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The Journey to Professional Triathleticism with Matt Lieto

Jimmy:  Alright, here we go.  Another PTPincast starts right now.  The best conversations happen at Happy Hour – welcome to ours.  Today on the show, he’s a pro triathlete, a commentator for IRONMAN and he’s been known to coach some fast athletes.  He considers himself a lucky boy, being able to spend his life doing what he loves and sharing that love with those who care to listen – like me.  His journey into life is more similar to that of everyman or age grouper than most pro triathletes because he was overweight and not very athletic his whole life.  Peaking out at over 250 pounds.  The upside of that journey is he got a great perspective on what it takes to become a great athlete from nothing.  The downside: he would lose most 6-pack ab competitions against his fellow pros.  On the show today:  pro triathlete Matt Lieto.  Matt – welcome to the PT Pintcast.

Matt:  How’s it going?

Jimmy:  I’m doing well, man.  First question is always the hardest:  what are we drinking tonight?

Matt:  Drinking tonight, I don’t know if you can hear it (shaking ice), I got my Pendie on the rocks – that’s Pendie that’s short for Pendleton that is bourbon whiskey.

Jimmy:  Oh, I like that.  I like that very much.  And we’re just recording audio right now, but I’d like to paint a picture:  Matt is in front of a stone fireplace, with a glass of bourbon and the fireplace is roaring.  Are you in Oregon right now??

Matt:  I am.  Yeah.  We got a bunch of snow it’s about -5 when I went to the pool this morning, and I think it’s about 15 today so, yeah I like to get cozy after a hard workout and drink, drink my blues away next to the fire.

Jimmy:  There you go.  We were like in the 70’s in the Northeast on Christmas Day.  We’re cooler now like into the 40’s and stuff, but it doesn’t even feel like Christmas or New Years or January here.

Matt:  Yeah, we’re stoked.  Bend has felt a little bit more like Northern California the last couple years.  We haven’t  had much, much snow.  Last year was, I’ll call it the worst snow year we’ve had.  We had, you know, only a couple of feet all year and this year I’ve spent most of my off season. Fortunately, I’ve been able to go skiing and enjoy the snow, and that’s why I live in the mountains.  I can, you know, turn off the triathlon for a couple of months and not worry about it and go play.

Jimmy:  So I’ve got questions that have to do with that, but I’ll get to them.  But I wanted to talk about your journey.  I read a bunch of articles, so I’m assuming you go through this story quite often.

Matt:  Yeah, it’s my deal, man, I mean the reason I originally decided to turn professional as a triathlete was to kind of share that story to a certain extent.  So, the summary of that story is – yeah I was 250 pounds, my whole life I was overweight and I think I started – you look at pictures way, way back I wasn’t but that was first, second grade, type stuff.  So pretty, pretty young I got a little bit chubby.  Hard to decide what to blame for that.  I had two older brothers.  Chris, I have an older brother who is also a triathlete, he was like 7 years older and my other brother was 9 years older, so like, when I was in second and third grade, I was eating the same things guys going to high school water polo practice or track and field were eating, and it didn’t work so well when I was second and third grade.  So anyways I ended up gaining a bunch of weight, and I peaked out at 250 pounds when I was in college, second or third year in college and I had a moment where I realized I needed to make a change, and I tried to make change hundreds of times you know when you’re overweight.  I was always the kid who wore teeshirts at the pool parties and that sort of thing and understood there was an issue but kind of thought that was going to be the way it was.  I went and watched my brother Chris race IRONMAN World Championships in Kona in ’98, and it was actually Chris, and I often joke that Chris came out of the womb with abdominals and is like God’s gift to everything he did, right?  He was a model when he was a kid, he was varsity in whatever sport he wanted to be in,  and I say this because like I think IRONMAN World Championships was like his third triathlon ever or something like that, right?

Jimmy:  Wow.

