An interview with Matthew Bowley

Through our strategic partnership with GB Active, who run bootcamps, personal training, inspirational talks, workshops and team building days led by GB Athletes, we caught up with one of their athletes to find out more about their sport, managing stress and using the Thrive App.

“I think it can be a really good collaboration, the app is really easy to use and has a lot of nice exercises that I could see people doing. We have used a lot of things like this before in our day to day training, but it was nice to able to do it at home and track it.”

  What is your name, sport and how did you get into it?

Matthew Bowley & Olympic Sprint kayaking in the K2 & K1 1000M discipline. I was introduced to kayaking through the scouts at the age of 10 and I have represented Great Britain for 7 years.

What is your biggest achievement?

It would have to be coming national champion in the double kayak event and also making the A final at the world cup last year. 

Can you tell us more about your weekly training regime?

Our weekly regime can often change due to what time of year it is but it normally consists of two sessions a day being roughly 1.5 hours each which could be run, paddle or gym with a session in between which can be stretching or yoga where we reflect on how our training is going. We try to keep most of our sessions between 8am-6pm which best helps recovery and I do normally go paddling whatever the conditions are (normally cold!).  

How do you recover from events?

This can sometimes change over the years for me, however normally the first thing I do to relax is sit down.  Often there is such a build-up in stress to an event its nice just to be able to stop and breathe easy. This is often followed with a day or two of rest doing something not kayaking based which I find helps me to be ready to start again. 

What are your interests away from the sport?

With most of my time based around the sport it is nice to have some non-sporting interests and I would say that I have a keen interest in anything history or car based. I love my war documentaries as well as go-karting.  

How do you cope with injury?

I have been very lucky in my sport so far as I have never really had a major injury or recurring one. But I have had the odd illness which has left me out for a couple of weeks leaving me to catch up on training. My way to normally deal with this is to make a plan and find ways to still keep in a positive mental state while not physically training. Sticking to your diet is often the key to staying mentally positive and using things like the thrive app can help with tough times. 

What’s been your biggest obstacle you have overcome & how did you do it?

My biggest obstacle so far was dealing with "over training" and all the effects that come with that. To see myself never train as hard and giving so much of my commitment to then to see my performances get worse was difficult to take. I had to take the decision to stop training for at least 2-3 weeks hoping it would help me in the long run. Throughout this I just tried to say positive and always talk to as many people as I could about it, for example some of my old coaches helped and reassured me that I would come out the right side and get back to training.

How do you manage stress?

I often try to keep myself busy with something completely different to what I might be getting stressed about while also trying to stick to my routine. I often find before a race that stress/being nervous can get high, therefore I always try and do the same routine starting before my warm-up. The starts for example maybe simply twisting my paddle in my hand or making sure my top is tucked in. I have found by doing the same routine puts me in the right frame of mind.  

If you had a message for someone starting their journey as an athlete, what would it be?

I would say building up your own support network is hugely important and not just relying on one person for everything. This could be making sure to keep in contact with old coaches or having other interests other than your sport so when things do go bad you always have something to fall back on and rebuild stronger. 

From using the Thrive app, what activities did you like the most & benefit from?

Having been through the app I found all the exercises useful. In particular I did find the breathing activities to be really useful, easy and clear to use on the app. It was something I found you could listen to whenever you woke up and to leave you in a more positive state of mind. The avatar also gave a nice visual of what you had to follow. 

 Matt’s Achievements

  • A finalist at under 23 world championships
  • National champion in the K2
  • 5th at the world university games
  • National under 23 Champion
  • Competed at senior world championships
  • National Senior Champion
  • A finalist at senior world cup
  • National junior champion