I’ve recently was lucky to cross paths with the ever so inspirational Matty Abel. Anyone who runs over 10kms impresses me easily, so Matty’s trail running marathons just floors me. I’ve been not so lucky to experience some one-on-one personal training sessions with him…nah just kidding, I’m loving every session! So I was excited to ask Matty a few questions…

ZOMT: So you’ve competed in the top 5 in Australian surf life saving, then elite kayak marathons and most recently Ultra Trail Marathons. What drives you to push yourself to this level?

Matty Abel: I’d have to say I’m extremely competitive in all aspects of my life but mainly in sports; when I find something I absolutely love I give 110%. With Ultra Running I’m constantly curious to what my body can achieve as well as what it can go through the longest races I have done is 100km (running) which has varied between 11 to 13hrs from the heat in Singapore to the mountains to in New Zealand which puts the body under extreme demand. Ultra running requires a lot of mental toughness as well which I thrive off. You go from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs all in a few hours which brings me back every time but also has helped me with day to day life. I also want to inspire others to get out and challenge themselves to achieve something they never thought possible if I can inspire one person each day to get out and be active I straight away get a smile on my face.

Z: Some people might say that your sport is “extreme” – how do you maintain balance in your life and ultimately, make sure you look after your health?

MA: To some what I do is very “extreme” to me it’s a way of life we weren’t designed to sit in cars and drive or sit at desk and stare at computer screens. I thrive been in mountains and running trails through the most amazing scenery 95% of the population misses out on. I was straight up with my friends when I found trail running I told them this is what I want to do if you can’t be supportive see you later and we may cross paths again some time or if you can I might go weeks with massive training blocks where I can’t do anything but train and recover then ill have weeks were I can go for dinners, go to the pub, hang at the beach etc and they respected me been honest. With my health I have to constantly keep my nutrition in check, nutrition is everything in all aspects of life but for me some weeks I run up to 200+ kms with gym and recovery sessions as well as been a personal trainer I have to be at my “A” game. So I require a fair amount of food but these days good quality food  is hard to find or can get contaminated or may not be the best quality so I do supplement when needed.

Matty after taking out 1st place at the Macleay River Half Marathon

Z: How does food affect your performance? Do you have any hard and fast rules for your nutrition? 
MA: Food can affect my performance A LOT. I am gluten sensitive so I get massive bloating and can be quite uncomfortable, so I try to steer clear from gluten. Leading into a big race I spend a minimum of five days getting good quality calories into my body mainly through lean meats, lots of fruit and veggies with nuts to get in some good fats. I eat very clean 90% of the time as I know eating bad will affect my training and work. For example I am quite fatigued most the time and if I have for instance a Thai Stir fry for lunch, due to it being high GI, I will sleep that evening without a doubt. So making the right choices means everything to my everyday performance.

Z: Speaking of nutrition, what’s your favourite treat or cheat meal?
MA: With out a doubt rocky road & frozen yogurt absolutely LOVE it.

Z: To help me work off that meal you just mentioned, what are your top three training tips?
MA: I see a lot training for hours in the gym and that doesn’t have to be.

  1. Get back on track. Straight back into a clean meal with plenty of water thought out the day so flush any bad toxins your body doesn’t want out.
  2. Giant sets. I like to train giant sets at high intensity (weight training) which gets the heart rate up. You come to the gym to train so train, nothing shits me more than seeing people on their phones which training. Your phone WON’T get you results! (Ed. and this might happen …)
  3. HIIT cardio. My favourite is tabata – 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. I do this for 15 minutes and I’m completely buckled.

I like to train for 1hr max session looks like this:

  • 5mins foam rolling
  • 5mins warm up
  • 30mins weight training giant sets
  • 15mins HIIT cardio
  • 10mins cardio

Guaranteed you will be written off and that’s how you should train. 

Z: Let’s get back to the healthy stuff, what’s your favourite clean eating recipe?
MA: Coconut chicken salad of steak and veggies.

Z: I know for me, clean eating is super important when I want to burn fat. What do you suggest for someone trying to lose those last few, stubborn kilograms?
MA: The above with training tips apply. But Nutrition wise you want to look at foods and liquids that boost your metabolism for example green tea, chilli, cinnamon, grape fruit, Alkalife water and also adding super foods like kale and berries into your life style. Changing your program every 4-5 weeks and wanting it more than anything will get you there. Most people only “kinda” want to loose those last few kilos so slipping up nutrition and training wise tends to happen.

Z: I hear you’ve just committed to competing in the Big Red Run 250km Desert Race to raise funds for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). The most I run is 5 or 6km in sprints…can you take me through just how you manage 250km?!
MA: I have absolute no idea how I will get through Big Red Run I know my body can do it so its going to be a constant mental battle with most races there is alway some history with the land and people having done it before so that helps me get through the tough times.  I haven’t really done specific training for the event so I’m just going out to see what the body can pull off. For me a just see it as a big week of training been a multi-staged event of:

  • Day 1 42.1km
  • Day 2 42.1km
  • Day 3 42.1km
  • Day 4 30km
  • Day 5 83km
  • Day 6 8km

Recovery between the days will be the most important thing I’ll definitely be able to finish this question off in more detail this time next month 🙂 (Ed. you can sponsor Matty here

Z: Lastly, what five things would you teach people to improve their health?

  1. Reduce then eliminate your sugar intake
  2. Drink more water minimum 2L a day
  3. Get moving every day even if its for 15 minutes, 15 minutes is better than zero minutes.
  4. Prepare your meals if your prepared your less likely to get something your not.
  5. Have a time when you must be in bed shut off the iPad, laptop and TV. Sleep if so important to improving your health and well being.

About Matty Abel

One of the most successful Personal Trainer’s located on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. With having 100′s of clients transforming their bodies from reduction in body fat to increased muscle gain, Body building prep for stage, Endurance training for events & running camps. Matt has helped all his clients re-gain their life with a positive outlook whilst achieving their desired goals.

Matty offers personal training, group training and running groups from Anytime Fitness Dee Why.

Find Matty online here mattyabel.com.au | facebook.com/MattyAbelTrail | twitter.com/MattyAbel | instagram.com/mattyabel

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