Matt grew up in Arlington, TX and began running at the age of 11. He quickly made it to the top state rankings in high school and found his interest in leading athletes. While learning everything he could about coaching, he made a brave decision to join the U.S. Navy and serve his country. He spent three years stationed in Japan and out at sea before returning to the U.S. where he was accepted to a DII running powerhouse, Adams State University. While attending Adams State, Matt got first hand experience from one of the most successful college coaches in the world Damon Martin. Under his tutelage, Matt went on to run a sub 4 min mile, leading to 6 National Championship teams and earning himself 12 All American Honors.
Unived: You’ve run a sub 4min mile, qualified for the olympic trials, made it to 6 National Championship teams, and have been blazing the tarmac for a long time ~ why transition to the trails?
Matt: While training for track and road races I found myself doing 75% of my running out on the trails because I enjoyed it so much. In the spring of 2016 Hayden Hawks and I decided we wanted to give a trail race a shot so with his encouragement I signed up for the USA mountain running championships. We both made the world team that year and had so much fun that I knew I didnt want to go back!
Unived: Everything seemed to be going well with you in the lead at Bandera, what went through your mind when you hit the tree & decided to pull out, especially with some bad luck at races in the recent past?
Matt: When it first happened I figured I would just get up and continue on running. It wasn’t but a few seconds into trying to move forward I realized something was seriously wrong. The dizziness and nausea started to set in and I had to quickly do some problem solving. I had it in my mind that I would continue on to the next aid station and see if it would go away. The more I was moving forward the worse I was feeling and knew at mile 43 the smart decision would be to stop rather than doing more harm to myself. It was a tough decision to make but deep down I knew it was the right decision for my health and was hoping I could have a quick recovery in order to get a chance to race another 100k in a short period of time.
Unived: What made you choose Black Canyon 100 ~ was it the lure of the golden ticket, or was it just to race, especially after TNF was canceled and Bandera didn’t go as planned.
Matt: I chose Black Canyon because it wasn’t too far into the future and I could extend my training block without being too tired. I wanted to run a 100k and I wanted to get on a fast runnable course. Being a golden ticket race made it appealing knowing there would be great competition but the goal was never strictly to get that ticket. I wanted to finish a distance over 50k and run fast!
Unived: Can you take us through Black Canyon ~ how did the race unfold, what was your strategy going into the race, and how did that evolve as the race went on?
Matt: Going into the race I had the mentality of enjoying it and finishing no matter what. I knew that if I was having fun then I would be competing well. There were two goals for me. One to dial in my nutrition and two to finish. My nutrition went flawlessly. I took in a few more calories than usual with a gel every 30 min and it seems to keep me full of energy the whole way. I found myself in 1st place early on in the race. Once we hit the tight single track section of the course around mile 10 I decided to just start running my own race. I didn’t think about pace or how long I was going to be out there, rather I just wanted to enjoy the scenery and pay attention to my nutrition. miles 10-45 were amazing. I felt like I was out for a stroll in the park. There was a good climb going into the aid station at mile 51 before turning around and coming back to the finish line and I think I ran that climb a little too hard. When I reached the aid station I was on the struggle bus. I took my time, took in a few calories and carried on. at mile 53 I snapped out of it and felt amazing all the way into the finish!
Unived: What was your nutrition plan & how did that work out?
Matt: Like I stated earlier my plan was to fuel often and stay on top of the calories. Before the race I had my usual RRUNN Pre drink mix and during I was taking 2-3 gels and hour with an electrolyte salt pill. For hydration I had my during race RRUNN drink mix but since I was without a crew for this race I only had 1 13 oz bottle of it at the beginning and then relied on water or a diluted mix for the rest of the way. I think staying on top of the gels and electrolyte pills helped make up for it. For the first time in a race of this distance I really felt like my nutrition was dialed in and a big part of that is having amazing Unived products to fuel me along. I am so happy to have such an awesome product that works well!
Unived: 7:20 for 100k ~ jeez that’s fast, how do you do it?
Matt: I’m very fortunate to have leg speed that i’ve developed over many years of running. Black Canyon had a lot of really runnable sections of trail that I felt like I could just open up on and let loose. I wasn’t really thinking about pace at all during the race until I hit 50 miles and saw I was at 5 hr 53 min. I was kind of in shock as I though I was running much slower. I was very motivated by many of the other runners out there and all the encouraging words that it kept me excited and running fast.
Unived: A big win & a golden ticket to WSER – your first 100miler, how are you going to approach the race?
Matt: I’m going to approach WSER as an experience and not get too distracted from my long term development as a runner. I didn’t expect to be running 100 milers just yet at this point in my career but I also didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to race in such a prestigious race! With that being said I will still prepare and be ready to run well at WSER but like black canyons I will go into it with no pressure and looking for a fun day out on the trails.
Unived: You are a full time coach. What is your coaching philosophy, and where can athletes reach out to you?
Matt: When it comes down to my coaching philosophy I think it varies upon each athlete that I coach. Every Athlete lives a different life and has different goals. One thing I try to do is get to know them on a personal level early on while working with them so that I can form a plan that suites them best. With that being said one common theme throughout my coaching is enjoyment and a positive mindset. Without those two things any athlete will struggle to reach their potential. Athletes can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.mattdanielsrunclub.com.
Unived: What’s Matt racing next?
Matt: On the schedule next is Lake Sonoma 50. I am going to see how I recover between now and then before deciding to race it or not. It will be a loaded race with many great runner so that really excites me!
Unived: When do you visit India?
Matt: I have no plans set in stone yet to visit India. I want to so bad though so maybe I can find a race this year to come out and run! India has been a bucket list place for me to visit for many years now!