In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you may have missed endurance athlete and world record holder, Mathew Pritchard’s, 30 half iron distance triathlon’s in 30 days challenge.
Well our office executive, Kasia Coughlin, caught up with Pritch after his latest challenge, a continuous triple iron distance triathlon that he completed in June. Why’s he doing all this you might ask? Not only is he looking to push his limits, but he’s taking part in these challenges in an effort to raise money for some fantastic charities which you can read more about here. Without any more delay here’s our sit down with the man himself!
Pritch: Well, it’s a triple Enduroman, which is more or less a triple ironman. It consists of a 7.5 mile swim, 336 mile bike and a 79 mile run. It’s continuous so you have to do it all the way through. You don’t do an Ironman every day for 3 days, it’s just straight through.
Kasia: So how long did it take you to complete altogether?
Pritch: Took me 54 hours, 6 minutes and a few seconds.
Kasia: So how much sleep did you get during that time?
Pritch: The aim was to do it with no sleep at all. But then it’s easy to say that when you’re not doing it. I literally fell asleep on the bike. I woke up rolling towards a bush on the side of the road. It was meant to be my last lap [of the bike portion]. They’re 11 mile laps so you just keep going round and round. It becomes a bit monotonous… I went to bed for half an hour because I didn’t want to waste too much time sleeping. And then I got up and I felt like a new man! Before that, I was tripping. I was looking at the coliseum. It looked lovely. I was on my bike going, “yeah, man, it’s the coliseum!” I hadn’t taken any drugs, it was just that my mind was exhausted, lack of sleep, I was just tripping. When I got closer to it, it was a tree.
I managed to finish the bike then, I should have slept again because I was all over the road and another competitor came past and said to me, “mate, you need to go to bed.” I didn’t realise how bad I was weaving all over the road. Of course it’s an open road, so there are cars coming at you.
Kasia: So they didn’t close the roads?
Pritch: They didn’t close the roads… it was dangerous. But I just kept nodding my head. I jumped off the bike, I tried to get as many miles done on the run as I could [before sleeping]. I wanted to get 9 miles done on the run so I could end with 70 miles. So I did 9 and went for another sleep. All in all, I did it in 54 hours and I had 2 hours sleep.
Kasia: Ok, so how long did it take you to prepare for a challenge like that?
Pritch: I don’t think you can sort of prepare for a challenge like that. You can’t just say, “I’m going to do a triple Ironman.” I built up to it over the years. I started with a half marathon, then a full marathon, then it went on. Did a few Ironmen, got a few under my belt, ran John O’Groats to Land’s End, cycled John O’Groats to Land’s End. Slowly but surely, my body was just getting used to doing all this endurance type of stuff. And I really enjoy it as well.
Kasia: Obviously, you used to be known for being quite the party animal, so when did all this health and fitness kick in?
Pritch: Well, I looked at myself on the TV and realised how much of a mess I had become. It wasn’t me and I just thought I needed to do something about it and that’s when I started. I took one step at a time, and the next thing you know, there’s the Double Brutal event up in Snowdon. That was in September when it was cold around Snowdon. So I finished that and the next progression, really, was the triple. So that’s how I ended up doing the triple, by preparing myself over 6 years from where I started to where I’ve brought my body.
Kasia: So when you’re training and you’ve got an upcoming challenge, walk us through a typical day in the life of Pritch.
Pritch: I’ve got Mark Whittle, he’s my coach. I joined him last January. I was training before, riding, swimming and running til I was broken and that’s not the way to train. So I got Mark Whittle on board and he helped me through the Double Brutal. Whittle sets me up a training plan of 6 days a week; I have Saturdays off. But because my life is so up and down, sometimes Saturday might be a training day and I’ll have the day off on Sunday.
Because of the distances and everything involved in what I do, everyone thinks I must be constantly drained. But it’s not like that. It’s really intelligent training. Sunday is my big day because I do a good few hours on the bike. In the week, it’s made up of short, sharp stuff.
Kasia: So are you up early every morning?
Pritch: It depends really on what I’m doing and what I’ve got planned in the day. I like to get up early, I’m happy then. It sets me up for the day. Keeps me edgy. I like concentrating on my business, what I do.
Kasia: What is it you prefer? The cycle, the swim, the run?
Pritch: Everyone always says that. At the moment, I’d say my strongest part is the cycle. But I really enjoy running. When I get running… There’s something about running that you don’t get from swimming or cycling. When I get into my running zone, I hit such a high. It’s like a drug, to be honest, but it’s a natural high and I really enjoy it. My swimming has really picked up a lot. Coming second out of the water at the triple Enduroman, it just goes to Mark Whittle’s training plan. I thought I wasn’t doing enough swimming, but he said to me that although I’m not spending that much time in the water, it’s really clever training. Mark Whittle’s training really does work.
