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Oh Hi HyRox! I Am TrueSapien – Matt Wilkinson

Hi I’m Matt Wilkinson, (or @themightywilko on Insta). I’ve always loved a challenge, whether it was swimming for my town as a young teenager, racing mountain bikes at Uni (and smashing myself to pieces when I fell off!), or climbing Kilimanjaro.

My History

I’d never been much of a runner. I did it, but mainly in order to play other sports. That started to change when I went back to Uni in 2010/11 and signed up to run the London Marathon. My single goal there was to beat a friend of mine who had been in the Navy, a feat I accomplished by a mere 10 seconds!

Some months later I thought I had torn a hamstring, but after much struggle got a diagnosis of a L4/L5 disc herniation (slipped disc) that was crushing my sciatic nerve. While it took almost 12 months I finally managed to get into surgery and the operation was a complete success.

Injury comeback

Recovery took time. I started going to the gym to work on mobility and strength. I got a bit carried away chasing heavier and heavier lifts and it wasn’t until I signed up to a Spartan Race and realised that strength does not equate to speed or health that I decided to refocus my efforts.

After a few years of chasing double trifectas I signed up to the ultra and then COVID hit. Keeping motivated was tough and recovering from COVID made that even harder. But last year I got that infamous buckle and wondered what was next.

HyRox- a new Challenge

I’d heard about Hyrax from my coach Cali Schweikhart (who is amazing btw) and felt it might suit me better than OCR.

Hyrox is an indoor event that  starts with a 1km run, followed by 1 functional fitness movement, with this pattern repeating 8 times. The fitness “stations” are the 1 km SkiErg, sled push, sled pull, burpee broad jumps, 1km row, farmer’s carry, weighted lunges, wall balls. 

Beyond the fact I knew the movements fairly well and love my SkiErg far more I should, I had no real idea what I was signing up for. I decided to team up with a friend and enter the Birmingham event in the men’s doubles and got down to training.

Training Smart

At 45 I have to train a little smarter than I used to, and Cali and I put together a 5 day a week programme that includes everyone’s favourite Tempo Tuesday, typically weights and a circuit on Wednesday (which now often features the dreaded wall balls and burpee broad jumps) and lunges as well as deadlifts and all sorts of fun.

Thursday’s usually involve 90 minutes in zone 2 on the SkiErg – and I’m inexorably closing in on a zone 2 half marathon in that time… I think the biggest challenge of something like that is focus – just maintaining a heart rate for that long is mentally tiring!

Then the weekends usually involve a zone 2 run Saturday, and then running and circuits Sunday.

Self Doubt

I had the obligatory “im not ready” wobble a couple of weeks out, but seeing what all the amazing TrueSapien athletes are doing really does help put things into perspective, and helped me focus on the fact that while I may try to be competitive – its really just me versus me, and me versus ageing!

So how was Birmingham? 

It was amazing!

Inspirational environment

The atmosphere was intense, there was so much energy, so much encouragement and it was so inspiring being amongst such an amazing group of people that love fitness. I think I read somewhere that it was the largest fitness event in the UK ever!

I got back and was absolutely buzzing!

And needless to say I got a little carried away as well.. so have signed up for the rest of the season in the men’s open. I think that just about counts as challenging life 🙂

Want to know more about Hyrox? I’m by no means an authority on the subject but I’m happy to give you the lowdown from my perspective and help in any way I can!

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    1. Thanks Ben, it’s tough and an experience like no other – being able to maintain a high heart rate for 60-90 minutes while working so many different parts of the body and energy systems is a real challenge.

      I blew up totally after my last one…

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