PODCAST Mat Grils lives outside the comfort zone
A few months ago a rather hard core dude called Matt Girls came across my radar somehow and we chatted a little via emails. Perhaps there was something about my “extreme” Spud Fit Academy that interested him, after all he is a pretty extreme dude himself! He told me he was coming to Melbourne to do this ridiculous race called the Down Under 135 – 135miles (217kms) of continuous running through the Lerderderg Gorge with around 9000m of elevation gain and decent. I told my wife he was coming and asked if she thought it would be too forward of me to ask if I could crew for him. I hardly knew him after all and had only ever talked to him via messages, surely I should get to know him a little better before I ask to tag along on one of his crazy challenges?! Mandy encouraged me to ask and see what happens. When I got home I opened up my computer to message him and found that he’d already written to me… to ask me to crew for him! A few days later we met in a small, gravel car park at the edge of Bacchus Marsh, around half an hour before the start of the race.
What ensued was some of the most incredible feats of inner strength I’ve ever been privileged enough to witness. The suffering that Matt and the other runners could put themselves through and keep on pushing was really mind blowing and it changed the way I think about pain. It changed the way I think about what’s possible in sport and in life and has got me wondering about what I could do.
I ran a section of the race and we had a great conversation for a couple of hours, I wish I could have recorded it for you to listen too! I really had a great time running with Matt and hanging out with him over the next few days and of course recording this podcast.
It’s an honour to now be able to call Matt a friend, I hope you enjoy this conversation.
Stuff we talked about
- Matt’s cafe – The Journey Bargara
- Follow Matt on Instagram and Facebook
- Down Under 135, the southern hemisphere’s gnarliest ultra marathon.
- Parkway Drive – a band who Matt toured with.
- The Amity Affliction – another band who Matt toured with.
(00:05:24)…..WHO IS MAT GRILS
(00:33:29)…..HOW HE STARTED RUNNING
(00:42:28)…..STARTING A VEGAN LIFESTYLE
(00:53:56)…..RUNNING FOR A CAUSE
(01:10:46)…..BEING MENTALLY READY FOR CHALLENGES IN LIFE
(01:19:39)…..HOW RUNNING CONNECTS PEOPLE
(01:21:01)…..MAT’S IDEAL TRAINING REGIME
(01:25:00)…..FUTURE PLANS AND CONCLUSION
Mat Grils lives outside the comfort zone
This podcast has been automatically transcribed by a software and went for a minor editing. If you notice any mistakes or wrong word entry please help us fix them by leaving a comment. We made sure to be the most accurate as we can. Enjoy!
Andrew: G’day, everyone, welcome to episode 12 of the Spud Fit podcast. I’m your host Andrew Taylor last year I ate nothing but potatoes for the whole year and I lost a lot of weight and got healthy and dealt with my depression and things like that. And It gave me some sort of weird grade celebrity sort of status, which I now leverage to get awesome people to talk to me on the podcast and try to use what these awesome people know and have learned out of their lives to help me improve my life even further and become a better person and hopefully by listening you guys can learn something and maybe improve your lives in some way to. That’s what I hope for anyway.
So this is episode 12, today we’re talking with Mat Grils, The Tattoo Runner adventures and activism himself Matt grills. I was lucky recently to be able to do some crewing and pacing of Mat when he took on the Down Under 135 the southern hemisphere. Most nollie grueling, ultra-endurance Marathon. It was a really really incredible experience, Matt has become a new hero of mine, as well as a friend and I really learned a lot from running with him and watching him perform and I enjoyed this conversation as well and really has being a part of that down under 135 has really changed my outlook on not only what is possible as an athlete and as a person, but just what is possible in life in general. So, I hope you guys get as much from this conversation as I did and as I continue to from knowing Mat.
Alright before we get into it though, It’s coming into winter in Melbourne or in Australia sorry, and it’s time to get organized with some warm clothes.
Also, you can follow Mat at thejourneybargara.com also just look up adventures and activism online to find more information about Mat.
A little bit more before we get into the episode, I’ll just tell you how we met we were just- we were talking online a little bit. Matt reached out to me, He was interested in my story. I hadn’t heard of Mat until he reached out to me and wrote me a message and he was uh interested in supportive of what I was doing and that was cool. And we got chatting online a little bit and then he told me that he was coming down to run this crazy race and a few days later after he told me that I was walking with Mandy and I said “Hey Mandy, I don’t really know this Mat guy very well, but it sounds like a cool race. Do you think maybe is it too forward of me to ask him if he wants me to crew for him? Do you think that would be a bit too much? I don’t know him well enough to maybe ask that question…?” and Mandy said “Hey, what does it matter? Just ask, if he says no, it doesn’t matter, might just as well ask” So I thought I’ll just ask I’ll see what happens maybe he’ll have me crew for him. So I got home sat down at the computer ready to type a message. And what do you know there’s a message from Matt to me saying. “Hey, I need another crew member, would you like to crew for me?” So, uh that was quite cool. So I ended up going along and doing the crew thing and like I said, it was really a life-changing weekend and it was cool to be able to sit down with Mat and have this chat once we finished with with the weekend.
So have a listen. I hope you enjoy it and Spud up.
I almost forgot to tell you guys that uh, the sound goes a bit weird towards the end here the last few minutes. I don’t know what happened. I’m a I’m a total amateur here and I’m doing this all by myself, so I don’t know how to fix it either but we had something went wrong and I don’t know what it was.
But as a result the last few minutes sound a bit funny with uh, some high-pitched voices and that’s a bit sped up. Uh, I apologize for that. But there’s nothing I can do about it. I hope you’ll forgive me. Enjoy the conversation.
Andrew: Here we are. We’re doing it. It’s happening. So Mat Grils, welcome to the podcast.
Mat: Thanks for having me, mate.
WHO IS MAT GRILS
Andrew: Actually before we start, my first question I asked everyone Who is Mat Grils? It’s a complicated question.
Mat: It’s a very complicated questions that’s ever-evolving. Yeah. At present, Mat Grils is really first and foremost, a dad and husband and new business owner, Ultra Runner and probably a million other things in between, but I guess the three sort of main driving forces at the moment.
Andrew: Yeah, cool. That’s your priorities, I like it.
Mat: It is. Alright.
Andrew: So you’re uh, you’re quite an accomplished Ultra runner, as we a lot of people know probably a lot of my listeners haven’t heard of you, I’m guessing? So let’s find out a little bit about what makes you, you. So you grew up in Bundy. Born and bred, Bundy’s Bundaberg. Yeah, Bundaberg sort of central Queensland, for the people that don’t know. So what was life like growing up a little country town. How, how was your childhood?
Mat: It was, I guess pretty standard. I grew up mum and dad, dad worked a lot, um to provide for us and then was just me and my sister and went to school in Bundy, sort of had a pretty standard childhood played heaps of sport.
I had heaps of different interests and try my hand at a lot of different things. I was um, yeah loved Sports at school, but out of school sort of really gone into sort of extreme type sports or like rollerblading and different stuff and yes, I guess that’s a pretty standard childhood. Apart from the fact that when I was growing up Dad and I probably didn’t see eye to eye much he liked to work and provide for us and then, I sort of wanted him around a bit more so we butted heads a bit with that and as we’ll probably get into our relationships evolved a lot over the years.
But my growing my childhood was pretty standard made, Bundy’s a pretty, it was always a very small-town feel and not a lot to do there. So I really didn’t like it when I was growing up. It had change a lot.
Andrew: Probably a lot of country kids can relate to that feeling. I’ve taught in a couple of country towns and a lot of the kids just- all they want to do is get finished school and leave town.
Mat Grils: Yep, then that’s pretty much what we all want it to those as well.
Andrew: Yeah, so you proceeded play lots of sports and you mentioned rollerblading which I didn’t know until just now. You know, you don’t have the typical look of what people expect of a runner. You do look more like someone who’d be in the rollerblading or skateboarding or that sort of thing. So, interesting that you had a go at that. What other kind of sports are you into?
Mat: I at school played everything. So up their rugby league’s sort of big thing I enjoy, but my school, my school only played Union. So yeah, in the forties, then loved Athletics, Basically any top athletics. Basketball, uh, yes, swimming, everything, I wasn’t great at swimming but yeah all that, all the running events I loved. I love cross-country in school. And yeah I gave a go at anything I was reasonably good at most sports except sort of soccer and and stuff like that. So yeah, I had a crack at everything.
Andrew: Yeah, right. It’s pretty, I reckon again having taught in um in country schools myself. It’s typical of a lot of kids are acting in country towns. There’s not a lot to do so kids end up playing every sport and uh, probably that’s why a lot of our sports stars tend to come from, not always, lots of people come from the city but a lot of big sports does tend to come from country towns. Yeah, makes sense. So apart from apart from that what kind of a kid were you, were you like the jock? what what was your attitude to school in life as a kid?
