My Running Life: Paul Perry

When did you start running and why?
I was always running, from as far back as I can remember. When I started lapping my primary school classmates in PE, I joined Dundrum Athletic Club where my cousin was a hurdler. I always ran middle distance and long distance.

What has been your biggest achievement?
I was a Leinster 1,500m schoolboy champion. I remember it very well because Eamonn Coghlan presented the medal. The memory still makes me smile.

What's the one thing you'd change about running?
It's not running I'd change, but the body's susceptibility to injury, and ageing. The running's great, it's about the body's ability to deal with it.

Where's your regular run route?
Marlay Park is my running Mecca. You find your own routes in the park.


What's your regular training schedule?
You hit 40 and you do what your body tells you to do. I have no fixed distances and no fixed schedule.

What are you training for?
I'd like to run my first marathon, so I'll leave it at that. No promises. Am I planning for the Dublin Marathon in October? Yes. But I was also planning for it last year and it never happened. Injuries kicked in.

What do you wear on your feet?
Asics only.

Any niggly injuries?
I think runners are hypochondriacs. There's always something niggling. For me, it's my calf muscles. I was recruited to Brown University in the US to run varsity. It was pretty intense, to say the least. I was brought to specialists and everything but there was no answer really.

What's on your iPod when running?
No iPod. For me, it's a meditative time, to kind of empty the head of the noise of the world.

What's your most embarrassing running moment?
My first cross-country race in the States, in the final stretch I ran away from team mates and won the race. My very first race in the States I won. This, I was told, was not the "done" thing. Stay with the team. Embarrassing? Yes.

Have you a favourite running book?
Running: A Global History by Thor Gotaas is a great read. As it happens, Thor will be talking "running" with Diarmaid Ferriter at the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival on September 7th.

Have you ever been chased by an animal?
Only poets.

Have you a favourite running tip?
I do remember my coach in the US at Brown University forever calling out to me to "be patient". I think that's a good tip. Competitive athletics is about speed and endurance and tactics, but you have to be very patient to get to where you want to be. You can't rush it.

In conversation with

Paul Perry is the poetry curator of the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival, which takes place September 3rd to 8th,