My Running Life: Niall Dunne

Niall Dunne: When shown to work within his limits, ‘running came a lot easier to me’. Photograph: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

Niall Dunne: When shown to work within his limits, ‘running came a lot easier to me’. Photograph: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE


When did you start running and why?
I played rugby in Belvedere. When I was trying to make the transition from playing in the forwards to the backs, I started with Crusaders Athletic Club to develop my speed.

It turned out I was probably better at running than rugby and I wound up finishing second in the national 400m hurdle championships in my Leaving Cert year.

What has been your biggest achievement?
I was on scholarship in Manhattan College in New York and in 1998 I went unbeaten over 400m, 800m and 1,000m for the entire indoor season. The time I ran at Harvard on January 26th, 1998, I raced against one of my heroes, former Olympian Johnny Gray. To me, it was a seminal race. I did 1:49.08 indoors over 800m. I think it still ranks me in the all-time Irish indoor list but also was one of the fastest times in the US and in the world.

What’s the one thing you would change about running?
Early in my career, I pulled so many hamstrings by not understanding basic biomechanics. When someone showed me how to work within my limits, it came a lot easier to me.

What is your regular running route?
The route that I love most is a loop from my parents’ house in Glenageary to Dalkey and back into Sandycove which is about six or seven miles.

What’s your regular training schedule?
I hate jogging so I try to invent ways to be competitive in my training. I mix it up. I probably wouldn’t go much further than 10km but I do repeat 400m and 500m runs, sprint drills, that kind of stuff.

What are you training for?
I’m not training for a marathon or anything. I’m just happier and better at my job when I’m a healthy fit person.

What do you wear on your feet?
Recently I’ve been really impressed with the Nike Lunar range.

Have you any niggly injuries?
Loads. Every winter, my hip feels a little bit stiff. My hamstrings will always be a problem, though I’ve moved away from pulling them to mild strains. The tendons in my left knee are sore too.

What’s on your iPod when running?
A training playlist with all the cringy rocky stuff. Elton John’s I’m still standing says it all.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?
There was a Rathmines 5km after I finished trying to qualify for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. I popped down to the start line and was right up with the leaders in the first mile. By the second and third mile I was barely able to walk. I went from the front of the pack to almost last.

What’s your favourite running book?
A fantastic novel called Once a Runner about the collegiate system in the US and also Supernova, a collection of short stories based on all the great athletes who have gone to Villanova University.

What’s your favourite running tip?
The five-pace training plan by Peter Coe, Seb Coe’s father, is a forensic, logical approach to achieving your goals.

Niall Dunne is BT chief sustainability officer

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