Mat: It’s an interesting question. I never really fit in with anyone. I was, I guess from the outside I sort of was a bit of a- I don’t know if jock’s right word.
Because I played sport I guess there was a bit of that stigma but-
Andrew: You didn’t see yourself that way though?
Mat: No, not so much. I mean I was always trying to be different and into different things. I roll with sort of the kids that were getting into trouble and drugs and drinking and partying and stuff but even though I did that and I sort of rebelled in my own way. I never got into drinking or drugs or anything like that and I think that was just another way for me to be a bit left of center. So I was into the alternative stuff. I really got into music and punk and sort of grunge type of music and then eventually in the hardcore music and stuff and so music was a big part of when I was growing up as well.
Yes, looking back now I probably find it, as I said an interesting question of where I actually fit in. I don’t have a really fat fit in any way, it was yeah sort of a mix of everything
Andrew: What you said about trying to be different was interesting to me that that’s sort of something that’s been a part of you since being a young kid, because you’re pretty different sort of individual now and it seems like you’ve just you’ve been that way for as long as you can remember or you just always wanted to do things differently?
Mat: Yeah, and I don’t even know where that where that stem’s from like even funny things like, I think when I don’t have a lot of memories from when I was a kid, but I remember even when I was like in Cub Scouts and Scouts and stuff and having like pink shoe laces in my shoes and like just weird stuff like that. And yeah, I don’t know where that come from. Whether it was mine own form of rebellion, but yeah always wanting to be different, I don’t really that’s where they come from.
Andrew: No role models in your life that are like pretty different people as well?
Mat: No, not really. No, I think because it started from young age. I mean as time progressed probably different musicians and probably played a pretty significant part of my teenage years, but as young fella no, not really. I just I don’t know just always found myself a little bit different.
Andrew:Yeah cool. So well, yeah the being different continues and it’s good. It’s one of the things I like about you. And uh about all the people I speak to on this podcast is that I want to speak to people who do things differently and think differently and I think that by talking to people that have a different outlook on life that can help me to improve as a person as well, to just explore other ways of doing things differently.
Yes. So yeah, that’s cool. I respect that. So you finished school, went to Finland, another different thing to do, how did that come about?
Mat: Mate, that was basically as you said, want to get out of town. All I want to do was leave town, move away, do my own thing. I was a bit of a Mommy’s boy growing up and it was pretty protected because I spent a lot of time with Mom because I said that worked a lot. But yeah when I finished school, I wanted to move away and the move to the city or I didn’t really know but I had the opportunity to go to doing a youth exchange. So yes, I went to Finland for a year and I really sort of see that as a year that I, uh, really developed as a as a person and as a as a worldly point of view, I really developed um and got a lot of experience some not great, some good, but I think they were all.
Beneficial in who I am today, but I sort of feel like that was a time where I really grew as as a person and as a an adult, um, I turned 18 while I was overseas and then when I came back I sort of like- what I like to say, I got my life sorted out. But yeah, that was a really big development sort of year and a year, I guess to be on my own. Not that I was completely fending for myself because I was with a family over there that I live with for the whole year. But yeah just experienced a lot of different stuff that I hadn’t before.
Andrew: Yeah, well growing up in a little country town but not the Bundaber,g a big country town, really but you know, you have sort of a blanket view of the world, I guess and you know seeing everything through the eyes of Bundaberg.
So to get out of that sort of comfort zone you grew up in, is a bold move.
Mat: It was and even travel mate, like which I would a bit when I was a kid, but to be able to go overseas and to a country that was completely foreign. Like I left Brisbane. It was like in the 30s and went to Finland.
It was minus whatever and they did the three months of darkness and three months of light and even living in that, you know, like completely foreign environment. And yeah, it was a great experience.
Andrew: Yeah cool, and no doubt It had some part in shaping who you are and just again that idea of something again another theme I guess that runs through your life is getting outside the comfort zone- yeah doing things definitely getting outside the comfort zone, I like that. So you get back from Finland and then looking through your website, there’s not a lot of information there. You did talk about touring with music so tell us about that.
Mat: Yeah, when I was over there I um, that was an interesting how that happened as well because I grew up-
Andrew: Sorry to interrupt. I forgot to ask if you can speak Finnish?
Mat: Uh very little yeah. Yeah. I was pretty lazy.
Andrew: We gotta go living with us at the moment who is Finish.
Mat: Yeah, right? Yeah. Yeah. Very little.
Andrew: Yeah, okay and my little boy’s 3 and 1/2 years old. He knows more Finish than me.
Mat: Yeah, that’s cool. It’s a very hard language to learn. But I was pretty lazy most people under the age of 50 speak English.
Andrew: It’s a bit like that in Holland, I lived in Harlem for three years. And um, yeah everyone I met wanted to talk English to me.
So yeah, back to the, back to music.
Mat: Yeah growing up with mum, we we grew up going to church and stuff and she really tried to lead us down that path which was great that she got that intention, but I really wasn’t all that interested and when I went overseas as I said, I thought it was a good uh, well experience if you want to put it like that and I probably got up to a lot of Mischief that I shouldn’t have, and towards the end of the year I sort of had this opportunity to join this youth touring band that was organized through a church on the Gold Coast and to go into schools and play music and just share my life story and not that it was a big story by that stage, yeah, and I sort of deferred that for a year and towards the end of the year mom was like putting the pressure on you know, “You can do this. You can do this” She wanted me to do it and I was like… to be perfectly honest, I remember thinking I was like “I don’t really care about all the church stuff. I just wanted to play music and to learn” and I was like “seems like a good idea to do that.”
Yeah, so I come back probably I didn’t have a good motivation to to join but you know, I think there was a higher calling in all that I came back and and there was a period of a couple months of training where we learnt songs, music battle. So like Spiritual Development and personal development sort of stuff. And that’s where I really got back in connection or started my real connection with my faith in Christianity and and that Journey as well. So yeah, so I did that, that was for a year. So I said toured around and played in high schools and got to build it out and lived in different houses. And that was all around Australia for a whole year, which is great experience and got to chat to some kids and hopefully have bit of an impact on on their lives. And then yeah, after that that that was sort of the start of my sort of. I had bands and stuff in high school which were just sort of hack cover bands and you know, but that was sort of the start of a real vision to want to start a real band and tour.
Andrew: What did you play?
Mat: In that band I was singing and playing a bit of guitar. And also the main public speaker so that was that was really good experience to just talk in high school kids every day.
Andrew: Alright, and you’ve mentioned spirituality and your faith and is that something that still plays a big part in your life today or?
Mat: It is mate, It’s the most important thing to us. So that should have come before yeah, you know in the in the list of things so yeah, we’re still actively involved in, in a little new church in Vergara where I live, and think it’s really important for, especially for my kids and now in a personal development and it’s been really interesting like I, again, the whole different theme. I definitely have my faith and my beliefs rooted in Christianity, but I’m very I love listening to different podcasts and reading different people’s philosophies and ideas and thoughts about life and spiritual things. And yeah, so that’s been an interesting process but yeah, we’re still definitely actively involved in, and love contributing in that way. And anyway, we can we still play a little bit of music, you know, you know local church.
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah fill the hardcore?
Mat: No, no, no. very mild mate and very relaxed.
Andrew: What sort of music do you play now?
Mat: Oh, no, just at church mate.
Andrew: So you’re not in any band?
Mat: No, I know I don’t have time now.
Andrew: It’s interesting what you say about just exploring and being open to other faiths and sort of spirituality type of things. Like I, I’m atheist. But I like listening to your thoughts on spirituality. I like listening to guys like John Joseph talking about his Hari Krishna kind of stuff and I’m interested in Buddhism and, you know, I think we got a lot to learn from religion. All different kinds of talks of religions and spirituality and everything like we can we can take bits and pieces from all areas. And yeah, that’s cool.
Mat: I think the days of- in the end mate it’s uh, you know, I believe what I believe but I think most religions and beliefs structures are based around love, you know, and as long as you have love and tolerance and I think that’s a really important factor in anyone’s life regardless of their religious ideas and beliefs and yeah.
Andrew: That’s a perfect way to put it. It’s all about love share the love and let’s uh, you know, help make a more peaceful and happy or world and you know, whether you do that through Christianity or Buddhism or Krishna or atheism or whatever it is. It’s just you know, we’re all trying to achieve the same thing. So yeah, it’s good that we can be open-minded and work together for it.
So yeah, after you touring you got married pretty young and this is, you know, the few things that I see in your life as that doing things differently. There’s going outside your comfort zone and there’s doing things that are against the odds and this is something for me that is a big time against the odds, you got married young and you still going that’s like that’s an incredible effort. So how tell us about that?
