Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Matt Gibney: The Real Wonder from DownUnder

Here's the latest from the folks at The Runner's Tribe, the Australian running website, as they profile Villanova senior Matt Gibney. First up is Matt's own blog entry, as featured on the website (click the title of this post to be routed there).

The Real Wonder from DownUnder: Matt Gibney
September 26, 2011
The Runner's Tribe

Matt Gibney is one of the finest milers in the US College system - yet as a result of his soft-spoken demeanour and regal manners in a country where the “running media” focuses on the same stories about the same runners from the same schools, he often does not receive the attention and panty-dropping fanfare that he so deserves. As a result, The Runner’s Tribe has endeavoured to bring you around-the-clock coverage of this handsome Australian as he looks toward his final season of college in America. Topics of discussion will include (but are not limited too) identifying the true colour of his hair (Ginger v. Strawberry Blonde v. Raging Ginger), how an Australian can be so terrible with a cricket ball, and what it is going to take to make the Australian Olympic team. First up – a blog from the man himself.

Final Season at Villanova

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a middle-distance runner from Albury who has spent the last two and half years in the college system at Villanova University, in suburban Philadelphia. Despite struggling with a few injuries I’ve learnt and improved a lot since coming over here, and have loved the unique and intense experience of running on a college team. Sadly it’s all coming to an end in December, when I’ll graduate and head home for the 2012 Aussie season.

My last track season was over here ended on a great note, despite a several frustrating races. After a disappointing run in the 1500m at the NCAA outdoor champs in the middle of June, my coach (Marcus O’Sullivan) and I decided that I should keep racing for a few more weeks to try and run a PB and end the season on a positive. Although I didn’t get the results I was after in a few of these races, I had a great run in Vancouver, Canada, with a big PB of 3:38.30. This breakthrough gave me a lot of confidence heading into the coming Olympic year, especially since the guy who finished one place ahead of me (Geoff Martinson) made the semi-finals at the World Champs a few months later.

After these races I took a complete break from running for two-weeks, and then began to gradually build-up for the coming cross-country season. As it was the summer break at uni, I had the opportunity to see a lot more of America than I had on most of our college trips, which tend to revolve around the airport, the meet hotel, the track and the nearest Italian chain restaurant. I passed through Seattle, Vancouver and New York before spending three weeks in Kentucky with the hospitable Brian Long. Not only did I get in some great base training while trying to keep up with Brian and Matt Mildenhall, two of the best 5km/cross runners on the Nova team - I got to enjoy the best of the South; visiting a Bourbon distillery, firing some shotguns, and learning how to gut a dove.

I’m currently a little over a month into the fall semester and I’m getting ready for my first cross-country race over 8km next Friday. Luckily the Nova team is particularly strong this season, so I have a great squad of guys to work with in every session. I’ve now been back running for two months and I’m training as much as I ever have (60 miles a week with some supplemental swimming and elliptical-work). At the moment we’re doing two aerobic sessions a week (mainly tempo runs or repeat miles based on heart-rate) and one light hill session. I’ve never been in such good shape this early in a cross country season before, so I’m excited to see how much I can improve. My goals for this season are to consistently finish in the top five for the cross-country team (the top five score points), with a particular focus on the Big East Championships (8km on the 29th October) and the NCAA Champs (10km on the 23rd November).

After that it’s on to the Aussie season, where I’ll be aiming to earn a spot on the Olympic Team for the 1500m. Given the competition, I’m sure there’ll be some great races and opportunities to run fast!



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