Why I Run: Matt Golinski

In the early hours of Boxing Day, 2011, celebrity chef Matt Golinski’s Tewantin home on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast was engulfed in fire. The accident claimed the lives of his wife Rachel, 38, and daughters Starlia, 10, and 12-year-old twins Willow and Sage. The then 39-year-old suffered third-degree burns to over 40 per cent of his body while trying to save them.

At the time friends and family feared that Golinski – a regular contributor to Channel Ten’s Ready Steady Cook – wouldn’t survive. Four months laying in a hospital bed resulted in Golinski losing much of his muscle mass. From a healthy 82kg, Golinski faded into a shadow of his former self, at 60kg, when he woke from a coma. Having lost 22kg, he couldn’t walk.

But Golinski was determined to live a life that would make his lost family proud. His first priority: to regain weight and muscle. “A very high protein diet helped speed up the recovery process,” he says.

A mere six months after the accident, Golinski completed a 5K fun run at Currimundi, part of the Sunshine Coast Run Series. And within seven months he crossed the finish line at the inaugural 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon & Community Run Festival 10K in Mooloolaba (1:12:53).

One of Golinski’s main challenges when he returned to running was trying to control his heart rate while on the move – his heart rate was much higher than it should be, owing to an increased metabolism as his body tried to repair itself. “When I first started, I had to run slowly to avoid my heart rate from getting too high,” Golinski explains. “I did one-minute intervals alternating between slow runs and walks whilst wearing a heart monitor and was able to increase the speed and distance gradually.”

Although Golinski found a way to manage his heart rate, he battles other challenges caused as a result of his injuries, including a tendency to overheat and heterotopic ossification, a condition where bone grows in soft tissue around joints, causing them to stiffen.

In March 2013, the Peter Hughes Burn Foundation hosted a fundraising running event spanning three days. Three runners completed the Cape to Cape Track, a 137km track along the Leeuwin–Naturaliste Ridge between the lighthouses of Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in the far southwest of Western Australia. Three other support runners completed different stages (ranging from 3km to 23km). Golinski was one of the support runners.

Preparing for rough coastal terrain, Golinski trained on the bush trails around Noosa and Cooroy. Although participating in the event took a toll on his healing body, he says, “Getting the chance to see the beautiful coastline of southern WA was worth the pain.”

It was as a burns survivor that Golinski came across the not-for-profit charity, which helps survivors with the ongoing process of physical and emotional recovery. There, he met others, also running to raise awareness. “Running with others as part of a bigger goal was incredibly satisfying,” he says. “It was great to be able to give something back.”

And Golinski shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Last year he completed the 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon & Community Run Festival 21.1K in 1:58:42 and this year he hopes to run the entire Cape to Cape Track plus his first full marathon. This is on top of a busy schedule, which includes cooking demonstrations and public speaking engagements.

Golinski says, running and keeping fit will continue to be a big part of his recovery. “It helps me physically and mentally. It makes me stronger, gives me focus and stimulates the production of endorphins,” he says.

While Golinski runs for his own satisfaction and sense of achievement, he says, when asked what he would like people to take away from knowing that he is running again, “If other people who are struggling with physical or mental challenges are encouraged to try running then that’s fantastic.”


Coach Marathon

Related Articles