The passionate staff we have in our stores is part of what sets MEC apart. Running experts like Matthew Travaglini, a staff member in our MEC Calgary store, have helped programs like the MEC run crew and running clinics come to life.
His love for running has helped shape an exciting and inspiring lifestyle, which includes being crowned the men’s 2017 Canadian Mountain Running champion earlier this year. Since then, he’s been invited to participate in the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy, and we wanted to catch up with him before he left – and to wish him good luck!
How are you feeling about the upcoming World Mountain Running Champs?
Excited! This will be my first international competition and that part’s a little nerve-racking. But with the way my training has been going, I feel ready to compete and am excited to run against the top mountain runners in the world.
Why did you start running?
I started running because it was a way to get in shape to play soccer. When I didn’t make the final cut for my high school soccer team, running for the track team was a happy second choice. Looking back, I don’t think that I understood how important getting cut from that team would end up being in my life. I chose to run competitively because the more I ran, the more I enjoyed it and the more I wanted to get better at it.
How did you get into mountain running?
I started mountain running last year when I moved to Calgary. Fellow MEC staffer Josh convinced me that this would be something fun. With what felt like a near death experience on my first mountain run – like any logical person – I was hooked. Since then, I’ve headed out to the mountains more frequently because there’s nowhere else you can experience the feeling of running straight uphill for 5km and still not be able to see the top.
How has working at MEC inspired you to run?
Being surrounded by active staff and members is definitely part of where I get my motivation to run from. Whether it’s sharing commuting stories or comparing Strava segments, working with and talking to so many people who are passionate about the outdoors and being fit is amazing, and is one of my favourite parts of my job.
How do you get most of your running in?
If I’m not going to the mountains for a run, a lot of my weekly mileage comes from my runs to and from work. Other than limiting factors (like an injury or going on a training course for work that involves bringing gear) I’ve run every single day to work. My route is about 8.5km away from the store, and it takes me through some amazing neighbourhoods and parks looking out over the city. It’s a really cool way to start the day seeing the sun coming up over the city skyline.
Depending on where I’m at in my training, I’ll add a few kilometres before or after work or will sneak in a tempo if I’m “running” late. The hardest, but most rewarding, is when I’m able to do a workout after a day at work.
What kind of running events do you help with at MEC Calgary?
The MEC Calgary run crew and the learn to run clinics have been a cool part of the work I do with MEC. My summer racing schedule makes it a little more difficult to go to the Saturday meet-ups because that’s typically the day that races happen. But I’ve been able to help with running clinics we offer and get to see the amount of effort these first-time runners are putting in to achieve their goals.
The free Saturday morning run group is super cool. We meet at the store and head down to the river for a run and then hit up the local coffee shop after. Recently, I’ve also been able to do some presentations at our race series package pick-ups where I give a 45-minute talk on race preparation.
What’s your favourite part about running?
I don’t know if I have one thing that I can pinpoint as my absolute favourite part. If I did, it would probably have to be the people I’ve met or the places I’ve been able to go to because of running. Almost all the people I’m closest with have come through running (minus a few, and those are ones who I share a passion for the outdoors with).
On a deeper level, I will say that the solitude and grandness of mountain running is something I have never experienced before. There are points when you’re breathing so heavily and your heart is pumping so loudly that you can barely hear what’s going on around you. The sound of only your heartbeat and breath and the sight of the Rockies is an extraordinary experience.
Have a great trip, Matthew! We’ll be cheering for you at the World Mountain Running Championships. If you’re interested in trying trail running, check out our beginner trail running tips.
Top photo: Josh Denison (@joshsonofdenis)