Matt: So I hadn’t been exposed to triathlon too much.  You know, Chris was out of the house, and so I went and watched him race, and it was the – I was obviously inspired by the day.  But I was inspired in the days leading up to that race, of the energy, the types of people and the community.  Our condo was like a mile from the expo.  And I’d walk down there everyday and mostly just to like steal some candy bars from the expo, right?  People were coming in and out handing out energy bars are whatever.  But, I’d go down, check it out, walk back like freaking roached just walking that long in the heat.  You know I was able to get through the race, we volunteered and did some volunteer action on race day out on the run course.  I snuck out on the pier and, you know, helped out there and you know when I came back I just realized it’s like change wasn’t going to do itself, and I wasn’t ready to give up on the fact that I was able to change.  Like I said I had tried before, but ended up just getting kind of lucky and did the right things at the right time and had a buddy tell me his philosophy on diet:  eat like a King for breakfast, a prince for lunch and a pauper for dinner sets your metabolism kind of in the right role, right?  And I did that, and I cut out anything in a box, so nothing with preservatives.

Jimmy:  Right.

Matt:  In hindsight actually, I’m a Celiac, so in hindsight I could feel like once I did that I actually ended up out taking wheat and gluten out of most of it anyways, so that kind of helped me personally, but it was mostly just taking out like a bunch of preservatives and not eating as much crap.  Went down to the skate park, to be fair, it was completely, a lot of it was just luck.  They built a skate park down the street from my house.  Missed a lot of class for five months and I skated 6 hours a day, just in the pipe and in the snake run at the skate park, and I lost 75 pounds in 4 and 1/2 months.

Jimmy:  Wow.  That’s a lot.

Matt:  Yeah.  And the other thing I did that was also key, and I was just lucky to think of it was I walked around with a Nalgene bottle, right when those things first came out.  Every time I was hungry, I just would slug an entire Nalgene bottle, 32 ounces down.  So um, I was hydrating myself like I hadn’t properly before, and I was just not allowing myself to binge on crappy food because I would just throw 2 pounds of water down my stomach.

Jimmy:  So where did triathlon fit?  I mean I know you were out at Kona, the world championships watching your brother, watching someone you grew up with, you know, knowing that you know, your brothers and knowing there’s a difference.  Did triathlon like play a role in that?  Like did you say, “hey, I’m going to get healthy, I’m going so tris?”  Or was it like, ”I’m just going to get healthy first” and then tri came along?

Matt:  I think at that point. Obviously I was inspired by what people were able to accomplish on that day.  You know seeing 78-year-old men cross the finish line, like just crazy stuff, you know?  Like that’s the most vivid memory I have was at midnight, this old man was like, if you’ve ever been to Hawaii finish line it’s pretty crazy at the end of the IRONMAN and 300 meters down the road you can see everybody and this old man was like bent over at a 45 or 60 degree angle running and the crowd is just going nuts.  And he like, as he gets closer to the finish line he like gets more straight up and down and crosses the finish line.  It was that kind of stuff that just inspired me that obviously, I was just being a little bit lazy but,  I probably, it was so out or reach, right, that I never thought that like “I’m going to come back and do this race” because I was like, there’s no, in my head that was just never, never an option right, it just wasn’t a reality of something I thought I’d be capable of so I think it was just me making those changes to get a taste of kind of that atmosphere and that lifestyle.  Can I be more a part of that?  And, at that point of my life, I was way into the outdoors.  I actually, the first thing I did the summer I lost my weight was I was a backpack guide and went and did that stuff and that was kind of more where my passion lied and to be fair, the way, the reason I started doing triathlon was so that I could be gain fitness to do adventure racing.  And even for like the first two years of doing triathlon I was like, “I’m just going to get myself in good shape so I can go do some actually cool stuff.”  And so, I find myself in some cool places, you know, fortunately, and unfortunately I had a kind of a quick rise and ended up being all encompassed with triathlon and, you know, kept going down that road and.  No it was great, and no regrets and it was piece by piece, and I had heard off this race called “Wildflower” that an ex-girlfriend of mine had told me about.  I had no idea what that was or what that meant.  But when I lost my weight I was like “I gotta do that” and I set the goal to do that race which was like, for people who don’t know, was like the hardest Olympic distance race I’ve certainly ever done and kind of known to be some of the hardest courses around.  I, of course, set my goal at, you know, I didn’t know, I was like,  “I gotta go under 2 1/2 hours my first tri.”  It was like “dude that’s crazy.  There’s no way you can do that at Wildflower, blah, blah, blah.”  You know I was starting from scratch man.  I’d never run a mile.  I mean I’d run a mile but not, like, for like the Presidential Fitness Test.

