Meet Matt Rayment, a Family guy whos love for giving back, punk music and running make a combo hard to resist. He’s also part of Good People Run.
Matt is a writer and lead editor for the GPR Collective and one thing is for certain, he has passion for this sport and what it stands for. Here’s what he has to say.
Where are you based Matt, and what do you do as a profession?
I live with my wife, Rebecca, and our three children in Riverhead (which describes itself as a historic village, however it’s a rapidly burgeoning semi rural suburb in North West Auckland).
Professionally I’m a Registered Nurse. I specialise in acute adult mental health, and work in the community in Waitakere close to the big smoke.
How would you describe yourself?
Husband, Father, Brother, Son. Curious-Troubled- Do-Gooder- Optimist. Runner. Ex music nerd.
When we first met and discussed the GPR concept, you said that Punk Rock and Running saved your life. Can you explain this more? Be honest.
I heard “Public Witness Program” by Fugazi on a mixtape a girlfriend had. The bridge when those handclaps come in? Game Over. This is a great and difficult question to answer. I think that running has saved my life because physiologically I’m much fitter, so I’m calmer and less quick to become anxious or aroused (as in nervous, angry) . Running has taught me distress tolerance, I’ve been able to practice being in the moment, for several hours a week for the last few years. I am braver, calmer, more engaged.
You’re a bit smashed, a bit fuzzy, very happy and surfing a wave of endogenous analgesia.
My lifestyle has markedly changed, so hopefully with my increased level of fitness and awareness of health, I’ll live longer, and live well. I feel that having slowed the pace of everything down internally, I have more time to focus on my surroundings, i.e. my family, my job. Running gives me a purpose, makes me feel contained and part of a collective of people in Aotearoa and worldwide who I want to be around. Punk rock “saving my life” sounds a touch grandiose, but I’m sticking with it. I was initially drawn to the immediacy and urgency of the music, I’m much more of a “heartbreak” punk fan than “issues” punk fan. I admire the honesty and spirit of getting out and doing things yourself, rather than waiting around to be told what to do.
That said, I followed the movement of choice back in my late teens/early twenties as much as anyone did. But, now that I’m older (and braver) I really try to stick to that sentiment, be it putting on a show, competing in a race, putting on a race, or in my personal/professional life. Hearing Jawbox or Lifetime or Snapcase for the first time was enough for me, as a button downed, anxious youth in Blockhouse Bay to go “I want something more”.
Describe what your #Runnershigh is like, if you get one that is.
I’m ALL ABOUT the high. I love the endorphin haze that I get after a strenuous effort. The way I can best describe my post run high is an anesthetized glow, you’re a bit smashed, a bit fuzzy, very happy and surfing a wave of endogenous analgesia. I think that the biological mechanism of endorphin release is satisfying enough, however coupling that with an amazing experience be that hanging with other runners, good conversation, travelling under your own power, is unbeatable.
What is your philosophy on giving back to people through running.
It’s twofold I guess. As someone who puts on a race I want to give people a challenge, great courses which are achievable and have a strong sense of flow progression and almost a narrative. I’m also strongly of the opinion that if you have the leisure time to devote to running and the financial wherewithal to enter races, get gear and all the other extraneous expenses then relatively you are doing ok financially, so having people enter an event that is put on specifically to benefit others is something that really gives me pleasure.
With the Riverhead Rampage, we are very clear where the money goes, that we all have ‘regular jobs’ and that we are doing this for the benefit of our community. I’m really looking forward to hopefully putting on some more events, however, having a job, family, my own and Rebecca’s training means that time is valuable. I think in my community or at home with the kids what I give back is hopefully a sense that really, anyone can run. I was not a super athlete as a child or in my twenties and don’t consider myself one now. People do say when they find out that I run events and have done ultras “oh, I could never do that” I do challenge them regarding this, because It’s something that I believe that everyone to some extent can do. I’m not saying that everyone “should”, that’s your own choice.
With our children, both Rebecca and I have just shut up about running to the kids. We don’t push them to enter or run with us or anything, and now, the kids (especially Thom, our oldest) are starting to really enjoy running, have entered some events and are beginning to see the light. I guess seeing that their parents show commitment, sit with delayed gratification and gaining joy from physical endeavour is a good thing.
Why are you involved with GPR? How do you feel that your involvement will give something back to the community?
I became very excited when I heard about GPR, and more so when I met with you. I like that GPR is a collective, it’s not didactic or coming from a place of authority, you know “thou shalt”. I’m involved because I love writing about why we run, and who runs, because I guess in my work as a nurse all I do is ask people questions. I’m so curious about people generally, and more so about people who run. I LOVE that there is focus on reciprocation, and an involvement with the wider community, not just our running community. I am hopeful that my contribution to GPR through my regular writing will pique people’s interest and make the site a more interesting place to be. I’m also all about repping the GPR strip whenever I toe the line at a race, so just getting out there in the team colours so to speak is engagement with a wider audience.
What are your top three tips to achieving happiness?
I’d like to set this up by saying that in no way or shape have I mastered these, but here we go.
Be Brave-love someone, commit to something. Stand up for what you believe in. Challenge others. It’s hard work and terrifying, making yourself vulnerable, however ultimately it’s what we are hardwired to do, so get in!
Be Curious- curiosity about things/people/places keeps us moving forward, keeps us engaged, interested, and most importantly, stops us seeing things as black and white or stereotypically.
Go Outside- Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writing does my head in, but I love the phrase “If a man would be alone, let him look at the stars”. I guess that going outside at times makes us brave and curious and at times requires curiosity and bravery, so I guess it’s cyclic.
What did your friends think when, out of the blue you went from the couch to runner? Have they been inspired to get more active themselves?
