ATF Featured Triathlete - Matt Joiner

My second ever Olympic was Riverbluff and it was by far my favorite race of that year. I was very fortunate to take the Overall Men’s win in that race. Great memories.

I am a driver/engineer for the Jackson Fire Department. I get to drive the big truck with lights and sirens and there simply is not a better job in the world.

I have raced bicycles for the last 30 years or so and about 4 years back I decided (was nudged by Dr. Volker Winkler) to hop into a sprint triathlon. After every McKenzie Time Trial bike event I would do - he would needle me about not being able to run or swim. I had actually been swimming a bit, so I decided to give one a try and I was quickly hooked. By my second year I was going for Olympic distance races.

ATF Triathlete Matt Joiner

My second ever Olympic was Above The Fold's Riverbluff Triathlon and it was by far my favorite race of that year. I was very fortunate to take the Overall Men’s win in that race. Great memories! Last year I injured my hip flexor and had to sit out most of the season. Before the Memphis In May Triathlons, I started to feel a slight “hitch” in my left hip.

Matt Joiner Riverbluff Tri Overall Winner

Almost like the ball was slightly out of the socket and would pop back in. It kept taking a little longer to pop in and eventually the pain went along my whole hip flexor down to my knee.

I tried to race MIM sprint but afterwards the pain was unbearable. I could barely walk. I got some amazing help from Dr. Brock Martin of Southern Chiropractic & Acupuncture and it helped a ton, but it was going to just take time. I isolated the probable because my “trainer” bike had a saddle that was about a centimeter too high. (Bike fit is SOOO important! Pay more for that than any gadget!)

I would try once about every week to throw in a short run to no avail. Patience was paramount.

Luckily, I could still ride and swim, so I just made myself focus on those two things. I didn’t try to hammer long distances in the pool since I wasn’t racing, but instead I worked on technique. I always kept a slogan from my friends at BPC Performance Coaching in the back of my head, “Trust Your Training” and the Winkler family motto of, “Keep Moving Forward.” These two things helped me stay positive and motivated and that's extremely important when you are forced to sit on the sidelines, from an injury or other circumstances.

I knew if I was fit on the bike, running would come back quickly. After about four months of no running, my leg finally felt normal. I started super slow, running on the indoor track at Lift Wellness Center. One lap walk, one lap run, and so on until I could run a mile pain free. Then I just started adding more.

By mid-August it healed enough for me to start getting a couple runs in and I quickly signed up for the Dixie Triathlon sprint race. I managed to get the overall win against some strong dudes and it holds a special place in my heart since it’s our “hometown” race.

The moral - seek professional help when you can - especially if those professionals know and are passionate about your sport. Also, take time to do what they say and then listen to your body. And lastly, bike fit is as important to the other aspects of triathlon as it is to the bike leg.


ATF: What would be your advice be to someone thinking about doing a tri for the first time?

Matt: Take your time and do a little research about what to expect and then jump in with both feet! There’s so little judgement out there. Everyone will be super supportive and you’ll have a blast.

Club - My road squad

Favorite Race - Tie between Riverbluff and Dixie.

Coach - Self-coached because I’m old and set in my ways.

Favorite Gear - My Cannondale Slice and FSE wheels! My Hoka Rincons from Fleet Feet Jackson.

Favorite Nutrition - I’ve been vegan for 30 plus years so my go to is white rice mixed with everything. And UCan for race energy.

Your next tri goal -  Jumping up to a 70.3 distance race. Riverbluff Half hopefully, then Memphis 70.3.

Favorite of the three - Definitely the bike!! But after all the years riding I really enjoy the running (especially on trails) and swimming.


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