David Wilson


How did your running journey start?

I used to play a lot of football and running supplemented that. I was a box to box centre midfielder but maybe lacked a pinch of flair. I would do Parkruns, half marathons and the odd marathon but in and around football. I got bored with Sunday league and felt happier going for a run in the forest on my Sunday mornings. So I decided to join Orion and make it a regular thing. I think running makes me a happier person. I know I feel more frustrated when I haven’t been running much.

What are your main/favourite distances?

I would say that 5k’s and half marathons are my favourite distances. A 5k is brutal and you have to be ready to take a more intense level of pain. Whereas the half marathon is not as intense but takes a lot of guts and that ability to hold on. At the moment I am very much interested in getting quicker of over 5k or 5miles and leaving the whole marathon thing alone for a little while.

What would you consider your greatest personal athletic achievement, and what did it mean to you?

This would have been breaking 3hours for a marathon. I’d slowly chipped away at my marathon time which was 3hr 59 on my maiden attempt to 3hr 25 at Edinburgh in 2013. After running with Orion I ran 3hr 5 mins at London in 2015 and 3 hr 3 mins at Manchester in 2016, I started to wonder if I had reached my limit. If the Irish gene pool that I came from would only ever allow me to get to this level and that I was no thoroughbred. Or that at 12 stone (at a height of 5foot 11) I was too heavy to be a good distance runner. Or that maybe I just wasn’t tough enough. But I finally managed to finish Hamburg in 2hr59 on a day of hail, sunshine and rain. Wunderbar! It wasn’t that my training was so much better for this one, I think it was that I was mentally tougher. I knew what to expect and the pain I’d have to endure. I was over the moon to overcome that challenge and get pass a limitation that I had maybe put on myself.

How did/has your approach to running change(d) throughout your career?

I would say my running has become more structured. I keep a training plan and think about my running more than I did 5 years ago. I don’t go out for a steady 5 miles for 3 days in a row anymore. Tuesdays are for track, Wednesdays are mostly a slow 6 mile jog back from work and Thursday are a tempo run etc. I used to run Parkruns every Saturday and try to break my PB each week. I realise now that this is impossible. You need a training plan, do that training and then go for that PB attempt.

Favourite race you’ve seen and why

If I am looking for inspiration I love to watch the Dave Wottle 800m race from the 1972 Olympics. It’s the classic “underdog race” where he’s dead last and slowly works his way through the whole pack over 2 laps to take home Olympic gold. He is also wearing a very cool Golf cap.

What injuries have you had, how did you treat them, and how did it affect you mentally?

I haven’t had any major injuries that have kept me out for more than a few months. I manage some back problems round the lumbar area, that have meant regular trips to the physio over the past year. But I count myself pretty lucky in terms of injuries.

What was/has been your number one challenge throughout your career, and how did you overcome it?

I think breaking 3hrs for the marathon was a big challenge for me and a cocktail of perseverance and self belief finally got me past it. But I don’t think I have had one major challenge. It’s been lots of different challenges. Swimming 10k in the river dart when I wasn’t much of a swimmer. Beating someone in a race that I thought was a better runner than me. Once one challenge is complete, then the next challenge begins – it’s what keeps life interesting!

What is your number one piece of advice?

Don’t be negative about yourself. When I have tried to get quicker, I often found that I was telling myself off. That I hadn’t tried hard enough or that I bottled it. I found I was being too negative in some training sessions and races too. But I found I raced better when I let this go and didn’t carry this weight around with me.