Olympic and Double World Champion Rower, Matt Gotrel put some time aside to speak to us about rowing injuries, jamming with John Coltrane and his rather unusual nicknames.
What made you decide to become a rower?
Before I started rowing I was a member of the Great Britain Sailing Team. As part of our conditioning work we did a lot of work on the rowing machine and it was the physiologists who had always told me my physique would suit rowing. It was when I went to Loughborough University that I decided to give it a go.
The GB Rowing team has a great reputation for being successful at the Olympics and so I just wanted to test myself to see how far I could get.
If you had to describe your career in three words, what would they be?
Progressive, consuming and successful…
How would your fellow GB teammates describe you?
Well, I would say I’m pretty quiet and just keep my head down and I think most of my teammates would agree. I’m pretty level headed. But I do seem to collect quite a few nicknames, ranging from Smeagol to Wickerman (don’t ask!).
If you weren’t rowing, what job do you think you’d be doing?
Job?! I don’t think I have ever had a ‘proper’ job. I do have a degree in Systems Engineering, though.
If I wasn’t part of the GB Rowing setup I would probably be sailing, I think, and still trying to go to the Olympics.
What does your typical fitness regime involve?
A typical day involves a weights session, which is mainly leg based; followed by an hour and half of rowing on the water; and then another hour on the rowing machine. My day starts at 7.30am and finishes at 4.00pm.
Mammoth mattresses are known for their health benefits, particularly for people recovering from injury or taking steps to make performance gains. Have you suffered any injuries during your career?
It is quite common for rowers to have some back problems, and I have had a few injuries over the years. Back problems have been my biggest issue.
If so, do any of them still hinder you today?
With the amount of pressure we put our bodies under it’s hard to ever feel 100%. My back is always on the edge. But it is for this reason that I try to take every precaution to take care of my back – and choosing to purchase a Mammoth mattress is an important part of that.
How important do you consider rest time and recovery to be as part of your training regime?
Rest and recovery are hugely important, in fact they are just as important as the training itself. If you can’t recover you can’t improve!
Ideally, how many hours of sleep do you aim for a night? Do you usually reach your target?
I like to have 9 hours sleep, but more often than not I don’t reach that. I think 8 hours of sleep a night is pretty usual for me.
What impact does it have on you if you feel you’ve not had a good night’s sleep?
The day becomes very long if I haven’t had a good nights sleep. I can normally get through the first 2 training sessions of the day ok, but come 2pm I will be needing a nap or a cup of coffee to get me through the rest of the day.
What kind of a sleeper are you? Perhaps a light and restless sleeper, or do you sleep like a log, as the saying goes?
If I fall asleep quickly then I am out for the count, but if I don’t then I can be quite restless. 9 times out of 10 I am pretty tired and once my head hits the pillow I’m out like a light.
You must travel a lot from training camps to regattas, what would you say is a must-have to ensure a good night’s sleep away from home?
Over the past few years I haven’t really made any provisions for going away, I just accept what is provided by the hotel. But now I have a Mammoth pillow at home, it travels with me every time I’m away.
Do you have an optimum environment to sleep in – e.g. warm and cosy, cool and clean?
I like a colder room, I have to say. I like nice cool sheets and pillows.
What is your typical bedtime routine? Do you like to relax in bed with a DVD? Read a book or magazine? Or is it straight to bed and lights out after you’ve brushed your teeth?
I try to keep out of my bed as much as possible before I want to go to bed. Part of having a cool room is not being in it! That’s why when I go to bed it’s just teeth cleaned and lights out.
How did you find out about Mammoth mattresses?
I had heard there was a deal with Mammoth and the British Athletes Commission a few years ago, and a few guys in the team had mattresses. But most recently one of my friends bought one and said it was amazing.
What attracted you to Mammoth in the first place and how are you enjoying your rest on the mattress?
The idea that Mammoth has a medical background gave me reassurance that it would be beneficial to my health and my quality of sleep. I wasn’t wrong! Since getting my mattress it has transformed my sleep. More than that, I wake up feeling like I have actually slept. Now I am much more alert and feel fully recovered and ready for the day of training ahead of me.
If you could have a (purely platonic) late night chat with anyone, dead or alive, who’d be worth losing sleep over – and why?
John Coltrane, I used to play the saxophone before rowing took over, and he is a bit of a legend. If I could spend an evening picking his brains I think that would be worth it!
Images courtesy of Naomi Baker Sports Photography