Jimmy:  Right.  Right.  Right.  Like in high school.

Matt:  I remember it not being impressive.  I think I ran 8:15 all out.  You know, so I hadn’t done any of that sport, so it was kind of a push but.  Went to Wildflower and ended up, I don’t know what I did 2:20 or something like that but – met the goal and realized I was not that far off and at that finish line I wrote myself some goals for years down the road and I managed to achieve those and make some more along the way and achieve some of those so – yeah.  It’s been fun.

Jimmy:  Yeah – you talk a little bit about the atmosphere at – I’ve never been to Kona, but I’ve been to IRONMAN races. You talk about the atmosphere leading up to the race, and I tell people all the time, you know, “if you ever want to do a tri, go watch one and you’ll know, you get, the hair on your arms starts to stand up.  And you’re like – yeah.”  I’m like “if that doesn’t inspire you then you probably shouldn’t start training for one because if that’s not getting you going, it’s not going to be there.”

Matt:  No, I agree, man, and I think for me, a lot of the reason I’ve probably gone so far and stuck with the sport for so long is, and how it ended up, the end of this podcast, people will just realize that I’m just lucky, and I fall into stuff but – in the end,  I think the reason I’m somewhat a little bashful but somewhat good at my job as a commentator is that my original love for this sport came at spectate.  So like even watching Chris that day, and then for years, and years, and years, I’d go and I’d be his, his support and I’d be out on that course on a mountain bike and telling him like “I know that race inside and out” and it’s from the perspective of a spectator, right?  And it’s cool man, especially if you can get to some of those big races where, and watching anybody achieve that goal like I said, probably the most inspiring was watching that 80-year-old man coming across the finish line.  But go to a race where there’s a strong pro field and put yourself up there and watch that race up close and it’s pretty cool to see where people put themselves for top finishes.  It’s impressive.

Jimmy:  I’ll be coming in for the first loop on the run and man, like the pros are like showered, fed and coming back to start to cheer some of the people on and I’m just like “I’m doing the first loop of the run right now, man you’re killing me right now, you’re killing me.

Matt:  Yeah, little do you know we do that just to, just to make you feel bad.  Just to, we all pace to take a shower as quickly as we can and eat so we can make people feel bad.

Jimmy:  So, ah, it is weird talking about yourself in a boastful manner.  I just want people to know – I had seen the Lieto name so when I saw you on the roster for talking at the Richmond Endurance Symposium, which, ah, I’m going to be down there at, the show’s a sponsor.  It’s on January 23rd down in Richmond at the Westin, and I said, “yeah, I want to talk to this guy.”  Your list on your website, I mean, you’ve done well, man, I mean.  You went pro in 3 years, and that’s not necessarily an easy thing like people train to go pro, I know some people who were really, really good locally in the northeast, and were never able to make that jump.  And they were really good.  It’s a hard jump.   Seven race wins, more than 40 top ten finishes, including – and I just cherry-picked some big ones – like 7th at IRONMAN Canada twice, 6th at IRONMAN British Columbia, 5th at IRONMAN Lake Placid.  I did that one.  That’s a hard course.  And then top 40 IRONMAN world championships two years in a row.  That’s some pretty big success right there.  And that’s just cherry-picking.  You’ve got a lot more on there.

Matt:  I know and if only I had spent more time cherry-picking my career I might have some bigger ones on there but ah.  No man, yeah.  But I’ve been stoked, and kind of my goal throughout my career has always been to do the opposite of cherry-picking and make sure that I go to all the big races so I think you’ll see a lot of those results, you know, some of my  best races ever are probably like a 5th place at Vineman one year, I crushed it, but I put myself against world champions you know, so I think there’s a lot of races like that but, every time I cross the finish line after a race like that, I know I’ve pushed myself harder than if I went to some race where nobody else was and tried to get a win, right?  So yeah, no.  I’ve been stoke and I feel like, as you said in my gracious introduction, that I’m a little more of an every man, right?  And I think, you know, if you look at what I was capable of 5 years in and I probably haven’t necessarily like, you know, my run splits are probably the same, right?  But I’ve gotten the old man strength and I kind of know how to get everything out of myself in every race, and I put myself in the position to win when I can and then just, you know, scruff things out.  I take pride in the fact that I’m one of those guys that if you watch me race you’ll be like “dude, that guy is hurting himself.”  Like that’s how I’ve gotten involved with physical therapists I’ve been involved with over at Rebound is just like they saw pictures of me in a magazine and we’re like, “bro, you need to like get the glutes into the game bro, as you are, you are kind of in a boat upstream type of thing, right?  So, ah.

