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Today we bring you an interview with Matt Rayment – father of three, full time nurse, ultra-marathon runner and organiser of the Riverhead Rampage. Not so long ago, Matt wasn’t a runner. This is his story about how and why he started running, how it has changed his life and how he now can’t stop. We hope this story inspires you to change things up in your life and give something a go that you thought you couldn’t.

I started running  in 2008 as we were moving back to Auckland from Rotorua and I knew that I would not be able to ride my mountain bike as much. I was encouraged by the fact that some other nurses at work were doing it, and had even entered a half marathon.

Initially it was really hard, mainly because I don’t really have the traditional runner’s build. I had gone to a Catholic school and been subjected to lots of running and clean air and hated it so much – the fat kid doing the ‘chuffle shuffle’ 15 minutes behind the main pack. We had a 200m section of gravel going down to the back property at the time, and I started by just making it down to one end, then walking back. I’d initially just do that four times, then progressed to getting to the end of the highway (approx 2km return).

The great thing about running is the relative ease of set up – at its most basic, it’s get up – shoes on – go. I love that you can run for a relatively short time and feel either pleasantly refreshed or totally hammered. I love that running is intrinsic, there is nothing else to blame for your performance. I found in cycling, you could always blame the bike; no such excuse in running.

I have to run very early in the morning, or late at night, to fit around my family (three children and a wife who runs marathons) and work commitments. I run twice a day when I need to get the kilometres in. I’ve recently engaged with a coach, which is a great way to make sure that I get my training in. When you’re paying for it, you’re much more accountable.

I fit it in, because running has long ceased to be a hobby or anything else than an integral part of my life. It is directly linked to my physical and mental health, my sense of wellbeing and connectedness to a community and the environment. Running has decreased my anxiety and increased my courage and capacity for mindfulness. I’m calmer, a better husband and father, more honest – both with myself and others – and generally nicer to be around. In short, I feel sometimes like running saved my life.

Riverheadrampage.co.nz