Mat: Yes, so I actually met my wife through some mutual friends, just literally when I just got back from overseas and I just about to start the the touring band and I spoke to on the phone and met up with her and our first date was we went to a gig in Brisbane and we dated that whole year that I toured and it was pretty rough like I probably saw her for a month in the whole year and so we back, in that back in those days mate we wrote letters which was really cool. So, you know letters backwards and forwards and spoke on the phone on the days where you know, you’re on caps with phone plans. So be like the 20-minute each night and then, you know, she’d call me and so yeah, so we sort of developed our relationship by distance, I guess. And then when I finished the band we moved back to Bundy for a little bit. And to be honest at the start, It was a bit tough because we gone from not seeing each other to seeing each other all the time, and we worked for a bit and and try to get some money together and eventually we got married when I was 19 and Tina was 18.
And yeah and it’s been it’s been an interesting relationship in that we’ve really grown up together. So, when we got married we moved to Brisbane and I was pretty naive. I never been in a, I guess a real relationship. I’ve been in plenty of uh, relationships-
Andrew: Teen-age relationships?
Mat: Yeah, yeah plenty of those but no real relationship where I’ve had to contribute and stuff, and for the first couple of years I was pretty ordinary husband and you know doing my band thing. We basically moved to Brisbane because I wanted to start a hardcore band. And yeah, I just take off on tour and didn’t do much and over the years I sort of learned that you know it’s going to work then I need to pull and wait, so that’s been really yeah, and we’ve grown up and we’ve gone through lots of different, Um…It’s like a you know, I did probably be like a review next, going down in three different rocks and good times and bad times and we’ve had a lot of bad times but it’s been a really interesting process of growing up together and we’ve been married for 15 years this year. So, yeah, it’s really has been a Growing Experience together.
Andrew: I like that you said that you grown up together because that’s what it is. I’m sure you know, it’s 15 years later. You both are very different people than you were when you got married. Yeah, but you’re still, you know, you’re growing you’re growing up together and you know still finding ways to make it work.
Mat: Yeah, it’s funny people some people sort of see us now and I’ll look the way I look sort of she’s, she used to look a lot different but now she’s a hairdresser and we sort of looked quite different but I you know, I couldn’t imagine life without her now like would you know, 15 years is a long time to spend with someone and it’s we’ve really grown a close bond and you know, you do life together and to try and imagine doing it without her, uh, especially with our kids in that now, it’s hard to imagine.
So although we might not be into exactly the same things or um, Look the same, you know, it’s really worked well, and we’ve always made it work and it takes hard work. But I mean, that’s what it’s all about.
Andrew: Yeah. It’s about a lot more I think than what your interests are or how you look or any of that, there’s a superficial things to me.
It’s about whether if you share the same sort of core values and yeah, you know your same beliefs and that’s not like necessarily spiritual beliefs just beliefs about you know how people should be treated, how you should treat each other, what sort of upbringing you want your kids to have all these sorts of things. If you share that sort of core beliefs and things can work out. You know, I get I’m sure you probably couldn’t have done. You know, what you’ve done in ultra running for example without support from your wife.
Mat: She’s a she’s a very tolerant lady. I look back in some of the things that I’ve sort of not put her through but some of the stuff that I’ve done and I can take a bit of a world view on it now and she’s been really tolerant and understanding and. My personality is very- I have these big ideas and most of the time she just spend shaking their head in here we go again, she’s been super tolerant and understanding and supportive and especially as I said with the running, and like that’s it’s a big commitment and she’s been really great to all that bit, skipping ahead a little bit.
Andrew: No, I can relate to all that, you know. Beginning of last year or end of 2015 when I went to my wife and said “Hey, I’m gonna eat nothing but potatoes for a year.”
Mat: Easy, No worries.
Andrew: Yeah, do what you gotta do. Yeah, that’s all good. So, so then on to the police force, it was a surprise to me when I wrote about that because you know again, You don’t look like a typical cop do ya?.
Yeah, I guess it’s my own fault. Like I shouldn’t be judging a book by it’s cover, but it’s hard not to isn’t it?
Mat: Yeah, that’s right.
Andrew: So, you know, I don’t look at someone like you and I don’t you know, you think I’ll probably you know, pretty hardcore kind of personality which you obviously are in some ways but, you know, probably into partying and you know drunk or whatever and not necessarily drugs, but you know, just uh a bit of a wild man.
And uh, you know, it’s not the yeah, everyone judges people of course. you can’t help it. But um, yeah. The last thing I would have picked was it would have been a cop anyway put it that way. Yeah. So how has that?
Mat: Probably before that one of the big parts of uh of life for me was when we moved to Brisbane and started I found some guys and started, my band there that was probably a big sort of five-year chunk of my life.
That was it was awesome and like, you know, we moved there and I don’t know anyone and I was like, I want to start like a Christian hardcore band.
Andrew: Yeah and and by the way, is it anyone I would have heard of?
Mat: It was called Slain of Myself. So you probably would have heard but we’re like, super heavy and we just paid, we didn’t play like, any like Christian shows or anything like that wasn’t what it was about.
We wanted we played in pubs and we or different bands and it’s funny. I look back now because we play with bands like Parkway Drive and yeah that like a massive bands now. I know those guys. Yeah. So we when we first started like we were playing with Amity Affliction a bit, in Brazilian, the hardcore scene there and Parkways to come up from barn and so yes, we played like we were playing around the time those guys all started.
Andrew: Yeah. Unreal.
Mat: Yeah. which was cool. And we did that for five years and then. Uh, sort of towards the end, I’ve done a few jobs and so- I wouldn’t call dead-end jobs, but jobs where I was easy to tour and you know, practice till 2:00 in the morning and not have to you know, factory jobs and whatever and I decided that I sort of wanted to get a career. Originally,
I’d applied for the far east and got through the application process and, I’m not sure what I even, what even, drew me to that apart from wanting to help people and in this bit of a cliche but to make a bit of a difference and still something I want to do but I got through all the process and waited and waited for an interview and it was just taking too long.
It was like a year and half and I was waiting for an interview. So I decided to-
Andrew: that long?
Mat: Yeah, so it’s calling every month. It’s really competitive.
Andrew: It’s a big process, huh?
Mat: Yeah, it’s a massive process and, just had enough of waiting and basically decided to apply for the place and again, I don’t really know where that came from a part from the same reasons as the far east and sort of a stable career and somebody that we were sort of ready to start a family and move back to Bundy at that point. Cos mom and dad are there and I’m sort of- so that is why that we could do that and have a career and because I didn’t have a trade or anything like that.
Andrew: Is Teagan originally from Bundy too?
Mat: No. She’s from Mid Coast in New South Wales. So went through the process and got in and worked in Bundy as a cover for five years, but it was interesting because I mean I’m covered in tattoos and you said that stereotype.
Andrew: Stereotype of what the cops are usually chasing right?
mat: It’s exactly right! Yeah, and I mean that’s followed me even now. I think my personality I, you know, I think I’m pretty happy and loving guy and whatever and some people sort of see me and their initial reaction is, you know, whatever it is but-
Andrew: Yeah, for someone who’s not quite as open mind that is, as I like to consider myself to be, it would be hard for people to get past the stereotype of you know, judging the book by it’s cover, so it would have been interesting. I reckon as a cop trying to convince people that you’re one of the good guys.
Mat: Yeah, it was and I mean I used to wear long sleeves like-because by choice not because I was forced to but you know, there was a bit of backlash from different people and you know, yeah it is interesting. It’s really funny that I think about it now and my wife and I we’d laugh about it because like, “how did that even happen?”. Because it’s so far from the personality that I am now and the person I am now but I mean I enjoyed it while I was there.
But essentially I left in like, I didn’t like who I was becoming because of the job. I’m sure you must imagine. Mate, you’re dealing with sort of the one or two percent as the worse of society, all day, every day and although I had good people around me and good, uh Outlets to try and balance that, it does affect you and it was affecting the way that I was looking after my kids and training them and I didn’t like that. I didn’t like the shift work was hard with kids because we had started to have kids then and so and it’s definitely not something that I wanted to long-term and in turn because you’re dealing with the worstof the worst all day every day. Most of the police officers are also very negative and hate the world. And so you’re going from a bad situation to a bad situation. And it’s pretty rough. So I didn’t want to be in that environment anymore. It was really big decision to leave because I didn’t have anything really to go to and they ultimately made the decision to go.
Andrew: Okay? Yeah. Well, it makes sense. I guess if you spend your days dealing with you know, for one of a better word the scum of society. Then it would cloud the way you view things, I guess. Another thing, another thought I had about you as a cop, you know, this guy that likes to do things differently. You’re outside the box.
Imagine you, just again. It’s just a quick Judgment of um, you know, the limited knowledge I have of you. But I imagine you’re probably not someone that deals well with authority, so I don’t know is that, was that something you know, you got to take orders as a cop, is that something that’s hard for you?