Jimmy:  Yeah, I wanted to talk about that, but first I want to talk about what you just brought up.  I don’t want that to go past with out recognizing it.  You do mention that you came into more like an everyman, and it kind of reminded me, I watched some of your videos online.  It reminded me a little bit about that, what was that Mark Wahlberg movie where he plays the dude that walked onto the Eagles, you know, Vince Papale, “Invincible.”  It just made me think of that, like, that’s why people really gave a shit about that guy is that dude, dude that is from our neighborhood walked onto the Eagles and seeing somebody who is like “you know, I’m just going to get healthy” and, I’m am, I’m an age grouper and now, 3 years in he goes pro, it make everybody go “wow, cool it is possible to put your head down and do something.”  So it kind of make people feel really cool to see, you know,  one of their own on the podium or leading the race.

Matt:  Yeah, I mean, I think you think of you know five years in, a couple years into me being a pro athlete or that first time I did Kona, five years earlier from that I was 255 pounds, and you wouldn’t have noticed, right?  So I think that I coach a fair amount of athletes as well and, you know, it’s what I try to share with them.  Whatever effort you put in you’re going to get out.  If you’re smart, do things the right way and have some patience, anybody can have success and you know, especially even, you know, people who are just wanting to finish an IRONMAN like, literally anybody can do it, you just need to have a lot of time on your hands or be really smart and have someone direct you with the small amount of time that you have and just some pain threshold and some grit, right?

Jimmy:  Yeah.  That’s got to be helpful because you do coach some people and when some people are saying, “I don’t know if I’ve got it, man” I mean, you’ve got that one you’ve got that one chambered.  Like, you know, that picture of “oh man, this is me” and then, “oh look at that.  I turned pro.”  That’s got to be a great one.

Matt:  So, before I go on runs with these guys, and I’m like, I’m like“man,” and then after a couple miles they’ll realize that like, I’m not, nobody ever accused me of being a gazelle and, you know, making it look easy, so I’m like, you know we’ll get on some good runs and “guys, come on.  I’m out running you by 4 and 5 minutes in these races there’s just no reason this should be happening.”  They’re like “that just, that just comes down to grit.”

Jimmy:  Alright, talking with Matt Lieto, pro triathlete.  I do want to mention some of your sponsors because I think when a company comes on a sponsors you, that’s like a vote of confidence right there.  So you’re sponsored by, essentially, all the stuff I use:  Trek, SEGOi, on-running.com, Aqua Sphere, I love those, I love the goggles, Bontrager, Campagnolo, CycleOps, Rebound Physical Therapy.  And that is a perfect radio segue into you battling with lots of injuries.  You just beating the crap out of yourself.  Your body is your machine at work.  Your workplace is out on the road, in the pool, on the treadmill, in the gym.  So you’ve had some injuries and you’ve gotten back on track with, and we love to hear this, physical therapy.  Talk a little about what you had and how you got back on track with the guys at Rebound.

