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Interview: Mat Rogers

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When entries officially opened on Monday 12 March we here at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon office were buzzing with excitement. We couldn’t believe it was that time of year again but we were prepared and raring to do it all over again. One of the first runners to enter for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon was none other than sporting legend Mat Rogers. The former Australia and Gold Coast sporting legend is known for playing over 200 National Rugby League (NRL) games for the Cronulla Sharks and Gold Coast Titans and playing for his state and country. The dual-code international also had a major stint in rugby union, playing for the New South Wales Waratahs and the Wallabies.

Since retiring last year from rugby league, Mat Rogers’ new focus is on completing his first marathon and has decided that there is no better place to do it then the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. We caught up with Mat and discussed how he was feeling during the lead up to the event, how he deals with negative criticism and of course, blisters.

What would you regard as your biggest fear coming into the 2012 Gold Coast Airport Marathon?

Blisters. I couldn’t think of anything worse than being 15 kilometres in and getting a blister. That is a genuine phobia of mine. It’s a real fear.

Would it be worse than a fear of not finishing?

Yeah it would be worse than not finishing. If you ask any of my team mates that I used to play footy with, regarding the efforts that I would go to before a game so my feet wouldn’t get blisters, they would tell you I would individually tape and strap every toe. It was quite funny. It would literally take me half an hour just to get my toes ready for a game of football. People would look at me and just think ‘what is going on here?’ It wasn’t even a pre-game ritual – it was just stupid.

What is the difference between training for a marathon and football?

Well, no one tackles me (laughs). I hope I don’t get bowled over in the marathon. It’s hard work training for a marathon because you have to put the miles in your legs and do the work. You can’t hide, there is no where to hide. You’ve got to start it and you’ve got to finish it. There is also a lot in between. The start is exciting and the finish is exciting and they are generally the pictures you see on the news but there is all that stuff in the middle, it’s like ‘Oh there was 42 kilometres in the middle of that?’ It’s the same with footy. You see the game and it looks great but you don’t see all the stuff during the week, you know? You’ve just got to do the work. You have to train. I’m enjoying it at the moment. I’ve got my first big run this week. I’m doing 21 kilometres. I’m feeling good though and the legs are feeling good.

How do you think you will go with the mental games during the marathon? Will you handle the voice inside your head?

I’ve generally got him covered. I’ll probably play mental games with a few mates that are running it with me to see if I can break them just for fun. The guys who I run with are just great mates and we have a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it.

How do you handle negative criticism? If someone goes “Mat, you can’t run 42km!” What is your response?

I laugh to be honest. Everyone’s got an opinion. I’ve always said opinions are like armpits – everybody’s got them and most of them stink. It’s funny because as a footballer, I was a little guy and I was never the biggest or the fastest. I just don’t listen to be honest. The only way one can succeed at things is to block out the negative influences and focus on what you want and go out after it. That’s the way I’ve kind of lived my life in sport and business. I’m excited about the challenge. Maybe I’m a bit strange. If someone tells me I can’t do it, it excites me because I just want to prove you wrong and go ‘Yeah! I can run 42 kilometres’.

You’ve obviously got a lot of support from your wife and kids?

You know what? My wife is kind of shaking her head at me at the moment. She is like ‘What are you doing?’ I tell her I’ve got to have something. I need something out there to fight for.

For more information about joining Mat Rogers’ team ‘The Rat Race’ please visit Vision Personal Training Burleigh Heads and/or his charity website 4 ASD Kids.

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