Matt Taylor, the founder and CEO of Tracksmith, shares the steps he takes towards feeling better, and running farther, with anatomē
Tell us your story - how did you find your passion for running and fitness?
I've been running my entire life - a classic case of having early success in a sport and gravitating towards it. It wasn't until college that I truly fell in love with running. I ran varsity cross country and track at Yale. I found the pursuit of getting faster both grueling and incredibly rewarding. I love the delayed gratification that running provides; you don't get that in most sports.
You recently touched down in the UK, from the US. How are you finding your feet in London, and what have been your favourite aspects of the city thus far?
I’ve had the chance to compete in the UK before and lived in London with my wife while she was in graduate school, so I have a little foundation to start from. One thing that really excited me about the move was the chance to engage more deeply with the London running community. It’s one of the most vibrant and competitive running scenes in the world from the club racing circuit to park runs and run crews. I’m thinking about joining a local club and would love to race cross country this winter.
Describe your perfect morning.
Like many runners I’m a morning person. It's my favourite time to train. There's something really powerful about running first thing. Maybe it's the syncing of the circadian rhythm, but I never feel bad when I finish my morning run. My wife and I take turns swapping running and getting the kids going, but we're both up just before six and I'm out the door a little after.
One nice thing about living in London is that my mornings are now a little less frantic. Knowing that my team in the U.S. is still sleeping means I get more time to focus on deep work before the calls and emails start flowing in. As someone who really relishes the opportunity to think and be creative, I’m enjoying that change.
How do you stay motivated, and what do you do to switch up your energy throughout the day?
I have found that consistency is a great motivator. Once you’re in the routine of running, it becomes a habit and you just feel better having done it. My day is better when I get to run, so if anything it's less about being motivated to do it than making the time to ensure I get to.
In terms of energy through the day, I find an early morning run helps set me up for success. I feel energised and ready to work when I log on – coffee certainly helps, too. If things drag towards the middle or the end of the day, I’ll get another cup. The Monocle Cafe is across the street from our store on Chiltern Street and Workshop Coffee is nearby, so there are plenty of good options.
Here at anatomē, we have a deep appreciation for heritage. Your brand, Tracksmith, shares a similar approach, with a style inspired by college core, yet always with a modern edge. What were your inspirations for the brand, and how do you balance tradition while always moving forward?
We’re inspired by classic American style and collegiate sportswear. There's something so compelling about the simplicity and meaning of those pieces. We also draw a lot from our New England heritage and its distinctive competitive running culture. The characteristic weather, the landmark races and the elite amateur ideals of its schools and club teams are all reflected in our brand, our products and our ethos. I wanted to make running clothing that I loved as much as my regular clothing – timeless pieces that last forever.
That being said, while we have a very clear point of view on style, we’re also laser focused on performance. These are pieces that have to handle serious effort, so we’re constantly working with our design team and partners to find the best materials for a given piece. I’m proud to say we work with some of the most technical and innovative fibres on the market.
What does champion mean to you?
At Tracksmith, we call ourselves the “champion of the running class.” This means we see ourselves as stewards of the sport, helping drive it forward and celebrating what makes it unique. In everything we do, we aim to support, celebrate and add to running’s distinct culture.
Any tips for tuning into what our bodies are trying to tell us, or need?
It goes back to consistency. The more you develop routines and good habits, the easier it is to tell when something is out of alignment. I try really hard to get a solid night's sleep, eat well and find time to run. Usually if my body feels off, it’s because I’m neglecting one of these things and need to adjust.
What do you consider to be your haven, or space of calm?
Not to be too repetitive, but it is running. There’s nothing better than finding that flow state a few miles into a run. I find my best ideas come in these moments. Running has often helped me find a solution to a problem I’ve been stuck on.
In addition to that, I love open spaces, especially at sunrise or sunset. In New England we get to watch the seasons turn every few months. Most people don’t recognise the subtle changes that happen each day and each week, but I really appreciate the opportunity I have to literally watch the world change around me through running.
What are your 5 top tips for living well?
- Find a routine that works for you and stick to it
- Move and read every day
- Embrace competition and the pursuit of an ambitious goal
- Take calculated risks
- No phones on the nightstand
Sleep is so important for our overall performance, mentally, and physically. Can you tell us a little bit more about why sleep is important for muscle recovery, as well as running endurance?
Sleep is essential for anyone, but especially runners. It helps prevent injury and keeps your immune system chugging along. It also helps repair muscle tissue, so it’s a key part of training. I try my best to get 8 hours of sleep every night.
How do you wind down before bed? What’s your relaxation routine?
I like to read before bed and also am strict about keeping screens out of the bedroom. I leave my phone in another room and use a travel alarm clock.
Do you have any advice for those running to race?
So much of running is about putting in the work, and race day is a celebration of that effort. Runners should go to the line feeling excited to showcase what they’ve learned from their training block.
What’s your race ready edit?
I like to race in our Van Cortlandt Singlet and Session Speed Shorts. I don’t race with music but do enjoy 90s hip-hop on the way to the race.
There’s this beautiful figure of speech, “if you want to walk fast then walk alone and if you want to walk far then walk together.” Why is community so important to you, and how can people become involved with the tracksmith family?
Running can be a solitary sport, but we’ve found it’s so much better when done with others. A lot of our employees were first introduced to the sport in a team setting through cross country or track and we try to replicate that experience for our community. It’s amazing how much running with others who share similar goals can unlock new levels of performance. In London, we hosted a series of long runs in the lead up to the Marathon which brought a great mix of folks together as they prepared for race day. We’ve hired a great community manager in London, Amrit who’ll be building out programming from our store throughout the year. Follow us on social or check out our events page to keep up to date on what’s happening in London.
What is your mantra or philosophy to face life’s challenges?
My grandfather had a saying when he was playing cards, “God hates a coward.” I have no idea where it came from, but it stuck with me from a young age; he used it when someone was deciding whether they should take a risk or not. I’m sure the willingness to take risks is inherent, so maybe I was already prone to it - but I have to think my desire to start my own company came as much from nurture as nature. Beyond the card table catchphrases, I was surrounded by entrepreneurs growing up. And so throughout my teenage years and into adulthood, I’ve carried the philosophy of “God hates a coward” with me as a way to take that one extra step - whether it’s in business or running - that takes you into an unknown territory.
Something you’re looking forward to?
Hopefully racing cross country here in London, I’ve heard it’s both really intense and really fun. I haven’t done cross country since I was in college, so it will be interesting to see how my body holds up.
Anything else you’d like to share?
We loved our space at 25 Chiltern Street because there were so many great independent brands who shared our ethos around craftsmanship and integrity of design. It’s been amazing to meet some of the other owners and brands, like Anatomē, and we’re excited to become a part of this community.