Matt:  I don’t know if it’s the Lieto hip structure or what it is in general.  Bad shoulders from playing water polo in high school or goofing around or what, but the lower legs are the Achilles Heel of me and my brother.  And Chris, actually, Achilles Heel is kind of what closed him out, more or less.  You know I’ve just always dealt with lower leg injuries.  There was one year where I was off running for a little bit, and it was more straight on line piriformis, you know, hip stuff directly, but generally, it always, always comes out in my calfs and, I mean, even now that I’m on track it’s like, you know, people always ask me why I don’t race more cross.  By the end of the season, the last thing I need to do is just off the bike at 20 miles per hour.  My calf’s going to rip in two, right?  So luckily I’ve had good local support here in Bend with the guys at Rebound.  They helped me for years.  My buddy Timmy Evans helped me for a lot of years just helping me realize that my glutes were not coming to the party at all.  And the fact that I was able to do what I was without the help of that, obviously pretty major muscle group, is pretty ridiculous and obviously was what was affecting down the road, you know, my calfs, right?  And I think Jay more reasonably kind of fully dialed it in.  He came to Bend 2 years ago; I think it was two years ago this month is when I sat down with him and had some beers and you know he found that you know I had always had shoulder issues, right, playing water polo in high school.  Almost had rotator cuff surgery.  When I started doing triathlon, I couldn’t swim more than 200 meters at workout because my shoulders were so tweaked.  Kind of got that figured out.  Jay basically his whole theory on that is it’s all posture, right? And my shoulders – I was holding my shoulders to my ears type of thing, and basically he just spent 2 months ripping open my capsules and just letting my shoulder kind of come out a little bit and getting me to the point where I could hold myself in the right posture.  And then, it was hilarious, and still, to this day, it just boggles me, it’s like, now when my calves hurt, it’s like “hey Matt, you gotta go stretch your shoulders out, you gotta adjust your first rib,’ you know do all this stuff to your shoulders and stop hunching backwards and your upper body and then your friggin calf’s going to stop hurting.

Jimmy:  Yeah, it’s weird, right?

Matt:  Yeah, so once he, once he opened my shoulders up, we were able to work on the glutes a little bit basically now that’s it, man, once my calves hurt, I go into him to do some body work but it comes down to like, I do some foot, you know he’s into a lot of foot strength stuff so I’ll do some waggle board stuff where I’m working on that.  That’s still kind of a weakness for me. But um, yeah, it’s just really trying to open up my shoulders.  He showed me the stretches to be able to keep myself open, my chest open, but I tend to, I would always kind of bend back, right?  So it’s kind of making sure I’m activating that transverse abdominis and, you know, putting my chest kind of flat down, and hips kind of take care of themselves.  Obviously, I do some glute activation, and that sort of thing, and um, with him I’ve found kind of my biggest weakness is travel and then trying to race, or racing and then traveling.

Jimmy:  Sitting down a lot and getting all tight?

Matt:  Yeah.  It screws my hips and my back so ah, kind of giving me the tools to when I get to a race to, you know, spend 20 minutes, soon as I get off the plane, you know, laying on the double lacrosse ball, and you know, doing some other things to open things up and give myself a fighting chance.

Jimmy:  You mentioned Jay Dicharry.  I actually read his book, “Anatomy for Runners.”  A professor had recommended it for me because I really wanted to get into some running and some tri PT once I graduate in a couple of months and – really, really good book.  I really wanted to give him a plug for it because I thought it was really, really well written in terms of a conversational tone with an intelligent message. I mean, is that how he talks, does he kind of talk how he writes?

Matt:  Yeah.  I’d say so.  I mean, yeah, he just has conversations with you, right?  And he’ll make you think, like you have something to bring to the table, right?  Which is cool, but, ah, I mean, Jay’s, Jay’s a good dude and yeah, I mean, literally every pro triathlete buddy of mine that I tell buy the book, buys an airplane ticket within a week and comes out and sees Jay.  We’ve had some move here and we’ve had a lot of return customers and I think I’ve got a couple guest next month coming in to see Jay but, um, yeah I mean, he knows what’s up and that book, that book shares a lot, for sure.

Jimmy:  Yeah.

Matt:  And what I love about Jay is that, and he’s the one to give me the most crap of anybody in the off-season.  Like he keeps me real.  I just did a trip 2-days, backcountry skiing with Jay and some other professional athletes in town it just kind of happened that way.  And he’s like “man; you know what’s best for your hips and your shoulders?  Skiing up mountains.  I was like, “okay, that’s cool.”  So he’s like, he’ll like give me crap if I don’t.  I’ll say, “you sure I shouldn’t be riding my trainer and going for a long run?”  He’s like, “no man.  You gotta get your snowboard and go hike up some big mountains.”

