It’s 9am in the morning when I first meet Pip Meo. All I’ve managed is to roll out of bed, grab a piece of toast and make it to our meeting on time. Pip has already trained for two and a half hours and eaten two breakfasts.
As we order coffees she says she is feeling a little bit guilty having a second coffee this morning. “I try to only drink one a day” she says, and it is suddenly very clear that Pip is no ordinary human being, every single area of her life is highly regulated and disciplined.
She explains that she trains for at least 30 hours a week, while maintaining a full-time job. Bed is 9 o’clock every night and each day starts at 4.30am. She eats a clean diet (paleo for those who are unfamiliar with the term) and each meal is fairly prescriptive. This is important, she explains, as one extra kg of weight can make the difference of 2-3 minutes in a 10km race. It’s important to go to bed slightly hungry every night but make sure you are getting enough nutrition during the day to sustain your training regime – hence the very rigid diet.
When I ask her if the sacrifices are worth it, her eyes glow. “If you really want to achieve something, nothing is a sacrifice,” she says, and she means it.
This shouldn’t be surprising from someone with the goal to rep New Zealand at the 2020 Olympics. It’s even less surprising when you hear that she set this goal and made this decision before she had even ever competed in a triathlon, before she even knew how to swim. “I had to teach myself to swim from youtube videos,” she says.
It was still a fairly measured decision though. A former NZ soccer rep, she was dropped from the Olympic team just before the Beijing Olympics. Having her goal thwarted she decided she was going to find another way to make this dream a reality. Triathlons really struck a chord with her, “You can be completely in control of how good you are – there is no age limit - and cycling and swimming are sports you can be good at if you just decided to work hard enough.”
She tracked down Murray Healey, Sam Warriner’s coach, and told him her goal. The two clicked, and 6 years on, as a newly minted professional triathlete, the rest, as they say, is history.
It’s not all been plain sailing though. She has found that no matter how careful or how dedicated you are, injuries are part and parcel of being a triathlete.
“Triathlons are a demanding sport and you really put your body through its paces. I’ve been injured all winter” she says “but I’ve still managed to train through it – it’s all about careful management”.
Careful management for Pip includes weekly massages and making sure she heads to the physio at the very first sign of a niggle. Strength work like Pilates is essential and she makes sure she stretches every night before bed. Her secret weapon she says, though, is Bodyneed’s very own recovery classes.
“I try to do a recovery class at least once a week when my training schedule allows. It makes such a difference, you can just feel your body being released and I love that it equips me with exercises I can do at home.”
This winter she has struggled through a back injury and subsequent knee injury. Working with Bodyneed’s physio Catherine Porteous, they figured out that her injury was a result of her position on her bike and a treatment plan was created around addressing and remedying the cause of that.
“For me prevention and recovery go hand in hand. I’m still learning about my body and how it works so I don’t think you can ever completely prevent injury. But I do everything I can to make that injury doesn’t reoccur” she says, “For example, if I injure my knee I know now that my glutes and back need strengthening so I focus on that to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Wit her dedication, determination and drive we reckon that Pip is definitely a women to watch. 2020 Olympics watch out! Here she comes!