Matt competed in his first triathlon in 2011, turning pro just two years later. A natural, Matt has since trained to become one of the strongest triathletes out there, claiming course records as well as podiums already in his career. With a passion for teaching, he also coaches alongside his own triathlon training.
How did you start running? I started running at a young age because it was time I could spend with my dad. He would come home from work and we would go on a run together, which in reality meant that he would take me out on his warm-up with him. By grade school, I would go on the entire run with him, and by high school, I would drop him off after my warm-up.
Why do you run now? I believe that everyone has been given a gift, and with that gift they have a responsibility to use it for the best of their ability.
What has been the most important race you’ve run to date? The 2015 North American Championships at Ironman Texas was by far my most important race to date. I was not on many people’s radar prior to that race and taking the win was a huge step in my career. It was the race that helped show me that I had the ability to do something special in this sport.
What is your pre-race ritual? I wake up around 3 hours before each race and have the same breakfast (2 servings of First Endurance Ultragen). Then I sleep for another hour. I head down to get my transition area set up then find a quiet spot for about 20 minutes and sit alone and just get my head ready for the race. After that, I warm up and get ready to roll.
What do you think about while running? Nothing… I try to treat running like a meditation time. I work to clear my thoughts and finish the run in a better headspace than when I started. When racing, I focus on process. I have a few phrases that I silently repeat over and over that help me focus when things get tough.
What is your go to training meal? Chicken breast, wild rice, and sweet potatoes.
What song is your go to for the run? If I listen to anything while running, it is typically an audiobook. Yeah, I’m kind of a nerd…
Who is your “team”? I am blessed to have such an amazing support team. My wife is a rock star and has supported me every step of the way, even when things aren’t going as planned. My family is always there for me as well. I also have a great coach and support staff behind me as well.
What is your passion next to endurance sports? I love being outdoors. When I’m not swimming/biking/running, I like to go for walks with my wife and dog around the lake as well as work in the garden and around the house. My wife and I grow a lot of our own veggies (and soon will be adding fruit as well!) which has been a fun way for us to spend time together.
Who would you be if you weren’t a professional athlete? I was a professor of exercise science before going full time in the sport, so could possibly go back to that if I was not an athlete. However, I have started coaching a few athletes and really enjoy that, so I could definitely see myself coaching full time at some point as well.
What does no one tell you about being a professional athlete? Not many people talk to you about the sacrifices that are often made and how hard it can be on your “team.” Professional athletes often spend long stretches of time at training camps and at race site. They often relocate their family to different areas to train.
What was the best piece of running advice you ever received?
When it comes to the marathon portion of the Ironman, run the first 20 miles with your head and the last 6 miles with your heart. Your legs will hurt during the last section of the race, but they are quite a distance from your heart!
What advice do you have for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps? Know your “why.” You are going to have training days and races where you feel great and everything goes well. But there will be plenty of days where you are tired and sore. There will be races where you go into a dark spot. Focusing on WHY I do this is what gets me through the tough times and helps me keep everything in perspective.
Why On? I run with On for a number of reasons. Obviously, I have to be comfortable in the shoe. On has a great line of training and racing shoes that keep my feet and legs happy and healthy. The attention to detail that has gone in to the development of each different shoe as well as the new clothing line is outstanding. I also love how hard they work to give back and support various communities. It is evident that the business cares about running and not just making money. Finally, the customer service that I’ve experienced every time I have worked communicated with On has been remarkable.