In his most recent race at the IRONMAN 70.3 North American Championship Chattanooga, Matt Hanson snagged a second-place podium finish — only two weeks after a 13th place finish at the rescheduled 2021 IRONMAN World Championship in St. George, Utah.
Hanson is a five-time IRONMAN and five-time IRONMAN 70.3 champion, as well as a professional triathlete and coach now living in Castle Rock, Colorado. He started his triathlon career at age 25 after buying a used bike on eBay to kick off his training.
Hanson’s triathlon roots extend to age 16, when a mentor asked him to make a list of 50 goals for the next 10 years.
Hanson recalls, “One of the things on that list was to complete an IRONMAN triathlon. I took that list pretty seriously. When I was 25, that was one thing I could still go after.”
Hanson is a former professor of exercise science, but now spends his classroom time coaching other triathletes. Coaching allows Hanson to use the analytical side of his brain that he tries to shut off when it comes to his own training.
In his own training, he makes it a point not to measure his workouts in miles or minutes, but to focus on fully executing the training sessions.
Throughout the week, Hanson starts off his training with a lighter swim and bike on Mondays as recovery from the weekend. Tuesdays are the hardest day of the week with a tough swim, bike, run, and gym session. On Wednesday, Hanson completes a long bike and swim, which leads him to Thursday where he does a double run and a swim. To finish off the end of the week, Hanson swims, bikes, and runs on Friday, completes a long ride with a run off the bike on Saturday, and a long run and swim to wrap up the week on Sunday.
Intense training and his focus on fully executing training sessions has allowed Hanson to claim the fastest ever marathon off the bike. In 2018 at the IRONMAN North American Championship in The Woodlands, Texas, Hanson clocked a record-setting marathon split of 2 hours 34 minutes 39 seconds. That run performance propelled him to his third win at the IRONMAN North American Championship, clinching titles in 2015, 2017, and 2018.
That moment is also what Hanson refers to as one of the best moments in his career.
“Winning my third IRONMAN North America Championship was a pretty memorable moment. The first two that I won, I was able to get the lead with a fair amount of the race to go. But in 2018, I ran with a guy and was right on him for 25 miles. I finally got a little gap in the last mile and was able to hang on for the win, running what is still the fastest ever marathon off the bike.”
Hanson has run his whole life. Running started as a way for him to spend time with his dad, although Hanson competed as a wrestler at that point in his life. Up until college and into college Hanson continued wrestling and saw running as a side piece to wrestling. Running was a way to make him not only better in his sport, but also as a way to help him make weight classes.
Hanson is a goal setter and advises young triathletes to “know your ‘why’ and learn how to set long and short-term goals.”
The next goal Hanson has is to win a world championship and coach someone to a world championship title.
“Those are the two goals that drive me every day,” he says.