As his 2017 racing season gets ready to kick into gear, we caught up with Kit Culture Life Ambassador and pro triathlete Matt Hanson to see what he's been up as he prepares for what promises to be a monster year.
From following you on social media, it looks like you’ve been busy this offseason. Can you give us some thoughts on how your offseason has gone and what have been some of the highlights from the non-training realm?
I have definitely had a great offseason. After my last race of 2016 at Ironman 70.3 Cartagena, I took a few days of complete rest and recovery, something I hadn’t done is quite some time. I stayed with a few friends in Cartagena leading into the race and stayed just one day after. Our hotel was in the historical district which is an amazing place. They have some amazing views and great restaurants! This is definitely a place I want to return to. My wife and I also took a “bike free” vacation together to Mexico, although I did take advantage of being able to swim in the open water every day and of course ran in the heat and humidity to shock the system back into training mode! Ashley and I went deep sea fishing while there, which was an amazing experience. We brought in the New Year on a beach which was a lot of fun. I had been traveling so much the past year, it was great to be able to get away with Ash and have some time just the two of us.
How do you handle being away from home so often and do you ever get to just kick back and relax?
Traveling so much is bittersweet. In 2016, I raced in Panama, New Zealand, Uruguay, Colombia, and 5 different states in the US. I’ve been able to go to so many different parts of the world because of this job. However, when I travel, it is a “business trip” so I rarely take time to explore, sight see, and dive into the local culture. One of the most exciting parts of the travel has been the home stay families who have hosted me on many of these trips. I have enjoyed staying with families and learning about the area much more than sitting around in a hotel by myself! Traveling is also hard because most of the time I am going without my wife. Spending 2-3 weeks away from home at a time is never easy. It forces you to be very mindful about time when you are at home. When home, I try to be done with everything work related by 5:15 when my wife typically gets home. That way we are able to cook dinner together while catching up about each other’s day.
I don’t “relax” well…or maybe my definition of relaxing is much different than others. I like taking 45 minutes to go for a walk with my wife and dog, Zoey. In the summer, we have a nice garden that I enjoy working in (and grilling up everything we pick out of it!!!). I even enjoy running the snowblower in the winter and mowing the lawn the rest of the year. Most people wouldn’t consider that “relaxing” but to me it reminds me or how much I’ve been blessed in life…I have a roof over my head, a lawn to mow, and a driveway to clear!
We’re curious about these offseason pro training camps. Can you tell us what those are like and whether you all get to hang out together, or is it just swim, bike, run, eat, sleep?
I went to Tuscon, AZ my first training camp of the year in January where I put in a big bike block. Four weeks later, I went to my second camp with Coach Julie Dibens in Kona, HI where we spent a lot of time training on the course that is host to the Ironman World Championships. It was a great experience and really reminded me how much the island weather can make you suffer. At the camps, I didn’t do too much other than workout and sleep. Of course you hang out around the house between sessions in throughout the evenings but you are typically so tired that you sit around in a semi-comatose state! In both Arizona and Hawaii, we went out to eat once or twice, but otherwise it was mostly business.
Have you picked up any new cross-training sports this winter? Skiing, surfing, yoga? If so, what do you like about your new hobby?
I didn’t really pick up any new cross-training this winter. I increased the strength training sessions and the yoga/stretching that I do every week, but for the most part it was business as usual. Every year I tell myself that I am going to pick up cross country skiing…but yet again the winter has passed and I still have no skis!
We notice you do a number of races internationally. Are those more challenging from a race preparation standpoint, and do you ever have time to do any sightseeing? Any highlights from last year?
Yes, the international races are definitely fun and challenging at the same time. For the most part, you prep for the race and the course as you would any other race. However, you have to account for the time difference and start to adjust your sleep/training habits to mirror the local time of the race site leading into the event. You also have to consider that you may not have the exact foods that you are most comfortable with leading into the race so need to decide how much you want to pack and bring along with you.
I took about 6 hours in Taupo, New Zealand the day after the race to travel around the city. Thankfully, my host family was able to be my tour guide for the day and showed me a few local places that don’t make most of the tourist lists. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much time to travel around in Panama or Uruguay. Cartagena, Colombia was by far the most fun I’ve ever had on a trip for a race. The race was 1 week after Uruguay 70.3, so I went straight to Colombia after the race. I got to spend 6 days leading into the race and a day after the race in the historical city. What an amazing place! Great food, great people, and some amazing views.
What are you most looking forward to this year? Anything else you want to share?
I am looking forward to the entire season. I feel fortunate that I am able to make a living in a sport that I absolutely love. I look forward to every day of training. I enjoy meeting new people at races and talking with others who have the same passion for the sport as I do. I feel like I have had a great off season and I am very much looking forward to putting my fitness to the test very soon!