Kasia: Ok, so what’s your diet like? Is it any different to when you’re not training? Because you are vegan, aren’t you?
Pritch: Yeah, well, I became vegan for many reasons. One, because I love animals. Two, because I just can’t stand what they do to animals. I think it’s barbaric, I think it’s wrong. They fill the animals with drugs and everything, it’s just wrong. It’s quite easy for us to all eat lamb or beef or pig but like Paul McCartney said, if slaughterhouses had glass walls, there’d be a lot more vegetarians. And another reason: I’ve done a lot of research on it, a lot of athletes and sportspeople have become vegan mainly because it gives you more energy, it’s cleaner, purer. And now, since being vegan for the last 8 or 9 months, it’s completely and utterly true. I swear by it, I feel cleaner, I’ve become faster. It works.
Pritch: My energy since becoming vegan has gone through the roof. I’m not sluggish anymore when I eat a meal. Everyone’s like, “let’s eat a steak,” but you eat a steak and you want to fall asleep, it’s hard to ingest. But each to their own, it works for me. Vegan all the way.
Kasia: Do you find that that’s played a part in your recovery, then, after a challenge?
Pritch: It’s definitely played a part in my recovery. It helps. I mean, when I’m riding, I can go even faster and keep going. I think it’s a mixture of Whittle’s training and endurance, really. It’s weird, I can’t explain it.
Kasia: So, on the recovery note, have your injuries affected your training or your challenges in any way?
Pritch: I’ve been quite lucky when it comes to injuries.
Kasia: Yeah, you’ve had a good few near-misses, haven’t you?
Pritch: Yeah but if I ever have any niggles, I always go to Agile Therapy. The boys and girls down there, they sort me out an absolute treat. Every time I worry, I get on the phone to Dave. They always sort every niggle out. When I did the 30 half Ironmen in 30 days, I went to see them almost every day. The flushed my legs out and made sure I was ready for the day. But I am quite lucky with injuries and I think it’s because Mark always tells us, you know, a lot of people go out and they push it too far and they’re not ready.
Kasia: Yeah, you had a really close call with the van on your half Ironman challenge, didn’t you? You had to write it off?
Pritch: Yeah, we were in front of the van on the A470, and all the cars were charging past us, and the speed people were going! The van was behind us, and a car just went straight into the back of it.
Kasia: Was that the same day you broke your coccyx?
Pritch: No, I broke my coccyx when I was training. I got hit by a taxi driver on a roundabout, and I was laying there on the floor, waiting for the ambulance, and it was the last thing I needed. It hurt, but I was fine. I broke my rib while I was doing the half Ironman challenge, but I don’t care what anyone says: Dave and Brendon can repair a broken rib. I think I’ve just found things that can help me through it.
Kasia: So, what do you think will be next? Have you got any more upcoming challenges?
Pritch: I’ve done my big ones for this year [30 Half Ironmen Challenge, Continuous Triple Enduroman]. But I have Cardiff Tri in a few weeks, which is Olympic distance, I’ve never done that before. Hopefully I’m a bit faster, it’ll be nice to do something different. And I like going fast! I keep getting told by my coach to slow down. I’m doing the half Ironman in Dublin on August the 14th and then the Dublin Marathon on October the 30th as well.
Kasia: So, still a busy year ahead? It’s not quite over
Pritch: No, and as soon as I’ve done that, I can do next year then. The next big thing is something I can’t announce yet
Kasia: You’ve got it in mind?
Pritch: There are two things up my sleeve. Maybe something with the Iron Cowboy, who’s doing the 50 Ironmen in 50 days across 50 states in America. We’ve been talking and there could be something there, maybe in 2018. And next year will be the next step up, then.
Kasia: So, lots of long term plans, then?
Pritch: Yeah, it looks like it. I never know what I’m capable of, so I just keep pushing to find out what my body and mind can do.
Kasia: Yeah, because it’s not just a physical battle, it’s a mental battle, isn’t it?
Pritch: Yeah, I mean that triple Enduroman, if you haven’t got the mental strength, there’s no way you’re gonna finish it. It’s 70% mental, 30% physical. And then onto the next one. I’m not the kind of person to give up easily, I’m stubborn. I’ll just keep trucking til I die, I think.
Kasia: Yeah, well, you’ve got loads of support behind you, so plenty of motivation, and I think as long as you’ve got Agile Therapy on your side, you’ll be absolutely fine. Best of luck in the challenges to come!
Again, if you’d like further information on Pritchard’s challenges and progress, check out Pritchards 100k Challenge.
Or if you’d like to donate visit Donate to Pritchards Challenge.
She provides everyone with a friendly face and an approachable attitude, so clients can be sure that they are well looked after.