I was first introduced to Matt by Andrew from At One Bars (http://www.atonefoods.com.au/products) because he knew that Matt and I would have lots to talk about. And we do! We haven’t met yet…we’re saving that for a race we are both competing in within the next few weeks. However I did meet Matt’s Dad over Easter at a running event and he is one awesome, inspirational running dude so I can’t wait to meet Matt!
How long have you been vegan?
It has been a journey! I have gone from being a gym head and eating stacks of meat and up to four dozen eggs a week to a vegan ultra runner. I went vegetarian when I turned 30 (after transitioning over a couple of years) and went vegan when I turned 31. This certainly wasn’t a flawless transition but 100% worthwhile! So a couple of years now I guess!
What made you decide to become vegan?
My dad has been running marathons for 15+ years and about eight to nine years ago, I decided I wanted to do one with him. We didn’t have the best relationship when I was growing up but as I have got older we have become best mates. I guess running brought us together in a way! As I got into the endurance scene, I began reading of athletes on and the advantages of a vegetarian and vegan diet. This perked my interest and over time I dropped animal products for selfish reasons…running performance and long-term health. These reasons are still important to me but I now stay vegan for ethical and environmental reasons.
What differences have you noticed with your training or lifestyle?
Training wise I seem to be able to recover quicker, maintain higher mileage and maintain better general well being. I have also dropped over 20kg since my gym days and whilst I would still like to lose some more weight, I am well on the way.
Throughout my life, veganism has become incredibly important to me. I am extremely passionate about things I put my heart and soul to and vegan activism and promotion is right near the top of the heap. It truly has become a part of nearly every moment of my every day. I love learning, growing and trying to make my life, the life of the animals, friends and family and the environment better!
Tell us about your chosen sport and training. What does it involve?
So…I am a runner! An ultra runner at that! I love to run, particularly on trails! I have run races from 5k to 240k and long, multi day events, all round Australia. I think the ultra community; particularly the trail community is like a beautiful little family. Every race is like a reunion! Running is part of my everyday, it’s a big part of who I am, not just something I do.
I am a big believer in making time for the things that are important to you and not making excuses. Because of my work at the moment, I wake up around 3:30am every day to fit in my run before heading to my job and trying to make it have the smallest impact on my family. If you want to do something enough, you will make it happen!
How often do you train?
Unless injured seriously, I run every day. I do between 100-170km per week depending on what cycle of training I am in and what event I am shooting for. Most of the time I just run once a day but sometimes I do ‘two-a-days’. Killian Jornet has famously said ‘More k’s equals more fun’ and I couldn’t agree more!
Tell us about some of your achievements to date?
One of the first ultra-distance things I did was a fundraising run from Bundaberg to Brisbane and back with my dad. We ended up covering just over 500km each in 17days. I have finished 18th at the 240km Coast 2 Kosci, placed first at the Buffalo Grand Slam (three races in three days totalling over 150km with over 9000m of vertical gain), and regularly placing in the top 10 to top 5 in races of 100k-100mile.
How do family and friends react to your vegan lifestyle?
All in all, they are supportive! I get the occasional jeer from them sometimes but I like to think I have a reasonable amount of knowledge and research to support my claims. My wife and daughters are vegan at home and will only occasionally have something non-vegan at parties or social gatherings. I started a fortnightly meet up called Clean Connection with some friends were everyone brings a vegan meal to share. Only a couple in the group are vegan but all take part, which is awesome! I have it pretty good and I think life is too short to spend with haters and the ignorant so I tend to surround myself with positive people and influences anyway.
How do you promote your vegan lifestyle?
This is mainly done through my Instagram page @adventures_and_activism and my website/blog www.thetattoorunner.com. I also post regularly on Facebook. Outside of social media, I work in a café and like to think I influence the menu and some customer’s decisions on what to eat and drink toward vegan options. As mentioned, I also attend the group I started, Clean Connection, post regularly on Vegan Athletes Australia, which a friend and I started and have also just, started admin on the Vegans in Bundy Facebook page. Man that sounds like a lot! I have some work to do!
What do you eat in a typical day?
Generally I start the day, after training with a big smoothie or nice cream. This will generally be 5-15 bananas, some other fruit (mango, blueberries, pear, grapes or whatever I have frozen), some coconut water, vanilla powder and maybe some carob or other simple, wholefood superfood/flavouring. I will usually snack on fruit, fresh or dried. For lunch I usually have a big salad, overnight oats or another smoothie, then for dinner, a low fat, high carb meal. I do all the cooking in our house and like to mix things up but I love Mexican, slow cooked meals, starches, soups and Italian. Pretty much any good vegan food!
My volume of food really depends on what training I have done that day.
What is your favourite food or recipe?
Oh man! That is a tough question. I think nice cream would be one of my favourites (blended bananas with little or no liquid, and other flavours to make a soft serve consistency). I love the recipes in the Forks Over Knives App/recipe book and also the Engine 2 cookbook. I also LOVE medjool dates, dried figs, dark chocolate and peanut butter. I am currently trying to limit the last two though to drop the last bit of weight I want to!
Do you take any supplements?
Only a B12 supplement and iron tablet twice a week.
What advice would you give to people thinking of going vegan?
GIVE IT A GO! Don’t be scared; ask for help and most of all EDUCATE YOURSELF! Knowledge is power! It is not as scary as it seems and if you have found your reason (ethical, health or environmental), lean on that reason and grow from there! There is literally NO issue that veganism cannot impact, big or small!
What events or other exciting things do you have planned in the next 12 months?
I would really love to race Internationally but not sure if that will be able to happen yet financially. I plan on a few big 100milers and 100k events within Australia and just hoping to extend myself every day. I again want to average 100k per week for the year (I have done this twice before), be consistent and continue to improve upon my past race results.
I would really like to build the vegan community in Bargara where I live and into the greater Bundaberg area. I would also love to attend as many vegan events as I can and even guest speak if given the opportunity.
Outside of these two arenas, I want to be a better dad to my two daughters every day, a better husband, friend, employee and human in general! I have some big business goals (watch this space) and also want to keep enjoying family holidays throughout the year, particularly in out little pop-top caravan!
What do you do outside of your sport/training for fun?
I love spending time with my family holidaying, going to the park or beach. We live within walking distance of the beach so that is a regular stop off! I also love my job and chatting to customers so that is a bonus! Any extra time I get is nice to spend with friends however this is usually done whilst running! I also enjoy reading and listening to music.
Who are your biggest motivators in life?
I have a couple of people I really look up to. The most prominent celebrity I gain insight and some guidance from would be Rich Roll and his family. I have also been a long time fan of Anton Krupicka. He would be my biggest inspiration running wise for sure! I also love Timothy Sheiff, Scott Jurek, Jackson Foster and recently, Emily at Bite Sized Vegan. I also am encouraged by vegan activists like James Aspey and anyone who is willing to stand up for what they believe with conviction. My dad would also be right up there as a general awesome bloke!
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
I can not state the importance of education enough! The more knowledge we have the better we can represent what we believe. I have a passion for life and getting all I can out of it and don’t want to take a backward step! Be a positive, shining example to all those you meet and you never know who you might impact!
If you’d like to connect with Matt and find out more about his running and plant based lifestyle, head on over to the following links:
Thank you so much Matt. Keep an eye out on the blog every Fitness Friday for more vegan athletes.