Mat: It’s a, that’s a fair assumption but, probably completely the opposite. I’ve never-maybe with the way that I look I like to be able to do what I want. But if it comes like, in the police, like when it comes down to it, like I respect it, 100% respected the rank and I used to get really cranky with the guys at the Academy that would question when they were told to do something. I’m just like, “Let’s do what she told us it’s not hard.” Like I don’t have thought- when it comes to stuff like that, I never had a problem following Authority. And when I was in the job, if the senior officer told you to do something it was, you know, “Yes Sergeant” .You ask questions, and yeah. So, it’s a fair assumption, but now with some things you’re probably like, as I said the way I’m looking at I like I do what I want but when it comes to probably more a matter of respect than anything. I had no problem with that.
HOW HE STARTED RUNNING
Andrew: So yeah, that’s, that’s interesting is it’s a nuanced character. Alright. So, uh, so we’re moving on to running then, you obviously you were in, we have to get there at some point.
Mat: Yeah, It’s a bit of a story together.
andrew: Sorry, but you know, you’re into sports at school and all these different sports you tried. How did running become the thing, right? Where did that come from?
Mat: Yeah, as said I enjoyed cross-country and stuff when I was in school and in any sport involving running, I mean, that’s most sports but I really did enjoy, instead, I don’t remember a lot from my childhood. But I do remember cross-country and the hurt and they’re used to have a good rivalry with one guy at school. And you know?
Andrew: From the same school or?
Mat: Yeah from the same school. We used to compete quite hard together. And so, I remember that. But when I was in the band and different stuff, I really got into the gym and put on a significant amount of weight and got pretty big.
Andrew: Yeah so, a picture of you after you’d finished your first marathon. Very different-looking bloke there.
Mat : So I gotta like 103 kilos of pretty much pull a muscle and, but even while-
Andrew: that was a major- you know, even more of a scary kind of guy, and all that muscle on you as well, with all the tats and everything-
Mat: It probably helped in the police.(laughs)
They used to call me the Smiling Assassin when I come into that when, I come into the watch house with the crooks, because I’ve been carrying on and I’m just smiling away but I saw a point. be nice, even when I was in the gym and that I always like to run a little bit. Wasn’t always easy when you weigh that much but always liked to. I didn’t see the point of just lifting weights and not being able to run down the street, and but yeah.
A part of the story with my old man like we so, we didn’t have a great relationship growing up. But when I went overseas and started traveling around, I think he sort of started to realize that he needed to probably do some work on our relationship and try and mend that and I grew up a lot and probably got rid of a lot of those teenage, angry, you know, don’t let my dad sort of feelings and started to change the way that I behaved with my dad and the way that we worked on our relationship as well. So, when I was overseas, he actually started to get into running. He’s always been really fit as well. He played footy for 15 years and then touch footy and he started getting a running and, I respect to that not that it was something that I’ve ever wanted to do, but. For whatever reason, at some point I decided what was actually this year was 10 years ago that I decided that I’ll try and do something with my dad and told him that I wanted to run a marathon and he made me up a program and train for my first marathon nearly freaking kill me and ran a marathon with my dad in Torba in I think it was October of 2007. So, he has to 10 years ago this year.
Andrew: Well, obviously your relationship is changed. Hugely. I spoke to your dad briefly on the phone with Kevy and the car while we were crewing for you at the race a few days ago. And you know, I heard you talk to, talk with him on the phone and say obviously I can tell that you know, you’re very close now.
So do you think running played a part then in building those bridges-
Mat: It played a massive part. Like I said we started to get closer when I got back from overseas. But, running definitely played a significant part in US sort of mending out Broken Bridges or whatever and getting close together gave us a common ground to build off I guess, and you know, when you’re running, you know, we still train even when I was in Brisbane and particularly when I went home, we trained a fair bit together and just get scared to talk when you’re on and when you run a full for a long time, and so we spend a lot of time just chatting and really fun with good relationship off the back of running
Andrew: Now, that’s good. So I find it interesting is in your About Me section of your website, the next bit that we get to that you described as a small hiccup in your journey. About this tumor that you developed and anyway, it seems like a bit more than a hiccup to me.
Mat: So when it was actually when I just joined the police so, sort of a little bit near in the timeline here. I just joined the police, It was towards the end of my first year and we’d move back to Bundy. So I started running by that point and series of things through the years and then my doctor eventually picked it up that I threw some scans and blood tests and stuff that I had a pituitary tumor.
So basically like the base of your brain, And it was benign which was good. But it was quite big and I didn’t even know but I’d lost peripheral vision of my right hand side and essentially that type of tumor that keeps on growing it’ll send you blind and it will kill you in time.
So even though it was benign, it, it had potential to go bad and throw into the mix we had actually fallen pregnant during that time. We had a lot of trouble as I’ve mentioned here a lot of trouble falling pregnant the first time and due to the nature of the tumor, it affects your hormones and I should have never been able to have kids during that time.
So that was a little miracle daughter. So yes, so found out I had a tumor and basically they sorted out really quick and got it removed and there was a lot of follow-up and still haven’t follow-up now. He is light of it- always been good since.
Andrew: Yes, so another against the odds kinda part of your story to then, a couple of only a month or two later wasn’t it? They did another another run?
Mat: Yeah, it was a really scary time my life and it was major surgery obviously, brain surgery and seeing-
Andrew: What was there like a risk of things going really bad or?
mat: I mean the neurosurgeon I got warned about before ??? and he’s one of the best in the country, but basically walked in and he’s like,“Yep, we’re gonna do this. We’re going to take it out. You can die, can be permanently brain damaged” and I’m just like. I spun out.
So I mean there’s an element of risk with any surgery brain obviously and the risk of things going wrong afterwards with like you can get leakage from your brain and all this weird stuff.
But so it was scary. But we, dad and I previous to that dad had prostate cancer and we wanted to do a fundraising run to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer. And we’d planned this run, we’re going to run from Bundy to Brisbane and back, like in a tag team kind of thing. And that was, to be, was only about six months after I had surgery.
Andrew: That soon?
Mat: So I ran a half marathon. I think it was three months after which probably wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done. But I think in hindsight It was probably good to have that goal to walk, to work towards and because the recovery was pretty slow going like I remember I was in intensive care and then when I went to the ward, they’re like, all right, you can start doing something.
I literally could walk around the ward which was probably 50 meters and I remember getting back to my bed and I was like just wrecked and each day. I was like twice a day. I do one lap, and then do two laps, three laps, and it was good to have a goal to work towards and-
Andrew : Yeah, from that to a half marathon in a couple of months.
Mat: Probably wasn’t the best idea. But yeah, probably goes with the personality.
Andrew: You’ve done many more insane things since then. Guess it’s just the way you roll.
mat: Yeah, So that was my little hiccup.
Andrew: Did that change your outlook on life at all then? Or did it change the way you think about anything?
Mat: Look, I don’t I never really put two and two together and Teagan’s always been the one that has sort of, pegged this as sort of a bit of a turning point, but it was at that point that I really started to look at I guess health and my long-term wellness? I don’t think it was really a specific Catalyst, but maybe it was just like I think in the background that
Andrew: Planted a seed.
STARTING A VEGAN LIFESTYLE
Mat: So it was I read previously when I started to get into running about vegetarianism and even vegan runners and stuff and that was like so far from where I was because when I was lifting weights when I was like four dozen eggs a week. Maximum amounts of meat and dairy and eat everything in sight.
But then when I start it again and running, you know, I was reading this stuff and yet it wasn’t an instant thing but I started to look more into that. Started to dabble with dropping meat out of my dart, out of my lifestyle was all my eating was pretty easy for me, even though I used to eat a lot of it.
So I sort of started to look at long-term health and optimal performance and recovery for long-distance running. And the more that I read and the more that I researched the vegan, vegetarian and then eventually found a vegan diet was sort of from the research that I did was the optimal for that.
So that health scare probably is taken as you know, I’ve said it was probably the catalyst for that process to really kick off.
Andrew: That makes sense for sure. So, what sort of, what was the research that you did then? What was it that drove you in this direction of veganism?
Mat: Probably just started with even just reading light runners well and every now and then they’d put a little thing about “vegetarian diet can help” and i know a lot of those statistics and those quote-unquote research studies are pretty ordinary, but that sort of again, that probably planted the seed and I’ve always been one to really delve into things that I think that’s quite obvious to delve into things that I get into. So, I just started reading. I mean, I bought books, read Journal articles, lots of different stuff. All the standard ones with Forks Over Knives, and the Engine-2 stuff, and then started off those even when I started listening to podcast hearing different. people spake and then buying their books and stuff that they recommend. So, really just buying books reading, research podcasts, different guests on those and self-experimentation. So when I turned 30, I had been leading up to it over a couple of years, but I decided that I’d officially cut meat down on my diet. And then when I turned 31 I went vegan and that took a little bit of time
Andrew: It sounded it’s been a few years then?
Mat: Yeah, So I’ve been vegan for four years, this year.
