Thanks to everyone who joined us for our virtual launch on August 5! With our first official training cycle set to begin this week (August 10), we thought it would be special to have a chat with David McNeill, a two-time Olympian and friend of Bunji Running. He's competed at the highest levels of distance running for the past decade, and had some wise words of advice to share with our Bunji Runners. Below is a summary of some of his thoughts.
What did you like about what Dave had to say? Who should we chat to next? This can be interactive, so share your thoughts in the comments below!
Running a hard workout or race is mentally challenging - you need to practice this to get better at it
Dave shared that to him, the most difficult part of coming back from an injury or layoff is not the loss of physical fitness, but regaining the mental toughness to deal with difficult workouts and races. Just as running with a structured program will give you physical adaptations to make you faster, it also gives you the chance to improve your mental resilience.
When doing speed sessions or tough long runs, this is an opportunity to "lean in" to the discomfort, and develop mental strategies that work for you. This will make you a more mentally resilient athlete come race day, ready to deal with surprises and tough moments.
As you get older, adapt your training and recognise that its still possible to run well!
If you ran at high school or university when you still had a Nokia flip phone and reminisce of the speed sessions you used to do, relax and let it go! Even if you've only picked up running more recently, it's important to adapt training where we are in life, now. Dave spoke of his own experience in having a long running career, and in training with his good friend and Olympic legend Bernard Legat, who still remains a world class athlete at 45(!)
He stressed the need to adapt - maybe your body needs an extra rest day now compared to when you were younger. That's fine! Being humble and acknowledging this doesn't mean you need to shelve your ambitions - being wise with your training can give you many, many years of successful, fast running as the years pass.
Dave's Olympic Experience
Dave spoke about competing in the 10,000m at the 2016 Rio Olympics, his second Olympics following London 2012. He shared his memories of warming up with Australian teammate Ben St Lawrence, and his coach telling him that the Kenyan athletes wanted to start the first few kilometres at world record pace. He spoke of having to digest that, while still remaining focused on his own personal race plan. He mentioned appreciating just how difficult it is to get such a big moment right - training for four years to have everything perfectly align for a 30 minute window. He also stressed the importance of appreciating the moment - he remembers seeing his parents in the crowd before the start, and finding his good mate and fellow Bunji Runner Daniel Carmody after the race.
We are all training for our own "Olympics", whether it's our first 5k, or another marathon. Prepare for it to reduce the possibility of any surprises, but be humble about just how hard it is to get everything right on race day. Appreciate and celebrate that moment when it all comes together!
He keeps himself busy, living a full life outside of running, which makes him a more resilient athlete when injuries or unexpected events strike
Dave spoke of his studies in exercise science, and more recently, completing his doctorate of physiotherapy. For him, keeping a full life outside of running helps him keep perspective and balance with his running. When he's been injured or suffered setbacks, he's able to lean on other aspects of his life. For Dave, this helps him deal with running setbacks without feeling that all is lost. He spoke about his comeback to qualify for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the 5,000m, following a prolonged layoff from injury.
We are runners, but like Dave, we have many other roles and responsibilities. Let the qualities of running benefit other parts of your life, and these other areas balance your running as a multi-dimensional person.