Matt Poole alarm goes off at 4.55am most mornings so he can train for competitions. But the professional IronMan says it takes than just physical fitness to win.
As you’re reading this with maybe a coffee in one hand, and a croissant in the other, spare a thought for Matt Poole, who in the morning is likely swimming, boarding or skiing through the breakers at North Bondi Beach — for the third gruelling day in a row — for the opening rounds of the Nutri-Grain IronMan and IronWoman Series.
Such is the life of these ocean-going lunatics, who have — for reasons most of us will never understand — committed their lives to powering through breaking waves and massive swells come rain, hail or shine.
It honestly is one of the most exhausting competitions there is, and so the only way to prepare for it is to forget what true exhaustion looks and feels like. And that begins every single morning.
“I train most mornings, so my alarm goes off at 4.55am,” Poole tells Health Hacker.
“I do a light stretch and fuel up with some protein and supplements before I am out the door and at training at 5.30am. It’s usually a swim session so you’re awake quickly.
“My mental approach to training and racing is super important. I’ve always believed nearly every athlete in a professional series does the hard work at training because physically they are very similar.
“But what separates winners from the rest is their belief and mental strength.”
Having been crowned the IronMan Champion in 2017, the 33-year-old professional IronMan and Athletic Sport Elite athlete is now one of the oldest competitors taking on this year’s series. So what keeps driving him to set that pre-dawn alarm each morning before running into that freezing, angry ocean?
“I’m determined to get back on top of the podium,” he says.
“I’ve had a few second places in some major races the last couple years and a couple wins in smaller events, but I want to get back on top of the podium in an IronMan Series event.”
MATT POOLE ON…
“I use a lot race visualisation during race week and on race day,” he says.
“I picture all the small steps and processes I will take leading up to and during the race and visualise how I believe the race will unfold.”
Best advice he’s ever received
“In sport you’re going to lose more races than you win, so when you lose don’t lose the lesson. One of my first coaches in Sydney taught me this at a very young age. It’s always stuck with me, and to this day I still feel this is so important when it comes to competing and how you deal with setbacks or disappointment.”
Exercise as you age
“At 33 and after 15 years racing in the professional series, recovery, nutrition and hydration are very important. I work with Athletic Sport and its team to help fuel my recovery pre, post and during training and races.”
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Originally published as Health Hacker: IronMan Matt Poole on what it takes to win