Andrew: Okay. So, you’d been running Ultras before you went vegan or?
Mat: I found out about ultra marathons through a lot of people that have probably read the book Ultra Marathon Man by Dean Karnezes. So that was really the Catalyst for me. Like I’m a slow reader and I read that book in two days man it just blew my mind. I remember just reading just laughing and going to ???, you have to read this book. This guy is insane.
Andrew: He’s not.
Mat: Yeah, so that was really and then again my personality, I said it down like, we got to run some of these trial ultra marathons.
Andrew: I was a little bit the same when I read it. I was like, I’ve got to go running. but it was too heavy and I just dragged my cellphone out and that was the end of it.
Mat: I mean, I was always heavy too. Not probably, in a different way to that you were and it definitely wasn’t easy running long distances at the start. Like when we did the run to Brisbane and back, I was still a big unit then like, still about 100 kilos. So definitely wasn’t easy at the start.
Andrew: What do you weigh now?
Mat: Low eighties as I said to you. And I still want to drop a bit of weight here because I’m quite solid for a runner.
Andrew: Bigger than probably the biggest runner that was there.
Mat: And I mean, that’s probably, it’s interesting because that can work as an advantage but a disadvantage as well.
There’s probably a couple of thoughts on an ultra marathon runner is generally carry a little bit more weight because the amount of time that they’re exerting energy. That’s right. But you know, obviously the lighter you are it’s like those cycling thing, you know powder weight ratio, the lighter you are whilst maintaining your power is ideal or so.
Andrew: Specially if you’re going up hills like you were on the way.
Mat: So I still want to lose a bit of weight yet. But that’s sort of again that’s been a process. I forgot what the question was.
Andrew: I’ve forgotten too.
Mat: We’ve gone off track, Sorry.
Andrew: That’s all good. As long as we’re talking. It’s all good.
Mat: Yeah, that’s right.
Andrew: So did you notice like performance improvements or recovery improvements or anything like that? Well, I guess you must have because you’ve stuck with it. So what was that?
Mat: So originally I did get into it for selfish reasons. It was basically for health and for athletic performance. So I definitely noticed a difference with the recovery. I used to get a lot of particularly hip, because I probably because I was heavier as well, a lot of hip pain and chest recovery seemed to take a long time and then when I drop meat from my diet, I really noticed a recovery difference like I was a lot quicker and then, when I went vegan
it was a bit harder for me because I have a real sweet tooth. So dropping dairy was really hard, you know with chocolate, and cheese cakes, and all that nasty stuff that I probably shouldn’t be in any way. So it wasn’t, I did notice some difference. One big difference I noticed is I’m a bit flue at the moment, but I used to really suffer with sinus and sinus problems and they basically went away when I stopped having dairy. There were a couple of big differences. My reasons for staying vegan now would probably evolved but originally it was for health and for performance purposes and reading about guys like Scott Jurek. You know, Seven-time Western States, went on a vegan diet. So, I know there’s different trains of thoughts now, but I think if you can do things in a sustainable way and still perform then why not?
Andrew: I was blown away on the weekend that so many of the runners there and the support crew and everything was vegan. Like probably at least half the people I met and saw running, were vegan. And most of the food there was at the aid stations was vegan. It was like I couldn’t believe it. I was sure that it was gonna be like, mostly paleo kind of community but I know obviously I know there are vegan Ultra Runners like you mentioned Scott Jurek and obviously yourself and there are others around. But I just felt like it would probably be, if there was going to be any sort of dietary thing that most people did I thought it would be Paleo for sure.
Mat: Yeah, It’s interesting.
Andrew: I guess there are Paleo people but I couldn’t believe that there was so many vegans there. That was cool.
Mat: The whole high-fat thing and Paleo and whatever. It’s got a bit of momentum at the moment in, there are tronic community with burning fat over carbs.
And again, there’s a whole science on that and without going too much into that but, for whatever reason in the ultra marathon community and trail running community there, veganism is a big thing. And I’m not sure what that reason is, whether it’s like a nature thing or trying to do what we can to preserve the world we live in and ourselves and it’s probably a performance thing as well that people, that they have seen these studies and that especially with the whole information thing, me and ??? being so acidic and ultra marathon running obviously, you have to train a lot and to be able to train you want to be able to recover quickly so if you reduce the amount of inflammation in your body and acid then. That’s a good thing.
And it was a little bit exceptional there as I said before like you probably saw a bit of an extreme in a lot of regards of the race that you came out to but
Andrew: There was an extreme event, that’s for sure.
Mat: There was an extreme event in distance, in trail, and also, a couple of guys had organized the race of vegan and one of the dudes that won he’s predominantly raw, which is really cool like it’s not that we ever seek validation because it’s not about that. But it’s just good to know that can be done and also that can make a difference to other people as well and they recognize it .
Andrew: Back to the idea of burning fat over carbs and whatever, as far as I know, correct me if I’m wrong, but we don’t have to get stuck in the science and everything but, that it’s more about the way you’re trying, rather than you know, if you’re training in the right zone like they called it Zone 2s. Like I’ve had Rich Roll talk about training in zone 2 and that if you can do that and train your body to burn fat that way, it’s more about that rather than just eating lots of to burn fat. All right?
Mat: Yeah. We are getting bogged down in the science. Where rich probably is coming from, The Zone training it is used a little bit in running but it’s more probably, a triathlete type mentality with heart rate training and stuff.
But basically what he’s getting at is, your training at a heart rate, that’s not an aerobics as opposed to aerobic training. So as long as you’re in running a basic way to talk about it is Conversational Pace you can run and hold conversation. So you’re not spiking your heart rate, you’re running at a pace that is maintainable for a long time.
And I definitely utilize that in training like I, because I trained so early in the morning. I never eat before I train. So, your body is naturally adapting to burning fat anyway. So I completely agree that you don’t have to eat saturated fat to burn fat. I mean your body, when you’re doing high intensity exercise for a long time.
Your body is burnt. It is burning fat. It’s burning like obviously there’s a combination of everything but your brain and your body functions primarily on glycogen. So you need to be getting the carbohydrates and to keep your brain functioning, your body functioning. It’s a heavy topic and if you look at the best runners in the world, they’re subsiding on grains whole grains and carbohydrates.
Andrew: So, look at the canyon.
Mat: That’s exactly right, it’s rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes funnily enough. Some vegetables and what meat they do ea, it’s very small percentage of their diet and whether that’s a by necessity or by choice, I don’t think it really matters they’re the best runners in the world and they’re eating.
Andrew: So obviously it can be done that in the late level more exactly, if you can do it then why not?
Mat: That’s right.
RUNNING FOR A CAUSE
Andrew: And we got off track a bit. I wanted to talk about the Run Man Run. We sort of talked about a little bit, but this big run that you did for prostate cancer with your dad.
How did that go?
MAT: It was fantastic. He came up with the idea that we wanted to do something big and try and help out and that’s what we came up with. So Bundy to Brisbane and back we decided to do town to town, and we did the first five kilometers and the last five kilometers together each day, and then whatever was in the middle we split. So we did it over,
I think it was 17 days. I can’t quite remember now. We ended up running just over 500 kilometers each in that time.
Andrew: That’s amazing.
Mat: Yeah and it was a really good experience. It was tough. Worse time. My wife was she was eight months pregnant. So there was rough times as well.
Andrew: Is she support crew as well?
Mat: She was, but it was you know being that pregnant grudgingly, a lot of the time she pretty crooked while we were away and it was really hard for her and definitely wasn’t the best timing. But we managed to raise I think ended up being, I got it up being around 25,000. And it was hard going, We had no corporate sponsors or any of that. We were selling raffle tickets. One of the local pubs and you know. But it was a great experience in something always I’ll remember that I do with my old man and it was still gone.
Andrew: There’s another theme I’m thinking picking up on all these things, but you’ve tried to get into the Far Easter, you said you wanted to try to make a difference, make the world a better place. Same thing joining the cops and now you don’t have those things in your life. But you know finding other ways to try to make the world a better place, is that something that keeps on going or?
Mat: It is and even more so now like I am. I’m sure we’ll get into this as well, but we’ve recently just opened a new little cafe and ??? near Bundy and like I love the whole cafe scene and in the process of making coffee and that sort of things but to me, for me and my staff the most important thing to us is to try and help people to leave feeling better than they arrived and and it sounds a bit cheesy, but I really treasure and I try and emphasize to my staff that we’re in such a unique situation where we can spend a minute to 5 minutes 10 minutes 20 minutes or some customers stay for hours each day with the same people and really impact their life and in a tangible way, like some of those people had probably see us more than they see their families, To try and make a difference in their life in a positive way, whether that’s through running or health or just being in here to listen. It’s always sort of been a theme through my life from the touring band to now and but I think even more now it’s really become a passion and something that I really want to make important in my life.
