Puma’s brand ambassador Luke Mathews discusses surpassing the ironman boundaries as an inspiring triathlon and running coach.

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?

My morning ritual begins by consuming 1-2 glasses of water to hydrate post-sleep, followed by some breathing and mobility work to get my mind and body in the right place to start the day. I have done this basic ritual for some time, however, currently, it’s slightly interrupted by having to change or tend to my five-week-old baby boy to give mum a break.

What inspired you to become an Ironman?

It wasn’t anything or anyone that inspired me, it was the pure physical challenge of it – I just knew I had to take it on and see how hard it actually was. I was not disappointed! An Ironman is a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run to finish it off, just in case anyone was thinking an Ironman is a powerlifting competition! I do lift weights but as part of my wider training regime, not competition.

How challenging is adapting the lifestyle required to succeed as an Ironman and what is the key requirement?

If you want something badly enough you will adapt your lifestyle and make a plan to make sure it happens. As I like to say: make changes, not excuses. You have to have an inner drive to succeed at this beast of a distance along with the right mindset, otherwise, start looking at other options! It is extra challenging for me at the moment to have a newborn, but thanks to an understanding wife I am still finding the time to train and work.

Puma Luke interview

What makes up a winning mindset and is this something you need to cultivate daily?

You need to be able to find your inner “flow” and get comfortable with getting uncomfortable. Once you have embraced and nurtured that you are ready to win either in competition or in life. This only comes with consistency and turning up every single day. You have to be willing to put in the hard work to become a better athlete and a better human being – it takes time and a significant amount of dedication. Sessions are not always perfect and there is no guarantee of always finding your ‘flow’ but you have to remember – it all adds to that winning mindset. There are no shortcuts, only hard work.

What has been the key ‘win’ for you to date?

In life, my biggest ‘win’ is becoming a father to my son Ezra. In business, my biggest win was starting my own coaching company, Iconix Coaching. Setting out on your own is not without its challenges, but I get to do what I love – I am very blessed.

Completing a triathlon requires extreme willpower, what ensures your mindset stays focused?

Having grit, a love for the sport, clear goals, embracing the process and having fun with it. Just remember it’s hard to beat a person that never gives up, just be that person.

Puma’s DNA consists of taking risks, what is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career to date?

To come back from multiple life-threatening surgeries on my organs and still compete to an Elite level was my biggest risk but now it is so worth it. Many would have sat around and made excuses, but I decided to get back up and go again, like they say “fall down seven times, rise up eight”.

How often do you train and how important is it to rest your body for optimal results?

Training happens every day for me, be it physically or mentally, it all adds a small piece to the bigger puzzle. I can have 25+ hour weeks when the time calls for it, but this doesn’t mean training hard all the time. 85-90% of this time is spent training easy and aerobically. My sport is about going long, and being successful at endurance is not about having the quickest sprint! Rest is so important and having quality sleep is a key element to my recovery. It is, in my opinion, the best form of recovery and it’s also free, don’t neglect it.

What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced to date and how did you overcome it?

To get back to a high level of racing after numerous major life-threatening operations. It wasn’t easy as at one point I couldn’t even walk 500m without being exhausted. Each day was a day to improve and get better and while it was not easy, I never gave up. I had some really tough days, but with hope and self-belief, I knew I could get back to being better than my best. I had my last corrective surgery in 2018 and in 2019 I qualified to race in Kona, Hawaii after an amazing race in Busselton, Western Australia. Hawaii is where the Ironman World Championship is held every year and is the pinnacle of our sport. This will be the 3rd time racing on the big island. Due to COVID, I will finally get to race in this year and I owe it to myself to be in the best shape of my life. As I have already mentioned, with grit, clear goals and having some fun whilst doing it, I think Hawaii will be the race of my life.

Puma Luke Mathews

Which mentors or individuals have inspired you?

I love to see what others can achieve, and seeing my athletes produce results that they thought were not possible is as much inspiration as I need. If there is one famous individual who inspires me it would have to be Eliude Kipchoge. I feel very lucky to have seen him race in our lifetime, his achievements are beyond belief. Along with being an outstanding athlete, he remains humble, focused and driven to achieve more – he is absolute class.

What did your Ironman experience teach you and have you applied any lessons to your day-to-day life?

Ironman lessons are simple, keep moving forward and you will get there eventually. This is the same with life. One of my favorite sayings and something I say to myself when racing is, “if you’re going through hell, keep going”. Things don’t have to be perfect for you to achieve something you thought you couldn’t, if you don’t have the perfect race it doesn’t mean you won’t cross that finish line. It is the same with life: be brave, take a risk and start something, you never know where it may lead – just like when I started my own business, I left something comfortable and ventured into the unknown.

If you could impart any piece of advice to those wanting to succeed, what would it be?

Commitment, consistency, flow and fun – get those right and you will succeed. Get in touch, I might be able to help put you on the right path to realizing a lifelong dream.

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Images: Supplied