CQ endurance athlete reveals the secret to going the distance
RUNNING: White posts played an integral part in Matt Arnold's initiation into running.
The Rockhampton engineer has come a long way and covered a lot of kilometres since taking those first tentative strides in the searing heat of the Kimberley more than a decade ago.
The 39-year-old has since done 28 marathons and a handful of ultra-marathons.
He maintains he's just a "mid-packer" and runs for his own enjoyment but clearly he thrives on the physical and mental challenges that distance running provides.
"Friends encouraged me to start running and I learnt by run/walking between white posts on the side of the road," Arnold said.
"I would run between one set of white posts and then walk between the next lot.
"I built up to running around the block and when I ran around the block for the first time without stopping that was an achievement.
"My first 5km run was the next goal, then it was 10km and then I just worked it up distance-wise over the years."
Arnold did his first half marathon in 2009, which he describes as a "great learning experience", and his first marathon at the Gold Coast in 2011.
He arrived in Rockhampton in 2013 and was introduced to Rocky Road Runners.
"My wife and I went along to have a look and we soon realised it was a club for everyone, from young kids through to pensioners.
"I was already running marathons then but I hadn't run or trained with anyone so it helped me increase my speed and it allowed me to bounce ideas off other people and to learn from other experienced runners in the club."
Arnold soon discovered the trails on Mt Archer and found himself gravitating to them.
That kickstarted his move into ultra-marathons and then came his first 50km event and in turn his first 100km challenge.
His most recent event was the 100 miler (162km) at the Tarawera Ultra Marathon in New Zealand in February.
"That took me 29 hours and eight minutes. I wanted to go sub 30 hours which I achieved so I was happy with that.
"I don't set actual times because you don't want to get halfway through your run and get disappointed that you will not achieve that time.
"This was the longest event I've done so far and I can't really say I had a bad moment.
"I did roll my ankle a few times in the leaf litter and the tree roots during the night but, other than that, I had a great time."
Arnold said running was a great outlet for him.
"It makes you switch off and forget about everything. You don't think about tomorrow or what you did yesterday, you're in the moment.
"You forget about the world because you're so focused on the next step."
Arnold had been preparing for the Bravehearts 777 Marathon at the end of June before COVID-19 forced its postponement.
He is determined to take part in the event, in which he would run seven marathons in seven states in seven days, when it is rescheduled.
"You always have a goal date in mind and as I had just started my training in earnest again it was a bit hard to see it had been postponed," he said.
"I am quietly confident Bravehearts will re-schedule for another time later this year. There has been early talk of trying to work in with the Melbourne Marathon as a closing marathon on the seventh day which would be great as it finishes with a lap of the MCG on the turf into the finishing line.
"I had a big training block over the New Year period for my New Zealand trail run so this added break helps to give my body a bit of an additional rest.
"At the moment, I am just holding a baseline fitness level ready for the rescheduled event dates to be announced so I have something to work towards again and plan the rest of my year out."