Jimmy:  Nice.

Matt:  And it’s sweet because it’s smart, man.  You hold your shoulders in the right position, pole correctly.  And like my glutes had not felt so like comfortably sore after that trip in a long time because you’re like you’re in a plane where I can’t not activate my glutes –

Jimmy:  Right.

Matt:  if you’re thinking about it, right?  So it’s like it’s that kind of stuff where I think he’s, he’s super smart and he like, he comes up with exercises like while I’m in there.  He’s like, “oh, this will be cool.”  I’m like, “did you just come up with that? That’s amazing.”  I’m a big fan.

Jimmy:  That’s got to be cool too because again, you get to have that, that kind of everyman too, because you, are you currently training people?

Matt:  Um, as far as coaching?

Jimmy:  Yeah.

Matt:  Yeah, for sure.  Coaching people now.  Coached people for the last few years and ah, will probably move into that as a full-time gig starting kind of a business focused on coaching and collaborating with athletes this next year and that’s, as I said, that’s why I started this sport was to help other people achieve their goals and other jobs and hobbies I’ve had in the past have all been around showing people how to get the most out of themselves.  And I enjoy the outdoors, right, so I think triathlon and running and cycling independently kind of do all those things at once, right?

Jimmy:  The sport of triathlete I started doing it in, I’m going to say, like, 2002, and it was still kind of like a weird, kind of, “ah, what’s that?  What are the events?  What are the orders?”  You know, from all my friends and now I think the sport is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger.  How’d you get into that role of commentating for IRONMAN?

Matt:  Think I was referred from a buddy.  They basically had someone that couldn’t go one day – IRONMAN Wisconsin.  You know I had chatted with the lady who is the producer at a race before and I think she kind of understood the personality, that I had a certain amount of charisma that I could maybe bring to the table, and she was comfortable with me being the kind of color commentator and the guy who, I mean, dude, my job there is, like, I’m supposed to be the jackass, right?  So like, and more straight-laced and kind of co-commentators I have, the more I’m able to kind of fall into that role, right?  So for me, kind of their expectations were in line with what I was able to produce, and you know, we talked off-air like my biggest fear in life had always been speaking in public, I was like terrified of that, right?  So the first time going I was pretty, pretty scared and I didn’t know what was happening but for me, like, staring at a box is a little different than staring at 1,000 people looking back at you and for me I just have a conversation I mean, yeah.  It’s like I said, I’ve always been a spectator, so I just watch the screen and watch people that are inspiring me in the moment and kind of try to explain what’s going on.  And yeah, I’ve been lucky.  I don’t know how I’ve been, shoot I don’t know how I’ve been – shoot I think it’s been 5 years now that I’ve been, they, they’ve let me do that gig, and  you know it’d be sweet if there was opportunity to do that more full-time but I think, as you said, as the sport gets bigger I think it will continue to grow so.  Look forward to it.

Jimmy:  Yeah more and more races popping up.  Favorite race to recommend to somebody who wants to get into the sport – anywhere.

Matt:  Man, Wildflower is still the deal.  It’s near San Luis Obispo in northern California; it’s like a 3-hour drive from the San Francisco Bay area.  I mean that’s one of the first triathlons in the U.S. and up until like ten years ago, there weren’t a lot of paid, professional races and that race had been for years and years.  I want to say it was their 30th anniversary last year and, ah, it’s just the hardest race you can put yourself on and in the last 2 years, there’s not enough water in the reservoir to run the swim the normal location, so we’ve actually had to do a swim, a 2 mile trail run on some like gnarly trails, bike ride and then do like the remaining 2 1/2 mile run.  That’s like, it’s gnarly.  And that race, that’s one that I always spectated because I raced on Sunday in the Olympic distance race and you know you had guys like, the podium was like Nick Roumonada, Chris Leigh, Chris McCormick, Simon Lessing, all these guys, so that has been a race that has been a part of my life, you know, it’s the first one I ever did.  Last year, I was able to get second place there to my buddy Jessie Thomas and that was certainly a career highlight for me and I hope to ruin Jessie’s day next year and put an end to that but – all good – but, yeah, that’s one race, Vineman’s another race – they’re all a lot of west coast races.  Lake Placid, man that is an amazing IRONMAN if you can get out to IRONMAN Lake Placid to watch that race or to participate it’s so ah – it’s pretty cool.