Andrew: It’s awesome ever since doing my potato thing of-So I got something in the back of my mind that maybe I’d like to have my own place where I could serve people potatoes.
Mat: I’ll come and buy potatoes from you, mate.
Andrew: Well, I haven’t been to your Cafe but I’ve seen photos and it looks like you said some people hang around for hours. I reckon if I live nearby I’d be one of them it looks like a nice place. Just a little aside but go and check it out. If you’re listening have a look online.
And if especially if you in ??? or Bundaberg gonna say g’day so. The run man run happens that seems like that’s your first real Ultra sort of
MAT: I think we did one before that. But that was the big sort of first thing.
ANDREW: So it was that something that did something click in your brain doing that and the think of wonder how far I could go or like, how is that?
MAT: I mean that’s endless Pursuit. How far can you go and what kind of events can you do? So that really was a bit of a catalyst to-I just started researching races and there’s there were no in near as many races then as there are now um, but started researching where races were there was a good series on the Sunshine Coast the different distances and just starting to interim and learn about training learn about.
The best type of training that worked for me. And just starting to enter event. So a lot of them we did as family like as a family like my family and Mom and Dad and a couple other close friends we go away to different races all around Australia. And the belt was probably the Catalyst to King off the ultra Expedition if you will of how far can we go?
INFLUENCES AND ORGANIZING EVENTS
Andrew: So you’ve done heaps of event since then, um, But it’s just it’s a huge thing to just commit to running 100 miles or you know, 135 miles or whatever it is over any sort of terrain. Um is that you see mentioned Dean Karnazes and you mentioned Scott. Is there anyone like sort of closer to you that maybe had some sort of influence on your heading that way in life or is it did you know someone that had done that sort of thing or no?
MAT: I didn’t and that that’s probably. That was probably one of the lures, you know, yeah, uh of not knowing if I could do it personally and not knowing anyone that had done it apart from people out of read about and and found out about um, so yeah, so it was really a self-driven, you know and finding these new events and these new terrains and yeah, it was a real and still is but it’s getting hotter now. They’ve done quite a few events. But when you start, you know, every event is an unknown and you go into them and you do your best as far as training and preparation goes but you never know if you really going to finish. Um, yes. Yeah.
Andrew: Yeah, so that that leads perfectly into my next question actually because you know, it sort of seems like a point in time came where even ultra marathons were maybe not enough and possibly. Yes, so, Uh this Super Slam or ground. So this is a pretty pretty big deal.
MAT: It was it went South but it was I I have two different-
Andrew: Um, I’m sorry before they start. What is the Super Slam?
MAT: It was just something I created. Yeah. Yeah, so I have two different sort of avenues that I go in with my running.
So there’s the organizers races. Yeah, which. Uh as far as organization and turning up are easy because I mean you do the training you pay your entry fee you turn up and do it. Yeah, and then I have these other ideas and Adventures that are that I plan which is self self organized. Um as the Run man run event was as a Super Slam was and as the uh, the run in November I did was but just um creating either series of races or Expedition type runs that maybe haven’t been done before or really push sort of my boundaries.
So the Super Slam is an idea that I come up with was for 100 mile plus events in four months. And again, the timing wasn’t good because we were starting we basically long story short.
We were looking for a location for our business for a year. And found one and got the keys at the end of November which was three-quarters of the way through what was to be the Super Slam. So I finished the first race. I was pretty dusty I’d uh, I had some trouble with nutrition in the first race, but finished the second one, um went very bad.
It was I ended up in hospital with-
Andrew: That was that-
MAT: That was yeah and then uh, I sort of decided after that because we were opening a shop that I wouldn’t do the fourth event, but still wanted to do. I had had a bit of a dream for a couple of years to have a crack at doing 200 miles. Yeah, which is 320 kilometers.
And so I ended up doing that event.
MAT: Yeah in November. I started on my birthday and ran from my my Doorstep literally from walked out my front door and ran to the Sunshine Coast. So stranding 20 kilometers in one goes all. Yeah, so that was just another you know, the Super Slam thing is just an arbitrary thing that I come up with to see if it was possible and unfortunately didn’t get it done. But I mean, I’ve got many ideas of stuff like that that I want to do.
Andrew: So, yeah, it’s still it’s just major respect for me to just to even contemplate having a crack at something like that. It’s just. It’s mind-blowing. So yeah, and then of course we’ve got that leads us to um, to the event that you came down here for and uh, yeah, I remember a few weeks. I don;t know how long ago it was maybe a couple of months ago as if the first time you messaged me and we had a few little chats and stuff.
And then I knew you were coming down for uh for this down under one hundred and thirty-five mile race and uh, And last a bit over a week ago, I guess, I was um, I remember I was telling my wife in the afternoon thinking aw, Matt, Matt’s coming down for this race and you know we’ve never met before i don’t really know, we’ve spoken a little bit through online messaging and uh, you know, it seems like a good guy.
I wonder if it would be like too forward of me to you know to just say hey Mat, do you need an extra crew member? You know, I thought. Is it do I know, maybe I don’t know him well enough, you know, I was probably overthinking things, you know, but uh, but yeah.
Anyway, I had that conversation with my wife and she was just ask him, It can’t hurt. So, uh, right. I’ll write him a message tonight and I’ll see and anyway, I opened up Facebook to write your message and there was a message from you asking me if I wanted to be on the crew. So that was um, that was pretty cool. Yeah, and uh, Yeah, so thanks for asking me.
MAT: Yeah, Of course. Thanks for coming.
Andrew: Yeah. So how is that event then? Well, first of all like you you’re an ambassador of the event. So can we talk about that first?
Mat: Yeah. Yeah. So I’ve taken away gives me a hard time because like I randomly get this, you know, I can I get three kids sometimes and um. Different opportunities come up and how do you get all this stuff?
I’m like I got a, I got a little saying that I have in life is like, “don’t ask, don’t get” so when I found out about this event, I uh, you know, I was seem like crazy, you know good thing that I’d be interested in. So I message the boys and said, you know, if you thought about having an ambassador for the race uh, bases like a um, an ambassador’s like somebody that uses for promotion and let’s talk about the race and get the word out and whatever. And they said that they hadn’t but um that have a meeting about it and have it because there’s four guys that organized the race. They come back and say that they’re became finna do it. So I got the opportunity to come down. They flew me down to oh, yeah, they do, uh to do a photo shoot some video and stuff on the course.
Andrew: Some amazing photos I’ve seen.
Mat: There was a, yeah and that that tied him with our is a new magazine out in Australia in hard copy now called Trail Run magazine, which is fantastic, everyone should check it out.
Andrew: Yeah. I looked at it. I looked at the website. You know, I haven’t actually seen the magazine itself. But yeah, I should definitely get a copy.
Mat: Yeah, so they did a really. Right article about me in there which was um, pretty mind-blowing and got to do the photo shoot. And um, and yeah, that was all like in I think it was October and then we found out about the shop in late November and got the keys and I remember in December my wife’s sort of saying, “I just I don’t know maybe if you should be doing this event.”
You know, it’s a lot of commitment for when you got so much else going on and. You know, I’m always never want to shy away from a challenge. So I decided to keep doing it. I’d already committed as Ambassador. And yeah did what training I could. Um, and yeah came down with my mate Kevin from uh from up in Bigga and made contact with you and you graciously said yes to help me out and yeah and gave it a shot.
Andrew: Yeah, and it was uh, so what was the event then it was. It was it is it crazy event tonight?
Mat: Yeah, it was look it’s um, they wanted to basically create the hardest, uh running event in Australia and I really personally believe I’ve done quite a few, uh, challenging and hard events in Australia. I believe that that that’s the one so it’s 100 it’s a 135 miles, which is 217 Ks, uh about an hour west of Melbourne in.
Yeah, National pocket there with had uh, I think it’s about eight or nine thousand meters of climbing over the event
Andrew: Close enough to climbing Everest.
Mat: Yeah. Yeah. So I mean there are other events with similar sort of climbing but the, the extra challenge in this event was how technical it was, um, how tedious some of the trails were and just super challenging so.
Yeah, they certainly did their job of uh, making one of the hardest of all the hardest event in Australia. I think.
Andrew: Yeah. Well, obviously, I’ve not run any Ultra as myself and I’ve never even been to witness one until the weekend and um, it was mind-blowing how hard things were. I remember I was probably 50k or so in we uh, we caught up with you and you sat down for a little snack and a drink and your calves are like major cramping in your calves and they’re not even a quarter of the race done yet. And uh, yeah just to that was you weren’t the only one suffering, everyone was suffering and just to see the amount of pain people are in both mentally and physically and just to keep going was uh, yeah incredible and you know, I know you didn’t finish the race which obviously you’re a bit disappointed in but um, but yeah, I don’t think it should be because it was just incredible to witness.
