While the words accountant and athlete don’t often come up in the same sentence, Jed Eden has proven that they're not mutually exclusive terms, particularly when you live in Taranaki.
Jed has had the ultimate work-life balance for a decade now, successfully managing a team of accountants at Staples Rodway Taranaki whilst training for the elite sport of ironman.
Through the region's easy lifestyle, substantial doses of sheer determination, support of his family, friends and co-workers and the training program of a pro athlete, Jed is on his way to representing New Zealand in Kona, Hawaii at the Ironman world championships in October this year.
Despite growing up around the triathlon and ironman scene -- his parents were competitors - Jed didn't give it a go until he was forced to stop all physical activity for 6 months, following a car accident. Jed soon put on weight and decided that he needed to do something about it. With some encouragement from friends he signed up to his first triathlon, and what started out as a bit of fun to help him lose weight soon became a lifestyle choice, motivated by the challenge of beating his father's personal best time.
The next phase of his life - becoming a parent - looked set to put an end to his triathlon lifestyle, but when his daughters were diagnosed with food allergies Jed adopted a gluten and diary free diet, and noticed a surge in his performance.
"I was surprised at how much more energy I had to train with on a gluten and diary free diet. Until then I had thought that the more I exercised, the more I could eat. With a simple change in meals I lost more weight and started to beat my personal best on a regular basis. This is when I realised I could start to train and compete seriously.”
Jed credits his ability to balance training, work and family to being supremely organised. A typical weekday will see him up by 5am and into his first training session in for the day; he will then be at work by 7am, have his second training during his lunch break and then be home by 5pm when he can spend time with his wife and daughters.
“If I wasn’t doing it, I don’t know what else I would do. It’s just became a lifestyle”.
Jed emphasises the perks of living and training in Taranaki, where sporting events are popular, and getting around is easy.
“You can bike 200km with no traffic lights and no need to stop, and train on many trails with soft underfoot that give some great options of landscapes and scenery. The province allows for a better work/life balance and while still working 40-50 hours a week, Staples Rodway Taranaki really encourages their employees to have that kind of lifestyle.”
With the office being so central in New Plymouth, Jed is able to head down to the city's acclaimed Coastal Walkway, to the trails in Pukekura Park or to the Aquatic Centre to get in swim training day during his lunch break.
“Achieving success across both work and sport requires very different personality traits, and separating work from play is what makes it possible in terms of mental toughness," Jed says.
"Staples Rodway operates as a fantastic team with clear goals, whereas ironman is all about me and breaking my own barriers. I train with others for motivation and support but once the starting gun goes you’re racing against each another, and everyone is out for themselves. It's not an attitude that you can take into the workplace!"
Jed hasn’t decided on his goal for the World Championship yet but once he does it will be displayed on his desk in order to motivate him to get out and prepare for what he anticipates will be "9 hours of intense pain."
“Racing in Kona will be a whole new ball game. It will be around 40 degrees, with 99% humidity and with strong winds. Some competitors will go to Kona a month before the race just to climatise. I don’t have that luxury.”
While Jed heads into the event without any injuries or major health issues, he does have the challenge of only 6 hours of sleep in his training schedule, and a 2-year-old daughter who is currently teething. With the support of his family and a positive mental attitude he hopes that this won’t affect his performance and goes by the quote “When you wake up every day, you have two choices. You can either be positive or negative; an optimist or a pessimist. I choose to be an optimist. It's all a matter of perspective” - Harvey Mackay.
To help Jed get to the Ironman World Championships, he's launched a Give a Little page and would welcome your support.