Jimmy:  What’s your time on Lake Placid?  Make me, make me feel real slow.

Matt:  Dude, I don’t even know I mean I think that year, man, I try to forget about that year because I was like I was in second place for like 8 hours and 25 minutes and somehow ended up 5th – just came apart.  That was when my hips were a real mess.  But I want to say I was like 9:02 or 9:05 or 3:15 so something.  It wasn’t pretty.

Jimmy:  Yeah, 3:15, your slow, bro, your slow.  I’m running a marathon at 3:15.  Just running a marathon at 3:15 and I’m ecstatic.  I’m calling my mom.

Matt:  Yeah, self-deprecation, that’s something I’m really good at and I’m also good at surrounding myself with super talented people.  When you grow up going, you know, you know, Christmas day around my house I’m still getting beat at IRONMAN PRs by like 45 minutes so it’s all perspective.  So, it’s all good.

Jimmy:  What are you going to be talking about at the Richmond Endurance Symposium your coming in on the 23rd of this month, January into Richmond, Virginia.

Matt:  I’m looking forward to it.  Obviously cool to be involved with something like that.  I’m looking forward to listening to other folks and what they have to say.  Um, unfortunately, I’ve heard 2 of the other speakers, and they talk way too much – Linsey Corbin and my coach is Elliott Bassett.  Linsey’s one of my good friends.  Joking, of course.  But, I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say but, yeah talking more about my story and what it took to do that and, you know, trying to, you know, portray how to goal set to be able to unlock those goals, right?  And you know,  kind of little things to do to give yourself a fighting chance.  And, you know, mainly like consistency in training I think, I think, you know, people overshoot all the time and they see these workouts that the pros are doing and now there’s a bunch of stuff you can, you know I rode my trainer today and you know you’ve got technology now that you can ride with people all around the world and I’m wondering if stuff like that’s a good idea, or not, right?  Like it’s ah –

Jimmy:  Too much, maybe.

Matt:  Yeah, you gotta be able to be consistent and set yourself a goal to be stronger the next day and stronger the day after that and if you’re, you know I’m all about goal setting but I’ve had hard talks with a lot of clients that have these like pie-in-the-sky goals, and you gotta bring it down, right, it’s like “man, before you get to that goal it might be like, that might be something you can do.  Let’s look a couple years down the road and see what, what goal do you have to achieve to then, in that space, be able to look towards that next goal.”  And I think that’s kind of some of the important things and that’s some of the stuff I’ll be talking about.

Jimmy:  I like that a lot.  I think that happens because we watch, you know, some of these programs we watch some of these pros just do some ridiculous things but, and we, and we just assume they just showed up and they did it, but really,  there’s a lot of little goals that go in between starting and finishing a race.

Matt:  And dude, in triathlon, like, if you look, on paper?  On paper, man, triathlon is the easiest thing on the planet, right?  Like, like if you look at me as an athlete and what I’m capable of doing in each sport on it’s own, like, you tell me all I have to do is run 6:40 pace to win a race.  Yeah, that sounds easy.  6:40 pace I can do that right now and I haven’t run in 3 weeks.  But – it’s hard, man.  You gotta do it for 26 miles and you gotta do it after that it’s a – you know that’s the thing people train above their heads and aren’t actually training in the zones that are realistic for racing and, um, for me, it’s all about being strong.  I mean, in the end, like, if you think of relative, like for what your PRs are and individuals sports and different distances and from what I am.  Like nothing I’m doing on race day is fast.  It’s not.  If I go out and do a 1/2 IRONMAN and I finish running at 1:18 or 1:19 – for me, and what I can do running, that’s not fast.  So I don’t need to be training to be fast.  I need to train to be strong.   So that I know I can do it everyday.  And that, you know, that I’m strong enough that I can do that after riding my bike real hard.  So I think that’s kind of the difference is people will, so many people I train with are training mile repeats at 5:45 pace all day long.  And I never, I never do that stuff.   I train kind of that strength athlete.  I train behind my house.  I train a bunch of hills and I train on trail.  And I train to be strong.  And when it comes to race day, I’m healthy because I haven’t destroyed myself doing all these repeats so I can go back to that tank, and I know I’m strong enough to do it.

