Episode 128

Kat Matthews: Being mentally sound to be physically healthy

Kat Matthews doesn’t need a massive introduction these days. The British Army Physio who’s on the BMC pro team made the podium on her Ironman World Championship  debut. It’s pretty mad and easy to forget that Kat’s first full professional season was 2019, after taking up triathlon in 2015. She is the 3rd fastest ever British female over the Ironman distance. At the recent World Championships in St George Kat posted a time of 8.43, to finish second to now 5 x World Champion Daniela Ryf who crossed the line in 8.34, and ahead of 2019 World Champion Anne Haug who was 3rd in 8.47.   

You'll hear:

07:35 Kat's initial reflections on the 2021 Ironman World Championships in St George. "it's been pretty overwhelming. I hit the target I wanted to achieve that was to show I'm competitive on the World Stage. Coming 2nd to Daniela when she was on top form was a dream.

10:00 Kat talks about how the race went for her. "I didn't have the best build and I was just hoping and I thought I would just roll with it. I got a great spot on the beach start and I got a great start and I saw Daniela and I thought it was quite comfortable. I had a 'mare in transition with my helmet and visor and then had to work harder to catch Daniel and Skye up. For the first part of my bike my power was well up and I thought, it's okay it will settle. Daniela took the lead going up this hill and I decided not to go with her and leaked time over the next 100km and then had a real mental battle. But what was the real drama was when I got off the bike. I've never felt so bad. I think I was a bit flustered. But I just felt horrendous. I thought 'my legs just have nothing'.

17:45 How do you get through an Ironman marathon when you feel so bad? "I just kept thinking I've done this before, I can do it again." I just broke it down into stages, and I just thought keep going until you can't. I think there is an element of 'I've had it worse' during my army training. We had a nine day exercise with the reserves, with a river crossing on day 2 and day 7 and at the time you get through it because everyone else gets through it.

24:00 Kat explains what happened at the finish line and the 'great' chat she had with Daniela. I think I shouted at her first like 'oh my god, you were incredible'!' She was very complimentary and we had so many great chats afterwards. There was a real camaraderie between her and I which was cool. Three years ago I hadn't even done an Ironman!

29:45 Kat's thoughts on the second World Championships of the year in Kona, Hawaii. I qualified in November 2020 and I want to race there so badly! It's going to be mental.

32:00 Kat talks about being coached by Björn Geesmann and how she started to be coached by the German. It came about after a chat with Patrik Lange while she was training in Lanzarote. Kat says Patrik has become a real mentor to her in the sport. 'Bjorn and I had the same ideas about run volume and being happy rather than over stressed, but it was still hard to begin with because it was totally different to what I had done before. "The volume was about the same, but I was doing biking and running at the same time and I was like 'whaaaat?"

37: 15 Kat talks about how she tries to stay happy and some of the days when she isn't feeling quite as motivated. 'I always remind myself when I am healthy and I can do the training, I have to take the opportunity to do it." And also as a professional, it's a case of 'just to your job.' Kat also says that her time working as a physiotherapist at Headley Court, also helps her with her mindset and gratitude to being able to train. 'Knowing that you can improve at any stage is always inspiring. I guess there is this pathway of 'you can always try'.

43:30 Kat on the Pheonix Sub8 project and how the opportunity came up. I'm hooked on this idea that if I can practise running a really good marathon off an easy bike, I don't need to think about the 2'50 mark, I'm thinking about the 2'40 mark, and that's cool for me.

55:30 Kat talks about sports psychology and some of the things she has learnt and done, including developing a confidence profile. "It was so useful! But I'm a massive worrier and I worry about things all of the time. But I think constant self-doubt drives me to be better. I have learnt quickly that I have to be mentally sound in order to be physically healthy."

59:45 I want to make others realise that you can control how you feel about things. You are in control of your own emotion.

Find out more about this week's guests

Kat Matthews Instagram

Register here for the Ironman World Championship special Tri Commute with Joanne Murphy and Helen Murray plus special guests on Friday May 20th at 1930 BST.

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Inside Tri Show
Helen Murray brings you awesome interviews from triathlon and beyond

About your host

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Helen Murray

Helen has been working in triathlon for a decade as an athlete, coach and broadcaster.

Helen hosts the Inside Tri Show podcast bringing you awesome interviews from triathlon and beyond