Matt Flaherty

After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?

To me, running is about community and the satisfaction of pursuing excellence. The former will keep me involved with running my whole life, regardless of my abilities or speed. The latter is highly personal, which is what's so great about running. Anyone can work hard to better their own personal best times; there's always something you can improve upon and strive to do better.


How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?

I really try to take enjoyment in the process of training, listening to my body and running by feel. This helps me to enjoy most every run. On the rare occasions when I don’t feel like getting out the door, I ask myself, “Have you ever regretted running after you’ve done it?” The answer is “no!” so that will help give me the little push I need.


On average, how many times and miles do you run a month?

I run pretty much every day, though I’m not averse to taking a day off here or there. I run somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 to 90 miles per week most of the time, so perhaps 300 to 350 miles a month. Less if I’m racing a lot.


What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?

One of the more surreal experiences I’ve had was running into a mountain lion (twice!) on the trails of Glacier National Park when I was working there in 2007. It was pretty incredible to see such a magnificent animal in the wild and at such close range.


What are your favorite types of fuel for running and why?

As far as fueling during exercise, this is still something I’m experimenting with. I prefer real food (versus, say, a maltodextrin-based gel), and I’ve been doing some experimenting with date-based blends (like a homemade gel from dates, coconut oil, and lemon zest).


What's your favorite cheat food & drink?

Food: maybe donuts or bacon. Drink: beer, no doubt. Though to be fair, I don’t really stick to a strict exlusionary diet of any kind. So I’ll eat or drink those items without guilt; I just generally try not to overindulge too much.


Do you like ice baths? Why or why not?

I do like them. I’m aware of the studies that suggest the body’s own natural inflammatory processes (caused by running) are a good thing, but anecdotally, ice baths do seem to help with recovery. Also the science or our understanding of physiological processes has certainly been wrong or short-sighted before.


What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?

I would say that most new runners could benefit greatly from varying the paces they run in training. The vast majority of new runners (if not all runners) run about the same pace every run.  You should run faster at times (workouts mostly) to touch on and improve your various energy systems. It is equally important to run nice and easy sometimes on recovery days. By way of example, I spend a fair amount of time running in the 7:30 to 8:30 per mile range, even though my marathon pace is faster than 5:30 per mile.


What is your favorite running accomplishment so far?

One of my best running accomplishments is my race at the Ice Age Trail 50 Mile in 2014. I had my sights set on the long-held course record of 5 hours and 53 minutes. I had a great run, breaking the old record by over 4 minutes. Unfortunately, Max King beat me by a whopping 8 minutes that day, also eclipsing the old record. All the same, I was satisfied and proud of my performance.


Click the links below to keep up with Matt Flaherty