Jimmy:  I’m going to write that down.  I like that.  I’m looking toward doing maybe a half and a full next year.  You can hear Matt talking in person.  Richmond Endurance Athlete Symposium and Expo.  They call it a day of motivation and education.  You can check out details for that.  It’s going to be January 23rd, at the Westin in Richmond, Virginia.  It’s just coming up.  RichmondEnduranceSymposium.com.  So each episode, Matt, is a pint, but before we’re done with the pint we have shots.  So I know you’re drinking bourbon but what I’m talking about is parting shots.  You got parting shots of wisdom for someone looking to go into the off season and maybe, you know, they’re just like me, an age-group try guy that is looking to do maybe a half next year, maybe a full.  What’s a pearl of wisdom?  What have you got?

Matt:  Yeah, I mean, I think this time of year it’s hard, I mean, everybody’s in different, different climates and often times I think people can kind of bang their heads against a wall this time of year trying to get things done and being motivated or not motivated so for me, I always think if you have an imaginary bucket of motivation, at the end of the year, that bucket of motivation, if you timed it right, is pretty well empty.  Sometimes there’s a little bit left if you’ve had great, like last year we had no winter here so I never rode the trainer so my bucket of motivation was full, I had a lot of good times.  But my, I think, priority for this time of year is making sure that thing’s full, man.  Like, don’t be taking a lot out of that bucket.  If you’re , if you’re digging deep doing, doing these like other pros are doing 4-hour trainer rides right now.  It’s like, “man, I ain’t got time for that.”  That takes like a ton, 2 big scoops out of my bucket of motivation and, you know, I’m watching terrible TV, riding my bike for 2 hours on the trainer, or hiking up a mountain and skiing down, like, I gotta kind of balance that so that ski is going to put that motivation kind of back in there and riding on mountain bike trails, things like that that don’t take any motivation, having fun with buddies for me in the winter rides.  Like, I’ll bundle up and conveniently there’s a bakery an hour and 45 minutes from my house, and every winter ride, everybody that rides with me knows we’re going to that bakery, man. And we’re going to sit down, and we’re going to have some coffee and we’re going to have some baked goods and it’s going to be a good time, right?  So like, for me it’s making sure that that bucket of motivation is full, so that when it comes time to actually do some stuff that hurts, cause like I said, I think the biggest misconception is that you gotta train hard all the time and for me, it’s, you don’t have to train hard all the time, but when it comes time to train hard, you have to train hard.  And it might hurt to do so so you want to make sure that whatever you have to do to keep that bucket of motivation high – if it’s having a whiskey before night before you go to bed, you know, through February, that’s the deal and then maybe you can cut yourself off or whatever you need to do or going out and doing some skiing and having some fun with friends that’s it.  But make sure you keep that thing full.

Jimmy:  Cool.  I like that.  I like that.  Because it’s hard, it is hard.  Especially when it’s cold and I mean, I like the warm.  I like the tri weather in the summer, in the spring and the fall, but the winter man,  it kind of beats you down, so having something like that bucket of motivation in your head, lets you know where to put your priorities so you’re actually motivated to do it when, when race time is actually around.  Alright.  I like that.  Alright.  Looking forward to seeing you in just a little bit, January 23rd, the Richmond Endurance Athlete Symposium, and Expo – got a bunch of cool people talking on the panel:  yourself, Linsey Corbin, like you said, your coach,  Elliott Bassett.  We’re going to hear from all those guys this week on the show and you can check out more information about the Symposium at RichmondEnduranceSymposium.com.  Appreciate you taking the time out.  You look like you’re relaxed man, in front of that fire, finishing that bourbon.  I just finished tonight I was having a Sam Adam’s Cherry Wheat.  Looking forward to buying you a beer and having and listening to you talk at the Symposium coming up, Matt.

Matt:  Yeah, thanks so much, man.  Appreciate the time and I look forward to seeing you all out there.