Mat: I mean to give, to give the people, It’s really hard for people who don’t run or even some Trail Runners that may have run simple trails to get their head around so they how difficult it was, but I mean in comparison I’ve run on trail up at the Sunshine Coast, I’ve run uh, 50k like four hours and 35 minutes, which it’s not super fast, but it’s not it’s not a slouch time either but in this event, the first 50k took about 11 and a half just for wares. Yeah, and it was and that was going reasonably solid too, so it was incredibly challenging. Um, uh, mentally, you know, we’ll probably get into this but, Judas starting this shop, and and the first three months being, I didn’t get a lot of sleep in the first three months and uh, you know, I was waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning to train and just not ideal mental preparation either with my mind on other things fair enough with the shop.
I just I probably wasn’t in the right mental space to be tackling something so large it takes obviously a lot of mental strength to get through something like that. Physically. I probably could have got through. Based on my previous running experience. I didn’t do quite as much training as I would have liked to but in the end it was probably the mental game and also my stomach went South and could barely eat or drink anything for about five or six hours.
So yeah, pulled up stumps after 18 hours and just showing 90k. I think it was.
Andrew: Yeah, so you could be back to have another crack?
Mat: I think so. I said you and Chevy like, I like. I like really difficult events, but I usually like a little more running and there wasn’t a lot of running in that it was a lot of really hard hiking and Trail finding and bushwhacking and but I don’t like things beating me either.
Yeah. So yeah, I’d really like to come back and it’s a kind of event. Uh, anyone that’s heard of the Barkley marathon in America. They’ve tried to sort of create something similar to that. And it’s a top event that people who come back to for a couple years and not finish. It’s that difficult.
So yeah, look I don’t like things beating me. So I think I’ll be back next year here.
Andrew: Good to hear, because I want to crew for you.
Mat: Yeah. Yeah, if you had a pace a bit further this time.
Andrew: Yeah, who knows? Yes. It definitely has got me thinking about what could be possible for me to do in my life. But whether it’s running or kayaking or who knows what it’s just uh, yeah can’t you can’t help but um, but challenge yourself I think and challenge your beliefs about what’s possible, after uh witnessing what I witnessed on the weekend for sure.
BEING MENTALLY READY FOR CHALLENGES IN LIFE
Mat: We’re just talkin about that. You know, we have for our uh, first branch has you called down here and you know, just talkin about that, you know, regardless what it is, whatever you sport or in life in general but finding where that comfort zone ends and what your limits are and I think it’s an endless Pursuit and that’s what’s so great about endurance events and whether you know you get into your kayaking again or running or.
Long-distance securing man, who knows? I like. Um, there’s all my skateboard around Australia, you know, like I saw that yeah, so, you know, you just I think that’s what’s so great about endurance events. You never know where your limits are and I don’t I personally don’t know we’ll ever reached them fully.
It’s just a pursuit of finding how far we can push ourselves. How far and where we can go.
Andrew: Yeah, so. How do you find the limits and you say you haven’t found your limit but you know, like I said what you were you were sitting down having a little drink and trying to get some food into you without much success and yeah carbs were cramping and your muscles were doing crazy things that haven’t seen before and and, you know, a mere mortal would have wouldn’t have dealt with that and you got up and did another 50k after that.
Yeah, how does that happen? How do you get him on around getting up and taking one more step. Let alone doing another 50k when you’re in obvious pain that I saw you in. Yeah, how what goes on in your head for that to happen?
Mat: I think a lot of that comes through training. Uh, you know, I really learned from one of my favorite Runners, Anton ???.
It’s about The Daily Grind, you know, just waking up every day. And you don’t feel like it every day, but getting up every day and running and taking one step and getting out the door and I think I don’t another strength of mind I think is I don’t overthink things. So, you know to me generally it’s like if you think about how far you’ve got to run or how hard the course is or whatever you probably never do it.
Whereas if you just think all right, I’ve just got to take this step. I’ve just got to get through this hill, I’ve just got it get to the next aid station just breaking it down into a little portions. Um, I think that that really helps like when I did the 200 mile event like you think about like I don’t like driving to the Sunshine Coast so, you know, like you think about it like that and you never do it, but if you just think, I’ve got three or four days and all I’ve got to do is keep moving, uh, you know, and enjoy this experience and you know, it’s not going to be easy. But at the end, you know, pretty cool story and and probably learn some good life lessons along the way. I think that you just break it down like that. Then you never know. What’s possible.
Andrew: Yeah. I couldn’t relate to that. Obviously. It’s a totally different thing. But um, yeah the beginning of my year of eating only potatoes. It was a really daunting thing for me to think that I’m gonna only this for the for an entire year. It was like it was mind-blowing to me to think that another 365 days.
I’m still going to be eating this. Yeah, so I tried to just forget about that and just think of it. I’m just going to eat it for my next meal.
Mat: That’s an event in itself, right?
Andrew: Yeah. A very different kind of endurance event obviously, but the point is that I can relate to what you’re saying about. There’s no point. Wearing about what’s going to happen 200 miles down the road. Yeah. Just think about the moment that
Mat: You’re exactly right and being present.
Andrew: And uh, so you said that the layout wasn’t good for your for your mental state leading into this race with the you know so much else going on in your life.
So did that affect your ability to be present in the moment during the race do you think
Mat: Probably in hindsight. In a little while. I’ll be out of put my finger on a little bit more but you know my wife and got a bit emotional and I just said I didn’t really even know and I still probably don’t really even know what what was wrong but
Andrew: It was still pretty fresh.
Mat: Yeah, like yeah, like physically it was hard but I was you know, I was going right and moving quite well, but just mentally I just I just my head wasn’t in the right place that it should have been and you’ve got to be. You know if it’s if it’s your first 5k, if its your first 135 mile event your heads got to be 100% in the game.
And and as I said that comes over a series of months leading up to an event training focusing on what you’ve got to do visualization meditation thinking about, you know the job at hand and because I’ve had so much on the go we’re starting a new business. I didn’t give that the attention it deserves and that I think probably just on flow to the event and probably contribute to that that lack of mental clarity to get the job done.
Andrew: So, yeah, I know an event like that. It’s so mind-blowing hard that you know to me. His same incredibly mentally tough on the day. But you know, I guess if you if it’s one or two percent off that’s enough to mean, you know, it’s just you’re at the extreme level here and two if you can only if you’re only working at 99% of your mental capacity, then you’re probably not going to get the job done.
Mat: And I probably um, I probably didn’t give uh, starting a new business the credit deserved either people were saying to me. You know, you’ve been too hard on yourself, you know, this is a big Endeavor and because I always liked taking on challenges. So that’s an ultra marathon in itself.
Yeah, and I probably didn’t give that the credit deserved. And the, you know, the energy that it took out of me and I’ve never ever gone into an event, without 100% uh focus and you know, I was focused on the event I start I never started an event without the intent of finishing but, I’ve never been in an event where mentally I just was not there, right?
So it was an interesting place and it’s it is really disappointing, you know, wake up the day after and I wish I was still out there and you know, everything’s good in hindsight when you’ve had a shower and you had some sleep but um, yeah and it sounds silly but you know, you almost feel unvalidated, you know I’ve done,I did 18 hours. That was the trail. You’re like, oh, I don’t deserve to be sore and you know, like it’s silly but when you don’t get the job done that you’d hope that you know, it’s hard to swallow it. It is what it is and and I’m glad that I made the decision. There’s disappointing as it is, but it was the right decision at the time.
Andrew: Yeah. Well, that’s that’s important. I think that you feel comfortable with the decision you made because that was something that personally, I thought it was the right decision at the time too. But it was a worry to me that you would be disappointed. Yeah the next day. you know, we can’t you can’t win everything.
Mat: That’s um and where my stomach when South may like I that was probably the back of my head as well again in Crook in the race in October last year and been in hospital and yeah, I don’t want my kids see me like that and you know, I want to be laying in a hospital in Melbourne. With my family and just still at home.
And so that was probably a bit in the back of my mind. Um, and I knew that my body was starting to go the way that it went when I got uh Crook in October. So yeah, it was right decision.
Andrew: Yeah. I know that’s good. And there’s always next year. So, my wife actually had a question because I told her when I got back I told her about the rum that I shared.
I was lucky enough to share with you. Unfortunately took a wrong turn.
Mat: You got me lost. We got back on track pretty quick.
HOW RUNNING CONNECTS PEOPLE
Andrew: Yeah, but we ended up doing 16-17k instead of 10. But uh anyway what you know, what’s actually but uh, yeah, I just told her a little bit about the conversation that we had and I part of me wishes we just recorded that conversation and you know make that the podcast but anyway, she’s. I like having a chat while I’m running and but me and my wife sometimes go running together and she just likes to be quiet and run and we still have a good time. We run next to each other and we just every now and then we talk for a minute or two.
