in mattress, preparing to fall asleep.”
Lea needed to realize 30 kilos—the 20 he misplaced on Everest together with 10 extra for added fats. To take action, he acquired two of the best sponsors on the planet: Fats Tire Amber Ale and Pink Banjo Pizza in Park Metropolis. On common, he inhaled 4 to 5 pizzas per week, rotating by toppings so as to add selection. He additionally consumed heavy whipping cream frequently, blowing by seven quarts in 35 days. His calorie-laden concoction of selection: White Russians.
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At his peak, Lea estimates he was consuming anyplace from Eight-10,000 energy per day. Close to the tip of his 47-day window between Everest and the Channel, he even reduce on his swimming, as a result of it was burning up an excessive amount of of his physique fats. “I wasn’t going to lose my health in a month,” he says. And whereas he admits this initially gave the impression of a dream food plan post-Everest, it will definitely made him nauseous.
“It sounds bizarre, however I used to be mainly coaching to get fatter,” Lea says. “As an alternative of consuming after I was hungry, I ate anytime I wasn’t full.”
In keeping with Charmaine Jones, a registered dietician nutritionist and founding father of Meals Jonezi, a food plan like this isn’t really useful.
“Yo-yo weight-reduction plan could cause emotional misery and have a bodily toll in your physique,” Jones says. “Steady weight-reduction plan could result in frustration about physique look, deprivation of meals, and quick famines.”
She notes that whereas Lea clearly is a singular case, she would nonetheless suggest that any athlete trying one thing like this accomplish that solely below a health care provider’s direct supervision.
Lea admits that the fatty food plan made him really feel bloated and unwell, however he saved with it. “I simply needed to keep on with the plan and belief that it will get me by the swim,” he explains.
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It labored. On July 10 at four p.m., a 205-pound Lea left the English shoreline behind and commenced the arduous journey throughout the Channel. After 28 miles, 11 hours and 47 minutes of swimming— and greater than 50 jelly fish stings—his fingertips brushed French soil.
The very first thing he needed as soon as on the boat? A beer, in fact.
Keep tuned for Lea’s final leg, biking throughout America. Comply with him on Instagram for updates.