It’s funny, because when I started running, we were living in a place called Tikitere, which is about 20km outside Rotorua. We were very much in the middle of nowhere, I started to run (200m at a time) because we were imminently moving back to Riverhead, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to ride my mountain bike as much. We were really pretty isolated, so when I moved back to Auckland I was in the position of most of my old friends having moved overseas and I was hanging out with lots of active people. So no one batted an eyelid really. Rebecca and I inspired each other to run, so that was a plus. My workmates think I’m insane, however I have one close nursing friend that has started running out of curiosity and is now a regular runner. I have to say I’ve consistently been inspired by others, rather than inspiring others.
Your message clearly shows that being active helps mental health. The physical benefits of running are apparent, but what personal benefits have you gained from training?
I believe that running, whilst having many therapeutic properties, is not therapy. Indeed running can be as destabilizing and avoidant behaviour as the next thing. What benefits I have gained from running have been uniquely tied into the physical i.e. stronger cardiovascular system, greater access to endorphins. The main benefit to me has been the opportunity to be in the moment, or mindful when I run. When I run I don’t generally think about anything else besides the act itself. Being calm when I run helps me focus on the stuff I need to think about/work through when I’m not running. If I have a run where I’m drifting/ruminating too much, I honestly feel a bit cheated.
I see that you have a Blog, A Scenario of Simplicity how does running help you with this creative process?
It’s a real struggle to be honest! I’m aware that there is a fine line between engagement in an activity and documentation of that activity. If I didn’t run I’d have time to write about it! I have snippets of the best ideas ever (in my mind) when I run, instantly forgotten afterwards. I took to using the voice recorder on my phone to document stuff as it came to mind, however I get the giggles when I listen back as it sounds like “when 38 year old men’s diaries are exposed” vs. Blair Witch.
You run the annual Riverhead Rampage trail run (5, 10 & 21 km options). GPR was there to document and were surprised with the numbers. Clearly the distance options offered make this a more accessible event, but it seems there is more than that. All proceeds go to Riverhead primary school, which gives back in a direct and positive way. Can you tell us more about the event, why you feel the numbers are so good and what’s the story with giving back?
This is the second year we’ve done RivRam, and we couldn’t have been happier. We had upwards of 400 runners split evenly across the three distance options. It’s a trail run that starts and finishes at Riverhead School. The runs are all challenging in nature, yet achievable. We ramp up the challenge as the distance gets longer, so this year the 21km was mean. I was sweeping the course and got sworn at (good naturedly) a few times as people passed me. I enjoy schadenfreude as much as the next RD so took it as a total compliment. Having said that, every distance option is rammed with good trail running. I think we get support because we have a really strong, positive brand. We hit it hard on social media with heaps of photos of the forest and the trails which interests people. I think also because we are up front that all of the profit goes to the school, so within our own community that is appreciated and supported. Our model is sponsorship driven, so people know that when they pony up the cash, it’s all going to the school. Also we are comparatively cheap for a trail half marathon and we put on a high standard event.
It’s a mix of necessity and feeling infinitely fortunate that I live next to somewhere so amazing to run.
I think in terms of giving back in a non monetary sense we’re promoting our forest, which is literally on our doorsteps, the area of Rangitoto Island and comparatively underused. This is useful within our own community, as more and more people are now accessing the forest, and without, as people are travelling to run in Riverhead.
I see you run mostly on your local trails, so what’s your favourite runs and why?
I feel genuinely lucky that I live 600m from the trailhead. It’s a mix of necessity and feeling infinitely fortunate that I live next to somewhere so amazing to run. I appreciate being able to run to the trail, that I can be gone for under an hour and have a great run. I love technical trail, so Riverhead is boss for that. I also like road running, and do the majority of my road training on the gravel out there, which helps for specificity. My favourite runs are the one’s which highlight the scale of what you can achieve on your own two legs. Saying that, Te Henga Trail on Auckland’s West Coast is my hands down favourite. The technicality of the terrain, the views, the steepness, all of it morphs into one amazing package. As you come back over the return leg over from Constable road, climb the last steep trail and look over at O’Neils and Bethell’s beaches…I can’t beat that.
You have a busy work and family life, so how do you manage this? What motivates you to keep running during busy times?
I’m lucky that I work a set shift pattern, so I get the best of all worlds that I can hang with our kids and have time when Lily is in kindy to run. I also tend to run very early in the morning or late at night, to fit Rebecca’s training in. Running is now an integral part of my life. I think that if I didn’t run, my life would suffer. I run because I can, because I need to. The act of running makes the rest of my life flow easier.
You are a family man, you have three children and your wife is a runner too. How has running helped your family life?
I’m a much calmer, engaged and less distracted person when I’m running. Which pays dividends with the demands of family. Rebecca and I do our best to have a fair and equitable system of running, it’s easier for me as I can run later or earlier. I’m also lucky in that I have time off in the day at times, when I can sneak out for a run. Having a mutual appreciation for something has strengthened our marriage. Be that sharing a hard run together, or hanging out with others in the running community it’s all gravy.
How is running important to you and your life in its direction?
I was going to go with something cute about “moving forward”, but put simply. Running is ridiculously important to me. I’d feel lost and increasingly unhappy and anxious without it. Not nice for me or anyone near me, really. I’m happy to be moving forward (DAMN) both in terms of my running and my involvement in the community through writing and putting on Riverhead Rampage. We are not here long. Running is helping make the most of, and possibly extend my time here.
Where can we find you?
I’m on most of the social media networks.
Event Website: www.riverheadrampage.co.nz
Personal Blog: www.littlehouseofsavages.com
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Has running saved your life?
Do you think running makes you a better parent?
Punk. Do you dig it?