But other than that we just run quietly and and I’m fine with it and she’s fine with it. But she she felt like that if she was doing an event like this that she would just want to be quiet and go inside yourself and just uh try to block out the outside world entirely and she thought it was interesting that wasn’t what well at least when I was running with you that wasn’t what you wanted to do. So what the is that normal for you or what do you think? Is it a distraction thing? Do you like to be distracted while you’re running?
Mat: Yes or no. Um, I like being present and in the moment and thinking about what you got to do, but.
If you got company like potential I had a 40 out of cut off a long time to be in your own head. Yeah, so, you know when you can have paces and and friends nearby or other competitors, um, I loved having you know, I love to hear about people and what they’re up to and stories and definitely helps the time pass, you know, you run with a friend it seems way quicker than run it on your own. So yeah, I love conversation and usually. I don’t know what it is but running seems to bring a vulnerability about people and some of the best conversations I’ve had are on runs and you have had friends that have started crying we’ve been running and you know, it’s a real I think emotion opener if you will and brings out some really good conversations.
So yeah, I like I love ???.
Andrew: definitely. Yeah. It’s interesting is Mandy. The most talkative person I know but when we run talkin, right and they were rather people out there. I don’t know if they were like that the whole way during the event but there was a few blokes that when they came in to the aid stations they just nod yeah, or maybe say hi and that’s it.
Eat some food sit in silence for a few minutes and then off they go. Yeah, so everyone’s different. Each to their own.
MAT’S IDEAL TRAINING REGIME
So let’s talk about your training then we should probably wrap it up pretty soon. But what does training involved for you? You said, you know you get up early and with the a sharp things are different. So maybe let’s talk about ideal training. But your ideal training sort of day or we could involve and then how you adapted it to? Yeah having a new business and the other thing? Yeah. Okay. Yeah, we’ll pause it and we’ll get back to it in a sec.
We’re back. So yeah, the uh, your training what your ideal training week is like and you know what you do because I think people are gonna get value from. Um, you know, you struggled having a new business trying to fit everything in so how you make it work in a in a tough situation. And then also what your perfect our training we could be.
Mat: So, uh, everyone has a little bit different ideals on on training. Um, I personally think if you run along way you’ve got to be training a long way and you’ve got to have some serious miles under your belt. So I’ve always been what they call a high mileage trainer. Uh, generally it Ebbs and flows a bit depending on the event that you’re working towards and where you are in your training cycle.
But usually I aim for 100 to 160k a week. As far as she volume goes and then I mix it up with a little bit of different training because the town that I’ve- Now we did just run good. So just a bit cross training and stuff as well. Like I think we literally live in one of the flattest towns in Australia. Which is interesting when I do mountain events, and we also have no Trails, which is also interesting when I do travel events. I say, yes. So I’ve got a few different training techniques.
Andrew: That I was gonna say. How do you deal with that?
Mat: Yeah, so I try and get the trials when I can and I go to the sunny coast from time to time and train with friends, but. I’ve got a big like SUV car tire that I dragged around. I’ve got this step machine that I get on have to simulate going uphill.
Yeah, just make things a bit tougher and you know, uh, the step machine is definitely a similar action to to climbing steep hills. Yeah and then get down on the run. You think I’m started doing as a lot of the beaches in Bundy, so I get down on the rocks and try and move as quickly as I can. Try and mix things up a little bit. So that’s sort of ideal. You know my base sort of training just maintaining is around usually around 100K week and then as with the Cycles getting close to an event I try and push it up to around 160K a week. But we opening the shop made that’s been it’s been harder been opening each day, and we open at six. So I’m in the shop at 5:30. So that means generally three o’clock wake Up’s and trying to squeeze in an hour and half before quickly sharing and getting to the shop and then long runs on on my days off. So, and then some doubles as well. So they some of that cross-training the afternoons, but I really try and get things done early.
I’ve always since I’ve got into running because it is a Time intensive sport. I always try and minimize the time impact on my family. So try and get the training done before they wake up or the majority of it anyway, and then having the afternoons with them and even if it’s a bit of cross training they get involved sometimes and yeah.
Yeah, so I drag the tire around and they come with me and that’s good.
Andrew: Yeah, and it’s good an exact a good example for the kids as well.
Mat: Yeah, it’s funny at the moment because I think I said the other day. I’m like wondering if they think that I’ve stopped running because I go so early now, they used to see me at least come home right now.
I sort of get home shower and leave before they get up. So I don’t know if they still think I run.
FUTURE PLANS AND CONCLUSION
Andrew: All right. That pretty much does it but uh, I wanted if you wanted to talk about any future plans you might have or
Mat: Man, I’ve got so many future plans. I’ve got lots of different as I said, uh projects that I want to do. Unfortunately a lot of it comes down to not the time things not such a big deal at the moment because I’m doing my business and I can probably worked out a little bit but a lot of it does come come down to expense. Um, so I’ve got a lot of events. I want to do some races in the states and there’s some really great events over there and I just want to go and cruise around and run in the mountains over there and I’d love to go and do that and there’s some races over there and then there’s also some self-powered
Adventures I don’t want to do. A dream that I’ve had for three or four years is I want to have a crack at broken the record, running from the Western most of these most point of Australia.
Andrew: That’s insane.
Mat: Yeah, so that’s that’s it that it’s just over 4,000 and it works the record I think is basically got to be done about 100K a day, um for from month and half so, that’s taken.
I think I think I’m getting to the point where as a runner. I’m I’m nearly ready. To tackle that maybe the next couple years. But again, it’s you know, it’s an expense thing, but I think with something like that I might be able to get on some some sponsors and stuff maybe and so really just that’s as far
Andrew: As the spuds mate.
Mat: Yeah. That’s as far as I’m running events go on. I’m as I alluded to earlier, you know, my plant-based vegan journey is sort of evolved a little bit now to more being focused on the environmental impacts and and ethical treatment of animals and trying to be the best being vegan advocate I can in my community and through my running as a good platform to speak about that sort of stuff and show what can be done, you know, as a lot of my role models have, a couple of which you’ve had on the podcast. Yeah. So yeah, so that’s adding and then just the day-to-day mate, like to me the day-to-day grind is the most important thing training as I can being the best dad and husband I can and being the best best human I can and treating people above and beyond what I would like people to treat me and trying to make each day better than the one before.
Andrew: So yeah, it’s perfect man. That’s uh, That’s a good way to finish it. But before we do that one more question without notice, but anyway, the someone like me, um, you know, last year was the year for me. I’m Spud Fit though. This is the year of fit. I don’t want to try to be seriously fit, as fit as I can be by the end of the year.
So, you know, if you got a little uh, one or two sentences that you can offer me to help me on my way or to help anyone listening on their way towards getting fitter and
Mat: Consistency. Is a massive thing and doing something every day. So yeah the old saying Rome wasn’t built in a day. And it’s exact same way that with Fitness and Endurance base, you know do something every day and those little some things will build into big some things and those big something’s will build into who knows what?
Andrew: All right, perfect. Yeah. It’s been an honor to sit down with you and and talk just like it was an honor to run with you and and crew for you over the weekend. And yeah, so thank you and I like a I’ve said that lots of my guess is uh, you know, I wanna talk with people and learn from people, that are the do things differently and I’m not afraid to challenge the status quo and and I think that spending time with people like that can help me to grow and learn as a person and you definitely a fit the bill for that and, yeah, you’ve taught me a lot and I’ve learned a lot about myself and say thank you.
Mat: Thank you, you know, I really appreciate you coming out and giving up your weekend then, and you I flatten you come out and you know giving up your weekend to that you could have spent with her to come out and run around the bush with me and um, I really appreciate mad and hope we can keep in touch and we got some you know, we’ve spoken about some cool adventures and ideas.
And anything I can do to help out my way. You know, just let me know. Okay.
Andrew: Same guys, mate.
Mat:Yeah. Thanks, mate.
Andrew: All right. Well, thank you and Spud Up!
Mat: Spud Up!
Well there you have it Mat Grils, Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m sure you’ll agree and inspiring individual with a really has led a really interesting life and has got some wisdom from all these experience that he had. So thank you Mat for sharing that with us and thanks everyone for listening again. If you want to keep up a bit more with what Matt’s doing. You can visit his Cafe page the journey began and visit and have a coffee. Uh, you can also find him at adventures and activism on all the uh, various social medias.
And just you can go to his website as well. Just look out The Tattoo Runner. Thanks again for listening. Uh, before you go. I’d really appreciate it. If you could give me a review on iTunes. Subscribe to this show if you like it share it with your friends. That’ll be great. Again, check out the Daiquiri.com if you’d like some extremely comfortable and beautiful works of art to wear on your on your legsa nd keep you warm over the winter, uh, check out my book, uh the “DIY: SPUD FIT ACADEMY” available on Amazon and also available through my website SPUDFIT.COM. I think that’s it for me. Uh, why don’t you guys go out and go running and reevaluate what’s possible.
Spud Up everyone.
Thanks to my wife Mandy van Zanen for the theme music.
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