(16/5/2018) Blog 13- Luke Mathews: The bodysuit, that bronze medal and what’s ahead?

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Luke,

Mate, a Comm Games bronze medallist! No one can take this title away from you, it’s etched in history, how does this make you feel? Do you still have to pinch yourself?

Makes me feel pretty incredible, if I’m completely honest! The bronze medal is obviously something pretty special, but the whole night was something else. Running in front of a packed crowd, seeing my best mates in the crowd afterwards, seeing my family in the stands and doing that victory lap with the Australian flag wrapped around me. To top it off, the medal ceremony! With all those things mixed together, it was an incredible moment. And when I think back to that night, it seems like a dream!!

The race itself, take us through it.

The race was a weird one. I wanted to be in a box seat with a lap to go, and go on the back straight. Everything went to plan for the first 500m. I tried to accelerate on the back straight, but the Kenyan and Amos surged at the same time. I think I just tightened up when I couldn’t make the move I wanted. And in the space of 100m, I went from 2nd, to sixth, looking like I was going to come last. But I relaxed at the top of the straight and started picking people off! I luckily found my way to third.

The bodysuit, in retrospect happy with the choice?

Very happy with the bodysuit. I’ve asked for one from Nike for the 2018 season! Not sure if I’m confident enough to wear it over 1500m, but definitely 800 again!

You seem to be a big time performer now Lukey, you see a crowd and it seems to give you a lift?

I love racing. I love the pressure. I love the build up, the excitement, the nerves, the call room! I love it. What comes with racing is the crowd! I’m a pretty emotional athlete, so when I run well, I’m not afraid to show that and play up to the crowd! I celebrated a fair bit coming third at CWG, I couldn’t imagine how I would have been if I won (haha).

You gave footy a go in yr 10 and were a bit of a reluctant runner, what got you back to the sport?

Footy always has been a passion of mine! I still follow it religiously and would definitely be playing it if I wasn’t doing athletics. When I was 16 I gave footy a crack, and after not running for a brief period, I realised athletics was the sport I loved. I’m mad about athletics! I know every running stat just about.

In distance running you often see athletes getting carried away and running too much. Watching you throughout your career you have always seemed to maintain a good balance between training hard when necessary and maintaining a good social life. How important is balance for you?

Balance is everything for me. When I’m not running, I try to live a very normal life. I have a really good friendship group away from athletics, and they keep me level headed! If I was to bring up the diamond league or my training schedule with them, I’ll bore them to death! I’ve found that if I’m 100% running in all aspects of life, I burn out and get tired. I learnt that in 2016.

You left Nic last year and are being coached by your mum, Liz. It must be a pretty special feeling to have achieved this feat off your own bat? It must give you confidence for the future?

I’m really proud of what Mum and I have achieved in the past 9 or so months. I know we had a lot of doubters, but we meticulously planned the training program so it was tailored to me. We didn’t just do it alone, however. We have had a lot of help from many different people. But it does give us confidence for the future. We still didn’t get it 100% right in the lead up, and we made some mistakes! But as Mum and I get ready for 2020, we will be sure to work on the things we didn’t do correctly.

What did a typical hard training week look like when you were training for the Comm Games?

A typical week looked like this
M: 60 mins / 30 mins + strides and plyometrics
T: track session / 30 mins + gym
W: 60 min progression run
T: threshold + short reps / 30 mins + gym
F: EASY 60 min jog
S: Hills going hard / 30 mins
S: 20-22km long run

Are you having a break now or are you back into it?

I’m back into it. After CWG, I took a week very easy, ate terrible food and drank plenty of beers! Within 10 days I was on a plane to Flagstaff, Arizona. I’m here training with some of the best runners from the USA and the UK!

Wow that’s great I didn’t realise you were in flagstaff at the moment. Who will you largely be training with/under going forward? Is this where you plan to be based?

Until September 2018, I’ll be based in Flagstaff, before heading to Leuven, Belgium for the European season. Here I’ll be training with my managements (Total Sports) group! I’ll be working alongside people like Ed Cheserek, Hassan Mead, Charlie Grice and Andrew Butchart. They have a talented group of athletes.

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Luke, what an experience! Who you living with in flag?

I’m living in a house with Rach Snyder and Em Sissons. Both are very good American athletes.

Where does flagstaff rate in all the altitude training venues you have tried? And why?

I rate flagstaff pretty highly! I’m still adjusting and getting used to running and training at 2200m. But the town itself and the people here are incredible. The running community here is pretty amazing, and everyone helps each other out! I rate it highly, but I still think Falls Creek takes the chocolates for my favourite training venue.

Learning some new stuff?

I’m learning a heap of stuff. I’ve always been one to ask a lot of questions, so nothing has changed here. My manager Stephen Haas looks after a heap of athletes and has been helping me with training. Similarly, Hassan Mead, he’s becoming a veteran of the sport and has a wealth of knowledge. During runs and on the drives home I’ve chatted to him a lot about training and what makes him tick.

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I really like how there are so many different methods in training for athletes up here. For example, Ben Blankenship and Jake Wightman: two athletes who have run 3:34 and were 5 and 6th at world indoor champs.

Ben comes from the other end: 100 mile weeks, three sessions, and plenty of long running! Jake on the other hand runs maybe 50-60 miles a week, but has a heap of cross training (bike, swimming, yoga, plyometrics). It’s been an eye opening experience here.

Are you doing your own workouts? Or all working together?

Because I’m in a base phase right now, Mum and I have tried to tailor sessions so that they fit in with other people around Flagstaff. We might change the reps, or amount of recovery, but the purpose is to achieve the same goal for a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday session. Luckily I’ve done every session with another athlete and haven’t had to run solo.

Tonight I’m on the track and doing a mixture of reps with Ben Blankenship. But away from sessions, we usually have 10 or so people on our jogs.

You got any definite starts in the diamond leagues or other races in Europe?

Currently I’m racing the international mile at Prefontaine, and am confirmed for the Prague 1500 at the start of June. Confirmation for other races is coming soon (I hope).

What’s the goal now for the rest of 2018? 2019 and Tokyo 2020?

For 2018, my goal is to PB in the 800, 1500 and mile. As well, I want to be competitive in races: always trying to win and be happy with my races. 2019 and 2020 will be the same as every championship – qualify for worlds and the Olympics, and go as far as I can in the rounds. I’ve been to one worlds and one olympics already. I know that to expect, and I’ll learn from my mistakes that didn’t get me into the final!

Anyone you’d like to thank?

Plenty of people to thank. Nike for being very supportive and helping me train with the best quality gear. Athletics Australia and the VIS. Training partners like Sam McEntee and Reilly Shaw who helped me to get fit! And lastly, but most importantly, my family. They have all sacrificed so much for me to achieve what I have in the sport.

Mate, thanks so much for an amazing insight, and I think I will be speaking on behalf of many when I say thanks so much for giving Australian athletics a huge breath of air! All the best over in Flagstaff and Europe! Stay injury free, keep learning stacks and enjoy yourself!

 

 

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